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Best HD Event Video Camera

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Donal McTuckerBest HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 4, 2009 at 1:50:44 am

I am looking for some buying advice for event shooting. I would like to freelance but need the most versatile gear. I must have HD of course and good low light performance. I worked with a Pan HVX200 with P2 cards, couple of Canon's, HV20, XH-A1 you get the idea. Is it better to go Solid State, or can I save money and just stick with Mini DV? Sony's HVR-Z7U is nice with mini DV and Flash, but will I need an interchangeable lens? No issues with Sony's and FCP right? I would assume not. Sorry for all the questions just want to make certain I buy the right gear.

Thanks,
Donal McTucker


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Dan DoskeyRe: Best HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:08:07 pm

Donal,

I am sure you will get more posts than you ever wanted on this one. You've kind of asked 'what's the best car in the world'? But given what you have written here, I would direct you to JVC's new HM series.

To make sure I don't bury the lead, let me start by saying two words: zero digitizing. And I mean that! These new JVC's shoot (only HD) in Sony's XDCAM codec, but it's wrapped in a Quicktime shell. The end result is that you can actually edit right off the SD card media, and the cards are cheap enough that you can keep them as your archive media. There is nothing on the market right now (and I just went to NAB and saw everybody's best) that can touch that kind of compatibility with FCP. You do have to be running Final Cut Studio 2, but other than that, you're ready to roll with an SDHC card reader ($10 if that for a cheap one). If you want to move your footage onto an external hard drive while its actively editing (which is good policy), I moved 8GB (27 minutes of HQ 1080 footage) in 3 minutes on a 2.16Ghz iMac (far from the latest and greatest in computing power). So you're asking, How cheap is cheap media? I just bought major brand 16GB cards at $31 a pop. That's enough for me to shoot 50 min at the highest quality 1080 setting, and 90 minutes at "SP". Load both slots (they're hot swappable) and you can record for three hours, solid state, for $60. That's more than tape, but, uh, did I mention no digitizing?

As far as P2 goes, nothing wrong with it, as long as you don't mind expensive media, transcoding your files and clogging up your hard drives with TB's of old footage so you can re-use the card. For most of us, the advantages you (arguably, even) gain with Panasonic's encoding are not worth the time and effort, extra software and hardware you have to acquire to make it work, at least not now that this exists. Panasonic does offer a camera called the HMC-150, which shoots on SD cards in the AVCHD format, previously a consumer format. They do have Log & Transfer software that makes it work with FCP, but there again, you are waiting for your media to ingest while I've already started editing. I can't speak to Sony, just not that familiar with their tapeless systems, but the files do require transcoding, which means time, effort, etc etc. that I frankly don't want to spend.

The JVC HM-700U comes with a new purpose-built, detachable, fully manual Canon 14x lens, and a 17x Fujinon is also available for the same $$, though the Canon is considered a superior lens in terms of the images it produces. That set-up can be had for about $7k. You can add an integrated hard drive that will record internally or to SXS media if that strikes your fancy, but again, in terms of cost, nothing tapeless in the professional / prosumer arena beats those SD cards.

If you're looking for something smaller, or a B camera, their HM-100 ($3500) uses the same technology, with some expected compromises - 1/4" chips (not outstanding for low light), 10x attached lens, but it does have XLR inputs, HDMI, USB, composite and component outs, so its not severely lacking. We have one, and it makes some stunning pictures for its price point, especially if you need something to fit into tight spaces or shoot unnoticed.

If the name JVC is tripping you up, know that they're owned by Matsushita Corp., which owns... Panasonic. Go figure.

I waited a long time to get on board with tapeless because I always felt that its true promise was in this kind of instant editing application. Now it's here and affordable enough for the littlest of guys to actually use it! Whichever way you choose to go, good luck and have fun!

Dan Doskey
Production Manager
Visual Evidence, Inc.
West Palm Beach, FL


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Donal McTuckerRe: Best HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 5, 2009 at 1:54:36 am

That is some brilliant advice. I was just looking at the JVC GY-HD200UB because it also is PAL compatible. I can get the DR-HD100GB that will format in Quicktime. Is the JVC GY-HM700U also PAL compatible (for multi-regional flexibility)? I also looked at the JVC GY-HM100U because of the multiple flash bays. But, it is a bit limited. Very tempting still.
7 grand is a bit more than I was planning to spend. But, maybe if the camera is that good, it is worth it. I will just have to save more damn money. Is 1080p that important compared to 720p? The JVC GY - HD200UB does know do 1080i only with the opt. DR-HD100GB.
You would know better since you own them.

Thanks,
Donal McTucker


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Dan DoskeyRe: Best HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 5, 2009 at 5:10:42 am

With the 200 you have the best of both worlds, as you can give a client a tape and also get your files in the new format.

Sorry not familiar enough with PAL capabilities to give any good advice.

As far as 720 vs 1080, the higher your native resolution the better your end product should be. If you're concerned about versatility for freelance work, you may want a 1080 capable camera. But only you can decide what that's worth to your business.

Dan Doskey
Production Manager
Visual Evidence, Inc.
West Palm Beach, FL


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Donal McTuckerRe: Best HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 9, 2009 at 5:40:36 pm

The JVC GY HD200 with the optional DR-HD100 will also record 1080i/60. But do I truly need 1080p 29.97p, 23.98p? Or would I be limiting myself with only the 1080i?

Thanks again,
Donal


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Beau BrothertonRe: Best HD Event Video Camera
by on Aug 6, 2009 at 11:09:39 pm

I would say stop thinking of sony. Too expensive. I have been intrigued by the JVC, but have set my eyes more on the HMC150.

But more than that, I am really interested in the Panasonic Lumix. The ability to have that amazing dof and shoot hrs of footage. Wow.

Has anyone gotten their hands on the Lumix?



Beau Brotherton
Reel Memories Wedding Films
http://www.reelmemories.ws
FCP6, HVX200


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