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Finding the right tool for the job NVGS230 vs HV20 vs MD101


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#1 Freya Black

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 12:38 PM

Hmmm I find myself slightly lost.

I have a project I want to shoot but there are a number of problems, the biggest being that the location is very unsecure. I think it's unlikely to be secured anytime soon as I've complained about it lots and it always falls on deaf ears.

This annoys me as I would like to shoot the project on my DXC-325p, but it will be a pain for me to haul it back and forth on public transport over and over. I still havn't got the thing set up properly anyway as I need to power the thing and I either need a cable to the huge PSU/CCU I have or an NP1 battery setup, or to rig something DIY up. In addition I'd need a mixer of some sort too, tho I might get away with using the little audio buddy I have I guess. It's a lot to haul around and I expect I'm going to need to bring lighting too.

Anyway the project I want to shoot is for the web and possibly DVD. Resolution is not the big issue but the quality of video can of course be affected lots of other ways.

I'm looking around at low end camcorders and it seems like a wonderful time for very low end video right now. 3 cameras realy stand out.

The Canon MD101: On paper this looks like an incredible camera. £150 and it comes with a microphone socket! Seems like it would be nice to have just as a minidv camera you can sling in your handbag and not worry about too much. It's nasty 1 chip but then I can always make my video B&W. What worries me is that I can't find out the filter size anywhere and one place seemed to imply it doesn't have filter threads which would obviously be bad. I'm sure this can't be the case but I just can't find out much. Anyone used one?

The Panasonic NV-GS230: A 3 chip video camera for £250! It also has a microphone socket and I suspect will be very nice in theory. It might make a nice portable 3 chip alternative to the dxc. It seems like it would solve the problem basically and might be a good fit for what I want to do, yet there is...

The Canon HV20: Obviously very much a camera of the moment. Not only is it high definition but Progressive, has analogue in and most of all, also has a microphone socket! Wow! It's a bit my dream camera but it's £600 and it's only a 1 chip camera, I'm wondering if the panasonic might fit the bill better realistically.

At the end of the day I'm really fussy about the images that cameras produce. I love the footage that my old canon video8 camera produces, (awful sound tho) and I love the pictures from the dxc and its huge fujinon lens. I hate the footage from my canon mv series minidv camera. Loved the footage from the canon xl1s. Hated the footage from a PD150 and vastly preffered the footage from one of those modern sony handycams with the supposed zeiss lenses to the PD150, I quite like those. *shrug* I'm guesing it's at least partly different lenses so I'm going to have to find somewhere I can play with all 3 and see which I like.

However I wondered what other people thought, if I'm going to be in standard definition or lower anyway, wouldn't I be better with a 3 chip camera than the HV20? I'd save some cash too which is badly needed right now and might give a little more cash for production??

...Or should I plow on with trying to use the dxc-325p. I know that will produce great results but it seems impractical for the mix of location and the kind of video I'm working on, and it will probably mean stalling around longer trying to get together al the bits and make it all work and I need to get working soon. ASAP in fact.

I know this is the opposite to the kind of question we normally find on here where people are normaly fighting to use more and more complicated and fancy equipment setups, whereas I have the fancy equipment people might lust after but I'm considering using something lower end because it seems a bit impractical, but I'm not sure.

I'm all a bit confused about it as you can probably tell.

love

Freya
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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 12:23 PM

Hiya!

Well I tried to get a look at the 3 cameras in a shop! Unfortunately 3 of the 4 Jessops in the city where I live have been shut down. Looks like they have had a massive cut back on stores. Whats more the one I went to had very few camcorders in the cabinet. I tried to find some other stores but Dixons no longer exists and I couldn't really find anything else. I guess I'm not going to be able to see the cameras which is a pain. I did get to see the MD101 and an even cheaper but very similar (almost exactly the same in fact) canon mini dv camera. I found out that the MD101 really doesn't have a filter thread! It looks like it kind of has one but it has corners in it instead of being round. It's sort of squarish. Really silly because this isn't a feature that costs money to add to a camera its just a matter of having the moulding a certain way! I guess you could still tape filters to the front but it's no use really for accessory lenses. Still maybe someone on a low budget could rig something up. I took a look at the pictures and wasn't that keen although I did think they were slightly nicer than the canon camcorder I already have but also kind of similar looking. Given the near £100 price tag tho, and the fact these cameras have a microphone socket, they are sort of neat.

I'm leaning towards biting the bullet and just getting the panasonic. I was however really suprised that no stores had a canon HV20 for me to look at. It seemed kind of insane seeing as it seems to be such a popular camera at the moment. They just had all these hard disc recorder cameras! :( Weird.
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#3 Seun Osewa

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 12:51 PM

Definitely the Canon HV20.
- It has only one sensor, but it's a much bigger sensor.
- Also, a 1CCD HD Camera is much better than a 3CCD DV Camera.

If you capture in 1080p video and downconvert to DV, the result will be gorgeous.

I own a Panasonic GS-500 (better than GS-320),
but I'd swap it for a Canon HV20 any day. That's my next budget camcorder!
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 02:39 PM

Hi,

I played with an HV20 last week. It's somewhat better than the single chip sounds, since it's rather higher resolution than the resulting image - to wit, if the Red is 4K (which it isn't), the HV20 is full HD. Which it also isn't, but it's fairly decent.

There are two downsides. First off, it's tricky (but possible) to get manual iris control and switch off gain. Google for information on the somewhat convoluted technique. Second, it's a rolling shutter, again like Red, and again it can cause skew or ripple when the camera moves. It's not good, but it's not a deal-breaker for that money.

Get a friend in the US to buy one. They're on ebay for $600 (£300!)

Record it uncompressed to an Intensity card. Fantabulous pictures.

Phil
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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 06:57 AM

oooh! I wasn't expecting this thread to return from the dead! :)

I did get a chance to play with one of the low end Panasonics. I really liked it, the colour was really nice, unfortunately it still suffered from very noticable barrel distortion when it was wide. Not as bad as the cheap canons but still a little annoying.

I also got to play a little with a DVX100B! Wow! I liked this camera a lot more and didn't really notice barrel distortion tho we might have been a bit more zoomed in but the pictures were preety great even when we didn't make much effort (I think the camera was on a preset and we just bounced a really ancient fresnal light off a bit of white board). It was very knocked together circumstances.

Barrel distortion definitely appears to be linked to lens size. Just going by filter thread size, the canons are generally about 30mm, the panasonic is 37mm and the DVX is 72 (although the actual lens in that case looks noticably smaller than the filter thread). I think it's just hard for the lens people to make these tiny zooms. My Video8 camera has a 46mm thread, and the lens exhibits a LOT less barrel distortion than most video cameras I play with. It's preety annoying as it's a really, really nasty cheap bit of rubbish, but lens wise I actually prefer it to the PD-150.

I'm optimistic about the HV20 as the lens has a 52mm thread but so far I've had no luck finding anywhere that has one despite it being a camera with such a massive following. :(

I have to say I'm not that bothered about the high resolution of the images, as thats actually more likely to be a pain than useful, however if the higher resolution allows for better colour reproduction then I would be intrested. I know Walter Graff seems to suggest that downsizing images doesn't neccecarily make them better, however it's a strange situation when you are working with a 1 chip camera, as maybe it can keep more colour information??? *shrug*

love

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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:10 AM

Thanks Phil! I'm guessing you just got back!

Hi,

I played with an HV20 last week. It's somewhat better than the single chip sounds, since it's rather higher resolution than the resulting image - to wit, if the Red is 4K (which it isn't), the HV20 is full HD. Which it also isn't, but it's fairly decent.


Well I'm not really bothered about higher resolution. In fact I think it would probably just be more bother given the kind of low budget production we are taling about. However colour reproduction I AM intrested in, as such the 1 chipness is a bit annoying. Can you pull more colour info out when downsizing somehow and would this require special intelligent software to examine the colour information?

There are two downsides. First off, it's tricky (but possible) to get manual iris control and switch off gain. Google for information on the somewhat convoluted technique. Second, it's a rolling shutter, again like Red, and again it can cause skew or ripple when the camera moves. It's not good, but it's not a deal-breaker for that money.


I read about the problems and they aren't neccesarily that bad for me as the camera is likely to be locked off on a tripod and I guess I can rig something up for iris control.

Get a friend in the US to buy one. They're on ebay for $600 (£300!)


Wow! even cheaper! Yes I've been thinking of taking a US holiday. The DVX is also intresting from that point of view.

Record it uncompressed to an Intensity card. Fantabulous pictures.


What is an intensity card?

love

Freya
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:14 AM

Definitely the Canon HV20.
- It has only one sensor, but it's a much bigger sensor.
- Also, a 1CCD HD Camera is much better than a 3CCD DV Camera.

If you capture in 1080p video and downconvert to DV, the result will be gorgeous.

I own a Panasonic GS-500 (better than GS-320),
but I'd swap it for a Canon HV20 any day. That's my next budget camcorder!


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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:29 AM

Thanks for the reply Seun!

I'm wondering in what way the 1ccd HD camera will be better than a 3ccd camera when you are downconverting anyway. Can you elaborate?

I'm not sure if the result will be gorgeous, ;) we managed to get okay results from the DVX which I hope will be nice if carefully edited. There is limited time and resources which means bad compromises being made, which I guess is why I'm looking at these cameras in the first place.

Panasonic GS500 sounds nice and like the HV20 was a camera with quite a folowing when they still made it..

Note I was talking about the GS230 and not the GS320, whereas the latter is supposed to be a better model, it doesn't have the mic or headphone connections that the GS-230 has.

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#9 Seun Osewa

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 10:58 AM

Thanks for the reply Seun!

I'm wondering in what way the 1ccd HD camera will be better than a 3ccd camera when you are downconverting anyway. Can you elaborate?

I'm not sure if the result will be gorgeous, ;) we managed to get okay results from the DVX which I hope will be nice if carefully edited. There is limited time and resources which means bad compromises being made, which I guess is why I'm looking at these cameras in the first place.

Panasonic GS500 sounds nice and like the HV20 was a camera with quite a folowing when they still made it..

Note I was talking about the GS230 and not the GS320, whereas the latter is supposed to be a better model, it doesn't have the mic or headphone connections that the GS-230 has.

love

Freya


Try taking a digital photo with a modern single chip digital still camera and scaling it to DV resolution in photoshop. Then compare the resulting image with a frame grab taken with a DV camera. A 3CCD chip is better if the resolution of the sensor is not much greater than the resolution of the intended output medium, otherwise all that matters is the effective size of the chip. If the image from s single sensor camera is good enough for HD, it would be perfect by the time you downsample to DV.

Let me put it this way. The much-praised RED 4K camera is also a single chip camera, and is has no color reproduction problems. Same applies to the Panavision Genesis. These are all high end digital video cameras good enough for Hollywood studios, and they have just one chip. A single large chip with lots of pixels beats 3 tiny chips.

Try getting some HD framegrabs on the Internet, downsampling to DV in photoshop and compare with DV framegrabs. The difference is clear. So you'll probably get better DVD videos from the HD camera. For 320x240px web videos, there is no difference.
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 12:09 PM

Try getting some HD framegrabs on the Internet, downsampling to DV in photoshop and compare with DV framegrabs. The difference is clear. So you'll probably get better DVD videos from the HD camera. For 320x240px web videos, there is no difference.


But I can still see the difference in colour reproduction from a 1chip camera downsampled from DV to web video and a 3 chip camera downsampled from DV to web?

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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:51 PM

Hi,

Let's put it this way - if you have an image 1920 pixels across which has colour resolution of, say, half that, and you then downscale it to 720 pixels across, you're going to have averaged out most of the error.

An Intensity card is a computer add-on that allows you to record HDMI signals, such as those that come out of the HV20. This is good because the HDMI output is uncompressed, avoiding your images looking like Youtube videos when you zoom in. Obviously you're then stuck hauling a computer around to record to, but it's done all the time on big movies and the pictures are rather nice.

Phil
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 06:42 AM

Hi,

Let's put it this way - if you have an image 1920 pixels across which has colour resolution of, say, half that, and you then downscale it to 720 pixels across, you're going to have averaged out most of the error.


But will I need special software to do this, to calculate which bits of the colour info to keep and what to throw away or can I just use any old NLE to downsample, or even the camera itself in DV mode?

and will the colour be highly accurate but kind of washed out looking? ;)

An Intensity card is a computer add-on that allows you to record HDMI signals, such as those that come out of the HV20. This is good because the HDMI output is uncompressed, avoiding your images looking like Youtube videos when you zoom in. Obviously you're then stuck hauling a computer around to record to, but it's done all the time on big movies and the pictures are rather nice.


Ah I googled! It's a blackmagic card, I understand what you mean now, for a while I thought it was a kind of memory card like P2 or something!
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 08:34 AM

> But will I need special software to do this, to calculate which bits of the colour info
> to keep and what to throw away or can I just use any old NLE to downsample, or
> even the camera itself in DV mode?

You just need to use a reasonable resizer. I would avoid using the camera, since it may use a fairly rough and ready algorithm that's cheap to implement in hardware, and in any case you'll then end up with a DV compressed result. Any competent NLE should be OK, though. If I was to shoot a bunch of stuff with an HV20 I'd probably use Virtualdub or AVIsynth to downscale all my material en masse, as a batch operation, before importing it into the NLE.

If you choose to do this (and you should, regardless of how you record it, if you want SD results) then you will of course want to handle the video as uncompressed thereafter. Most modern PCs are, with care, capable of doing so.

> and will the colour be highly accurate but kind of washed out looking? ;)

Well, it's never going to be an F900, but practically all DSLRs work this way and there's not much wrong with them, especially if you downscale them.

Phil
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#14 Seun Osewa

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 01:46 PM

Yeah, any NLE would do although I personally would use VirtualdubMod and the highest quality resampling algorithm it has. For other NLEs it's a matter of resizing in "best quality" mode.

Here are some Canon HV20 images you can play with:
http://www.canonhv20...0-sample-images

I would never buy a single CCD DV camera, but the 3CCD GS 320 is more than good enough for web videos. For creating DVDs of the highest quality, I'd buy the Canon HV20, though the GS-320 is capable of doing a very good job. The Canon HV20 costs about the same as my GS-500 did one year ago.
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