Looking to buy an HD camera…..confused…

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    • #43625

      I have been a proud owner of a Canon GL2 for the past 3 years, and it has been a great camera. I’m looking to move in the direction of HD, but I’m really confused as to what camera to buy, simple because of all the HD formats out there. I initially had my eye set on the JVC GY-HD110, but I had someone tell me not to buy it because A) it only shoots in 720p, and B) it shoots in HDV, which is compressed. But then I went looking around and I found cards like the Blackmagic Intensity, which captures through HDMI, bypassing compression. So assuming my camera had HDMI, I take it that I wouldn’t be working with the compressed HDV format?

      I really am confused with everything HD. What I would like to know is A) how important is it to shoot in 1080i or 1080p over 720p and B) How are you people shooting and editing HD? What cameras/formats are you using and how is it working out for you?

      Thank you very much for your reply.

    • #182917


      The Black Magic Intensity card sounds like a great product, but check the requirements for the computer it’s plugged into. I think you need a fairly beefy computer. And you would have to lug it around where ever you shoot, since you would be recording directly to the computer, bypassing the tape. If that’s OK with you, check out the Sony FX7, or even better, the Sony V1U.

      For a bit more money (around $6000), you can avoid HDV compression by going with the Panasonic HVX200, or the soon to be released Sony PMW-EX1. Both units record directy to solid-state memory cards. In the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about the PMW-EX1. It’s signal is more compressed than the HVX200’s. And color info is compressed to 4:2:0, while the HVX200 encodes to the more desirable 4:2:2. But preiminary reports say the PMW-EX1 produces a sharper image. However, the PMW-EX1 does resort to interframe compression (the HVX200 does not), so there could be some interframe compression artifacts with excessive subject motion, but not as bad as with HDV. So, it’s going to be a tough choice. Panasonic has a long-standing reputation for better color reproduction, but it looks like the Sony is going to give to a “higher” high definition image.

      Ya pays yer money, and ya makes yer choice.

      Ken Hull

    • #182918

      I upgraded from a Canon GL1/GL2 to two Sony FX1s and have mostly been quite happy with the results. The main drawback with all current low-cost HD cameras is that they’re not particularly good in dim lighting, but this isn’t necessarily a big deal if you’re careful and learn your camera’s limits.

      Regarding the Panasonic HVX200, note that the resolution of the sensors in this camera is only 960×540 pixels, and in real-world tests the discernible resolution of recorded footage was basically the same as good SD cameras. Recording inHD modeon the HVX200 also requires the use of memory cards which currently cost over $50 per MINUTE of recording capacity at full quality, compared to a few bucks per hour for HDV. (Or you can use a Firestore hard-disk recorder with the HVX200, which costs about $2000 for 100 minutes of recording.)

      The Sony EX1 will be the hot camera of 2008 but costs $6500 with a memory card that only holds 25 minutes of footage, and extra cards cost about $18 per minute of recording capacity. This makes HDV the obvious choice for anyone of modest means, and the best cameras to consider for this format are as follows:

      Sony FX1 and Z1U (same basic camera with different features)
      Sony V1U (similar to above but with CMOS sensor instead of CCD and better zoom range)
      Canon XH-A1 (better value than the Sonys but trickier to use in dim lighting)
      JVC HD110U (shoulder-mount design with manual-focus-only lens and 720p recording)

      Personally I’d recommend either the FX1 or the XH-A1, or the JVC if you like shoulder-mounted cameras and don’t care for autofocus. For HDVediting try Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas or Grass Valley Edius on PCs, or Final Cut Studio on Macs.

    • #182919

      Ken and KevinShaw, I thank you both for your replies. HDV sounds like the way to go for me. Now I only have 2 more questions.

      1. I’ve heard that 720p can be sharper than 1080i. Is this true? Is it really necessary to have 1080 interlaced lines of resolution over 720 progressive?

      2. What is HDV like to edit? Can you edit it in realtime using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut? Also, how is the render time?

      Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your guys’ help on this.

    • #182920

      I have yet to see any realdifference between 720p and 1080i when viewed normally.

      Editing HVD is like SD in CS3 pro so I’m going to guess that that’s the case with other editors.

      Render time is long but I’ve not timed it against SD but I did a 8 minute HDV clip which took a little over 35 minutes to complete.

    • #182921

      “I’ve heard that 720p can be sharper than 1080i. Is this true?”

      In general you could say that 720p produces sharper still frames while 1080ihas more overall detail with smoother motion, but a lot depends on the specific camera you’re using and how you’re processing and playing the footage. Among inexpensive HD cameras the ones with the sharpest images are the Sony EX1, then the Canon HDV cameras, followed by the JVC andSony HDV modelsand finally the Panasonic HVX200. But image sharpness isn’t everything either, and a lot of people like the Panasonic camera because of the overall “look” it produces.

      “What is HDV like to edit? Can you edit it in realtime using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut? Also, how is the render time? “

      Depending on who you ask HDV editing is manageable on a modern dual-core or multi-processor computer, but it helps a lot to convert it first to an “intermediate” editing codec like Cineform Aspect HD, Edius HQ or Apple ProRes. This increases the file sizes by about 3X from 12 GB/hour to ~40 GB/hour, and takes a lot of load off the processors to smooth out the editing. Rendering your final HD output can be painfully time-consuming depending on the software you’re using and your choice of output formats. I just made my first Blu-ray disc this week and it took a full day to render and transcode the video and author and burn the first disc, but it can be evenworse than that if you’re rendering to formats like WMV-HD or H.264. All things considered HD production is more time-consuming than SD production, so you need to be smart about how to handle that.

    • #182922

      hidef1080 and KevinShaw, thanks again for your information. I’m gonna wait it out a bit longer until prices drop and hardware gets faster, but I will definitely keep your information in mind.

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