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advice for the next camera....

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Dave Thomas
advice for the next camera....
on Jul 3, 2013 at 11:12:38 am

Hi. I am primarily a wedding Videographer and have been using the Sony HXR-MC2000 as the primary and the Sony HXR-MC50U as the second for about two years now. I am looking to upgrade the primary. I have between $3000-$3500 to spend. I need some advice. I played with the Sony NEX-VG30 over the weekend for bridal preps and candids during formals poses and the results were incredible! The depth of field and the look from the APS-C in 24 looked incredible compared to what I had been using- now maybe I just need to play with the menu, but when I tried it in the church- not so great! It seems a little lacking in low light compared to the "low lux" setting on the 2000U.

So, I am unsure about using it as a primary now. Help me decide. I am looking at JVC's new GY-HM70U, Sony's NEX-VG30 and VG900 and even Panasonic's HMC-150...or anything better that you can recommend. All of these have bigger sensors than the 2000U, so they all should be an improvement, right?

Thanks for your responses- Dave


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Rick Wise
Re: advice for the next camera....
on Jul 3, 2013 at 5:15:17 pm

Since you are so familiar with the Sonys, probably best to stick with them. I prefer Panasonic, and Canon. The Panasonic HMC-150 is essentially an HD version of the fabulous old SD camera, DVX-100b. The 150 is four of five years old, but seems to remain quite popular. Read the customer reviews on the B&H site for all the cameras you are considering.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Bill Bruner
Re: advice for the next camera....
on Jul 8, 2013 at 1:35:31 pm

Hi Dave - I've shot with the VG20, and it did pretty well in low light, but I had to step the gain up a little. Sadly, the only way to set the gain, as I recall, was with a tiny wheel on the bottom left side of the camera.

Or perhaps your challenge with the VG30 was the slow f3.5-6.8 18-200 kit zoom?

For my low light shots with the VG20, I replaced the kit zoom with an inexpensive old Canon FD 50mm f1.8 and a $24 adapter (the beauty of interchangeable lens cameras).

That said, coming from the MC2000, you might be more comfortable with the ergonomics of the shoulder mounted $3199 Sony NEX-EA50. It has the same large APS-C sensor as the VG30, with the addition of the shoulder mount and pro XLR mic inputs. With the addition of an inexpensive fast prime (such as the $298 50mm f1.8), here is what this camera can do in low light:



Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


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Dave Thomas
Re: advice for the next camera....
on Jul 9, 2013 at 1:56:06 pm

Bill,

Thanks so very much for your post- you have been the most helpful by far!!! I have to admit- I forgot my optics lessons from years ago and have been getting by for years by using less of the features in these cameras... But, I would like to stop faking and actually learn the differences...so- the camera I know so well- the MC2000U has a 12x G Lens, 29.8-357.6mm with f/1.8-34 and a minimum 3 lux- the new JVC has a 29.5-47.6mm (35mm equiv.) and a f/1.2-2.8 lens. The VG30 has 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3-

What does all of this really mean- thanks in advance for taking the time to explain it to me....

Dave


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Bill Bruner
Re: advice for the next camera....
on Jul 15, 2013 at 1:14:41 pm

Hi Dave - sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.

Here is a brief explanation of the numbers. But you probably want to do some further reading.

Focal Length

The first number in lens specifications is "focal length" in millimeters, abbreviated as "mm". The focal length of your lens will determine the magnification of the image projected onto your camera's sensor.

Longer or "telephoto" focal lengths will produce larger images. Shorter or "wider" focal lengths will produce smaller images. Camcorders usually have "zoom" lenses, with a continuous range of focal lengths from wide to telephoto.

Image size also depends on the size of your sensor. Although it is a little counterintuitive, a small sensor will show a larger image size than a large sensor with a lens of the same focal length.

For that reason, camera and lens manufacturers will often express focal lengths in terms of "35mm equivalent". In other words, the focal length the lens would have if used with a standard full frame 35mm film camera.

Aperture

The second number in lens specifications describes the lens' maximum aperture - usually expressed as the "f stop". Smaller f-stops mean a larger maximum aperture, and a more light sensitive (and more expensive) lens.

Lens Comparison

So, an apples to apples comparison of the lenses listed above would be:

$1549 Sony MC2000U,: 29.8-357.6mm (35mm equivalent) with an aperture of f/1.8-3.4

$1599 JVC GY-HM70U,: 29.5-476mm (35mm equivalent) with an aperture of f/1.2-2.8

$2698 Sony NEX-VG30: 27-300mm (35mm equivalent using a 1.5x magnification for the camera's large sensor) with an aperture of f3.5 to 6.3

Caveat

But be careful - lens aperture/sensitivity does not necessarily equal low light performance. Your camcorder's sensor size, sensor sensitivity, image processor and image processing algorithms are also very important.

The VG30's large sensor means that if you put an f1.8 lens on it, it's ability to record high quality images in low light would blow any of the small sensor camcorders away.

Another Camera Suggestion,

Since my last post, the Sony HXR-NX70 has been marked down to $1999 at Amazon. This was a great weatherproof camera at $3000, and is even more amazing at $2000.

It doesn't have the VG30's huge sensor, but here is what it can do:






Suggestions for further reading

Book: "A Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking"

Please see this excerpt from the book on focal length and aperture for a better explanation than I can give: http://books.google.com/books?id=rOhLfJi4cGoC&pg=PA201&lpg=PA201&dq=apertur...

Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_length
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-number

Again, hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


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