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Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)

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Clifton Lawson
Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jun 30, 2015 at 9:11:28 pm

Hi everyone. Longtime lurker here. Love this forum.

Anyway - I am looking for a great camcorder. I have not been too happy with using my 5D for video (soft images, focusing issues), and I'm thinking a dedicated video unit would be better. Got about $3000 to use for this purpose... could potentially up that a bit if necessary, or would be perfectly happy spending less.

I'll be shooting events and commercials... maybe an occasional documentary. Not too worried about 4K, but maybe I should be. Some of the ones I've looked at include:

Sony HXR-NX3 - nice looking, reviews are good, but can't find that much info about it.

Sony Nex-FS100U - super cool looking, demos look great, cinematic, etc but looks pretty complicated. Some people complain about awkwardness of buttons, build quality...

Canon XA20 - small, but looks easy to use. Not necessarily the exterior aesthetic I'm going for, but if it works it works.

Panasonic GH4 - demos look great, but not really a fan of the look, but maybe I should just deal with it. Also worried if it's even an upgrade from my 5D Mark III, especially when it comes to tracking focus, which is a big problem with the 5D.

Any help would be highly appreciated! Thanks so much!!

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Rick Wise
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jun 30, 2015 at 11:01:47 pm

The new Canon XC10 ( for $2500 looks to me to be a very promising doc camera. Advantages: 4K, large sensor, reasonable ISO range, small and light, records directly on the camera. Drawbacks: in still mode cannot shoot RAW, but maybe well offset by shooting video in 4K and grabbing stills from the video. Also, just one lens, built in. For the doc shooter, probably a good thing. For dramatic work, possibly too limiting, especially on the wide side. Look at the video demo on the B&H link.

There is never one camera that can do it all. For events and docs and maybe commercials, this one looks to me to be at the very least promising and at a very decent price.

Rick Wise
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area

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Mark Suszko
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jul 1, 2015 at 3:59:43 pm

Does look nice... cards seem a bit pricy... I'm always going to favor a shoulder-riding camera, but you could put this one on a sled adapter for that. Makes the viewfinder awkward, though.

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Blaise Douros
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jul 1, 2015 at 6:29:19 pm

Consider the Sony X70 over the Canon XA20. Comparable features in most ways, but it can be upgraded to shoot 4K, and it has a 10-bit 4:2:2 codec, which you don't know you need until you have it...

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Bill Bruner
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jul 2, 2015 at 2:17:08 pm
Last Edited By Bill Bruner on Jul 2, 2015 at 2:19:36 pm

Hi Clifton - for what you're trying to do, you might want to consider the 4K JVC GY-HM170 - which is on sale right now for $1795 with a free XLR adap....

Here is the image quality you can expect from this camera at 4K (shot on the HM200 - the same camera with live streaming. Please watch at 2160p and your monitor's highest resolution):

Here is a nice review from Rick Young at Movie Machine:

I have shot with the HM170's large sensor/interchangeable lens stable-mate, the $3495 (on sale, body-only) JVC GY-LS300, and these are terrific, easy-to-use, pro camcorders (if you can stretch your budget a little, you might want to consider the LS300 with a Kipon autofocusing adapter for your EF lenses).

The LS300 has a Hollywood-sized Super 35 sensor and performs well in low light - plus the ability to live stream to USTREAM and other services from its own IP address with a $10 USB IP adapter, as seen here:

The LS300 produces a very nice Ultra High Definition "4K" image.

Here is the image quality you can get from this camera (please watch at 2160p):

And a very nice overview from Zacuto:

I love my GH4, but with a 3k budget, you can get a purpose-built camcorder with pro mic inputs, built-in ND filters, a top handle and dual SD card slots.

These are standard pro camcorder features that hybrid still/video cameras such as the GH4 (and 5D Mark III) lack.

Hope this is helpful and good luck!

Hybrid Camera Revolution

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Clifton Lawson
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Jul 2, 2015 at 6:10:59 pm

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions!

Bill, that JVC LS300 looks like a great one. Might have to save a bit more... :-)

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Roger Martin
Re: Camcorder for $3000 (events, commercials, documentary)
on Aug 1, 2015 at 3:22:11 pm
Last Edited By Roger Martin on Aug 1, 2015 at 3:28:26 pm

If you want an interchangeable lens CamCorder then save up for the JVC LS300. When at NAB I went first to the Panasonic Booth then spotted the camera I wanted across the isle.

If you want a really great CamCorder for under $3k buy the Panasonic X1000. With no lens or extra batteries to buy, it is a better value than the LS300. I only returned mine because of the extreme low light I shoot in.

Only the Sony A7s can shoot Video in the dark and make it look nearly like day, but I have $8k invested when including the 28-135 and 7Q+ recorder, etc.

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