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#1 Brandon Petrie

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 04:37 PM

I am getting ready to begin a new project that will allow me to upgrade my cameras into the new HD realm.

First I would like some recommendations on HD Prosumer cameras(about the $4.000 range), things to think about when choosing etc. I have been pointed towards the Pan - HVX200, but am a bit ignorant of what to look for or what other brands have to offer.

Would DTE be a better way to go with any Camera if I could afford it?

Also, What other things would I need to consider for the upgrade?

I am using FCP HD on a G5 dual 2GHz. I know I'd need much more space - generally, how much? What does HD do to a computers performance- Much more RAM?

Again, pardon my ignorance and thank you, in advance, for your thoughts

Brandon Petrie
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#2 Troy Warr

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 07:47 PM

Hi Brandon,

The pro-sumer HD market is undergoing some growing pains currently. The most common format out there is HDV, with cameras that range from just under $1,000 (consumer-grade) to about $10,000 (like the Canon XL-H1). HDV is a fairly convenient format to shoot in, and doesn't really differ in that aspect from miniDV. But, that lack of difference also shows up in data rate - it's exactly the same as miniDV. So, with HDV you're compressing your footage more to fit in the same space, which leads to extra drawbacks in terms of footage quality, green screen work, artifacting, etc. These drawbacks can be minimized in a good quality HDV camera, but not eliminated by any means. There are some solutions to escaping the prohibitive compressions of the HDV format, but they usually will involve lugging that PC around with you on a shoot, which may or may not work with your needs.

The Panasonic HVX-200 is a great camera, but $4000 won't quite get you there, and they unfortunately just ended the promotion for a free P2 media card with purchase of the camera. Those run $1100 a pop, and only give you about 10 minutes of high-quality footage (which far exceeds HDV quality). You *can* run the camera shooting to tape, but then you're back to square one in terms of quality. In other words, to properly equip an HVX-200 is going to cost you a *lot* more than $4000.

I'm not sure what you mean by DTE?

Your PC sounds perfectly adequate for HDV editing, at least - compared to miniDV footage, it doesn't use more HDD space, but it does use significantly more processor power due to the added complexity of the long-GOP mpeg-2 codec. If you have a decent processor (which no doubt you do) and a good chunk of RAM, you should be fine.

Can you give us an idea of what kinds of projects that you're planning to shoot, and maybe what features on a camera are most important to you? That will help to make a recommendation on camera, accessories, etc.

Hope that helps!
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#3 Timothy Brown

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 07:58 PM

...(which far exceeds HDV quality).



Here's another opinion comparing an HDV camera and the DVCPROHD codec of the HVX. Please remember this is just another opinion ONLY and your mileage may vary.

http://www.bluesky-web.com/HDVHVX.htm

Edited by Timothy Brown, 08 January 2007 - 08:00 PM.

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#4 Troy Warr

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 10:39 PM

Timothy - thanks for the link to the article, it was an interesting read. The author does have a point - and despite the perhaps greater "quality potential" of the HVX200 due to its 4x higher data rate and greater color subsampling, in practice it may not appreciably outperform a well-designed HDV camera like the Panasonic HD100. I stand corrected - I should have clarified that it my post. In a comparison strictly between the HDV and DVCPRO HD formats (i.e. disregarding any particular camera model), I think it's fair to say that DVCPRO HD offers several distinct advantages in its ability to retain more picture and sound information than HDV. It also uses intraframe compression, which improves the speed and quality of editing compared to the interframe, long-GOP compression of HDV. In execution, though, a particular camera like the HVX may not put that format to good enough use to outperform a high-quality HDV camera.

Here are a few Wikipedia articles that I found that make for good reading on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia....sonic_AG-HVX200
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDV
http://forums.creati...imer/index.html
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 06:12 AM

Hi,

> it's exactly the same as miniDV

Actually it's not, it's a fair bit less than miniDV. Which is even more alarming.

> HVX200 due to its 4x higher data rate and greater color subsampling

DVCPRO-HD does not have four times higher data rate than HDV - it's about twice, assuming both cameras shooting 24p. And even then, HDV compresses a 1440x1080 image, whereas DVCPRO-HD compressed a 960x720 image.

DVCPRO-HD is a bit of a swindle.

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#6 Troy Warr

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 01:21 PM

Hi,

> it's exactly the same as miniDV

Actually it's not, it's a fair bit less than miniDV. Which is even more alarming.

> HVX200 due to its 4x higher data rate and greater color subsampling

DVCPRO-HD does not have four times higher data rate than HDV - it's about twice, assuming both cameras shooting 24p. And even then, HDV compresses a 1440x1080 image, whereas DVCPRO-HD compressed a 960x720 image.

DVCPRO-HD is a bit of a swindle.

Phil


Hi Phil,

To be sure, HDV does record at 25Mb/s for 1080i, 19.7Mb/s for 720p. Again, I probably should have qualified my statements in saying that that HDV's bit rate is exactly the same as miniDV when you're recording in 1080i. The 24p/24f HDV formats that I'm aware of still record to tape in 1080/60i using the full 25Mb/s bit rate, using pulldown to convert the 1080/24p signal beforehand. My primary source for that information is this ("Overview" section).

According to everything that I've read, even directly from Panasonic (which, granted, may be a pro or a con) the DVCPRO-HD format is capable of 4x higher data rate than HDV. Sources here ("DVCPRO" section), here (3rd row of specs in "Comparision Chart"), here (straight from a Panasonic employee) and here (under subheadings in "About the HVX200" section).

You're also comparing apples to oranges in the formats' respective compressed image sizes. From this Wikipedia article ("DVCPRO" section again), "720p is downsampled from 1280x720 to 960x720, and 1080i is downsampled from 1920x1080 to 1280x1080 for 59.94i and 1440x1080 for 50i." HDV is downsampled to a greater 1440x1080 resolution than DVCPRO HD for 1080i, but that increase in spatial resolution is offset by lower color subsampling and greater compression. It's a tradeoff - I'm not claiming that one is better than the other, just that both formats place different importance on different aspects of the images that they record. In fact, I think that the article that Timothy referred to does a good job at illustrating the relatively small amount of effective difference found between footage from the HVX200 and a well-designed HDV camera like the JVC HD100. Whether that's evidence of DVCPRO HD being a "swindle," or just evidence of poor implementation of the format in the HVX200 is hard to determine, given the evidence that I've seen, at least.

Brandon - I think we still need some more information about what you'll be shooting, what your needs are in a camera, etc. to go forward here. The differences between current HD pro-sumer grade formats seem to be less relevant than the particular features and strengths offered by the different camera models on the market.
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#7 Brandon Petrie

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 10:14 PM

Thank you for your responses.

The current project is actually going to be a training video for a Dog training company so there will be a lot of shooting outside without the posibility of proper lighting, for the most part - dogs chasing birds don't exactly move predictable. While I will want something that can handle these outdoor shoots, and it is this project that will allow the upgrade, the camera will mostly be used on short films after this project. ideal-ly I would want something with the maximum amount of manual adjustment - I don't know if this is an issue with cameras of this range - That can get the best Film-like quality. I don't know what the specifics of any of these projects will be so I am looking for the best all-purpose camera...many purpose camera, at least.

I guess I am wondering if are some HD cameras that don't have quit the color quality of others or if there is one with a staggeringly better recording format? what ever needs to be considered.

I was wondering if a Direct to Edit setup of some sort would be better than cards or tapes. That's what i meant by DTE, apologies. Would capture direct to a computer be the only way to get a fully resolute image at this point? at least with this price range - if it is around $5,000?

thank you for you time and input
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#8 Troy Warr

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 08:33 AM

Thanks Brandon.

I guess I am wondering if are some HD cameras that don't have quit the color quality of others or if there is one with a staggeringly better recording format? what ever needs to be considered.


From all of the footage that I've seen, pro-sumer cameras in that price range that shoot HDV don't vary all that considerably from model to model. Some do slightly better than others in terms of color reproduction, low light shooting capability, image noise, and sharpness/detail, but for the most part, in my opinion, the limitation of the format is its compression. Unfortunately, for $5000 or less, you're going to have a hard time getting around that, as HDV is the major format of lower-end HD cameras today. I would personally put more stake in the features and usability reviews of each camera model on the market.

I was wondering if a Direct to Edit setup of some sort would be better than cards or tapes. That's what i meant by DTE, apologies. Would capture direct to a computer be the only way to get a fully resolute image at this point? at least with this price range - if it is around $5,000?


Basically, Direct to Edit wouldn't affect the quality of the footage coming off the camcorder, since it's still going to pass through the camera's processor for conversion to the HDV format. At that point, you've irreversibly lost a substantial amount of picture data. It's really an issue of workflow - that is, if it won't inhibit you to ingest footage in your NLE from tape after the shoot, then shooting to tape is likely to make for the cheapest and easiest workflow. If you would benefit from Direct to Edit, there are solutions like the Sony HVR-V1U's HVR-DR60 HDD recorder that will store an appreciable amount of footage that's immediately ready for editing.

The only way to affect the quality of footage coming off the camcorder is to bypass the HDV conversion stage, basically capturing footage "upstream" of that process. The only way that I know to do that within your budget is to use something like the Blackmagic Intensity card, combined with a camera that has an HDMI output port. To date, as far as I know, only Sony has that, and that's only on their more recent models (HVR-V1U included). JVC just announced a camera with HDMI at CES, but that's in a lower price range (see my thread on that - actually another potential route to go if you don't mind a kludgy setup). Higher end cameras like the Canon XL-H1 or XH-G1 have HD-SDI output built in, but that puts you in a whole new price bracket since you'll need corresponding HD-SDI gear.

So, you might start by taking a look at cameras like the Canon XH-A1 or the Sony HVR-V1U. Both offer film-like 24fps shooting modes, the former being a Canon-proprietary "24f" mode, and the latter being closer to true 24p with 3:2 pull-down to achieve 60i recording to tape. The Canon doesn't offer any way to bypass the HDV encoding, unfortunately, and while the Sony does, you'll still need to lug around that PC tethered via HDMI cable. That doesn't sound like it would work for your dog training shoot, but you can probably get away with shooting HDV there for portability's sake, and then using the HDMI-out where permitted on other projects.

Another consideration for the film look is depth of field - you're going to get *very* deep depth of field with any of these cameras due to the diminutive size of the imaging chip(s). To get shallower DOF you may want to look into a 35mm adapter like the RedRock M2 or the Cinevate Brevis35. Keep in mind that this throws a lot of portability out the window, and will add $1000-1500 plus the cost of 35mm SLR lenses to your budget.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 10:15 AM

Hi,

The little known issue with DVCPRO-HD is that it's only 100Mbps if you're shooting 60p. Data rate is linear with frame rate, so at 24p you're only using 40Mbps of the information.

Phil
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#10 Brandon Petrie

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 03:14 PM

Ahh. Thank you Troy.

So if I were to go the Sony route would it be possible to capture to a laptop? I guess if that laptop - it's a new macbook- had an HDMI hookup...

As far as the HVR-V1U goes, are there any drawbacks to that camera? as compared to the hvx200 or others in that prica range?



Also how does the HVR-V1U handle in low light?
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#11 Troy Warr

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 05:16 PM

Ahh. Thank you Troy.

So if I were to go the Sony route would it be possible to capture to a laptop? I guess if that laptop - it's a new macbook- had an HDMI hookup...

As far as the HVR-V1U goes, are there any drawbacks to that camera? as compared to the hvx200 or others in that prica range?
Also how does the HVR-V1U handle in low light?


Hi Brandon,

It *may* be possible to capture to a laptop, but I tend to think it wouldn't be practical since you're going to need a lot of disk space and processor power (to compress incoming footage), not to mention an open PCI slot for the Intensity card. I think that there are external PCI solutions for laptops, but that's another piece that you're going to have to lug around at the very least.

I would recommend contacting Blackmagic Design sales and telling them what you're thinking about doing. A couple of months ago I e-mailed them with several questions to get a better idea of the Intensity workflow, and they were very helpful and responsive. Be sure to be detailed about the gear that you have (and/or are looking into buying) so that they can give you as specific feedback as possible.

As for the strengths/weaknesses of the HVR-V1U, I can't really characterize that since I haven't used it and it's a very new camera. I can say that the camera uses Sony's ClearVid CMOS technology, which is a pretty new, unique design and also present on the Sony HDR-FX7. There is a review here that addresses some of your questions (the reviewer seemed to think it does just fine in low light), but if I recall correctly, this review was done with a pre-release camera. It may have been functionally equivalent, but I'd recommend doing some Googling to find a broader spectrum of opinions.
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#12 Thomas James

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 10:41 PM

All this talk of long GOP HDV versus DVC Pro HD but there is a third option and that is the SHORT GOP which is implemented in JVC 720p HDV cameras. This short GOP compression does wonders for increasing picture quality.
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