Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Is it worth buying a HD camera
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January 9, 2009 at 11:42 PM #43908AnonymousInactive
Okay, so I’m finally starting up plans to make my first real featurelengthmovie (I’ve done a few vidcast length ones). The question I have is whether or not, for a project of this magnitude, to invest in a HD camera, as all I have at the moment is a small SD DVC camera. In addition, if it would be worth it, what would users suggest as something appropriate for a project like this.
Thanks for any help in advance.
January 9, 2009 at 11:57 PM #184015EarlCMember
The short answer is YES!
If you are going to invest serious capital ($3K to $4K or more) I’d suggest going with HD since you can always work within the SD product choices with it until and when you decide you NEED to produce something in high definition – at least you will have the camera(s) on hand for the uptick.
If you are planning to spend, say $2K to $3K, then there are a number of choices in both arenas (the Canon GL2, for example) that can benefit your production efforts. Still, for that kind of investment, I personally would spend a bit more and focus on an HD scenario.
If you are planning to spend less than $1.5K there are a vast HOST of options in both categories, albeit most of them without some of the necessary production features you would likely prefer to have – manual controls, manual focus, manual audio control, even headphone and/or audio input in the first place. There’s also a host of recording media options from tape to SD an SDHC card recording and everything in between – all having their plus-minus factors regarding shooting, ingesting/digitizing, and compatibility with your current or planned hardware/software NLE system(s).
Me personally? I have been producing a wide range of video product in SD since before 2000, and the majority of that product has been acquired via Canon XL1 and GL2 cameras. I still have not been overwhelmed with the need, demand or requirements for high definition delivery – but I do believe it is coming within my physical and business lifetime. So, sometime this year, my focus is on the recently released Panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCHD camcorders recording on SD and SDHC cards (up to 3 hours high quality on a 32 gig card) clocking in at about $4k.
I would prefer full blown high definition, and have until just recently been absolutely against anything other than HDV or HD (citing the Canon HV30 recording to MiniDV tape) as a viable entry level camcorder for all but the most demanding of HD production. But the more I am reading and seeing manufacturers and software development focusing on this compression format, the more I like what I hear, read and see. I am Mac platform and will be upgrading to a current 8-core Mac Pro this quarter, along with the latest release of Final Cut Pro that has improved capabilities in the AVCHD format for editing.
$4k or more = Panasonic HMC150
$2K to $3K = Canon GL2 (SD), or any one of a number of other brand choices in HD
$1K or less = Canon HV30
This all depends, of course, on your editing capabilities – platform, hardware and software, either now, or in your foreseeable future.
January 10, 2009 at 12:09 AM #184016AnonymousInactive
Thanks for that well thought out response.
My current budget plans are somewhere around 2K, but it all really depends on how much I can scrap up and how much people are willing to donate. As for edditing, I have a 4 gig ram imac, with the latest version of Final Cut uploaded to it. In that light, I think I’ll go with one of the somewhat decked out models, for monetary and usage plans. Again, thanks for the advice, and if the new information I just gave sparks anymore, please share.
January 10, 2009 at 10:59 AM #184017KenParticipant
In the $2 – $3K range I would like to suggest Panasonic’s DVX-100b.
This is a phenomenal SD camera, and can usually be purchased new on amazon for about $2300. I had been using an XL-1 for years, and finally retired it when I got the DVX last spring. I absolutely love this camera. The controls, the colors, the capabilities for the price are pretty stellar IMO. I cut with FCP on a 2.8ghz iMac with only 2gigs ram. No problems.
Plus it shoots 24p. If you’re ever planning on transferring that feature to film, it comes in handy.
Probably the finest example that I know of something shot with this camera is James Longley’s Iraq In Fragments. It was nominated for an Oscar, and was actually shot on a couple of DVX-100a’s, the older version of the same camera. Worth checking out if you want to see what this camera can do in the hands of a skilled professional.
Seriously research the heck out of it before you drop that kinda cash. I did, and I have no regrets. Though like EarlC, I am going down that road of inevitable HD purchase, but I’m not retiring the DVX for a while.
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