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Which camera is best?

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Lynette Gilbert
Which camera is best?
on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:10:25 pm

I've been researching a bunch of cameras for a while now and have narrowed it down to a few. My supervisor (who knows nothing about multimedia) REALLY wants us to go the HD route, but I don't think that's a good solution for us at this point in time due to the fact that we send everything out on Beta. However, we will possibly be doing more projects for the web, so the HD would come in handy there. Unfortunately, examining each camera in my hands is not a luxury I've been afforded, so I have to rely on my Internet research and user reviews.

Here's some info about what I do/what I need with a camera:

- camera will be used for at least 5 years before we can budget a new one
- documentary-style shooting with quick turnaround (capturing and editing need to be completed in under an hour, something I currently do with our miniDV footage)
- shoot in everything from low-light to bright sunlight conditions
- all audio needs to be captured in-camera with either shotgun or lav (we don't do any studio VOs)
- need to be able to zoom in on close-ups (10x isn't enough)
- 4-5 min footage is sent on Beta to 6 local news stations each week
- occasional video shoots (using mics and lights) for web
- everything done in-house
- currently shoot on MiniDv, capture from MiniDV deck, and edit with FCP
- archiving is a MUST because we're a cultural institution
- use of lenses (i.e. UV) would be nice, but not a necessity

I am looking at these cameras:
Panasonic AG-DVX100B
Canon GL2
Panasonic AG-HVX200

Unfortunately, none of these seem to have everything I want. Ideally, I'd want the HVX. The problem with the HVX is that most of what we do won't be sent out on HD, and we have a tight budget, so we can't buy multiple cards. HD would be great for the web, but if I'm mostly shooting on the tapes, is it worth getting the HD capability. Seriously, is there THAT much of a difference between HD and SD when it gets compressed for web? Archiving also becomes a factor - we have archival footage on thousands of Beta and DV tapes, so we do shoot a lot of footage. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars extra if it won't make that much difference. I also worry about the HVX becoming obsolete as technology improves, whereas tape is longer lasting and more durable than hard drives and cards.

I really like the 24p capability of the DVX, but my supervisor doesn't like the "film look."

I'm not even really considering the Canon, but it seems to be the only affordable camera with 20x zoom, which is very important.

While I'd rather hold off on the HD aspect and wait until the technology becomes a little more standard to the point where I can send the stations HD footage instead of Beta, my supervisor is really pushing for HD. But, if the HVX would fulfill more of our requirements than the DVX, maybe it's worth it? Definitely a zoom of 20x or more would be ideal, something we can't do with the DVX, unless I'm mistaken.

One question about HVX - if we DID send the stations the footage in HD format, how exactly would we do that? Would that be a file? A card?

I'm so conflicted!

Any suggestions would be very welcome, as I have become completely overwhelmed.

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