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Varicam vs SDX900


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#1 Bob Hayes

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 11:48 PM

I have a show coming up with lots of beach exteriors. I'm trying to decide between the Varicam and the SDX 900. Any ideas?
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#2 Christopher Bell

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 10:42 AM

The Varicam is, by some distance, the superior camera. I have owned both and I think the SDX is a fantastic camera. The Varicam's higher resolution, however, places it in a class of it's own. Variable frame rate, and adjustable dynamic range gives you better, more film like images. If you are going for the "video" look, 60p is a good as it gets... this is why most live sports is shot in 60p.

I have owned my Varicam for a year now, and as a former Aaton XTR owner, I can say that it is the "filmmaker's HD camera". It has the same frame rate range as my Aaton, therfore I can think like a cameraman (if you know what I mean). I just returned from Hawaii where I shot on a beach at 60fps. The converted slow-mo footage looked amazing... very commercial like.

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#3 Daniel Andreas

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 11:34 PM

I have a show coming up with lots of beach exteriors. I'm trying to decide between the Varicam and the SDX 900.  Any ideas?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Even in A/B comparisons the cinematic image of the SDX900 is virtually indistinguishable from both VariCam and CineAlta! Having shot with both an F900 and a SDX900 in a comparative scenario where we finished on D5, we found that the SDX900 held up REALLY well. If you finish in HD the Varicam is definitely a good choice, if your final project is in SD there is NO reason to shoot on the Varicam, and if you are undecided you can shoot on the SDX900 and easily uprez to full HD.

Most of the settings of the SDX are indentical with the Varicam, including the two cine gamas, color matrix, and all the extensive contrast control.

Nat Geo who traditionally shoots on film (Super 16 or 35mm) now shoots on the SDX for several of its high-profile documentaries:
http://www.creativem...le.jsp?id=25973

Other shows that shoot on the SDX include PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Bravo) and THE COMEBACK with Lisa Kudrow on HBO http://www.hbo.com/comeback/about/
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#4 Daniel Andreas

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 11:35 PM

I have a show coming up with lots of beach exteriors. I'm trying to decide between the Varicam and the SDX 900.  Any ideas?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Even in A/B comparisons the cinematic image of the SDX900 is virtually indistinguishable from both VariCam and CineAlta! Having shot with both an F900 and a SDX900 in a comparative scenario where we finished on D5, we found that the SDX900 held up REALLY well. If you finish in HD the Varicam is definitely a good choice, if your final project is in SD there is NO reason to shoot on the Varicam, and if you are undecided you can shoot on the SDX900 and easily uprez to full HD.

Most of the settings of the SDX are indentical with the Varicam, including the two cine gamas, color matrix, and all the extensive contrast control.

Nat Geo who traditionally shoots on film (Super 16 or 35mm) now shoots on the SDX for several of its high-profile documentaries:
http://www.creativem...le.jsp?id=25973

Other shows that shoot on the SDX include PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Bravo) and THE COMEBACK with Lisa Kudrow on HBO http://www.hbo.com/comeback/about/

I have been using the SDX900 on many projects with high-profile clients such as IBM, HP, Neutrogena and Maverick Records and the clients could not be happier.
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#5 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 12:29 AM

Even in A/B comparisons the cinematic image of the SDX900 is virtually indistinguishable from both VariCam and CineAlta! Having shot with both an F900 and a SDX900 in a comparative scenario where we finished on D5, we found that the SDX900 held up REALLY well. If you finish in HD the Varicam is definitely a good choice, if your final project is in SD there is NO reason to shoot on the Varicam, and if you are undecided you can shoot on the SDX900 and easily uprez to full HD.

Most of the settings of the SDX are indentical with the Varicam, including the two cine gamas, color matrix, and all the extensive contrast control.

Nat Geo who traditionally shoots on film (Super 16 or 35mm) now shoots on the SDX for several of its high-profile documentaries:
http://www.creativem...le.jsp?id=25973

Other shows that shoot on the SDX include PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Bravo) and THE COMEBACK with Lisa Kudrow on HBO http://www.hbo.com/comeback/about/


I have been using the SDX900 on many projects with high-profile clients such as IBM, HP, Neutrogena and Maverick Records and the clients could not be happier.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hello,
I agree that the SDX is a good camera, but to say that shooting on the SDX then uprezzing to HD is just as good as originating in HD is not true, otherwise everyone would shoot SD and just uprez instead of paying higher prices for HD cameras and equipment. I haven't used the Varicam but have used the SDX and the F900 and I disagree that the SDX rivalls the F900, for one I found that the F900 seemed to have a much wider lattitude (which was particularly helpful in shooting bright day exteriors), both for holding highlight and shadow detail, wereas the SDX seemed to have a lattitude far closer to mini-DV than that of the F900.
That's just my opinion from having used the cameras, no offense.
Cheers.
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#6 Tim J Durham

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:33 AM

Hello,
I agree that the SDX is a good camera, but to say that shooting on the SDX then uprezzing to HD is just as good as originating in HD is not true, otherwise everyone would shoot SD and just uprez instead of paying higher prices for HD cameras and equipment. I haven't used the Varicam but have used the SDX and the F900 and I disagree that the SDX rivalls the F900, for one I found that the F900 seemed to have a much wider lattitude (which was particularly helpful in shooting bright day exteriors), both for holding highlight and shadow detail, wereas the SDX seemed to have a lattitude far closer to mini-DV than that of the F900.
That's just my opinion from having used the cameras, no offense.
Cheers.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Tomas,
The way I set the camera up, I am able to get nearly 12 stops of dynamic range.
It's nothing at all like a Mini-DV cam. If you are using the SDI out, it's even better in holding
detail as the compression is lighter. But even using the on-board deck, it's worlds better than any Mini-DV cam as far as RECORDED dynamic range.
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#7 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 03:23 PM

Hi Tomas,
The way I set the camera up, I am able to get nearly 12 stops of dynamic range.
It's nothing at all like a Mini-DV cam. If you are using the SDI out, it's even better in holding
detail as the compression is lighter. But even using the on-board deck, it's worlds better than any Mini-DV cam as far as RECORDED dynamic range.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Tim,
I never actually said it was like a mini-DV camera, I said the dynamic range seemed closer to mini-DV's than it did to that of the F900, of course it also depends on how you set-up the camera but having used both cameras I felt that the F900 retained way more information in the shadow areas of the tonal scale but also in the highlights, whereas I have used the Xl2 and got results close to that of the SDX in terms of tonal range (by playing with the XL2 menus). Dont 'get me wrong the SDX has a wider lattitude than Mini-DV (especially if you manipulate the menus the right way) my feeling was that it was just closer to that of an XL2 than that of the F900, but thats just in my experience and opinion.
Cheers.
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#8 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 03:35 PM

...dynamic range seemed closer to mini-DV's

It is a tape format ie., data storage. Dynamic range is not a property of MiniDV.
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#9 Tim J Durham

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 04:36 PM

Hi Tim,
I never actually said it was like a mini-DV camera, I said the dynamic range seemed closer to mini-DV's than it did to that of the F900, of course it also depends on how you set-up the camera but having used both cameras I felt that the F900 retained way more information in the shadow areas of the tonal scale but also in the highlights, whereas I have used the Xl2 and got results close to that of the SDX in terms of tonal range (by playing with the XL2 menus). Dont 'get me wrong the SDX has a wider lattitude than Mini-DV (especially if you manipulate the menus the right way) my feeling was that it was just closer to that of an XL2 than that of the F900, but thats just in my experience and opinion.
Cheers.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Tomas,
I don't dispute that you had those results, only the conclusion you arrived at. According to the published science I'm familiar with on the F900 and the SDX900 (and my own personal experience with the SDX900 and a variety of the top MiniDV cameras) the dynamic range of the SDX900 is much closer to that of the F900 (around 12 stops for both) than it is to the best MiniDV cam (around 9 stops).

There are lots of reasons one would choose the F900 over the SDX900, but dynamic range is not one of them. Or shouldn't be.
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#10 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 06:37 PM

It is a tape format ie., data storage. Dynamic range is not a property of MiniDV.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


John Smith,
I think you are being facetious , I think that if you read my posy carefully it is clear that what I meant was the dynamic range of mini-DV cameras I have used before , not Mini-DV the format itself.
I find it quite annoying that everything has to be spelled out so literaly on this forum otherwise some people try to tell you something you already know, as if they are doing you a favour when really it seems like nitpicking to make themselves feel superior -that's not a reference to you Tim, I respect what you have to say (on this and other posts) and am sure you are right about the dynamic range issue, I was just saying that on the one shoot I used the SDX the resulting lattitude or dynamic range SEEMED on my monitor closer to that of Mini-DV CAMERAS (not the format itself) I have used in the past than the F900 which I have used many times.
I didn't have a chance to play with the menus at all on the SDX, I turned up on the shoot day not knowing which camera we were going to use and then was given the SDX and told by the Director "I had a tech set-up the menus to their best specs. so please don't change them", I didn't even have a chance to prep the camera at all, I was just handed the camera and had to start shooting, the shoot was so rushed and unorganized that I didn't even get a second to look through the menu's to see what settings the tech had applied- so for all I know he may have purposely decreased the dynamic range in camera.
As I said before I was not claiming to make a statement about the camera's abiltiy to record a certain dynamic range I was just comparing what I have seen on monitors when using the F900 and XL2, with what I saw on the monitor the time I used the SDX.
I don't think thats too outragous do you?
Cheers.

Edited by Tomas Haas, 05 September 2005 - 06:41 PM.

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#11 Tim J Durham

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:11 PM

I didn't have a chance to play with the menus at all on the SDX, I turned up on the shoot day not knowing which camera we were going to use and then was given the SDX and told by the Director "I had a tech set-up the menus to their best specs. so please don't change them", I didn't even have a chance to prep the camera at all, I was just handed the camera and had to start shooting, the shoot was so rushed and unorganized that I didn't even get a second to look through the menu's to see what settings the tech had applied- so for all I know he may have purposely decreased the dynamic range in camera.
As I said before I was not claiming to make a statement about the camera's abiltiy to record a certain dynamic range I was just comparing what I have seen on monitors when using the F900 and XL2, with what I saw on the monitor the time I used the SDX.
I don't think thats too outragous do you?
Cheers.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi Tomas,
I had a two-camera shoot in NY last year that was set up without a prep day. So I called the rental house a couple days in advance and spoke to the head guy and asked him to please make sure the cameras match as I would not have time to do it myself. So I went to pick them up and only had time to load all the gear, then we were on our way to the shoot. I had to move copious amounts of furniture, set up the lights, tripods, monitor, etc and all that took most of the set-up time and I put the cams on the tripods and into the same monitor that I could check both cams as I shot. Well, the cameras didn't match in one single parameter, short of being in 16x9 and 24p. Once again, lesson learned the hard way.

Prep time makes all the difference.
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