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Mistake to purchase HDV camera?

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raidernealMistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 21, 2007 at 2:50:38 am

Hello,

I have been renting a PD-170 on occasion as I don't own a camera yet. While this works out fairly well, I find that renting doesn't really give me the opportunity to put-in the time required to get really good at my craft. It's like renting a musical instrument or something... It seems like you need to shoot often to develop your skill set and become proficient with your gear. Am I wrong here?

I am considering purchasing my own camera, tripod, wireless mics, etc.. I am thinking about the new Canon XH-A1 HDV model. However, in the post before this, someone stated that it is a mistake to purchase the "flavor of the month" HDV cameras as these will be obsolete very quickly. However, I'm a bit confused... isn't SD already on its way out? Wouldn't a HDV camera have a longer life-span as we are moving into 16:9 HD? It seems like buying a SD camera right now would be like purchasing a used 800 MHZ computer. Why not purchase a dual-core model with the idea that you will be able to use it longer?

I'm just trying to get the most for my money as a videographer who doesn't yet own his own camera/gear. I understand the idea/wisdom regarding renting gear. However, I would like to start shooting/editing on a very regular basis and It seems like purchasing a camera is the best way to do this. Plus, the HDV video looks amazing even when just viewed over the web on a computer monitor. I'd like to provide HD samples on my webpage.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.


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Daniel SerranoRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 21, 2007 at 3:53:48 am

you can go with the HDV camera.... I would do it if I had the money..

way I see it is this, if you need something in SD you can record miniDV.. also you could record in HDV and record for SD for your DVDs and when you are ready to go you can do it all in HDV and then record to bluray or HD-DVD when you ready...


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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 21, 2007 at 5:38:46 am

Any camera you get just like any computer you get will most likely be replaced with a newer model within 6 months any way. There is nothing wrong with HD you get great quality for the money, sure there are better cameras out there, but for many people whey are just to expensive so HDV is fine.



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StevenGRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 21, 2007 at 3:58:00 pm

Most of what you're hearing about HDV is the fact that it can be a difficult format to work with. It is NOT true HD, it is a "basterdized" version of it, if you will. Many people have a lot of success with it, but many choose to avoid it because of it's compression and editing issues. I myself just recently purchased a Panasonic HVX200 and a large reason for that purchase was because it did true HD. I looked at the same Canon model you mentioned, and was willing to say that maybe HDV was "good enough". But a financial opportunity came about that made my first choice, the HVX, a possibility. I think there are far too many HDV cameras out there for the technology/camera to become obsolete tomorrow. But I would highly suggest you taking the time to rent your camera of interest, shoot with it to make sure you like it and feel comfortable using it, and most of all, edit some footage and see what type of workflow you'd have to develope and make sure you'd be comfortable with it. If you can answer yes to all of those questions, then make the move. But more than anything, research, Research, RESEARCH as many of your different options as possible and come to a decision as to what's best for you. Many people are still using standard def cameras and waiting until all of this HD/HDV mess gets hammered out and then make a move when it's right for them.


Sometimes the obvious is hidden in plain view.


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Art Z AngelRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 22, 2007 at 7:27:39 am

First, I agree that the HVX200 is the only HD camera I would consider. As far as HDV is concerned, on the horizon is ACVHD. Jointly developed by Sony & Panasonic, ACVHD offers variable bit rates while HDV is a constant bit rate. On of the drawbacks to HDV is that scenes with a lot of motion do not compress well (keeping in mind that both HDV and ACVHD use long GOP compression). Using a variable bit rate should give scenes with a lot of motion smoother playback. Of course ACVHD will still have all the drawbacks of long GOP editing; which is why I like the HVX200!

Mike




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Doug GrahamRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 22, 2007 at 2:55:39 pm

I must disagree with SteveG on one point: HDV ****IS*** "true HD". It clearly falls within the HD specification. True, it is a lower bitrate and more highly compressed than some other flavors of HD, but it is NOT, repeat NOT a "bastardized format".

Now, as to some of the other points.

Video formats are changing quickly, which is yet one more thing that is making equipment obsolete faster than ever. As more consumers upgrade to widescreen and HD TVs, standard definition equipment will get you fewer and fewer jobs. If you plan to keep your camera for three years or more, I would get an HDV model. Or, if you're on a budget, you can pick up good used DV equipment at bargain prices, as others go the HDV upgrade route. I would not buy new standard def equipment today.

As for waiting for the "next big format", that's certainly an option, if your business can afford to do it. One should never purchase equipment just to have it sit on the shelf and depreciate; it should be purchased only if there is a real need for it. However, I'm not at all sure that AVCHD is going to be HDV's replacement. There are currently no professional or prosumer camcorders in this format, and no NLEs can handle it; it's where HDV was about two or three years ago, and even if it develops legs, it will take quite a while to do so.



Regards,
Doug Graham


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Steve EisenRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 2:49:50 am

Doug,

What StevenG meant by Real HD, was that HDV uses the Long Gop stucture and DCVPro HD is intraframe. For those who do not understand, Long Gop only has only one true frame and the rest are made up. Unless you capture your HDV as DVCPro HD, editing and exporting HDV can be very problematic not to mention the vido artifacts it produces. You may not see it but they are very visable.

Don't get me wrong most HDV cameras can produce nice pictures. You do have to consider who is operating the camera. HD or HD shooting is VERY different than shooting DV. You need more light and have to watch out for focus. HD cameras are less forgiving in automatic mode. You need to customize your settings each shoot.

My option for an HD camera is Panasonic's HPX-500. This camera is not for your ordinary event videographer. That is why Sony and Canon continue to make their Consumer HDV cameras.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Director-At-Large
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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StevenGRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 3:30:08 am

I appreciate you guys taking the time to clarify my post from earlier. I was attempting not to over inundate "raiderneal" with too much information. I didn't want to flood his brain with long GOP structures and interframe vs. intraframe, and so forth and so on. To echo what many of you have already said, I don't think HDV is a necessarily "bad" format at all. I believe it has it's place. But from personal experience and the experiences of some of my collegues, it can be a bear to shoot and edit. A lot of "jittery" movement (to borrow an adjective from an associate of mine) and artifacting with scenes with lots of movement have been a commonly expressed problem with HDV. Part of the reason I've avoided like the plague. But, many people have had a lot of success with it and that is why I challenge anyone whose interested in it to "TRY IT FOR YOURSELF"! Rent a camera and shoot some footage and see how you like it. I love my HVX200 and I shoot some event stuff, but it is simply not the ideal camera for shooting events (in HD anyways) because of P2 limitations. I do, however, love the footage I've gotten from shooting HD with the camera, all of the different frame rate options, and, of course, the tapeless workflow option! And editing HD is really no different than editing DV.

But in the end, it's really going to fall down to your preferences and, probably more so, your budget. Test what you like, and buy what you can afford (and, even more so, what you NEED! If you don't need it, RENT IT! Boy how I wish I could follow that advise :)

Steven Gladney

Sometimes the obvious is hidden in plain view.


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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 2:39:09 pm

I bought a Sony PD-170 a few years ago after having a Sony PD-150 on "perma-loan." I'm reluctant to move to HDV but would also be reluctant to get a new SD camera.

Here's my "nutshell"
1) HDV cameras currently are worse in low light than SD especially worse than the PD-170
2) HDV can have motion artifact issues as others have noted.
3) There's no easy means to deliver HD product (yet) which means you basically have to eat the cost on the downcovert (or downconvert on input).
4) By the time HD DVD or Blu-Ray become consumer affordable they'll be another generation of HD cameras out (whether HDV or another codec) which may improve some of the issues noted above

On the other hand
The current HDV (and HVX-200) cameras have many new features that can be used in SD although there's still the low light issue.

HD will become the standard at some point but that doesn't mean the HDV camera will be up to the competition at that point (or it may be, I'm speculating not though).


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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 6:47:55 pm

"3) There's no easy means to deliver HD product (yet) which means you basically have to eat the cost on the downcovert (or downconvert on input)."

I wouldn't say that you have to eat the cost of the down convert, most I know will just start it before they go home at night or before they go to lunch depending on the length of the video.

You also say that there is no easy way to deliver a HD product, with in a month or two there will be. The Apple TV supports 720p video. All your client needs is a computer with 802.11G or 802.11N, a computer with iTunes, and an Apple TV, and they can ether send the HD content to the Apple TV and have it stored on its internal HD or they can stream it to the Apple TV. And Apple TV is only $299 which is actually very affordable (cheeper then any HD DVD or Blue Ray DVD player I have seen). And all you have to do instead of encoding a authoring a HD DVD is to output to the proper file type and give them the video file.



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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 7:12:55 pm

[zrb123] ""3) There's no easy means to deliver HD product (yet) which means you basically have to eat the cost on the downcovert (or downconvert on input)."

I wouldn't say that you have to eat the cost of the down convert, most I know will just start it before they go home at night or before they go to lunch depending on the length of the video."


It's still computer time. It's time I can't use for web compression, DVD/MPEG2 compression, other FX rendering. If you're talking about a wedding video that might be 90 minutes long that a lot of time for a downconvert.



[zrb123] "You also say that there is no easy way to deliver a HD product, with in a month or two there will be. The Apple TV supports 720p video. All your client needs is a computer with 802.11G or 802.11N, a computer with iTunes, and an Apple TV, and they can ether send the HD content to the Apple TV and have it stored on its internal HD or they can stream it to the Apple TV. And Apple TV is only $299 which is actually very affordable (cheeper then any HD DVD or Blue Ray DVD player I have seen). And all you have to do instead of encoding a authoring a HD DVD is to output to the proper file type and give them the video file."

Most people are not going to immediately run out and by AppleTV. You still have to deliver the file so factor in the cost of a hard drive too or are you going to your client's home to xfer the file (assuming they have the space for the file on their hard drive) and either they are you will have to set up Apple TV. All this also assumes they have 802.11g or 802.11N. Heck after all that money spent they can probably buy an HD DVD player now. Sorry but just because it "can" be done doesn't mean the will be common or financially viable.

Most folks want to pop a disc in a player and be done with it.

It'll be a year or so (maybe longer) before people can get HD Disc players of some sort for $300 and even then growth may be slow.

Think of this. If EVERY TV sold is HD and 20% of the population buys one, that's still 5 years for 100% change and 3 years for it to become the majority.

If you have clients who are asking about HD delivery be sure to charge them a higher price for it too.

Another thing to think about is HDV color correction is somewhat expensive too. If you're working in HDV it doesn't travel down firewire live. You need to get a box for that. Then you need to send that to a color accurate HD Monitor.



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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 7:28:08 pm

"Most people are not going to immediately run out and by AppleTV. You still have to deliver the file so factor in the cost of a hard drive too or are you going to your client's home to xfer the file (assuming they have the space for the file on their hard drive) and either they are you will have to set up Apple TV. All this also assumes they have 802.11g or 802.11N. Heck after all that money spent they can probably buy an HD DVD player now. Sorry but just because it "can" be done doesn't mean the will be common or financially viable."

You don't need to deliver it on a hard drive, a simple Data DVD will do just fine (the movies you buy on itunes are only a little over one gig). If the Client wants me to set it up for them then that would of-course be an additional fee (but it is not going to be that difficult)

Just about any computer in the last 2-3 years has 802.11b already, and if not, you can always connect to the Apple TV through the built in ethernet port on it.

You talk about long down convert times, you are going to have long encode times no mater what format you deliver in. It is going to take time to encode to a HD DVD or Blue Ray DVD also.

All I sagest it a relatively inexpensive way to deliver HD content relatively soon. If you don't like that method then don't use it.



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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 8:05:43 pm

[zrb123] "You don't need to deliver it on a hard drive, a simple Data DVD will do just fine (the movies you buy on itunes are only a little over one gig). If the Client wants me to set it up for them then that would of-course be an additional fee (but it is not going to be that difficult)"

Several Data DVDs since you're not going to fit much HD on a Data DVD and they have to have the hard drive space and speed to handle the file once copied. Many people have their 3 year old $599 computers as primary computers.

[zrb123] "All I sagest it a relatively inexpensive way to deliver HD content relatively soon. If you don't like that method then don't use it."

It's whether the client likes and will pay for it. You're talking about what could be a big expense (and time is money) for a very small client base at the moment. Hey if your clients are willing to spend the extra money great but don't assume the workflow you mention is going to sell itself. HDV can have many aesthetic benefits but, once delivered, it may not have many financial benefits yet.

Heck you could even deliver a WMV HD file (in addition to the SD DVD) but are there that many clients willing to pay for you extra workflow? Only "you" can answer that, but I do video as a business and I've heard enough complaints from my compatriots to believe HDV is not a great money maker yet.

Things probably will change in a year from now but the cameras will be better then too. (AVCHD?, 1/3" XDCAM HD?, etc.)


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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 8:24:18 pm

"Several Data DVDs since you're not going to fit much HD on a Data DVD and they have to have the hard drive space and speed to handle the file once copied. Many people have their 3 year old $599 computers as primary computers."

Like a said before if you can get an entire 2 hour SD move in 1-1.5 gig I can get a clients HD content onto a single Blank DVD (most videos for clients will not be nearly as long as 2 hrs)

"It's whether the client likes and will pay for it. You're talking about what could be a big expense"

Also like I said before it is cheeper for the client to go with something like this then with a HD DVD player. Also many clients might also like the option to have all their video content at the touch of a button instead of having to switch discs all the time.

Like I said before If you don't like it then don't use it. All I sagest is a simple relatively inexpensive way to deliver HD content to a client.



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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 9:50:13 pm

[zrb123] "Like a said before if you can get an entire 2 hour SD move in 1-1.5 gig I can get a clients HD content onto a single Blank DVD (most videos for clients will not be nearly as long as 2 hrs)"

Major UGH!. 2 hour SD is usually about 4 gig with MPEG2 encoding at a "passable" data rate. At the size you suggest it's practically a VCD. If you're talking DATA DVD 2 hours is about 16GB with DV or HDV codec.

I've heard that you can get 50 minutes of HD material on a standard DVD using H.264 (much better than MPEG2) and author in DVD Studio Pro and yes that might be enough (or one can break it into a 2DVD set) so it might be viable if the client can play back such a DVD. It won't work in a standard DVD player but might from a computer (a Mac at least if they have one - not sure if a Windows PC would handle this). So I'll admit that might work for some clients.



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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 10:12:17 pm

Using H264 a 2 hour movie is only 1-1.5 gig go buy a movie on itunes and see. It is not hard to do.



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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 9:52:11 pm

[zrb123] "(the movies you buy on itunes are only a little over one gig)"

Thought I'd note that while they're H.264 those movies on iTunes are not HD frame sizes.



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zrb123Re: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 10:15:38 pm

It is very possible to fit a H264 HD video on to a data DVD.



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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 23, 2007 at 7:49:17 pm

Thought I'd mention the other HDV thought . . . you deliver SD now but your client may come back in the future for an HD version when they have full playback capabilities.

So a year or two from now you get the order. You recapture that 90 minute wedding edit in HDV. You rerender titles, transitions, filter FX and the long GOP. Then you need to author that HD-DVD (or BluRay) and encode that to MPEG2 or VC1 or H.264 and then burn the disc. So maybe you're looking at 5 to 8 hours work depending how fast your system is (if you've upgraded to faster computer and HD burner).

So you tell your client that new HD disc they've been waiting for is x hundreds of dollars before the order, from the wedding they already have on DVD a year or two previously.

Keep in mind if you need a new camera, HDV cameras make very nice DV cameras too (think about a camera light though) and, if on the chance you do have the above type of client, you'll be good to go.


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Doug GrahamRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 24, 2007 at 3:53:03 pm

You can shorten that production chain a lot by recording an HDV master of the original project on tape.

Regards,
Doug Graham


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Craig SeemanRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Feb 25, 2007 at 4:48:13 pm

True.
I was thinking in terms of downconverting to DV during capture to avoid working with long GOP (long renders) when delivering SD but an alternative would be to work in HDV and export the edited HDV to tape. Each workflow has a significant "time bite" gotcha though.


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Frank TuckerRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:09:52 pm

I shoot with a Canon XLH1 and am very pleased with the quality of the video. Since the XHA1 is based on the same core technology as the XLH1, I would guess the quality is comparable.

One of the benefits of the Canon XLH1 and the XHG1 is the inclusion of the HD-SDI output jack-pack. This allows for the capture and output of true uncompressed HD 4:2:2 in stunning clarity. This is a rather expensive option but will provide this capability if your needs grow to a true HD product. The jack-packs also provide a professional means of connecting multiple cameras together for multi-camera shoots.

The advantage to taking the Jump to HDV now (based on my experience with the Canon cameras) is that you can shoot in HD 16x9 format and output in either SD 16x9 or HD 16x9 as clients requirements change. You will also be able to re-release your SD (captured initially as HDV) footage later as HD if needed.

The real issue is taking advantage of the 16x9 format as widescreen is


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P. J. in HollywoodRe: Mistake to purchase HDV camera?
by on Apr 12, 2007 at 4:49:20 am

I started out with the same conundrum I was working as a video camera operator but had no camera. The technology was changing faster than I could keep up. This is even more true today. HDV is a good format, but does have its limitations, as does any format. The technology is changing even more rapidly.

So I looked around at what my videographer friends did not have and saw another viewpoint. Most did not have any lighting and grip gear beyond a small interview set; three lights. A lot more than that is needed for a real production and event venues are not lit for the video camera.

Let's see: Should I invest in a camera that looses its value rapidly? Or should I invest in lighting and grip equipment that grows in value and lasts?

That was seven years ago. Although I have kept working as a camera operator, I now have more than $30,000 in lighting, sound, and camera auxiliary gear that grows in value and gets me work as a lighting technician as well. Find a need and fill it.

I have now partnered with another videographer who has a Sony F-900 and 3 JVC HD100s. Between the two of us, we can do a feature, commercials, etc.

Just another view point. Two can grow faster than one.

Good luck,

P. J.





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