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HDV camera buying advice


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#1 Jordan Ledy

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 07:15 PM

hey all,

I'm trying to figure out what camera i should buy. I am a college student interesting in shooting independent shorts and features, and potentially some documentary work. I love the look of film (shot some shorts on an arri-s16) but don't want to be bogged down with processing time and fees. I also want to get something that would give me the option down the line to blow up to 35mm without sacrificing too much quality, so I think hd is the way to go.
i also want the freedom to over and under crank, and this is where i'm having trouble. Is there anything less expensive than the Panasonic hvx200 that can shoot 24p hd as well as shoot at variable framerates? i'm pretty mystified as far as deciphering some of the technical specs camera companies throw in their brouchures, but i want to be able to shoot slow and fast motion in hd and be able to throw it on my computer quickly so i can edit in final cut.
Thanks a lot. -j
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#2 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 12:02 AM

Canon, Panasonic, Sony & JVC all make small HD or HDV cameras.

The Panasonic HVX is one of the only ones to offer variable frame rates.

You'll be hard put to find a HD camera with variable frame rates cheaper than that.
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#3 joe garcia

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 08:43 PM

HVX in my opnion,,, for the frame rates and the versitility of going DVPro tape and/or firestore

You do know they're not cheap new in the area of 6k but you can get a used one for that price with extras



cheers
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 13 December 2007 - 09:16 PM

You can also use most any camera today with the additon of various post production plug-ins and create the same over cranking and undercranking techniques that cameras like the HVX200 do. How much is your budget for a camera and all support needs (extras like lighting and tripod, etc)?

Based on your post I almost want to say get your feet wet with a camera that doesn't have all the bells and whistles but will give you the ability at finding your niche and comfortability with shooting, and worry about upgrading to somethign better later on. There are sub $1.5k HD cameras that make fantasic pictures.
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#5 Tom Musgrove

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 11:52 PM

I'm also looking for the right camera, everything I've read suggests getting the HV20, and as suggested above do the variable rate in post.

You can pick up an hv20 for ridiculous prices right now (750$+/-75$ from numerous legit places).

Or you can go with the rental of more expensive equipment, but personally my plan at this time is

1) HV20 - 700$

2) Assorted camera accessories (spare battery, filters, DIY adaptor for using standard camera lenses) - 300$ (possibly quite a bit larger)

3) Camera movement accessories - DIY (dolly, crane, looking for decent smooth tripod ideas still...) 200-400$

4) Sound 150$ - 300$ (low end quality shotgun mike, plus cheapo lav set)

5) Sound accessories - DIY boom, composite poll, vibration mounts - 200$

6) DIY lightkit 300$

7) Computer - already have - might get a second monitor - definitely a spare hard drive (250 GB for internal, plus probably the same for backups - although entirely likely I'll need more storage down the line), already got 4 GB of ram (100$) - an additional 400$.

8) software - contemplating going completely open source - Video - Cinelerra and/or Blender for NLE, Blender for Compositing, Titling, and Effects. Audio - Ardour, Rosegarden, plus assorted (I just switched to Ubuntu (Linux) for my primary OS after severe Vista stability issues so unless I switch back to Vista or purchase a copy of XP - I'll need to stick with open source solutions anyway...)

All told I figure I can get away with about 2,500-3,000$ worth of gear (excluding the computer itself which I already have) and software.

Tom M.
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#6 DAVID GUIVANT

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:15 AM

Thanks for the tip, my friend wants to invest in one as well.
So let's say you can get a good one for at least 700$?
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#7 Tom Musgrove

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 05:52 AM

B&H has an excellent price (all below 700$ with free shipping), as does amazon, and others - I'd go with B&H personally since it comes with a DVD that teaches you all of the features, and has a 25$ gift card, and B&H has a superb reputation.

Tom M.
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#8 Carlos Garcia D

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 02:57 PM

Very interesting, all this. I have a few questions. I was talking to my cinematography teacher and he basically told me that hdv cameras are not true HD since they have to compress the image they record to almost mini dv tape. He said the only way to get full HD out of them is to get the signal out directly and record it to another device. I dont know, he made it sound like it wasnt worth it. So my question would be, how much of a difference would be between the hv20 quality and the hvx200, since that one goes to the p2? And how much better would the quality of hdv compared to mini dv?

Also, the post production plug ins to vary the frame rate sounds really interesting, do you guys know of any links to research more into this?

Thanks in advance
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#9 Tom Musgrove

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 09:57 PM

So my question would be, how much of a difference would be between the hv20 quality and the hvx200, since that one goes to the p2?


You might want ask at the dvxuser and hv20 forums.

HV20 is 25 Mb/s recording; HVX200 on P2 is 100 Mb/s. As you note you can do straight to the HDMI out and that is 4Gb/s (will require something like the BlackMagic Intensity (240$) capture card, a compression codec (free one with the Intensity looses a lot of quality) such as NEO HD (599$) or NEO HDV (249$) which will also compress it but it is a higher quality compression).

You might want to read these threads

http://dvinfo.net/co...?t=94079&page=2

http://forum.videohe...opic338226.html

Tom M.
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#10 Tom Musgrove

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 10:05 PM

Hmm a different source states 960-1480Mb/s for HDMI out from the HV20 which sounds more reasonable, so ignore the 4Gb/s used above (it wouldn't let me edit it for some reason so posting a follow up instead).

Tom M.
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#11 Tom Musgrove

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 10:51 PM

Also see this thread regarding HV20 to film,

So, I would say if you are very careful with your exposure, and make sure that you get 95% of your "look" in camera using filters, and gels in the lighting. (the Minimum color grading possible in post). AND, make sure you avoid ANY kind of over exposure. (even spec hits) You could get some fantastic stuff from this camera that could easily be printed to film and no one would be the wiser as to the source. The thing is, to get that level of quality out of the camera, you would actually have to be BETTER (more meticulous) than a lot of the pros who are using film. The margin for error is a lot smaller with video. (And every cinematography class I've ever taken confirms it.)


http://www.hv20.com/...p?t=3845&page=2

The same critique of course applies to any digital video footage that is 8bit. Not sure what the HVX200 bit depth is when capturing to P2.

Tom M.
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Edited by Tom Musgrove, 12 January 2008 - 10:54 PM.

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#12 Walter Graff

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:01 AM

I was talking to my cinematography teacher and he basically told me that hdv cameras are not true HD since they have to compress the image they record to almost mini dv tape.


Tell your teacher he needs to take a course in HD formats, he is obviously confused and reads the crap spewed on the web and believes it. Most all HD formats compress a signal. Compression doesn't make something HD or not. And neither does the medium you record to. Compression was a necessity when television was invented and to this day we can afford to throw away information without any perceived loss of image. Most all HD systems made are compressed regardless of whether they are HDV, Varicam or HDCAM. That silly argument that HDV records to DV tapes makes about as much sense as saying that HDCAM records to betacam tapes, which it does. But that doesn't mean it's near Betacam quality. And ask your teacher if he has an HD set and watches HDTV. IF he says yes, ask him if he notices the difference from SD. And if he says yes, tell him that what he is watching is MPEG-2 transmission and MPEG-2 happens to be the same scheme used to record HDV.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:08 AM

HV20 is 25 Mb/s recording; HVX200 on P2 is 100 Mb/s


Just an important note. By themselves comparing these numbers as if to say P2 is four times 'better' would be absolutely wrong. Both schemes have different areas and methods of efficiency that in the end make them far closer than apart as simply looking at A vs B looks. And that doesn't even include the differences in the cameras, how they see an image and what methods they use to make that image into the final picture.
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#14 Carlos Garcia D

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:28 AM

Thanks for the links and responses, all very helpful
Ps I'm sure I didn't deliver accurately my teacher's views on the subject ;)
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#15 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:15 PM

You can also use most any camera today with the additon of various post production plug-ins and create the same over cranking and undercranking techniques that cameras like the HVX200 do. How much is your budget for a camera and all support needs (extras like lighting and tripod, etc)?

Based on your post I almost want to say get your feet wet with a camera that doesn't have all the bells and whistles but will give you the ability at finding your niche and comfortability with shooting, and worry about upgrading to somethign better later on. There are sub $1.5k HD cameras that make fantasic pictures.


This is not true. I have been searching for 4 years constantly for a plugin that will re-produce the look of overcranked footage. The simple awnser is, there isnt one. The complex awnser is, there are many plugins and programs that will allow you to acheive verry good looking time remaping, but none of these do it without some quality loss. Granted, with HD it wont be as noticable as SD, but you will still see it. As of now, in the sub $6-$7K range
the only two ways I have found to get good or perfect slow motion from any type of non-film camera is:

Using Adobe After Effects' (version 7 or later) Pixlemotion with footage that has ben shot at atleast 1/120ths shutter. This actually does look verry nice, as it litterly re-creats frames that arnt really there. BUT, and this is a big but, it does reduce the quality, and if there is alot of motion blur in the video, it has problems.

The best way to actually get PERFICT slow motion from any video (HD or otherwise) camera that is under the $7k mark is to just chock up and buy an HVX200 from Panny. I persionally have never even touched one, but I have seen a ton of overcranked shots done with the HVX and they look P-E-R-I-F-E-C-T. Period. A plus to this is, you will need no software other then your NLE (and maybe the plugin for the mxf files) to get slow motion. Granted, the HVX is pricey, as are P2 cards, but now that the cam is being shipped with a 16gig card, if you have a laptop, you can shoot your poop (pardon my french, but it sounds snazzy), drop it onto the laptop and do it again.

Maybe there are some plugins or apps I am unaware of, but I doubt it, since I have searched for ever to find a way to do it. If you know of another way, PLEASE LET US KNOW!!!


I will say this; I just got a Panny DVX100B and LOVE this thing, so I cant immagine what the HVX would be like.

Later,
Dory
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#16 Walter Graff

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 08:08 AM

This is not true.

I have been searching for 4 years constantly for a plugin that will re-produce the look of overcranked footage. The simple awnser is, there isnt one.

there are many plugins and programs that will allow you to acheive verry good looking time remaping

the only two ways I have found to get good or perfect slow motion from any type of non-film camera is:

Using Adobe After Effects' (version 7 or later) Pixlemotion with footage that has ben shot at atleast 1/120ths shutter. This actually does look verry nice

I persionally have never even touched one, but I have seen a ton of overcranked shots done with the HVX and they look P-E-R-I-F-E-C-T.


About the only thing I see you said that is 'true' is that you can get some great slow motion effects from any camera as have. Since you never touched a HVX200 so have not done side by side tests of creating slow mo, your answer is supposition as I see it. It's not about 'a plug in' but about the process, and knowing how to create the effect, just as a magic trick is not about the trick but about the trick and the person performing it. Last year we showed footage of slow motion using a HVX and a Canon HD1 and no one could tell which camera was which. Yes I have seen some great stuff done with a HVX. I have also seen some great looking footage shot with many cameras, but it was usually the content that drove my opinion of the results. The HVX makes the softest picture of all the cameras in it's class so anything it may gain by having variable rates is lost to cameras that perform much better and then have similar effects applied to them. But then again, as I said it's not just about a plug in but the process and the talent in creating the effect.
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#17 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 12:59 AM

You have a good point.

On the subject of the HVX being "softer," all the HVX footage I have ever worked with has been super super clear and crisp. Are you sure your not jsut hinking of the 1080 blowup it does?

Thanks,
Dory
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#18 Walter Graff

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:36 AM

You have a good point.

On the subject of the HVX being "softer," all the HVX footage I have ever worked with has been super super clear and crisp. Are you sure your not jsut hinking of the 1080 blowup it does?

Thanks,
Dory


I'll clarify my statement. By itself the HVX can look very good. But when you have the ability to shoot it side by side with its competitors, that is when you see that it makes the softest and least 'high' picture. Others such as Adam Wilt, et al, have also found the same results. In my tests with it and it's counterparts, it made the most disappointing picture when shooting identical footage with its counterparts. Of course we don't shoot footage side by side so we would not know that this is the case. By itself it can make very pleasing pictures. But if you are going for the high part of HD, it is not the best choice, especially when you mix it with other cameras footage as I have found.
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#19 Dory Breaux DP

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:26 PM

I'll clarify my statement. By itself the HVX can look very good. But when you have the ability to shoot it side by side with its competitors, that is when you see that it makes the softest and least 'high' picture. Others such as Adam Wilt, et al, have also found the same results. In my tests with it and it's counterparts, it made the most disappointing picture when shooting identical footage with its counterparts. Of course we don't shoot footage side by side so we would not know that this is the case. By itself it can make very pleasing pictures. But if you are going for the high part of HD, it is not the best choice, especially when you mix it with other cameras footage as I have found.


Got you. Thanks for pointing that out, I'll remember that when I get my next camera. Do keep in mind tho, its native resolution is only 720P. What other cams did you test it against? Just out of curiosity(SP???).

Thanks,
Dory
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#20 Walter Graff

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:01 PM

Got you. Thanks for pointing that out, I'll remember that when I get my next camera. Do keep in mind tho, its native resolution is only 720P. What other cams did you test it against? Just out of curiosity(SP???).

Thanks,
Dory



The HVX is a SD camera that uses pixel shift to simulate HD so it is not a simple as it being 720. It was a easy way for Pana to make an HD camera without putting much into it and hence making more money off of it than had they put the effort to start from the ground up. I did tests with the comparable Sony, JVC and Canon including DVD output, HD DVD/blueray and film out. In it's best day the HVX could not touch the other cameras sharpness, and overall HD look. It simply does not live up the the marketing hype but has a strong "Scientology-like" following.

Here is my initial testing of the camera with the JVC HD100.
http://www.bluesky-web.com/HDVHVX.htm

Regardless of how I tried, I could not get the HVX to look nearly as good as the HD100 in that test. When I had three other cameras to compare it to, it really showed it's ugly side.
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