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Author Topic: HD camcorder choices for transitioning photographer  (Read 2758 times)
Alexandre Buisse
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« on: July 01, 2010, 01:30:52 PM »
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Hi there,

I recently got a great offer for a job (documenting a climbing expedition in Nepal), but with a catch: they want video as well as stills. Though I have owned a D90 since it was released, I have done very little motion work with it. So even though the job isn't for a few months, I need to get started as soon as possible to gain as much experience as possible.

The problem is that I don't have a camcorder. I could of course use the D90, but it is severely limited in terms of manual control, handling, audio and plenty of other small things. So I am looking for a decent HD camcorder. My requirements are 1080p, SDHC storage, decently low weight, external mic connectors and some amount of manual control. An EVF would also be very appreciated.

Would anyone care to recommend a specific model, or at least to give me an idea of whether I would be able to get by with a consumer model such as the Panasonic SD60, or whether I should go ahead and invest in semi-pro gear.

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: July 01, 2010, 01:33:04 PM by Alexandre Buisse » Logged

PierreVandevenne
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 04:33:22 PM »
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Quote from: Alexandre Buisse
Would anyone care to recommend a specific model, or at least to give me an idea of whether I would be able to get by with a consumer model such as the Panasonic SD60, or whether I should go ahead and invest in semi-pro gear.

The Panasonic looks like a nice affordable choice. There are a few HD camcorders that will offer a higher data rate and more options in the same form factor (Canon Vixia/Legria HFS 10/11 for example, I own one, am reasonably happy with it, lots of sample videos on the net).  However, given the amazing quality of your photography, I am not sure you'll be happy with the result... there's something intrinsically amateurish to it, at least in my case.

Some people get good results though (for example http://vimeo.com/7965263)  

But 250 grams, that's hard to beat...
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bcooter
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2010, 02:03:32 PM »
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Quote from: Alexandre Buisse
Hi there,

I recently got a great offer for a job (documenting a climbing expedition in Nepal), but with a catch: they want video as well as stills. Though I have owned a D90 since it was released, I have done very little motion work with it. So even though the job isn't for a few months, I need to get started as soon as possible to gain as much experience as possible.

The problem is that I don't have a camcorder. I could of course use the D90, but it is severely limited in terms of manual control, handling, audio and plenty of other small things. So I am looking for a decent HD camcorder. My requirements are 1080p, SDHC storage, decently low weight, external mic connectors and some amount of manual control. An EVF would also be very appreciated.

Would anyone care to recommend a specific model, or at least to give me an idea of whether I would be able to get by with a consumer model such as the Panasonic SD60, or whether I should go ahead and invest in semi-pro gear.

Thanks in advance!


The kind of in betweener is the panasonic g series still and video cameras.  (see Michael's Article).

The panasonic will go to low light and focus ok, not tremendous but pretty good considering it's an evf.  If you want to go all out with the Panasonic, contact Abel Cinetek as they have PL mounts, and I believe a way to hook up xlr sound inputs.    For sound the easy way is a shot gun mike on the hotshoe, everybody offers one of these, call Samy's in LA to find out more.

Now since you shoot landscapes and tend to pull a lot of depth of focus, a dedicated small hdv 1080 camera might work better, a sony, Canon etc.  The only downside to the small chipped handicams in at low light they tend to produce a lot of noise in the blacks.  Sometimes snow storm noise, so it's worth a test.

Personally I'd take a panasonic, kit it out with a small tripod and friction head, maybe even add some sound equipment.

If you are not following focus at a fast rate the Canons 5d2, 7d, 1dmark iv, are more robust and obviously larger than everything mentioned.

Good luck.

BC
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bcooter
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2010, 02:03:32 PM »
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Quote from: Alexandre Buisse
Hi there,

I recently got a great offer for a job (documenting a climbing expedition in Nepal), but with a catch: they want video as well as stills. Though I have owned a D90 since it was released, I have done very little motion work with it. So even though the job isn't for a few months, I need to get started as soon as possible to gain as much experience as possible.

The problem is that I don't have a camcorder. I could of course use the D90, but it is severely limited in terms of manual control, handling, audio and plenty of other small things. So I am looking for a decent HD camcorder. My requirements are 1080p, SDHC storage, decently low weight, external mic connectors and some amount of manual control. An EVF would also be very appreciated.

Would anyone care to recommend a specific model, or at least to give me an idea of whether I would be able to get by with a consumer model such as the Panasonic SD60, or whether I should go ahead and invest in semi-pro gear.

Thanks in advance!


The kind of in betweener is the panasonic g series still and video cameras.  (see Michael's Article).

The panasonic will go to low light and focus ok, not tremendous but pretty good considering it's an evf.  If you want to go all out with the Panasonic, contact Abel Cinetek as they have PL mounts, and I believe a way to hook up xlr sound inputs.    For sound the easy way is a shot gun mike on the hotshoe, everybody offers one of these, call Samy's in LA to find out more.

Now since you shoot landscapes and tend to pull a lot of depth of focus, a dedicated small hdv 1080 camera might work better, a sony, Canon etc.  The only downside to the small chipped handicams in at low light they tend to produce a lot of noise in the blacks.  Sometimes snow storm noise, so it's worth a test.

Personally I'd take a panasonic, kit it out with a small tripod and friction head, maybe even add some sound equipment.

If you are not following focus at a fast rate the Canons 5d2, 7d, 1dmark iv, are more robust and obviously larger than everything mentioned.

Good luck.

BC

P.S.  I forgot about the new Sony's with a 1.5 cropped sensor.  Don't know much about them or if they are out yet, but they seem worthwhile.

Again, I'd call someone like Abel and have them talk you through what you want to do.

« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 02:05:13 PM by bcooter » Logged
Plekto
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2010, 02:59:52 PM »
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http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/gh1.shtml

This camera is probably your best compromise.  Why it excels is a combination of its sensor size, which is fairly close to a movie camera's DOF, good down-scaling without artifacts, and 60fps 720 mode that actually looks like proper 720P mode.  *note - the other modes are so-so - leave it on 720/60fps all the time*

What got me though was the comparison near the bottom with a $1000+ JVC camcorder and how it did better image stabilization.  The days of Camcorders are numbered, I think, because cameras do everything better in terms of AI and processing, optics, and so on.  Just, they never used to be able to do HD video.  

And, as a bonus, it's a bit over 1.5 lbs with the lens.  Very easy to transport - almost like a bridge camera, in fact.  A bit larger and bulkier than a Camcorder, though not by much.  And not having to carry a camera around and a camcorder is a plus.

Other than that, there is only one HD camcorder I'd recommend, the Sony HDR-XR550V (or CX550V if you prefer memory vs a hard drive).  Perfect videos at HD and absolutely no compromises that I could find.  But it's a camcorder and won't work for anything other than a quick ~2-3mp pocket camera type scenery shot. Yes, it says 6MP, but in testing, a $100 digital compact camera did much better.  Camcorder CCDs aren't designed for high resolution photography.    That said, yes, it takes gorgeous HD video.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 03:01:24 PM by Plekto » Logged
Alexandre Buisse
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2010, 01:23:47 AM »
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Thanks for all the suggestions. After some more research, I had discarded the SD60 for not having sound in nor enough manual controls, and it seemed the cheapest good camcorder I could find was the SD700, at more than 700. The GH1 is an option I hadn't considered, though, and I like that it could double as a light climbing camera (I have been using an E-P1 lent by Olympus, the ratio of image quality to weight is hard to beat!).
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Plekto
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2010, 03:56:34 AM »
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http://www.vimeo.com/6635931
A bit of fancy lighting and very basic post-processing on a stock GH1.   It almost blurs the line, IMO.

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=208022
A wedding photographer posted this work he did for a client.  Just lovely.  He got this smooth look by setting the video to 720/60fps and the shutter to 125(double the fps rate).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6m_f1Npbt4
Action/music video works pretty well.  I rate it 80% "there"(lenses seem to be a bit off compared to a pro video rig) - the next generation should nail it and equal pro rigs, IMO.  Some lighting, a steadicam, and a GH1.  You can see why this combo is becoming a favorite of indy filmers over the Canon.  

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=214802
And some gorgeous scenery probably closer to what you'll be doing.

I'm impressed.  It's also now on my short list.  I'm just waiting for the next model/version out come out.  I think Panasonic will have the minor problems worked out and improved.

edit:
http://www.youtube.com/user/pentaxian1#p/a/u/1/Vez7qSrZfpc
This is my favorite video from a DSLR, so far.  Shot on a Pentax.  It also shows why a dedicated video camera is becoming more and more useless.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 04:13:00 AM by Plekto » Logged
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