View Full Version : almost there... camera question.

04-05-2005, 07:42 PM
Now i'm getting pretty close to buying a camera. I was gonna start small, but i've just reconsidered and am thinking of just jumping in the deep end and going for some high-end consumer digital doodad. 3ccd camera. I dont know how far out of my price range HD is, or if it's even neccessary or as good as they make it seem. Seeing that it is new technology. But DV is the way i'm going, now the problem is this, in sydney i dont really know of any retailers who deal in cameras any better than your consumer handycam, and i dont like the idea of shopping online for such a large investments. Can you buy directly from the manufacturer? any suggestion on what cameras i should be looking at, any that have worked well for you guys? and, keeping in mind that one day i'd like to shoot a low budget indie feature, and would like it to look decent/screenable, any pointers on picture quality, cameras that are known for this but still in the high end consumer scheme of things? cheers. :D

04-05-2005, 07:49 PM
My dream camera:

Next best:


04-05-2005, 08:09 PM
HAHA! i was using an XL2 the other night. Lovely thing to use. I was considering a Canon. But i've also heard good things about Sony's PD150/70 range. And some higher end panasonic cameras. Canon's have been getting good word of mouth though, how does the XL2 compare to something like a sony pd150, is it in the same league or is it a more consumer friendly type camera, i'm just going by the look of it here, i dont fully understand most camera specs, but i'm learning.

04-05-2005, 08:11 PM
What kind of budget do you have? (better specify if AU or USD) :)

04-05-2005, 08:27 PM
Budget it a big one :). A few new cameras are going to be announced in a few weeks time so it may be worth waiting to see what pops up. If you want to stick with SD Panasonic has a new camera coming out that does HD and 4:2:2 SD (twice as much color info as normal video). It will be pricey though and perhaps not worth it depending on your needs.

The XL2 is a great camera. It doesn't do HD but it's true 16:9 holds up rather well on an HD screen. My only real complaints about this camera are 1) lack of a real focus ring (it's one of those perpetual rings with no beginning or end point) and 2) The darn iris switch. These may not be any problem whatsoever depending on your needs.

Really though budget is what will be speaking. We can talk about 5K cameras all day but that won't help if you can't afford it :D. In the more mid range the GL2 is a great little camera. It's definitely what I would get at that price point.

You might also look into the Panasonic GS400. I've heard some good things about it and it's cheaper than the GL2.

As for where to buy:

Both of these places are fantastic with some of the best customer support you will ever find. I know people who spend tens of thousands of dollars at these places so I wouldn't be even the slightest bit worried about buying online from them. It's usually the places that have "too good to be true" prices which will end up scamming you.

Don't use Ebay either! Very, very bad place to buy high end electronics! You want to buy from an authorized seller (B&h and EVS both are) so you can be sure to get a full warranty and all the extras the cameras come with. A common trick that these low places pull is to purchase a bunch of cameras meant for Europe or Japan and then resell them to unsuspecting customers. This is bad if you need to have the camera serviced as you don't have a valid warranty in the US. Only in Europe or Japan. They also like to pull the trick of luring people in with really low prices and then charging them lots of money for the extras the camera is supposed to come with.

04-05-2005, 08:28 PM
in good old aussie dollars, i'm looking to spend up to the 6000 dollar mark. But if i can get something that suits my needs for 4000 than the rest will go on more equipment. I'm just looking to get the best possible camera for my money. :cool:

04-05-2005, 08:35 PM
Well for that much money you could get any of the above cameras :). What sort of stuff will you be doing mainly and what functions are you looking for in a camera? We might be able to help narrow down the field if you wish.

04-05-2005, 09:01 PM
sorry, shaw. I didnt see your first post there. That was a big help! I had heard bad stories about certain sites so i didnt wanna just jump right in there. I do want a camera which i will be able to have all manual functions, which is pretty standard in this price range, i think. But another big hang up is to do with sound. Are there any cameras out there with exceptional sound, or is it just always going to be best to record sound on an alternate source. it's just that i've heard that recently some of these cameras mic's have been getting pretty effective.

04-05-2005, 09:12 PM
The XL2 has a sound recording system, but to use it will limit you severely to on-camera audio only... it's best to get an external device (boom mic). I can't help you there, though, I'm not the audio type! :wink:
(Hard of hearing)
We used a shotgun mic, but there are differnt kinds for different needs. Here's a really good site with lots of audio information:


04-05-2005, 09:23 PM
Thanks champ! I'm majoring in sound so i dont think any of that will be a problem, i've mastered dat recording, and mic types and all that, mixing consoles etc, now i just gotta learn about cameras. A lot of the specs really lose me so i'm at a point where i know i need a higher end camera, but i dont understand exactly what i want from the camera, concerning it's specs and capabilities. I just want something that i'm not gonna regret buying. I think i need to research this a hell of a lot more. lol. :blush:

04-05-2005, 09:27 PM
Yeah you will definitely want a shotgun mic for dramatic work. The XL2 and DVX have great sound systems internall. Their ability to record sound is just as good as a DAT deck. This however, doesn't necessarily include the microphone that accompanies the sound sub system. The mics on both cameras are great at collecting ambient sound and maybe recording the family but nothing will replace a shotgun mic for dialogue. You can run a shotgun mic directly into these cameras though and get great sound (limited by the mic of course).

What sort of conditions do you plan on shooting in? Outside? Indoor? Generally speaking shotgun mics aren't very good inside. They pick up lots of echo etc. You will want a hypercardioid or super cardioid mic for this.

If you are in need of a cheap shotgun mic that is a great deal check out the AT897. It's one of the best mics around at its price point. In the 500 USD range there is the AT4013A which is a great mic. One of the best audio deals around.

If you need one mic that can do both indoors and outdoors well I would suggest the Octava MC012. Superb mic and it's quite cheap for the sound quality. You can find it here:

The great thing about the Octava is that it has different "capsules" you can acquire. It has a cardioid, hypercardioid, and omni-directional caps. You would want to use the hypercardiod for boom work - indoors or out - and the cardiod for voiceovers dialogue replacement etc. Overall this is probably the best deal. It won't be a nice as having two high quality mics - one of each purpose but for the cost it's great deal.

04-05-2005, 09:37 PM
ha! thanks for that. see silly me, when i heard these cameras had good mics i just assumed you'd do all the sound with it. But yeh, that makes sense. I've been using a senheiser 416p on a friends production and it's fantastic for dialogue. It seems to be an industry standard. So with something like say an XL2, you would record directly into the camera, no need of a recorder of any kind? would you need a mixer to set tone and line or do these cameras do this also.. man, i've fallen so far behind all this technology. What kind of camera functions is it important i look for/keep in mind, btw?

04-05-2005, 10:43 PM
That's great! It sounds like you've had some good interaction with sound before then. Sorry if I came off as lecturesome. It wasn't the intent!

The mic on the XL2 is great for picking up ambient sound for later mixing. Heck, you could use it for voiceovers and get good sound for that matter. You just don't want to record dialogue from a distance with it.

I *think* the XL2 has a built in tone and bars generator. Don't quote me on that though! One bad thing about the XL2 is that it does NOT have line level input. This can make using a mixer tricky. Why Canon didn't implement this beats me (actually I think there is a way to get line level but it requires using a less desirable transfer method). Really there isn't need for line level unless you intend on doing some broadcast type work and/or relying heavily upon a mixer.

The only downside to running straight into the camera is you can't have someone riding the levels on a mixer. It's usually not too much of a problem but a mixer can be very handy in some situations. It's definitely not on the "get immediately or your sound will suck" list though. You need a good sound guy and a good mixer to get any real results (and almost all low end mixers will lower the audio quality before it enters the camera). There's no real need for a DAT deck or anything external though - with mixer or without. The camera records the same exact CD quality audio that DAT does.

As for camera functions: what sort of work will you be doing?

04-05-2005, 11:04 PM
lol. no it didnt sound lecture-y. well, i plan on trying my ground on a few shorts first. it's been a while since i made a film. But i will eventually wanns go commando and make a little indie feature of my own. i've got a screenplay i've wanted to shoot for a while, and i'm a big fan of handheld camera work when used tastefully. Thats why i was always considering some form of shoulder mounted camera. But yeh, mostly small indie projects, mine and other filmmaker associates. but i'm also interested in the documentary format. So far from my forays online, the canon XL2 seems to be very popular, especially on the indie scene. But visually, i dont know yet, i dont wanna find myself to limited later on though.

04-06-2005, 08:46 PM
Sounds like you have a lot of fun planned :D

Well for indie cinema you will want (much of this is probably obvious):

-Decent quality 16:9 footage
-Progressive Scan instead of interlaced footage
-Full manual control
-Good audio
-Good dynamic range (CCD and DSP)
-Real manual controls. Many cameras have servo rings instead of physically attached rings. They work by detecting ring movement and sending an electronic message to the camera. The problem with these is that there are no repeatable marks for focus pulling etc. You also run into trouble when you try to move the ring really slowly. The ring is designed to ignore very small movements so your focus/zoom doesn't change by bumping the camera, walking around etc. This also means that any really slow zoom or focus adjustment isn't going to register.
-Possibly HD
-Possibly interchangable lenses (it's critical to some and meaningless to others)

And of course, each camera will have trade offs with all of these. You just have to decide which are most important :). The DVX does not have true 16:9. It can only be achieved by an in cameras stretch process or letterbox. It does have full (real) manual controls. The XL2 has true 16:9 but has a servo focus ring (it's canons specialty). And of course there's always good old look at the image and see what looks most pleasing to you :).

04-06-2005, 08:52 PM
Mate, your a lifesaver. thats exactly the kind of info i was looking for, so i know what to research and when i go inquiring around i can ask about these functions and you know, know what to research and ask for :rolleyes: . Weigh up what i'll need and what i wont, which camera best suits my needs. Been a major help. especially about the rings, its something i was sure to get tripped up on. forever grateful. okay... enough grovelling. thanks heaps.

04-06-2005, 10:28 PM
Happy to be of service mate :cheers: