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Too Late to buy SD?

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Markus FurerToo Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:13:17 pm

Would it be a bad move for me to buy 2 PD150/170 for starting a small events business. I am trying to start slow and not get in over my head budget wise. I was thinking about buying and then selling the cameras once I can afford newer HD cameras. Your advise is greatly appreciated.

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John BaumchenRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 2:35:08 pm


Part of the business plan is a marketing plan. Identify your customers/market and find out what they want.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 3:24:48 pm

If these were being live-switched, I could see it for certain kinds of work and for lower budgets. Not every client wants or needs HD and wide screen. But yep, you need a buisness model and plan first.

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Markus FurerRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 3:53:36 pm

My immediate plan is to start with weddings. I realize that many corporate events might request HD, but I am wondering if the wedding market has moved that way too. I've looked at what other wedding videographers around here are offering, and I've found only one that advertises an HD option. Thanks for the input.

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Sebastian AlvarezRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 5:49:26 pm

I'm not a professional, in fact I'm trying to start an events video business myself, but at this point in time I would never buy SD cameras. Keep in mind that Blu-Ray players have come down to $200 for the cheapest ones, and more and more people are buying them. When you put in a Hollywood movie on DVD in a Blu-Ray player it doesn't look as good as the Blu-Ray version, but it looks decent. When you put in a DVD of 29.97i video, even if sourced from a good camera and encoded at 9 Mbps, it looks barely OK. If you encode it at 7 Mbps it looks awful. You see mosquito noise everywhere. But even at 9 Mbps it looks without detail, kind of blurry. The biggest difference between SD and HD can be seen when looking at videos, not movies.

Doing a quick search I see that the PD150 retails for around $3,000. B&H is selling the Sony HVR-HD1000U, a great entry level HDV camera, for $1429. I just got it and I can tell you it's beautiful. Sure, I would add a couple more things, but for less than $1500 it's superb. It has a ring that you can customize to about 8 different functions, and too many convenient features to list here, but it's the best bang for the buck you can find these days. And you can use it as HD or SD if you prefer. The only drawback is that it's tape based, but the closest AVCHD camera that you can get, the Panasonic Panasonic AG-HMC70U, does not have a ring, so if you have to adjust focus fast, you're screwed. I did a wedding two months ago at a rose garden, and the couple had long vertical plants as the background. Back then I didn't have the HVR-HD1000U, just my good old Canon HF100 (AVCHD), which I had on auto focus because it doesn't have a ring and to adjust its focus you have to navigate a joystick, which makes you move the camera and also the clicks from the joystick are audible in the recording. I had the camera on a tripod and I was constantly looking at the monitor, which like three inches wide, and to me it seemed on focus, but when I got home and watched it on my 40" TV, I saw that in the parts where I had zoomed in close to the couple the camera had focused on the plants in the back and their faces were out of focus. Not terribly so, enough for me not to catch it in the tiny screen, but obviously I was really pissed off about it. Had I owned the HVR-HD1000U back then it wouldn't have happened because I would've had the ring set to focus, and I would've seen it better in the viewfinder.

But going back to the tape problem, I'm going to plan my events with these two cameras, since the great thing about the Canon HF100 is that I can put 2 hours and 11 minutes of continuous recording in a SDHC card, probably more now that 32 GB cards are available. That way not only I have an extra take in case something goes wrong with either camera, but also when I run out of tape in my Sony I know the Canon is still shooting those 30 or 40 seconds it takes to eject and replace the tape, not to mention if the tape causes a drop out that makes you lose about 7 frames.

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Greg BallRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 11, 2008 at 9:00:06 pm

I would say that the consumer market is more interested in HD video or at the very least Wide screen video. Most people have a widescreen TV at home. I wouldn't invest in a PD150 if I were you. That being said we still use our Pd150s for corporate meetings, web videos, and presentation skills workshops.

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Zane BarkerRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 12, 2008 at 7:56:20 am


And consider renting cameras for a while as you get started. Its a TON cheeper, and lets face it you wont be needing one all the time.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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Rick WiseRe: Too Late to buy SD?
by on Dec 12, 2008 at 6:48:33 pm

As others have posted, rent first if you can. (Depends on where you live -- lots of places, no rentals.) To buy a good SD camera will cost you close to the price of a decent, entry-level HDV camera.

On the issue of tape-based cameras vs. card-based: P2 may (or may not) be an expensive solution of the past. Work flow can be a bear. Probably because I'm so old fashioned, I would stick to tape for now. In that category, it looks like the Sony HDR-FX1000 for $3,200 is a great way to go: many of the features of the Z7u, for $2,400 less. No XLR inputs, but you can add a Beachtek adapter. Apparently excellent low-light-level capabilities.

One other consideration: can your computer and software handle HDV? Make sure you work the solution all the way through final delivery of your finished work.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA

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