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HD Camera for Moviemaking


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#1 Juan Gautier

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 02:44 PM

Hi, im new to this cinematography world and therefor have a very basic question;

Can all HD Cameras shoot with the same quality, meaning that if i use a Sony HDW-900 i will get the same quality image that i can get with a say.....Canon XL-2 or any other cheaper than the Sony HDW-900???

If there is a difference in quality then what is it???

Edited by Juan Gautier, 28 March 2008 - 02:44 PM.

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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 03:20 PM

I'm quite sure this has been discussed here in the HD forum before, so try a search.

The short answer is no, they're not all the same quality. It's like cars on the road -- pretty much anything can get you down the street, but a Porsche 911 will outperform a Toyota Yaris any day...
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#3 Juan Gautier

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for the answer.
I tried looking but didn´t find anything that basic in the forum.

Yes, i guess there has to be a big difference between a 80,000 US Camera and a 3,000US, but how far you can go with a cheap camera proffesionally speaking and how cheap would it be?

When i say proffesionally i mean something like a shorth film or maybe a commercial
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:58 PM

It's a gray area. In addition to the aesthetic differences, TV networks also have their own technical QC standards. For example there has been some discussion here recently about Discovery channel (or Networks?) not accepting HVX200-originated material for the bulk of a program (you're allowed to include a small percentage of "inferior" format material within a program).

For things like short films or even feature films it's a gray area. People shoot MiniDV and try to put it up on the big screen sometimes (not always successfully), so there's no clear answer. It comes down to what can the camera really do, and if that serves the project. One project might do fine with a DVX100; another might demand the Genesis.

As for the cameras, there's a huge variety of little differences in their designs that adds up. The size/photosite count of the chips, the design of the chips, the signal processing (that's actually a huge part of it), and the recording format are some of the "highlights," but again there's even more than that that makes a difference.
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#5 Juan Gautier

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 12:36 AM

Thanks a lot man!!!
I´ll look around for some info on cameras to make the decision on how to move. I just don´t know anything about it and im very interested in it. Do you know where can i start looking for information on digital film???? and any good cheap cheap cameras to start with?? and when i mean cheap i mean cheap!!!

Edited by Juan Gautier, 29 March 2008 - 12:36 AM.

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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 02:15 PM

Do you know where can i start looking for information on digital film???? and any good cheap cheap cameras to start with?? and when i mean cheap i mean cheap!!!


There's an entire library of books here on the site; click the button at the top that says "Books." You might start with this one.

As for cameras, you just have to do your homework. There are only so many decent manufacturers of "prosumer" cameras (Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Canon), and they each offer a line of cameras. Shop and compare models. If you go for a "real cheap" consumer camera, you may not get basic features that you want for any kind of professional filmmaking (like iris and gain control, etc.).
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#7 Nate Downes

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 02:31 PM

In the end, I've found an $80,000 camera is an $80,000 camera, can get more out of it. There is a reason people pay that much.

Of course I'm the guy that shells out $20 for a flea market camera and managed to make it present the same as a $60,000 Arri... but it took a *lot* of extra money worth of modifications to do it.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 03:18 PM

Of course I'm the guy that shells out $20 for a flea market camera and managed to make it present the same as a $60,000 Arri... but it took a *lot* of extra money worth of modifications to do it.


And of course that's film, where much of the image quality is in the negative, not the camera...
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 03:30 PM

Thanks a lot man!!!
I´ll look around for some info on cameras to make the decision on how to move. I just don´t know anything about it and im very interested in it. Do you know where can i start looking for information on digital film???? and any good cheap cheap cameras to start with?? and when i mean cheap i mean cheap!!!


The trouble is that cheap is also a really vague term! :)

If you want a really cheap Hi-Def camera, then I personaly think the only option right now is the Canon HV20/HV30. It does 1080 with a true 24p mode, It's small, actually has a microphone socket (a big thing on a camera this cheap), Records to DV tapes in HDV (saving you money on media too), and nearly everyone seems to love it. The price is amazing but you lose some basic manual controls and have to fudge things a bit to control the thing.

If you have a few thousand to spend then it gets more intresting. The Sony EX1 is getting people excited at the moment, and Panasonic are supposed to be releasing a hi-def replacement for the dvx100. Yes a new one! ;)

There are all the usual suspects about as well. which you can easily read about by checking out these forums.

love

Freya
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#10 Juan Gautier

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 04:16 PM

Thank you very much people. I´ll follow your advices.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:50 AM

My advice would also be to check with locals and rental houses, see what they have which is in high demand, and then try to buy something around that range, or better if possible. Sometimes, just having a camera will get you work and at least a rental rate. But you have to of course offer a product the productions want to buy. Personally, I have liked the Sony Z1us myself. It's a bit older so you can get it after-market used, but that's just my personal preference. The HVX gets pimp'd a lot, though it has it's own problems with it. Shop around a bit, try to get your hands on the cameras which most interest you and try them out.
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#12 Juan Gautier

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 12:57 PM

The thing is that i live in a country that doesn´t have a well stablish industry yet. I´m talking about the Dominican Republic. Most of the things we do here are commercial and not really films in an artistic way, although some people are starting to make them. I´ll check those cameras and the book that was recommended. The intention is to get in that world wich i really like and express ideas in an artistic way, therefor i have a long road to travel and many of the choices i can make are not really Right or Wrong if we talk about art but i realize that techical things are a big part of some of the first choices one can make at the begining, at least financially speaking and your comments have been of great help guys. So thanks again....you´ll be reading more questions from me since i have a million of them!!!!
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#13 Nate Downes

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 08:28 PM

And of course that's film, where much of the image quality is in the negative, not the camera...

Precisely. Why should I pay for the quality only to have to buy a new camera in 12 months, when instead I have Kodak, Fuji or Foma update their product and I just enjoy the ride?
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#14 KrillianRed

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:29 PM

i just got the hd110u jvc, an idx battery, redrock m2 with nikkor 50mm 1.8

i think it'll do for my indie films
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#15 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:45 PM

Precisely. Why should I pay for the quality only to have to buy a new camera in 12 months, when instead I have Kodak, Fuji or Foma update their product and I just enjoy the ride?


Because you're already paying Kodak, Fuji or Foma, and a lab, and a transfer house... ;)
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#16 Nate Downes

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:03 PM

Because you're already paying Kodak, Fuji or Foma, and a lab, and a transfer house... ;)

Yes, but am I paying them $100,000 every year? I don't think so... 8)
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#17 Michael Nash

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 12:59 AM

Yes, but am I paying them $100,000 every year? I don't think so... 8)


Depends how many films you make per year, and how long they are. And you don't have to spend that much for a decent professional HD camera either.
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#18 Nate Downes

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 07:34 AM

Depends how many films you make per year, and how long they are. And you don't have to spend that much for a decent professional HD camera either.

There's been a price drop on the F23 with all accessories I haven't heard of?

I've tried the buidget HD setups (HVX200, FX7) and found all of them lacking. And as of yet I've never spent over $12k for filmstock, processing and telecine in a year. And the fun part is, shoot on film I can double my price.
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#19 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 02:17 PM

There's been a price drop on the F23 with all accessories I haven't heard of?

I've tried the buidget HD setups (HVX200, FX7) and found all of them lacking. And as of yet I've never spent over $12k for filmstock, processing and telecine in a year. And the fun part is, shoot on film I can double my price.



Your not even comparing apples to oranges here, more like grapes to watermelons! There are a lot of cameras in between the F23 and entry-level prosumer. Varicam/HDX900/HPX2000, Sony's XDCAM HD (not the new EX); A used F900...

Many people own and make a living using these tools, and more cheaply than they could do those productions on film. Each shoot is different and have their own criteria, but it's ridiculous to argue the economics of film over HD.
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#20 Nate Downes

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 03:33 PM

Your not even comparing apples to oranges here, more like grapes to watermelons! There are a lot of cameras in between the F23 and entry-level prosumer. Varicam/HDX900/HPX2000, Sony's XDCAM HD (not the new EX); A used F900...

Many people own and make a living using these tools, and more cheaply than they could do those productions on film. Each shoot is different and have their own criteria, but it's ridiculous to argue the economics of film over HD.

I've broken down the costs every few months, and as of yet, no HD setup would come up as less expensive than film for the work I've been offered.

But then again, I rent HD cams when they fit the project. HD does not make sence to own, with their rapid obsolescence, but it is ideal to rent.
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