In a quandary

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    • #53782


      I will try and keep my inquiry succinct;
      Basically I film for an operation with international exposure, and have done for a few years. I also do the lighting, stills and editing, and I have to make sure things look good. Stills are fine, I use Nikon with great results. Scenes are generally shot indoors and lit with soft boxes. Everything runs great, except quality of footage. The footage has always looked rough. I have been informed that this is due to my camera, a Sony VX2100E – one I was informed was brilliant, turns out it isnt. So, I want a HD camcorder up to and around £1100 which produces good, clear footage, isnt flimsy and does not use mini DV. I got all excited today when somebody recommended the Panasonic AG HVX200 and by all accounts the footage is awesome, I nearly bought one until seeing that they use the Panasonic P2 card which only lets you record about 10 mins of HD footage before having to change the card (8GB average card)
      So, in a nutshell, I want a decent prosumer camera around £1100 which can export to Elements 10 or FCP X and produce crisp, clear footage for download and viewing on laptops, monitor screens and maybe TV's. In this day and age I would think that a simple request, but I am getting buried in cameras! Can anyone offer any simple advice?
      Many Thanks,
    • #205860




      I just checked the currency conversion and the Camera I have is at your price range in the US and Canada.


      Canon calls it their entry level Professional camera but I think there are more expensive pro sumer cameras that may have more things going for them.  But I think it fits your needs.  It is compact but solid and adding the handle that contains inputs for XLR makes it sturdier.  Below is part of the overview from B & H Photo.    It takes any 10 class SD card and has 2 slots.   I am still an amateur with ambition.   I have been using it since the summer and am now starting to pay attention to really getting the right lighting.  I did most things outside and have done some inside.  I will give you some links if you wish to watch what I have done with the camera.  They will be very amateurish to someone like you  but may give an idea of what kind of image the camera gives.


      I did these by myself so Mistakes and being a little out of focus occasionly were the result.


      8 Min Outside, asked to shoot myself looking for a "treasure Edited from hour long hunt  8 Sec  Outside  25 Sec Indoors montage of ladder falls  21 Sec Outdoor Night.. Grabbed a light and camera to capture Blizzard  4:42 First part of video for friends kids. Indoor , Tried for a Mood,   08 Sec Outdoor  15 Sec Indoor   Parody of Stock Video I saw called Girl is goofy in Ktchen.                           I don't think she was


      I do most of these for practice and show them for a friend who is a freelance TV Director for Critque



      Just google Canon XA10 and a host of sites come up.  It has been well reviewed and I have read


      from customer reviews that some pros have used it in their work.

      Part of Overview from B & H Photo video

      The Canon XA10 HD Professional Camcorder is a fully featured, ultra-compact pro video camera that shares nearly all the functionality of the XF100, but in an even smaller, run-and-gun form factor. Sporting a 64GB internal flash drive and two SDXC-compatible card slots, the XA10 can record literally for days without running out of memory. Able to capture AVCHD video at bitrates up to 24Mbps, the camcorder's native 1920 x 1080 CMOS sensor also lets you choose 60i, 24p, PF30, and PF24 frame rates for customizing the look of your footage. Bringing further professional oomph to that footage is a Genuine Canon 10x HD video lens, with lowlight sensitivity and a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 30.4mm-304mm.

      Like the larger XF100, the XA10 also provides full image customization, cinema looks, infrared recording (for night shooting), and HDMI/component/composite output. Other professional features include dual XLR inputs, relay recording, waveform, color peaking, and zebra patterns. But the camera has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, including a detachable handle to allow for truly low-profile shooting, and a 3.5" Touch Panel LCD that adds the extremely useful Touch & Track, Touch Focus and Touch Exposure functions, which make pulling focus and adjusting exposure dramatically easier. Combined with its other focus, exposure, and composition aids, this makes the XA10 an ideal blend of portability and professional control–the perfect tool for nearly any on-the-go production.

      Flash Memory
      The XA10 Professional Camcorder allows users to record up to 24 hours of clear high definition video to a 64GB internal flash drive or to two SDXC-compatible memory cards. With Relay Recording, the camcorder automatically switches video recording from the internal drive to the SD memory cards when the memory becomes full.

      Video can be copied from the XA10's internal drive to removable SD memory cards. That makes it easy to insert the card into your computer or HDTV's card reader and view your recorded footage immediately. Double Slot Recording allows recording to two SD cards simultaneously, providing an automatic backup while shooting.                 

      I think this is an excellent camera and would work very well in a pros hands
      Hope this Helps


    • #205866

      I have the HVX-200A and I can't imagine replacing it with anything " better " . . . . certainly not for the money, and certainly NOT a DSLR . . .


      The P2 cards ARE expensive, but think of the advantages! You don't have to put up with AVCHD codec and the corresponding computer horspower to handle it. The HVX-200A is a 3-CCD camera WITHOUT the rolling shutter nonesense of the CMOS cameras.


      Shooting in highest res, a pair of 16GB P2 cards will store an hour, and fresh P2 cards can be loaded into the camera for continuous shooting. Look at it this way: P2 cards are sort of a necessary expense, similar to the necessary expense of a number of good lenses for a DSLR.


      I like the ability to shoot with mini-DV tape in the HVX-200A if necessary. The HPX-170 is essentially the same camera as the HVX-200A, but w/o the ability to shoot to mini-DV tape.


      Rick Crampton

    • #205873

      Hello Again


      If Rick has convjnced you to go for the HVX-200A,  I looked around and found one on for



      + £60.10 postage    or Best offer





      It does look like an excellent camera.  With features I do not have. But it seems tobe about 4700 new.   But the ebay one is only 200 pounds past your budget.  


      I was only able to afford mine as it was at an Electronic Store that let's you pay 12 equal installments with no interest.  


      One day I hope to upgrade.


      Rick if you are reading this, I have a question.  What is the issue with AVCHD?  My laptop handles the format and I built a powerful desktop to handle editing.  Can AVCHD be exported to a format that is good enough for broadcast?  I got the impression it was.  Not that I have any aspirations in that area yet.   And I know my Camera is not at the level of the Panasonic or other cameras in that range.


      Whatever model you get,  I would be curious to hear about it.



      And thanks for the info Rick



      By the way if you haven't checked the Canon X A10 it looks like this




    • #205891

      Hi Guys,


      Thanks a lot for the advice, I really appreciate it. In the end I went with the wildcard and have just taken delivery of a Sony HXR-MC2000E


      I also bought a Rode Video Mic to pair with it.


      Surprisingly big and front heavy! Now I just have to trial and error the best lighting set up for it, as my current softboxes are a bit cold.


      One again, many thanks for your advice and the time taken to give it.



    • #205893

      "  What is the issue with AVCHD? "


      My take on it is that the codec is too highly compressed. I'd rather have a higher rate data stream than to have the computer guessing at what the " missing " frames should look like ( and here is where the computing horsepower factor comes in ). Ultimately, H-264, or MPEG4 is a decent consumer delivery format, but I'd prefer to start out at a higher bit-rate, lower compression ratio; ie, Panasonic DVCPRO-HD is compressed @ 6.7:1 with 4:2:2 color sampling. Also, certain video transitions work a lot smoother when " real " frames are involved as opposed to computer re-constituted frames. Rendering goes a lot quicker . . . . .


      In essence, my feeling is that CMOS cameras with the dreaded " rolling shutter " effect and highly compressed acquisition rates are " fool's gold ". Manufacturers have found cheaper ways to build cameras, not better ways to make better cameras cheaper.


      Rick Crampton

    • #205897

      Thanks very much Rick,


      I would like a higher rate data stream as well.  I just didn.t know.   I am stuck with my Canon for awhile and I have been able to do things with it that I couldn't do with my 900 dollar camera, and have made some fun little movies.  Plus I am not ready to put my work out there.   It's a start on my movie education.


      When I can afford to upgrade I will understand compressing and codecs better, thanks to you and the research I am about to do because of your explanation.


      That's the second reference to the computer guessing what the missing frames look like.  I didn't know there were missing frames.   More things to research and understand.


      Luckily I do have the computer horsepower so that is not an issue in editing or rendering.  But one learns in steps.


      Thank you again

      and all my best


    • #205898

      Congatulations Roscoe


      I just looked it up and it is only 975 pounds..  Does this camera produce video suitable for broadcast?


      If you don't mind a lighting question.   What do you mean when you say Your Softboxes are a bit cold?

      Does it involve cold and warm lighting?

      I build my own softboxes and that sounds like a lighting term not a description of temperture.


      And if you want an bonus question.  Does the issue Rick brought up about AVCHD bother you?



      Amateurishly yours


    • #205902

      " The softboxes make the final footage a bit bluish and cadaverous in colour. "


      Sounds as if you need to find the " white balance " setup on that camera. OR . . . are you intermixing tungsten and fluorescent? Also, being home brew, be sure all the lamps in your fixtures are of the same color temperature  . . . . .


      Rick Crampton

    • #205903

      Hi Rick – Im going sound a bit daft here, but you dont learn anything by pretending you know everything! My soft boxes, I THINK are fluorescent, and 'daylight'. I am still pretty naive when it comes to tungsten/ halogen/ flourescent and their various effects and temeratures. I have in the past mixed my softboxes with halogen (downlighters, domestic lighting) and it has produced this bluish effect with the finished footage, I dont tend to notice it while shooting.


      I think that my mixing the two is down to my paranoia of how stark the boxes look on their own, plus in one of the rooms I shoot in, there is no natural light, so without mixing the two, the two soft boxes would be the only light.


      I think these are pretty much identical to the ones I use if that helps.

    • #205910

      I spoze one " could " put an incandescent lamp into a soft-box fixture . . . . but that would kinda defeat the purpose. Compact fluorescent lamps put out a great deal more light per unit wattage consumption than a tungstan lamp.


      Get out the manual on your camera and look up " white balance ". Your description sounds like your camera is defaulting to tungstan which has a color temp of nominally around

       3400/3500 degrees ( " warm " ). When you use your soft-boxes with fluorescent lamps, you're introducing light which is nominally around 6400 degrees ( " cool " ). Possibly, the color temp of your fluorescent lamps is marked on their base.


      If you can't adjust your camera's " white balance " control, you're going to have to apply a color correcting gel to your soft boxes in order to reduce that bluish effect. OR, find a pair of compact fluorescent lamps which are rated in the tungsten color temperature range.


      I'm an " old timer " with experience mostly in the use of incandescent lighting; and so, I have a small set of 300 watt/650 watt halogen Fresnel instruments. I have a couple relatively small soft boxes . . . . and a selection of color correcting gels for when I want to use them with the other lights in the kit.

    • #205913

      I mis-spoke off the top of my head about color temp values. The proper numbers should be 3200 and 5600.



    • #205899

      Thanks Barry, I paid 1121 including VAT and delivery.


      The softboxes make the final footage a bit bluish and cadaverous in colour. I think its due to having to keep them further away from the subjects as they are quite invasive, but the further away they get, the harsher the light. Apparently I may need tungsten bulbs that are brighter and 'warmer' (tonally) so I can have them further away.


      Yes, what Rick said bothers me (thanks for the info Rick, very helpful), but there is an ocean of info, opinions and research out there and you could quite easily drown in it. The MC2000e is a step up to HD, and considering Im not shooting for Warner Brothers, in this day and age, I expect a reasonable result for a thousand pounds spent on a reputable brand. Couple that with decent editing software, and I think I will keep my head above water.


      I am fortuante to work with seasoned and professional subjects and (without meaning to be big headed) have a good eye for composition, a steady hand and can take good stills too. So the slightly grainy footage I have been getting from my old camera has been 'excused' if you like.


      I have tested the MC2000e today, and it seems to perfor well.


      Once I crack the lighting, I think the MC2000e will be a great piece of kit. I will be looking after it to retain value where possible as I do with all my kit, and trading up again next year if I feel my abilities need a better cam.



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