absolute beginner! need to learn how to use a camera for short comedy films

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    • #37383


      I’m a writer and I need a camera to shoot short comedy films and sketches for the internet. Someone suggetsed the hpx170 and the xh-a1 , I don’t know what anything means! How/where can I learn?

    • #165714

      Hmm…well, the HPX170 is a model made by Panasonic and the XH-A1 is a model made by Canon. They are both HD cameras; pretty decent I would assume. Although, if you really know nothing about cameras or using a camera, I wouldn’t suggest these to you. I would suggest a decent miniDV camcorder.

      When I first started, I got a Canon GL2. It’s a solid camera and great for a beginner. As far as how/where you can learn…the best thing to do is to just get out there and start shooting.

    • #165715

      Most important question is do you have a budget? How much can you spend on a camera and all the gear it takes to go along with it?


    • #165716

      So, I can spend about 5500, but no more than that. I do agree that as a beginner, purchasing the hpx170 may put me in over my head, but I learn very quickly and I have been advised by many people that it’s almost necessary to get an HD camera.

    • #165717

      Well, that’s a nice budget, but knowing that, it really puts the hpx170 out of your price range. You could purchase the camera, however since it shoots to p2 cards you wouldn’t be able to capture any footage. The p2 cards are pretty expensive, and unless you can unload them fast, you will need a few as to not run out of free space out on a shoot. My recommendation would be to go with the sony Z7u the camera will run you about $5300 and that’s about all you will need to spend right now. It shoots HDV to mini-dv tapes, as well as to compact flash cards. CF cards are cheap, and mini-dv is archival. In my tests it has been a great camera. Feel free to ask more questions! thanks ~Adam http://www.hdupdate.com

    • #165718

      Just an afterthought, you might want to check out the panasonic HMC150 It shoots AVCHD to SD cards, and it’s an overall more economical camera. Should shoot a very good image too, that might be the way to go for you.

      Thanks ~Adam http://www.hdupdate.com

    • #165719

      I just checked the B&Hstudio website (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/559333-REG/Panasonic_AG_HPX170_AG_HPX170_P2HD_Solid_State_Camcorder.html#includes)

      and it says the package includes a 16 gb p2 card. So I wouldn’t have to purchase an extra, no?

      Also, for B&H if i ship out of state, I won’t have to pay tax. I can prob go as high as 6000, to include a shotgun mic.

      But, do you think that this camera would be useful for a beginner? I am shooting a lot of comedy short films and webseries and I really love to use slow motion. A store clerk told me that cameras under the hpx170 cannot do slow motion- this is the main reason I keep coming back to this specific hd camera. ALSO, the B&H has tested the hmc150 and its cheaply made and has alot of noise.

      So what do you think?

      p.s. thanks for all the help!

    • #165720

      With the 16GB P2 card that comes with the camera you will only be able to shoot 16 minutes of video. and the cost of an additional 16GB P2 would be $850 or a 32GB for $1600 You should also invest in at very least one extra battery, as well as lighting, boom mic, possibly wireless mics, a very good tripod, etc. Thanks ~Adam http://www.hdupdate.com

    • #165721

      “I have been advised by many people that it’s almost necessary to get an HD camera.”

      Umm… i assure you, it’s not even close to being necessary to buy HD. Whoever told you that is a jackass.

      You can’t even deliver in HD. There aren’t any affordable Blu-Ray burners. Then there aren’t any affordable Blu-Ray players. To top it off, there aren’t many affordable HDTVs. Basically, you can’t deliver, and if you could, no one would be able to watch.

      You’re wasting your money if you buy into HD now, especially if you’re a beginner. But if you want to buy into all the hype, and think that you need something when you can’t think of a single good reason for why you need it, then go for it. It’s your budget you’re wasting.

      The HPX170 records to cards. 16GB is going to be used up pretty fast with HD footage. So you’re going to need a computer to dump the footage onto so you can continue shooting, or buy more cards. Plus, you’re going to need some other gear for shooting. You do the math…your budget isn’t big enough.

    • #165722

      Okay, so I think I’ve been convinced now to get a camera that uses tape. But, in terms of the HD thing:

      I believe everything you say, but I am putting a lot of my stuff on Veoh, which has the HD option. The rest will be sent to high-profile ppl like agents, who will def have HD systems.

      In terms of operating, how different would an Hvx-200a be than the canon gl2?


      Also, shooting HD with a tape will be no different that shooting with a P2 card, right?

      What other cameras would you suggest? I’m more inclined to go with Pansonic, from what I’ve heard.

    • #165723

      When i say “in terms of operating” I mean- in terms of how I will manually operate the camera…

    • #165724

      “In terms of operating, how different would an Hvx-200a be than the canon gl2?”

      They are 2 completely different cameras. I’ve never used an HVX, but I’ve heard it’s very similar to the DVX, which I have used.

      First off, the obvious difference is the GL is SD while the HVX can shoot SD and HD. They both have manual controls, such as audio level adjustment, focus, aperture, shutter speed, gain, etc. What the HVX has that the GL2 doesn’t have is manual zoom and XLR inputs. If you want XLR on a GL2, you’ll need something like the BeachTek XLR adapter.

      “Also, shooting HD with a tape will be no different that shooting with a P2 card, right?”

      The actual act of shooting will be no different, but when you record HD to the miniDV-sized tapes, the audio is compressed.

      I recommend the Panasonic DVX100B or the Sony PD170…if you’re a quick learner.

    • #165725

      I would highly recommend going with an HDV camera for your situation. Yes, technically sd will get you by for now, but lets face it, nobody wants to watch anything in sd anymore. And if they have to watch it in sd they want it to at least be in widescreen. All of sony’s HDV cameras have downconvert options built right in, so you won’t have to edit in HDV if you choose not to. The benefit is that they use the same tape, what’s recorded on the tape just looks a ton better. My first camera was a canon Gl2 and don’t get me wrong it was a very good camera, but once I upgraded to a sony FX1 I never used the Gl2 again, and consequently sold it while I could still get some money out of it. The bottom line is that if you are spending the money, it’s a grave mistake not to go for a camera that can shoot HD. You are right in being convinced to stick with tape, and again I will recomment the sony Z7u as a fantastic camera that can both shoot to tape as well as to solid state for the best of both worlds. I personally see no reason to go with panasonic, they have dedicated all efforts to solid state, but their optics are behind, and it’s just not practical for most instances. I would definately consider the Z7u and if you can wait, maybe the Z5u that is coming soon by sony will be best for you.

    • #165726

      If a camera is not HDV, then when it uses a tape function will that only record in SD? Like the Hvx 200a?

    • #165727

      First – though we’re heading down the road to HD, a previous post was correct that hardly anyone has HD players. I figure we’re about 3-5 years before people need to jump to HD.

      Second – As important as the technology of filming, you should let the type of movies you’re going make drive your decision on equipment. For example, the GL2 is a fine camera but a Sony VX2100 is better in low light. So if your movies will be indoors, you may want to consider the Vx2100 (mini-tape). I understand that HD cameras are so detailed that imperfections in scenery or actors is heightened. So, if you create in HD, you may need to do a lot of work in post editing.

      If you have a story to tell, people will watch it no matter if its HD, widescreen, or 4.3 screen. Your story is the mission, not the technology filming the story.

    • #165728

      ^^^^^Thank you…someone else you gets it.

    • #165729

      Like yourself, I just started

      I bought a Sony HDR-SR12 from beachcamera.com. I paid $1,025 no shipping, no tax and saved about 300-400$ and got it within 5 days.

      Thecamerahas a 120GB harddrive and you can use plug in card as well. Thecamera has an exceptional index built in for back-pedaling throughvideos.

      It also has a view finder and LCD screen for viewing to shoot. Direct sunlight isdifficult with mostLCD screen.

      I bought the small Sony camcorder/photo dual light from Amazon.com for just over 100$, whichis enough lightfor most situations.


      I realize this camea I chose is not a professional looking behemoth that sits on your shoulder, but Ithink the convenience of the HDD, the quality of HD recording,12X zoom, and a very well organized package overall makes it an amateurs dream camera. Also, I think it could work in many professional situations.

      So far, I’ve had it over a month and used it quite abit. Absolutely no complaints, and to be very honest I don’t see many situationsit will not work for me.

      If I were a professional, doing weddings or special events, etc. I would use a shoulder mount, because paying customers will not look at you as a trueprofessional carrying around a kick-butt camera in youright hand. They expect to seea big lightattached to the top of the camera, battery packs hanging off your belt anda big camera on your shoulder with your eye socket plugged into the viewfinder.

      My take on it, simple, but works for me.

      Good luck

    • #165730

      Also, if wide screen is necessary, as I understand it the GL2 offers an option to shoot 16×9.

      If you have not yet used, purchased, directed, shot, edited, repurposed or posted video, then going into HD could be an overwhelming and expensive first step.

    • #165731

      I forgot to mention

      The 120GB hard drive is pretty awesome. I worry more about keeping the battery charged than anything. LOL

      I don’t have to buy any tape, cards or anything. The Sony HDR-SR12 is really portable.

      When looking to buy a camera, the GL2 was one of my choices. I read a bunch of reviews and decided it wasn’t a best choice for me (neophyte).

      One thing I also like,the cameradoesn’t weigh hardly anything. I bought a little Sony bag, which is about the size of a small wide purse. Icarry all the connection cords, a Lapel Transmitter/receiver mic system, flash and the camera. I doubt the wholeassemby weighs 4 pounds.

    • #165732

      I want to say something about HD.

      I bought the Sony HDR-SR12, which is HD and HDD. I record in HD and I replay on my Sony Bravia TV in HD. I just plug into the mini HDMI on my camera to the HDMI on my TV. Voila! I’ve HD playback.

      I have a Blue-Ray player, but I understand the camera will actually facilitate burning Blu-Ray disks. I haven’t done this yet, but I plan to over the next couple weeks.

      I’m not a purist folks so don’t get your drawers in a knot over my over simplified responses. I think anyone spending serious money to get into videomaking should not over-look HD. Every TV in America will be HD by February next year, the broadband speeds are sufficient to run HD quality over the internet.

      SO, I say step into the future NOW, even if you don’t plan to go there NOW.

    • #165733

      Well I think you should get the Canon XL2 you can find it for around 3500.00 or so, and as far as slow motion. This can be done by slowing down your shutter speed. Let’s say around 1/15 setting. Pratice with your shutter speeds and Iris settings. Play back your footage and learn from it. Of course it can be done in your edit software, but once you learn shutter and Iris setting your videos will look much better. Be sure to keep a stady hand while shooting. You can get all kinds of advice but just go out and play with all the settings and review what you have shot and learn from it. Good Luck

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