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Buying first prosumer camera.....advice needed!


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#1 Dave Jones

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 02:08 PM

After years of making home movies with a consumer camcorder, I am ready to make the jump to the prosumer arena to make documentaries.

At the moment, I have two diverse interests - the Rocky Mountains and motor sports (well, I live close to Indianapolis!). I would like a camera that can capture the beauty of mountain scenery in the Fall and be versatile enough to cover live, fast-paced, sporting events that require minimal set-up times for shots.

I have narrowed my camera selection down to four cameras. I think I would prefer the "film-look" in most cases and also wish to have as much "wide angle" capability as possible for mountain shots and racing track shots. I would like to stay within a $3000 - $3500 budget. I can go higher, but I need to justify to myself the extra expense....

The four cameras I have identified are the following:

1) Panasonic AG-DVX100B - Overall, my first choice after some research. The two things that bug me about this camera is no 16:9 capability and cannot change out lenses. When I think of shooting mountains, I think of wide angle shots and wide screen to capture their full glory. NO PANNING! Is my thinking flawed?

2) Canon XL2 - True 16:9 format, interchangeable lenses (although the lenses are pricey!). Doesn't look as user-friendly as DVX100.

3) Canon XH G1, Panasonic HVX200 - Better picture quality than the previous two, although a lot more expensive.

One last consideration is how well these cameras perform in low light. Will their performance drop significantly for sunsets/sunrises and night racing shots?

For the subjects I want to shoot, are there other things to consider? Advice would be much appreciated...
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 02:15 PM

I've shot all of these cameras except the XH, and I would say either the DVX or XL2 would be ideal choices. I'd lean more towards the XL2, personally for the aforementioned interchangeable lenses (which you can rent on a need basis). I disliked the HVX for a few reasons, but it's still a very robust camera as it's built off of the DVX. Both the HVX and DVX can be more "filmic" but you need to invest in a SLR mount for lens interchangeability, such as the Red Rock M2. Good SLR glass can get pricey too, as can the adapter and accessories. I have only recently begun using a Red Rock and while I enjoy the DoF control, I think that the loss of light is not a good trade-off. but I'm going off topic.
If you want to get all of a mountain in a shot, you can always move further back, so don't worry too much so about how "wide" the lens is (also, the wider the angle of the lens the more lens distortion you'll get on vertical lines.)
Don't forget to factor in all the other costs: editing system, good tripod, monitor (is preferable) cases, audio etc. But I think overall you'll be a-ok with any of those cameras. Stay away from the HD/V unless you need it. The DVX and XL2, for SD cameras can produce amazing images.

my two cents.
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 03:20 PM

Interchangeable lens option would indeed be very handy for the Rocky Mountains and not just for wide angle shooting. Although the lens adapter and Canon EF lenses are fairly pricey, the huge magnification that you would get by using 35mm format lenses on the Canon XL2 would be great for getting frame filling shots of wildlife like elk and bears.
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#4 Dave Jones

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 11:58 AM

Thanks Adrian for your summary.....much appreciated.

Great point about the 35mm format lenses, Patrick. Yes, the bears have become more visible in recent years. Can't wait to film them.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 12:21 PM

Glad I could be of some help :D
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#6 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 03:09 PM

I'd roll with the XL2 and a good wide angle adapter for what your talkin about. I love those mountains as well, and like to shoot there whenever possible. Stay away from hi def tho.
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#7 AdamBray

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:44 PM

Or you can get an XL2 and put a DVX 16:9 adapter on it for the ultra wide 2:35
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