Wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction in terms of buying a prosumer camera. I need something mostly for interviews and event videography but i'm just starting up on my own and in a "whatever I can get" kind of place in terms of gig hunting so a camera with more of a liberal arts range of potential would be ideal, and it would be really nice to be able to shoot short films. I was excited about the NEX-VG10 until I learned there's no zebra or peaking and lack of xlr inputs is also a drawback though not a gamechanger. I'm interested, though a bit nervous about jumping into the DSLR game as I need something with which I could set up a decent shot on the fly. Also low light capabilities are pretty important as I often find myself in dimly lit rooms (more in a dumb way than a creepy way). Some cameras I've been looking at: Canon XA10, Sony FX7, A1U, VG10, Panasonic AG HMC40, and Rebel T2i and GH2. I know that there is no perfect camera for my price range ($2000-$3000) but maybe there's one that can match my needs and also satisfy a few of my desires.
Here ya go:
A used HPX200 or 170 might be in your range on ebay. Those will need P2 Cards though.
Video Atlanta LLC
Thanks Chris! HMC 40 sounds good, except for it's reputedly poor low light performance. Do you think that the XA10, which sounds like it does really well in low light, is a valid alternative? Are there any other cameras that rival the HMC40 on other fronts and outperform it in lowlight?
I would highly recommend Panasonic's AG-HMC 150. it's running around $2500-$3000ish. And it blows the 40 out of the water. I've got 2 of the 150's for event videography and they are fantastic. I had to rent a 40 once though, and felt like I was banging my head against the wall trying to get it to do "simple" things I took for granted on the 150.
And the 150 is pretty much the EXACT same camera as the 170 (lens, gen. features, etc), but it uses SD cards.
And the "reputedly low light performance" on the 40 is definitely TRUE. It uses a CMOS sensor, rather than a 3CCD sensor. I had to max out the gain on it in order to get things even close to nominal.
Can I ask you what you think of the XA10? HMC 150 seems like an awesome camera, but that $1000 difference makes me hesitant.
Having never used Canon's pro-line video cameras, I can't really give you an informed opinion...I will say that it looks like it's their equivalent to the hmc-40.
Notice, however, on both the XA10 and HMC-40 that neither come with an internal microphone. You'll have to buy a shotgun (or something) mic in addition to the camera just to have on-site audio. You have to adjust for little caveats like that in your considerations of the total cost of a camera.
I guess it really comes down to what you're trying to do with your camera? Are you starting a business as an event videographer? Trying to shoot indie movies? Or just really like playing HD video and want to get something a bit more "pro".... Personally, I would put both the HMC-40 and the XA10 squarely in the "prosumer" category. I you want something that can handle any situation you want to throw at it, I would suggest making the jump to invest a bit more money and get a camera that will do A LOT more than these two can.
On a related note, it would be a VERY good idea to try and demo any camera before you buy it. See if there's a company in your city that rents/sells them and try one out. Or check with your local event videographers and see what they're using. They might even let you demo one of theirs.
I'm going to hang a +1 on the HMC150. We now use two of them. I did several weeks' research into our most recent camera purchase (we only get to do that once every five-odd years or so) and found nothing within the price range that offered the same combination of quality and flexibility.
The only Cons I really run into on a regular basis with the 150 are:
1) It does tend to get wonky in low forelight situations. It's a lot more sensitive to high backlight levels than our Mini-DV SD cameras were. Be ready to shell out for at least a good ENG-class mini light to mount on the shoe to keep faces out of the shadows. Otherwise, get real friendly with the manual iris control, which is admittedly quite handy. We currently use a LitePanels MicroPro, though I'd love to get a budget for their Sola ENG. From a lighting standpoint, the 150 greatly prefers to shoot outdoors.
2) No card relay. There's one and only one SDHC slot. Still, a 16GB Class-10 card yields 97 minutes per card at the 720p24 at which we usually shoot. Usually more than enough.
3) Minor but frustrating: No short-touch TC reset. You have to go into the menu to reset the TC to zero, whether in Rec Run or Free Run.
4) Live HD output. There are precisely zero SDI ports on this camera. None. Zilch. Bupkus. Unless your client or venue has HDMI input capability, you'll need a mini-converter from AJA or Blackmagic or someone like that, and that tends to run half a kilobuck or so. The component output is a proprietary breakout connector, so don't lose that if you plan to go that route.
Those are the biggies. Again, in that price range, nothing else came close to the overall flexibility of the 150 while remaining, as I like to term it, "future-retardant".
All-Too-Infrequent Media Guy
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