Approaching The Camera question from a different view

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums Cameras and Camcorders Other Camcorders Approaching The Camera question from a different view

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    • #43027

      Takinga different view fromEarlC’s comments

      I thought I would approach all these “I am just starting out. What would be the bestest, cheapest, easiest, effortless, work in all environment and low light level camera I can buy?” questions from a different angle. Maybe by doing this we could answer a lot of those questions before they get asked? It goes something like this…

      What camera do you currently use?

      Why did you choose that camera?

      What are you using it for?

      How long have you been using it?

      I thought I would get it started.

      I use a Panasonic HDC-SD9. A 3 CCD camera about the size of a beer can. Although I spent almost 29 years working with video cameras of one type or another this is the first one I have owned myself.

      I chose it because of the color reproduction, ease of use, and partly because of its size. It uses SDHC cards, to store its video on in AVCHD, so there are no motor sounds from a tape or hard drive to cause me any audio problems. For under $500 it was not too painful to my pocket book. I was not looking for professional quality at the time since I am still working to learn as much as I can with it. To me the quality may be good enough to use it as a B camera when I progress to a more professional model. Low light is not all that great but that was not a concern since I was not looking to shoot in the dark with it.

      I use it to shoot nature videos. Getting those beauty shots of the weather against the mountains, and the geologic formations from all the volcanic activity of long ago. For capturing those once n a great while fantasticsunrises and sunsets. I also use it to capture family events from time to time. Minor bonus for me is the on board microphone (5.1 surround) is a good enough quality to provide useable background ambient audio for the videos I shoot. There is something to be said for the squirrel chatter or bird noises that make the scenes come to life.

      I got it a little over a year ago. I have over 300Gb of video from it on various USB hard drives. At a little over 1.5 hrs per 16Gb in highest quality recording, that equates to about 29 hrs of video I felt was worth keeping. Most all of it is in less than 3 minute clips. I have no clue how much I tossed because it was unusable, blurred, interference of a shot by a passersby, or the subject/event turned out not worth saving because of timing or settings.

      In looking at those first clips, I have noticed a huge improvement in the quality of the camera work and subject matter since then so I know this was not a wasted choice for me.

    • #180201

      Hey Crafters,

      I dig your ‘revised angle of view’.

      I currently use 2 models of cameras for DV work and 1 for HD. On the smallest end of DV I use the Canon Elura 100. These are great little cameras despite them only having 1 CCD. The get really good color, have pretty sharp focus for a consumer rig and because they were under $500 they make great ‘crash cams’. Also, they can record to mini-dv tape or SD flash cards (the cards are limited to 1GB so clips have to be really short.) They also are small enough to fit in a coat pocket and make great surveillance video recorders. Sound wise the onboard mic produces usable audio, but mercifully there is a mic input so with an adapter you can plug in a powered pro mic if needed. Last they have both USB (never use it) and Firewire inputs so the cam can serve as a field editing deck when needed.

      On the higher DV end there’s the tried and true Canon XL1s. Probably one of Canon’s all-time best cameras as it has features not available to the XL1, but in my opinion is far more flexible for customization than any camera Canon has made since. Though you cannot do 24p, HD or a number of the new features of later models, where the XL1s shines is both in it’s imagery and it’s potential for configuration. Canon makes great pro cameras but they all suck for one reason; front heaviness. Bad front heaviness. No matter what lens you put on an XL or XH series camera it’s going to droop like an old man’s…. The XL1s had some wonderful items to balance out the camera and turn it from a prosumer rig into a full-on pro rig. On the front end you could remove the weenie viewfinder and put on an FU-100 Monochrome viewfinder and on the back end an MA-200 audio adapter with 4 XLR inputs. With those two add-ons suddenly the old ‘Buzzsaw’ got transformed into a professional shoulder mountable camera. For some unknown and asinine reason Canon reconfigured the later models to no be compatible with the MA-200. Bye-bye shoulder mountableness. Despite it not being able to do progressive scan (that really hurts) the XL1s is still a tip top rig after all these years. Tricked out the way we have ours (Monochrome viewfinder, audio adapter, all compatible lenses and an NVG kit) it’s still a viable workhorse. And with all the customization, it still cost less than $16k (for a pro rig in ’02 for that you could buy a lens or a body, not both.)

      On our highest end I use the JVC GYHD200UB. Great camera. Though its HDV and the max format size is 720p, have you seen 720p? In many respects it was ‘cheaper’ than our initial purchase of the XL1s rig. For less than $12k we got the camera and enough support gear to build a kit portable enough and versatile enough to roll out at a moment’s notice. Just like the XL1s, the 200 has interchangable lens capability, but can do progressive scan. It’s tape based and you don’t hear any ‘tape noise’ during recording. Great controls for video and audio and you can customize your imagery ’til the cows come home’. No doubt, it’s a pro rig from front to back. Unlike the smaller cameras made by Canon, Panasonic and Sony though excellent rigs, visually they don’t inspire customer confidence. You the cameraman knows how good your gear is and what it can do, but all clients see is some ‘dinky’ little camera and they start wondering why they’re paying so much money. The cool thing about the 200 is despite it’s pro appearance, it doesn’t weigh as much a typical pro camera. Last and most important, is it too is a fully customizable camera. With an adapter you can use 35mm Cine lenses, broadcast HD lenses and if you want to shoot 1080i format or go tapeless an HD-100 100GB portable harddrive will fill the bill. Last time I checked, 100GB harddrive out weights a 32GB P2 card (and is cheaper) any day.

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