Jump to content


Photo

What to buy? Sony FX7, Panasonic HMC40, etc.


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Jon Balkhead

Jon Balkhead

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Student

Posted 02 February 2010 - 04:30 AM

Looking to buy my first HD camera. Currently I'm considering the Pansonic HMC40 and the Sony FX7 most strongly -- based in large part on these video: (FX7), (FX7), (HMC40), and (HMC40).

Budget is not high (definitely sub $2000 -- preferably around $1500) and I'm perfectly fine (more or less planning on) buying used.

I prefer CCD to CMOS -- rolling shutter, noise pattern, etc., -- so all things being equal, I'd prefer a CCD to CMOS censor (I haven't found a CCD in my price range that I like). I want a camera that can handle detail well (woods, densely packed, deep focus compositions). Shallow DOF is not important to me. I will be shooting in low light often, but my low light requirements are different that most, probably: I like noise/texture, so ultra-clean low light performance isn't really important. Based on the videos above, I like the low-light performance of the FX7 and HMC40. Light sensitivity is important though, and the way the noise is rendered is important. I like fine noise rather than smeary, chunky noise. I'll be using hand-held and steadicam shots most often -- probably another reason why CCD would be preferable. 24p would be nice, but isn't necessarily a dealbreaker. Some slow motion capability is a plus.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on the two cameras I've mentioned, plus any others I may have overlooked.

(Also, I have looked at some of the HD capable DSLRs out there [GH1, etc], but I'm not really interested. I don't want 35mm DOF, which seems to be their main claim to fame. I'm not sure I can be sold on one of these.)

Edited by Tyler Rad Williamson, 02 February 2010 - 04:35 AM.

  • 0

#2 Jon Balkhead

Jon Balkhead

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Student

Posted 02 February 2010 - 11:59 PM

Ah, I forgot to mention this: I'd like for the camera to be able to engage gain even if the aperture isn't wide open and/or the shutter speed at its lowest. I don't think the HMC40 can do this; I'm not sure about the FX7

Edited by Tyler Rad Williamson, 03 February 2010 - 12:00 AM.

  • 0

#3 Evan Ferrario

Evan Ferrario
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Director

Posted 13 February 2010 - 03:41 AM

I have owned a fx7 for 2 and 1/2 years and although it does have drawbacks, i think it's an excellent camera for the price. The one thing I love it for is how it handles night shooting. Of course there is noise, but when I was shopping for my camera I compared it to a fx1 in low light and the fx7 was clearly the winner. The fx1 got gray as it got into low light, the fx7 does pick up video noise once you boost the gain, but the colors stay vibrant, even at night.

My biggest complain with the camera were from the HDV codec where the image gets blurry and artifacts when the camera moves too fast, but this is a problem you will have with anything using HDV, not the camera itself. I have a blackmajic hdmi capture card in my computer which can captures HD straight from the fx7 skipping the HDV compression. The results from this are amazing.

The other biggest drawback of the fx7 is that it will only shoot 60i. The fact that it's big brother the V1U had a 24p recording mode made me want to made the upgrade,but I stuck with the fx7. I had a V1U available to me from my school and I did a shoot with both cameras. After I imported the footage, I converted the 60i footage to 24p. The 60i converted to 24p looked identical to the 24p footage shot on the v1U. It sucks to have the added step of compressing footage to 24p, but this method yields the same results as the v1U recording 24p on the fly. I am very happy with the 24p I got from my FX7 although I found it translated to 720p better than 1080p, but once again, I think this has to do with HDV being a stretch to HD, not the camera in particular.

If possible, get your hands on both cameras and try them out. Being a sony guy, I've come to love the vx1000 shape of camera with a handle on top but I know the shape isn't everyones favorite.

Here is a trailer to a film I shot on the FX7 (watch it in HD), all the shots have been converted to 24p and heavily color corrected but it gives you a good idea of what the camera is capable of. http://www.youtube.c...u/8/t2_kGjJ1XMY
  • 0

#4 Jon Balkhead

Jon Balkhead

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Student

Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:35 AM

Thanks so much for the reply, Evan. I was beginning to think that I'd never get any advice out of this thread.

That's a very convincing recommendation for the FX7. I was leaning toward the FX1 as of now because of the 1/3 CCDs vs the 1/4 CMOS, but I had heard about the FX1 losing color in low light. The HMC40 -- though I hate the body (very small and cheap looking and (probably) feeling -- is a fierce competitor considering its 24p and 720 60p slow motion. I'm not sure about its low light, though. That's very important factor to me. I'll likely be shooting in low-light a lot.

Your trailer gives a good sense of what the FX7 can do at its best. (The photography is impressive, by the way -- great colors, beautiful landscapes.) I don't think I could go wrong choosing it, especially at $1500 - $1700 used -- a bargain.

I hope some others will weigh in. I'm still deeply undecided. The XH A1 seems to combine a lot of the positive features of these cameras -- the solid body, attractiveness of the FX1, the 24p (f in the Canon's case) of the HMC40, the computationally undemanding nature of HDV, and excellent low-light, exceeding any of the camera's I'm considering according to most. It's just outside my price range though. Used, it almost always goes for $2000+.

Keep the responses coming, please. Thanks again Evan (and by the way, how did you get that opening shot -- you didn't rent a chopper, did you?!)
  • 0

#5 Evan Ferrario

Evan Ferrario
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts
  • Director

Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:11 AM

My grandfather owns a small plane and he flew me over some forest areas one day. I got the shot while he was leaning the plane as far as he could and I was looking out the window.
  • 0


Glidecam

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Tai Audio

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Opal

Technodolly

Tai Audio

CineLab