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DVX100B or VIXIA HF100???? To HD or Not to HD, THAT is the question!

thinkbeinteresting's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2009 - 3:12am

I'm a video production student as well as a news intern. The news station has told me to buy a camera and start putting together my own packages. I have dreams of shooting a documentary, but I could also possibly get hired by the station. I'm currently training with their shooters as well as in writing/producing. I ended up buying a new dvx100b for $2000 total (we use the original dvx100 at school and I'm familiar with it) but immediately had buyer's remorse. I've heard so many professional opinions I don't know which way to turn. Here's the gist:

1. ME: I'm familiar with the DVX line, like it and it has a good rep (plus I won't deny it looks professional) I would like manual control and XLR inputs but would put up with an audio input used in consumer lines (guessing 1/8 inch)

2. Teacher 1 opinion: "DVX100b is a great camera and HD is changing fast. wait and save for HD."

3. Teacher 2 opinion: "buy a cheaper HD camera and rent a fancy cam when you get hired for gigs - it's all about framing anyway."

4. Stringers use even cheaper canon HD's and their video makes the news

5. opinion 5:"Everyone wants HD, no one will pay for your lame-o SD...SD is over."

6. Opinion 6: "DV tapes take too long to ingest."

7. Teacher 1: "Data/video saved to a Hard Drive and not backed up can be lost."

8. My opinion: one caveat to the dvx is that I would also like to shoot climbing videos on the side and a smaller camera is better for that - though this is a minor side project. Ideally I would like to shoot a short doc for KQED - that sort of thing, plus packages for news.

So, should i return the DVX100B, save my money, get a consumer cam?

Anyone got a better recommendation than the VIXIA?

I'm planning on getting a tripod, mic, etc. no matter what camera I choose. I would really appreciate some guidance, and yes - I'm looking to make money with this camera.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 1 day ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Think,

Whether getting your first or next camera is always a tough choice. Familiarity with a camera line is a plus, but if it's not giving you the tools you need to get the job done it's time to look at others. Your main deciding factors are; what is your budget? Remember, you need not only the camera but batteries, recording media, tripod, camera bag at the minimum. What is your intended output? How you plan on distributing the footage/productions you shoot are a big factor as to what type and level of camera you pick. Last, that thing seriously needs to pay for itself by allowing you to work on gigs outside of the one's you produce until your's start bringing in money.

1. If you're trying to do this stuff for a living, try to get as pro a rig as you can afford. I worked for a big well-funded production house and used the best gear in the biz. When I went out on my own, all I could initially afford was a 1CCD Hi-8 Handycam. After I stopped whining about how 'the mighty hath fallen', I began 'tricking' out the camera with wide and telephoto lens adaptors, an external stereo mic, an on camera light, tripod equipped with a LANC remote controller, creative lens filters and so on. Combined with my knowledge of how to shoot and my 'enhanced' consumer cam few people felt I didn't know what I was doing when I showed up and whipped that thing out. If you can get something more professional starting out it wouldn't hurt. Just make sure you can get a reasonable amount of supporting gear. Nothing worse than having a snazzy cam and can't do jack sprat with it because you don't have batteries and other important stuff....

2. Get the camera you can afford with the stuff mentioned above in mind. Picking an HD cam is a tough choice because they come in so many format flavors. Tape? Solid State? Harddrive? 720p, 1080i or 1080p? Handheld or shoulder mount? Also, if you plan on editing your footage what non-linear software and OS platform is most compatible with your choice of cam? Far as 'saving for HD' goes, it's here. SD is still useful but the trend is for people shooting raw footage in HD then down-converting (despite SD still being quite good.)

3. Renting is not practical without a firm budget with actual money set aside for the rental. You have to have a credit card, established credit with a rental house and confirmed insurance to cover potential loss or damage to rented equipment is required by reputable rental houses. Renting for a gig will take up a significant portion of any profits from the job when you're starting out. You're much better off having or in a pinch borrowing gear when starting out. Shooting film or video is a combination of composition, creative exposure and focus and proper sound management to tell a story. You can do that with a cheap or 'fancy rig.'

4. I shot ENG video for 3 years but fortunately, was in a house that emphasized the 'cinematic' style of composition vice standard 'newsy' stuff. With the trend for 'iReporters' who give their footage for free, the days of news stringers is over. The trend now is for Vlogs and online video content and yeah, you can use a cheap camera but if you've had professional training use the best tools you can to separate you from the 'YouTube' hordes.

5. That's not true. Most people who will be willing to pay you don't know the difference between well shot SD and HD footage and don't care. Most only care about how much it's all going to cost them. SD will be around in strength for at least another 5 years merely because it's still so expensive to make the transition to digital media, let alone HD. Besides, it's currently more economical to put SD video online than HD.

6. Horse$%^#@!@#! The one advantage of solid-state recording is that your footage cuts out the digitizing process. Digitizing does take longer, but the logger has the opportunity to actually look at the footage during the process. You learn quickly whether shots are 'good' or 'garbage' and you only digitize the good ones. With solid-state you still have to look at the footage and take time to get rid of garbage clips to free up space on the harddrive. Also, with tape after you digitize the footage you have a pristine and stable archival format you can put on a shelf that didn't cost an arm and a leg.

7. Amen. Once you have digitized, downloaded footage back it up.

8. The camera you get starting out is going to have to perform as a 'Swiss Army Knife'. So a smaller prosumer/pro rig will be your best bet.

Is the camera you have already paid for? If so, keep it. Do some memorable work with it and get something else when you can. If not, keep it since you've been paying on it and you need something to use to bring in gigs while you're prepping for your 'epic doc.' There are buttloads of cameras to choose from. Trawl through these posts because dozens of people have asked the same questions you have and there are plenty of good answers for you.

Go forth and shoot.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


thinkbeinteresting's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2009 - 3:12am

Thanks for your thoughtful and comprehensive response Composite1. I did pay for the DVX100B outright so it is mine in full - the only thing is I would need to get a tripod, mics (shotgun and lav?) and a light source which could easily run another $2000 minimum. If I returned the DVX100B and got the Canon Vixia I would need to get a: mic w/adapter, remote lav, tripod, lens adapter and light which would again run me a min. of $2300 but save me possibly a few hundred in the end. So just to be clear: since I've already bought and paid for the DVX100B you suggest keeping the camera? I'm not locked in and I can return it. I just want to make the best choice for me as a beginning shooter and my budget. I have about $3000 left to spend maximum, $5000 in total.


composite1's picture
Last seen: 7 months 1 day ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Think,

Dude are you seriously considering dumping a pro rig for a 'tourist rig'? Yeah the VIXIA shoots HD, so what? For you HD starting out would be nice but you've already got a good camera to start with and you're still going to need support gear and if you don't have it already, something to edit your footage on and software to do it with. Face it, unless those newsies you interned with hire you outright, freelancing is going to be your ticket. Potential clients will take you far more seriously if you have a rig that looks the part. I wouldn't pay you $15+ dollars an hour for you to work on my project with a camera that doesn't even have a viewfinder unless you had a serious set of chops and the rep to back it up. Keep the camera. You say you have $3k in the kitty left to get additional gear? Roll with that. I only had $4k to start my biz and buy gear! When you go shopping for gear, stick with B&H Photo-Video or ProMax (if you plan to mac it up) and don't buy the most expensive (mics, batteries, etc. you can find.) Count your blessings. You are way ahead of the game.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


thinkbeinteresting's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: 05/08/2009 - 3:12am

Now THAT'S the kind of straitforward advice I've been looking for! Thanks Composite1 for making it clear. Will do. :)