Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Professional Camcorders › Stepping into the pro league
January 14, 2014 at 9:36 PM #71781
Hey I am just about ready to step up my video business and buy a serious camcorder. I currently have a Panasonic HDC-Hs9 a very nice sharp "consumer" camcorder; will probably become my 2nd angle on most shoots. Basically I want some suggestions on what to look at, would also be helpful if you have owned or used the camera you are recommending to leave what you liked or didn't about it.
Some things I am looking for, but might compromise on depending:
1. Not really looking for a shoulder mount or broadcast camera not my needs.
2. I want xlr jacks.
3. I prefer on board memory like flash or hdd with sdhc support.
4. I do allot of different shoots indoor, outdoor, close, far, meaning it must be versatile able to handle whatever I need it for. Good low light is a huge plus because some of my event's can't support extra lighting.
5. I am lazy sometimes I want full control with good auto when I don't feel like adjusting everything.
6. Not really looking for 4k would be a bonus I guess but I do need 1080 60/30.
7. 3D is a gimmick not interested.
8. I use Sony Vegas which can handle pretty much whatever, but I want good uncompressed footage that can be worked on raw.
Budget: I don't have one yet because I'm still working on the cash, but I'm thinking in the no less than 1k to no more than 3k range ish.
Keep in mind this is going to be my main camcorder for a few years I want something that is going to last me awhile and do a great job of giving my clients what they pay for.
Thanks for your time I always love shopping for new toys =D
January 15, 2014 at 3:34 AM #209555
Hi Justin – if you want XLRs and 1080/60p between $1K and $3K, your choices are pretty much (in ascending price order):
Any of these cameras will be a major step up in image quality. If you're shopping on price alone, get the Panasonic. But the Sony NX30 has an amazing optical steady shot system that can give you handheld results like these without a steadicam (please see vimeo dot com forward slash 39827844)
I've been recommending the NX30 in this price range because of the OSS. And with the $100 rebate, it's an even better deal.
Hope this is helpful and good luck with your business!
January 15, 2014 at 7:45 AM #209557
Thank's a bunch Bill I will definitely look into those.
January 15, 2014 at 8:42 AM #209559
Also what do you think of this camcorder?
It is just over the 3k mark, but has a 600 mail in and seems like a solid camera. Some of the drawbacks for me would be the rolling shutter in some cases, and doesn't have onboard memory. But otherwise looks like an awesome camera. The photo options are a nice bonus, and while I like the oss of the nx30 the projector seems like a gimmick and the trade-off in manual controls seems like a pain, although I do like the touchscreen controls.
and one more video I like of it: https://vimeo.com/61021656
January 15, 2014 at 4:08 PM #209561mcrockettMember
I own the Sony HXR-NX30u that brunerww mentioned. It is a great camera. 96 GB of internal storage with the ability to add more via SD cards. Comes with an audio block and a shotgun mic, all for less than $2000. My only complaint is that, even though you have full control over exposure, shutter speed, etc., all of that control is tied to a single wheel that has a button in the middle of it to select which function the wheel will control. When the included lens hood is attached, the button in the middle of that wheel is difficult (but not impossible) to get to. Other than that, it is the best camera in my arsenal. It does great in low light, shoots up to 60p, and is quite compact. For its functionality and versatility, I can recommend it.
January 16, 2014 at 4:38 AM #209566martinXParticipant
Hi. I recently purchased a Canon XA20 and the following is a review I left:
Top little unit. I had a budget of around $2000 and (at a minimum) wanted a video camera with XLR inputs and decent low light handling. I compared the XA20 with the Sony NX30P and the Panasonic AG-AC90EN.
The Panny was nice enough and was closer to a "full-size" video camera (the Panasonic AG-AC160, for example), but felt plasticcy and it's low light level capabilities were atrocious. It has a nifty "iris control" that opens the iris up as you spin it and when you reach the widest aperture, it turns the gain up. Handy, since what you're trying to do is brighten the image, but this is let down by it's poor low light capabilities. The UI was terrible – like something out of 1990s-era Japanese software translated badly to English.
The Sony NX30 is small. Really small. Tiny. Although it does have a handle, I could barely fit my finger in it and it was awkward to comfortably shoot video hand held using it. Having said that, it does have a legendary image stabiliser. It is also similar to consumer camcorders having a 'side-to-side' zoom rather than a front-to-back rocker. I've used both and I prefer the FTB. I can't fault the quality of the video the Sony produced, however. The ergonomics killed it for me. This camera would be great for someone doing a lot of handheld work, but not if they had to use the handle for low shots.
And now the Canon XA20: well-sized, the handle is comfortable, the ergonomics make it easy to use, the touchscreen is responsive, the UI (mostly) intuitive, the eyepiece is sharp, it handles low light well and the lens has a good range on it. You can record as AVCHD which has an upper limit of about 25 Mbps, or you can specify MP4 which brings it up to 35 Mbps. Both use the same codec, but the AVCHD spec is limited to 25 Mbps so Canon can't go higher. It'd be good if it didn't still split the MP4s like it splits the AVCHD MTS files, but you can't have everything. The zoom rocker is front-to-back and is progressive rather than fixed. The handle also has a record button and a (fixed) zoom rocker. Both the Sony and the Canon have face tracking to keep someone in focus, but I found the Sony's difficult to turn off whereas the Canon's was good. The Canon's LCD screen was large and you can use it for focussing on particular areas of the frame, though that function didn't seem to work that well in low light. Negatives for the XA20: Canon's extortionate battery pricing. This is balanced, though, by the great price of the camcorder to start with. We seem to be paying less than the US. You will have to buy your own shotgun mic if you don't want to rely on the internal mics. The Sony comes with one.
The XA20 is a fantastic camcorder in this price range. It doesn't compare to, say, a Sony NX5, but that costs over $4000. When I went testing, I thought I'd be buying the Sony NX30 and I was only doing testing because I don't often get the chance to do that. In the end, though, I wanted great video from a "prosumer" camcorder that fit my budget, and the XA20 delivers.
My advice is to have a shopping list of features and then go somewhere to try these out for yourself. The other thing is that the XA20 looks the part. The NX5 would be even better (I use something similar in my day job) but budgets will be the final determinant.
January 16, 2014 at 4:43 AM #209567
January 16, 2014 at 9:43 AM #209573
I originally mentioned I didn't want shoulder mount because allot of the "pro" cameras are such a high profile in other words they are really big. I want something that is portable enough, doesn't have to be tiny, but I don't want something like http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0a/Old_School_JVC_Camcorder.jpg
my first vhs camcorder I cut my teeth on was like 30 pounds once you had the battery and everything. So I kind of shy away from larger camcorders for fear of not being able to run and gun and do things like that. Sometimes I have walkthrough shoots and need to carry the thing all day and even with using my tripod as a monopod carrying something that heavy around would kill my back.
January 20, 2014 at 9:53 PM #209626neilruedParticipant
May I recommend the prosumer Sony NEX-FS100?
The body weighs 2.3 lbs, has the best low light performance of any prosumer camera, offers 1080/60p, XLR microphone input, and allows for interchangeable lenses.
The price from the B & H Photovideo site, is USD3,999 for the body, microphone, cables, charger and battery.
The next best low light performance prosumer camera may be the Panasonic AG-AF100A also offering interchangeable lens flexibility and weighs 2.9 lbs for the body only.
This camera also features XLR microphone input.
The price from the B& H Photovideo site, is USD3,799 for the body, charger and battery.
Both of these cameras have large image sensors that match the exposed area of 35mm film; the FS100 has a slightly larger sensor area. The larger sensor areas in general provide for superior low light performance, and improved color dynamic range.
I would recommend going to YouTube for test footage shot on the cameras recommended by everyone here to compare.
January 15, 2014 at 11:03 PM #209564
Thanks I have heard a lot of good things about that camera.
January 16, 2014 at 3:10 AM #209565
That said, this camera has one challenge – a tendency to produce moire (shimmering colored bands on patterned objects that you see with a lot of DSLRs).
Here is an example (if the embedded video is not showing on your screen, please type vimeo dot com forward slash 61215756 into your browser):
If you avoid brickwork, shingled roofs and patterned fabrics, it is a great camera.
January 21, 2014 at 6:49 AM #209627
Hi neil – I would have recommended those cameras, except that Justin said:
"Budget: I don't have one yet because I'm still working on the cash, but I'm thinking in the no less than 1k to no more than 3k range ish."
$3999.00 is fhe lowest price I could find for a new FS100, and a new US-model AF100 from a reputable seller is $3619.39 at Amazon – quite a bit higher than "$3000 ish".
That said, the Japanese import model AF105 is somewhat less at $2799.99 – but with a single $200 Sigma 19mm f2.8 lens, this camera would be right at Justin's $3000 limit.
Starting out with a single lens might be worth it for the large sensor, shallow depth of field "look" – which is something you're not going to get from the NX30.
And here is what its US cousin, the AF100 can do (the same camera with a different badge on it):
Here is the great walk through from Andy Shipsides at Abel Cine when the camera first came out, a little over 3 years ago:
A little dated, but if it fits the budget, it is still a great camera and worth considering.
January 22, 2014 at 1:00 AM #209629neilruedParticipant
Thank you for your comments and for all the research you've done, alhough they should've been appropriately directed to Justin.
My understanding is that Justin doesn't have a budget yet, he is *thinking* of spending a maximum of $3k ish; in my experience when people are thinking in terms of $x ish, they are willing to be flexible in spending more to get exactly what they want because they know you get what you pay for.
I agree with you that the larger sensor format for both the Panasonic AG-AF100/105 and Sony NEX-FS100 cameras allows for the use of lenses with shallow Depth Of Field (DOF) but I didn't mention this because Justin did not list this as one of his requirements.
I agree with you that the Panasonic AG-AF100/AF105 camera is a good camera for the price, and by shopping around for the same or similar models a better price may be found. This is true of any camera equipment or accessories. However, Justin did mention:
[quote]4. …… Good for low light is a huge plus because some of my event's can't support extra lighting.
By this comment, this would include the Sony NEX-FS100 into contention because YouTube videos showing the low light performance for the Panasonic AG-AF100 and Sony NEX-FS100 reveal the FS100 has the best low light sensitivity because its 23.6mm x 13.3mm image sensor is larger than the Panasonic's 17.3mm x 13mm, giving the FS100 image sensor 1.4 times the light gathering area compared to the AF100.
This YouTube video compares the low light performances: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvN879zwD5g
One of the major quibbles is the Sony NEX-FS100 does not offer an HD-SDI output; denying the flexibility of using professional external recording or monitoring accessories with this camera. Another quibble is the FS100 does not offer built-in Neutral Density (ND) optical filters. The Panasonic AG-AF100 does have built-in ND switchable filters for demanding daylight shooting and has an HD-SDI output.
I'm merely providing additional alternatives to what's already been suggested. At the end of the day, it's Justin's decision which brand or model he'll decide on that best suits his shooting style, ergonomics expectations, creative freedom, preferred accessories and work flow.
For post production work, may I suggest CyberLink's Power Director 12 Director Suite? Includes all the video editing tools needed including color grading, frame rate conversion, image cropping, green screen and blue screen work. Also includes audio mixing and audio editing functionality.
I've used version 7 and recently upgraded to version 12.
I'm saving my money to purchase the Sony NEX-FS700 body, with an Olympus lens mount adaptor (to use our existing investment), and a Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.