$30,000 for 4 Cameras – What Would You Get?

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    • #44063

      Hi all,

      My group and I will be receiving a grant for equipment to work with a company in the area. Out of that money, we have decided to allocate 30 grand towards cameras. We would like to purchase 4 cameras, which will be used for pretty much every sort of event – from outdoors to indoors, nothing specific. We are looking for opinions as to what we should consider purchasing.

      My eyes are on either the Canon XL-H1 or the JVC GY-HM700U. We will be using PCs to edit using Adobe CS4. So I guess our question is: should we go towards solid state, or stick with tape…and what camera would be best for our price range.


    • #184680

      I would get the HPX170. P2 cards are very stable, the new E series cards are $1000 for a 64 GB card, and DVCPro HD is an I-frame codec. The Canon and JVC both record long GOP, which isn’t really edit friendly.

    • #184681

      Also, I would spend some money for proper monitoring if you’re going to work with HD, for instance, output from CS4 with the AJA Xena to an FSI Monitor. I would suggest getting doing that and only getting 3 cameras if your budget isn’t large enough. Get a RAID too.

    • #184682

      Thanks for the advice, Rob. A friend suggested that we invest in the HVX200. Are there any applicable differences between the two cameras?

      From the feedback I’ve gotten, it seems like solid-state is the way to go. Being completely brought up with tape (DV/HDV), I am totally foreign to solid-state editing. Is there any real difference to it compared to tape? Is recording to P2 a better idea than the SDHC card AVCHD format? How reliable are the cards compared to tape?

      Since all of our old projects are on tape, we have ths as a reliable archive in case we want to go back and work with the footage again. How would you suggest archiving solid-state media?

      Thank you!

    • #184683

      The HVX and HPX are very similar. The HVX still has the ability to record DV to miniDV as well as all DVCPro HD resolutions/frame rates. The HPX is all solid state, so no recording to tape, but you can still record DV if you want. Because it has not tape transport, the camera is lighter and has more features. I think the best feature that the HPX has over the HVX is HD-SDI output, which is uncompressed video-very handy when doing any compositing and heavy color grading. Both have XLR connection too. In my opinion, the HPX is the way to go. No need to record miniDV anymore if you can avoid it. Just archive HD and if you ever need SD just down convert, ya know.

      Also, I don’t know what kind of videos you plan no making, but if you ever get a 35mm lens adapter like the Letus Ultimate, the HPX is a little more friendly with that too since those adapters always flip the image upside down. The HPX allows you to flip the image so you’re not looking at an upside-down image in the LCD or viewfinder.

      The only difference between solid state and tape is how you ingest. Editing is the same. I don’t have a solid state cams, but I know it’s really not complicated ingesting P2 cards. I believe it’s faster than real-time too.

      “Is recording to P2 a better idea than the SDHC card AVCHD format? How reliable are the cards compared to tape?”

      Well, just for clarification, P2 is just media. You can record anything to a P2 card – DV, DVCPro HD, AVC-Intra, AVCHD, any Panasonic format. So to answer your question, when I suggested P2, I really meant recording DVCPro HD. And yes, DVCPro HD is better than AVCHD. DVCPro HD is 100Mbps while AVCHD I think is only 19Mbps. DVCProHD is an I-frame codec, and AVCHD is a Long GOP. I-frame codecs are more edit friendly and MUCH better when you start doing graphics and compositing. DVCProHD is almost as good as it gets. It’s used for a lot of broadcast programs, so you can’t go wrong with it. It’s very stable.

      P2 cards are very reliable. BBC’s Planet Earth was shot with P2 media. The media is very rugged. I have never heard acomplaintabout P2. I’ve heard you can drop em, step on em, drive over them with a car, drop em in water, sand, expose them to humidity, cold temps, you name it. It’s super reliable.

      As for archiving, ideally you want to use LTO tape, but the machines are expensive. So I suggest burning your stuff to Blu-Ray until you can get yourself an LTO machine. You can also archive to HD tape, but I don’t think you want to spend the money on a new deck

    • #184684

      Thank you very much for your imput – I really appreciate it! I was looking through more solid-state choices and came across the HVX300…if we decided to go for three cameras instead of four, would this be an appropriate choice, or should we stay with the HPX?

    • #184685

      You mean HPX300, not HVX300, right?

      The HPX300 is a sweet camera. It records AVC-Intra, which is better than DVCProHD because it still records 100Mbps, but it’s 10-bit full-raster HD. DVCProHD is only 8-bit and isn’t full-raster. But that doesn’t at all mean DVCPro HD won’t do the job. It’s still a very good codec, better than almost all others.

      The HPX300 is definitely a camera to look at, but be sure to research CMOS sensor artifacting. The HVX and HPX170 both use CCDs, but the HPX300 uses a CMOS, and CMOS sensors can create havoc on your image if you don’t understand their limits.

      Also, I’m not sure how much other equipment you have, but don’t blow all your money on cameras. If you get an HPX300, plan on spending over $1000 for a proper tripod. You might need new tripods all together. What about lights, and you want multiple types of mics too. 30 grand is a lot. Spend wisely. I suggest you deiced what you are going to buy, then sleep on it for a few days. I’m sure you’ll be happy you did.

    • #184686

      In my opinion, I don’t think you should get the HPX300 if you want multiple cameras. I think the necessary accessories will put you over budget. Like I said, 64GB P2 cards are $1000. Don’t let the cost discourage you, I’m just simply saying that there is more that has to be bought than just cameras, and I would get 2 P2 cards for each camera. Sure, that’s a lot of money, but you won’t ever have to buy tape again nor do you have to buy a deck for ingest. They pay for themselves over time. The P2 E-Series cards have a 5 year warranty

      So basically, I think 3 HPX170s with 2 64GB P2 cards each, proper tripods, lights, lighting accessories, mics, and hardware for post is the way you should go.

    • #184687

      Thanks for your imput! I’ve done research on other forums, and people have written that the the difference in image quality is negligible between the HPX and the HMC-150. While the HPX can record at very high bitrates, we probably won’t be needing that feature as much…is the higher cost of the camera, media, and codec of the HPX worth buying, or is the lower cost, SDHC card, ACVHD format of the HMC acceptable for our purposes? We aren’t at the stage where we will be needing to edit uncompressed 4:2:2 video yet. Please bear with me, I’m just trying to narrow down my search for the best camera for our needs. As long as it is comparable or better than the Canon XH-A1 in image quality and features, then we’ll be perfectly fine.

    • #184688

      Well, I don’t know who you’re going to be making video for, what kind of videos they will be, and what your needs will be, so I don’t know what else to tell you.

      I think if someone compared the HPX and an HMC, it’s important to know who was making the comparison and what they were comparing. Lock-down shots from both cameras will probably look very similar, but what about during fast motion. I’d be willing to bet the image degrades a bit due to AVCHD’s Long GOP compression.

      Also, who compared? A professional who has an eye for detail or just some dude who probably doesn’t know what to look for? Did the guy even edit any video? It’s important to know a codec holds up through post. Cutting up Long GOP video degrades the image, that’s why I-frames codecs like DVCPro HD are the way to go.

      I’d still suggest the HPX and P2 media. DVCPro HD is approved by everyone in the industry and P2 media has proven to be very robust.

      Also, you may not need uncompressed/high bit rate video now, but you may in the future, and maybe in the future you won’t have the money for a camera that records what you need, you might be stuck with HDV or AVCHD, which isn’t good for that kind of treatment. Or maybe you’re never going to do any advanced compositing/effects/graphics, but you should always go through a stage of color correction or color grading to tweak your image – another area of post where I-frame codecs hold up better than Long GOP.

    • #184689

      Sorry for not being specific…videos created are going to be for corporate clients. Focusing on possibly advertisments for TV broadcast, moreso internet and direct-to-DVD and video. Filming workshops, speeches, and other live events, both indoors and outdoors. Also going to be used for college projects, most likely a good few indie films, and other things of the like. But mostly corporate and commerical venues. Does that help?

      I got the comparisons from dvxuser.com. The individuals who commented on the cameras had used both extensively, so I was just wondering about the opinions of others on that…dvxuser is a predominately panasonic forum, so their view on the cameras might be a bit biased. Formats aside, now I just need to find example native footage from these cameras so I can see if Premiere will edit them acceptably. That’ll play a huge role in our decision.

    • #184690

      Because there’s a possibility for broadcast, I would go with the HPX170. With all my hate on HDV and AVCHD aside, I just think DVCPro HD will be the best for broadcast. Even if you’re not constantly doing things for broadcast, I think one broadcast project justifies DVCProHD over AVCHD, in my opinion anyway. Broadcast is a big deal, and you want it done right.

      I realize the HMC is about half the price of the HPX, but you would have to give me a really good reason for me to actually say, “yes go with AVCHD over DVCProHD,” and I don’t think I can think of one. Maybe if you’re budget wasn’t large enough, but I thinkwith30 grand you can do it with the HPX.

      Now, I don’t want to start an FCP vs Premiere war, but I know you’re a Premiere guy. If you used FCP and transcoded your AVCHD to ProRes, maybe you could get away with AVCHD. But if you don’t already have a Mac, that doesn’t justify anything because…well they are pricey.

      Sooo yea…I hope that helps. No matter what you do, I think the best advice I could give you is to, like I said before, decided what you want to purchase, but sleep on it for a few days.

    • #184691

      I understand…sleeping on it and talking it over with my group really helped. I can say for a fact that you’ve turned us away from AVCHD. Right now I think we’re actually going to be going for the HPX300, but it does use P2 cards. Our total amount for photo/video is 50 grand, and our list is athttp://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=wishListEmail&A=WishList&Q=showFreindsWishList&wl=2B5077AE77

      If anyone would like to look it over and offer suggestions for things that may or may not work, that would be great!

    • #184692

      damn, 50 grand? I’m jealous, give me some of that money, lol.

      Well I’m glad to see you’re going for the HPX300. You won’t bedisappointed, but like i said before, research the limitations of CMOS sensors. And you’ll be good to go.

      2 things I noticed: I don’t your tripods are going to cut it. They have a 13 pound weight limit and the camera is already 11 lbs w/ lens. You will be cutting it very close when you add Anton batteries. You don’t wanna be at the max of your tripod’s capacity, especially with a $8,000 camera. We had these for our HPX500s at our school:


      Also, I’m not sure how long your shoots will be, but I would check how many hours 1080i60 video can be record to a 16GB card. The HPX300 holds 2 P2 cards. You wanna make sure you can record long enough if you’re not going to be able to offload to a laptop in the field. 16GB seems low to me.

      Also, if you want to save money, consider buying 1 HPX300 for your main camera and 2 HPX170 for your B and C cameras. Just a thought. I don’t know how well DVCProHD will match with AVC-Intra though. I’m sure it’s not bad.

    • #184693

      Thanks for the tips – we’re looking at different tripods now.


      orhttp://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/520991-REG/Manfrotto_by_Bogen_Imaging__BO3181B503HK_Video_Tripod_System.html ?

      I’ve used CMOS before with Sony’s A1U…it wasn’t very good indoors, but I’m assuming that the Panasonic’s better lens and quality should give a noticable improvement. And I’ll be doing all I can to get higher capacity cards – right now our budget is right at the limit, so I’ll have to see if anything can be modified. We’re most likely going to be sticking with the three HPX300s since our crew really wants a solid shoulder mounted setup compared to the handheld cameras we’ve been using for a while now.

      Thanks for the support, and believe me, if there was any way to share the money I would lol…maybe 😉

    • #184694

      What group is this? The little monsters?

      You could go on Craig’s list and get tons moreof gently used equipment including HD cameras, studio equipment, tripods, editing stations, lighting, remotes, green screens, lots and lots of specialized software, dollys, cranes, monitors, a 2009 Corvette (licensed drivers only),etc.

      Don’t forget a good shrink…You’d have to be out of your minds to drop$50K on video equipment right now. Lots of studios are going out of biz and that’s wherea lot of theCraig’s list stuff is coming from

    • #184695

      Hello There,

      I would suggestlooking at the Miller Carbon Fiber Tripods. I worked with them for 4 years and they were Great! They are light, not Bulky, easy to set up, realiable, very versatile, you can using them by spreading the legs out and get some very good low angle shots and they also go up high. Believe me,the Miller Tripod is one of my Favoritepieces of equipmentto work with. Unless theydrastically change the tripod or got out of business, I will be using Miller forever.

      <h1 class=”irregualrHeader”>Here is the Miller SOLO DV20 Carbon Fiber Tripod System, it supports 20 pounds andread the reviews, it gives good insight to the tripod. </h1>


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