View Full Version : Which camera to buy?


digitalmatty
02-07-2006, 03:54 PM
I know this question probably gets asked often, but I would like some advice on which miniDV I should buy. The camera's I am looking at are the following:

Canon XL2
Sony HVR-Z1U HDV
Pannasonic AGDVX100AP

Now it will get used alot for shorts etc... and I want the camera to last me a good while...I am leaning towards HD simply because it seems like it will be the next format of choice, and I don't want to have to purchase another camera in a year or so. 24p is pretty much a requirement, as I want to emulate film without post techniques...

Anyone with experience with any or all of these cameras able to offer insight would be hugely appreciated!

Thanks everyone!
Matt

WideShot
02-07-2006, 04:11 PM
Well if you want 24p without post then the Z1U is out.

As for the rest, its just personal preference and also the large difference in cost.

Personally, I would rather shoot HD, do a 24p conversion in post than to shoot anything in SD ever again, especially when projection and filmout come into play, but thats just me.

digitalmatty
02-07-2006, 04:17 PM
Well if you want 24p without post then the Z1U is out.

As for the rest, its just personal preference and also the large difference in cost.

Personally, I would rather shoot HD, do a 24p conversion in post than to shoot anything in SD ever again, especially when projection and filmout come into play, but thats just me.

I hear ya, is there any quality loss when converting to 24p? (how do you actually do this in post? I've never done it...)

Thinking about it and what you say, would HD be my main buying point? If I can convert to 24p after the fact and it maintains the quality...then it kinda makes sense.

Shaw
02-07-2006, 04:53 PM
Yes there is some quality loss. How much depends on the method you use really. Some are great (Magic Bullet does a fantastic job) while others suck (such as dropping one field and duplicating the other). If I were you I would consider going with the JVC HD100 instead... it has more real world resolution and is an overall better camera than the Z1. Its about $500 USD more if I remember correctly. I'm not sure I'd invest in an SD camera these days unless I knew I had a paying gig that didn't need HD.

digitalmatty
02-07-2006, 05:16 PM
Yes there is some quality loss. How much depends on the method you use really. Some are great (Magic Bullet does a fantastic job) while others suck (such as dropping one field and duplicating the other). If I were you I would consider going with the JVC HD100 instead... it has more real world resolution and is an overall better camera than the Z1. Its about $500 USD more if I remember correctly. I'm not sure I'd invest in an SD camera these days unless I knew I had a paying gig that didn't need HD.

thanks for the heads up, I'll check that camera out!

I used the demo of magic bullet, seems it does a pretty kick-ass job!

WideShot
02-07-2006, 05:27 PM
Here, check this program out.

http://dvfilm.com/fx1/index.htm I havent purchased it but Ive used the demo and IMO it does a fine job. But download the demo and check it out. It also tells you how to get maximum quality for 24p from the Z1U.

WideShot
02-07-2006, 05:28 PM
Yes there is some quality loss. How much depends on the method you use really. Some are great (Magic Bullet does a fantastic job) while others suck (such as dropping one field and duplicating the other). If I were you I would consider going with the JVC HD100 instead... it has more real world resolution and is an overall better camera than the Z1. Its about $500 USD more if I remember correctly. I'm not sure I'd invest in an SD camera these days unless I knew I had a paying gig that didn't need HD.

Im sure you must have a link to back up that statement?

Shaw
02-07-2006, 05:48 PM
Yeah, sorry, should have provided that. My apologies! Here's a summary of a 4 cam comparison (well 6 actually with the F900 and Varicam) written by Adam Wilt:

LINK (http://www.dv.com/features/features_item.jhtml;jsessionid=ZDEURVLGBV53YQSNDBC CKHSCJUMEKJVN?category=Archive&articleId=177103305&_requestid=180239")

You will need to be a member to view the article so I'll quote the appropriate passage (and a few that are just plain interesting) here for those who aren't:


The 1280x720p JVC HD100 closely followed the Canon and the Varicam with almost 700 TVl/ph and 700 lines vertically. Everyone was very impressed (and some were more than a little surprised) at the JVC's strong showing (the JVC's recorded HDV resolution of 1280x720 exceeds that of the Varicam's 960x720 DVCPROHD; if recorded resolution were the only factor of interest, you'd probably buy the JVC!). The JVC, furthermore, showed the most pleasing rolloff in high frequencies of any of the 1/3" cameras; it had less visibly distracting aliasing than its stable mates, and less than the Varicam; more aggressive optical low-pass filtering may explain the lower aliasing along with lower perceived sharpness.


Camera Chip Details H-limit V-limit
...
JVC GY- HD100U 1/3" 1280x720p 700 700
...
Sony HVR-Z1U 1/3" 960x1080i 550 700+ (540)

*Note: Numbers in parentheses are for non-native recording rates, i.e., CF25 or 24f modes.


I was quite surprised by the results myself. The JVC performed superbly which I would not have expected. The only catch here is that the footage was recorded as 10bit uncompressed. Both the Z1 and the HD100 would have HDV compression though so any resolution drop from recording format should be roughly equivalent (perhaps even worse for the Z1 since it's more compressed per pixel).

EDIT:

As a side note have you seen the res chart for the DVX-andromeda setup? It's really quite impressive! I'm reading 800+ horizontal and just over 700 vertical!

http://forum.reel-stream.com/viewtopic.php?t=363

WideShot
02-07-2006, 06:32 PM
If I read those numbers correctly from what you posted, you're saying that a Z1 can resolve roughly the same amount of lines as a standard definition camcorder, is that correct?

Now I'm no expert on the subject but this is the res chart Barry green shot for his infamous comparison test on dvxuser.com http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/shoot3/FX1-charts/FX1-AccuChart-60i.jpg

How many lines of resolution does that show? And thats from one of the more panny/canon biased guys out there!

Also, is the JVC 3-chip? Is the Z1 3-chip? Why doesn't it mention this?

-------

I should add that I think all of the cameras out there except the first JVC are good cameras and each has different limitations. Ive seen some output from the JVC 100 and I think it looks nice. I heard there were some production issues like Split Screen effect, not sure if that go resolved but it does produce a nice picture. Not 1080p but light years better than most SD cameras. XL2 is about as good of quality, not as high of res though and its just a little less in price.

Shaw
02-07-2006, 11:01 PM
In cineframe mode that's what the results seem to suggest - interlaced mode is significantly higher res. I should probably mention that Barry was part of this comparison (in fact he was basically the guy who set it up!). Adam Wilt is a very impressive and technically inclined person (guru actually!) so I would find it strange if his numbers were too far off. Interesting... I honestly don't know what can account for the difference. I'll have to ask Barry about this.

The JVC is indeed a 3 chip camera as is the Z1. The JVC records only 24p and 30p though, no interlaced mode at all.

Here's some of Barry's comments on the test anyway:



We shot resolution charts, using the very finest res charts we could get -- a $1,000 ChromaDuMonde from DSC Labs, and a $4,000 Ambi Combi-2 back-lit chart that supported up to 1200 lines of res, generously loaned by BandPro. These were no home-printout charts, these were the finest charts on the market. Adam had us test both static and slight-motion shots; static res is the most familiar, and least informative way to do it, because it's rather dependent on where the lines happen to line up with the pixels on the CCD. Adding just the slightest bit of motion lets you see what's real resolution and what's aliasing. And the motion tests revealed some very interesting aspects of how the cameras produce the resolution they get. The pixel-shift Sony and HVX were quite interesting to watch, and the 24F of the Canon really didn't like vertical motion in the chart! Only the JVC performed relatively immune to motion.

---

In sensitivity, the Panasonic was significantly faster than any of the 1/3" cameras. About 2/3 of a stop faster than the Canon; the JVC and Sony were within striking distance of the Canon. The Panasonic was the hands-down sensitivity champ.

In noise performance, the Sony was easily the winner. It was noisier than the 2/3" cameras, but noticeably cleaner than the other 1/3" cameras. The XLH1 and Panasonic pretty much tied, in a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other way. The two both demonstrated a comparable amount of noise, but the noise was of a very different texture. The Canon showed a sharper, more electronic sort of noise; presumably because the Canon's detail circuit is always engaged, it appeared to be sharpening the edges of the noise. The Panasonic had a muddier and smearier noise. The Canon seemed to be more luma noise, the Panasonic seemed more chroma noise. The jury was split on which was better or noisier; overall we did agree that neither was notably superior to the other, they are about the same. The JVC trailed in noise performance, its noise was more noticeable and of the sharpened edge-enhanced-style.

In resolution, there were some surprising results. First, the JVC is just plain sharper than the Sony. Doesn't matter that the JVC's 720 and the Sony's 1080, the JVC just plain shows more detail than the Sony. The Sony had lower horizontal resolution, and in terms of turning down the detail, the Sony showed outright alarming blurring at detail level zero. It was so soft we went back in and cranked the detail up to five just to put it back on relatively even footing with the others. The Canon was the hands-down winner in terms of horizontal resolution. The Panasonic will need some playback evaluation to be sure of what the transition point was between aliasing and resolved lines; I don't want to commit to any numbers based on the live footage, I think it's more appropriate to view the played-back-footage in an NLE where we can magnify and see exactly what's going on. Rough guess would be maybe 15% more horizontal for the Canon, but that's off-the-cuff. As far as vertical resolution, the 60i Sony and JVC did quite well, the Canon in 24F mode had some noticeable aliasing; we questioned whether the 24F mode isn't actually anything more sophisticated than simple field-doubling, like the Sony CF25 & CF30 modes. None of the 1/3" cameras could resolve to the standard set by the 2/3" big cameras.

In terms of dynamic range, all but the Sony displayed comparable performance, the sony lagged some. The JVC was perhaps the biggest surprise; its highlight handling was better than the Panasonic, which was better than the Canon. In terms of shadow detail, the Canon held a little more detail in the shadows than the Panasonic did. The Sony trailed in dynamic range.

Well, so much for charts and figures and noise and whatnot -- how did the pictures look? When you put it all together and put color and gamma and resolution and everything all at once and viewed a scene, how did they look? They all looked pretty darn good. Each of them, on their own, shooting the same scene, resolved a high-definition image. None leapt off the screen as compared to the others; even the Sony, which trailed so much in the chart testing, really put together a very nice-looking picture. They all acquitted themselves quite well.

We went in and did a two-stop-over test on the JVC, Canon and Panasonic to test highlight handling. In that test the Canon was first to blow out; the Panasonic held highlights better, but we were surprised to find the JVC performing better in highlight performance than both of the others. While the JVC had noticeably more and coarser noise than either of the others, it certainly provided a nice deep dynamic range and the best highlight handling of the group.

Again, this is all based on the viewing of the live output. This doesn't take into account the effects that the recording format will have! That might change some perceptions a little or even a lot; this doesn't take into account the subsampling of three of the four cameras' recording formats, and doesn't take into account the chroma subsampling of HDV. Once we review the camera original footage, we'll issue an update.


FWIW!

mr-modern-life
02-08-2006, 04:25 AM
The Panasonic HDX200 is the kiddy for me.

Shaw
02-08-2006, 02:50 PM
Alright here is Barry's response to my question:

Again, it depends on how you read the charts. At detail level 0, it was incredibly poor. I mean, really bad. But we didn't think 0 was fair, so we cranked it up to 5 at minimum. And at 5 it had reasonable vertical performance and mid-level horizontal.

But in our 3-cam shoot, we weren't using a moving chart, we were using static. And the moving chart is what changed everything. On the static chart I can show the HVX at 700x750; on the moving chart Adam wanted to rate it at 540 x 540 or so. So you'd have to compare apples to apples.

In real-world tests the Z1 was comparably sharp with the others.

WideShot
02-10-2006, 12:35 PM
I have absolutely no idea on how to decipher that, other than the last line.

clive
02-10-2006, 03:11 PM
This stuff is fascinating.

So, the bottom line is that all the cameras tested gave nice images and that despite the fact that JVC is 720 rather than 1080 the picture was more than comparable.

So, for anyone deciding to go down the HDV route it's all a matter of personal preference. Of course none of the information changes any of the compression issues with HDV; does it? So, I guess the jury is stil out on this subject.

digitalmatty
02-10-2006, 03:36 PM
This stuff is fascinating.

So, the bottom line is that all the cameras tested gave nice images and that despite the fact that JVC is 720 rather than 1080 the picture was more than comparable.

So, for anyone deciding to go down the HDV route it's all a matter of personal preference. Of course none of the information changes any of the compression issues with HDV; does it? So, I guess the jury is stil out on this subject.

yeah, the compression issues have me leaning towards a non-HD with 24p...anyone have suggestions on which is the better camera for that?

clive
02-10-2006, 04:43 PM
In this price bracket the AGDVX200a is the one to look at - It's got both DVCPro50 and DVCPro25 as shooting formats. I've seen both used to create cinema sized images and DVCPro50 stands up better than any other SD formati I've ever seen in that area. It knocks the spots off digibeta visually.

digitalmatty
02-10-2006, 05:02 PM
hmmm, sounds excellent...I'll keep that in mind thanks!

Shaw
02-10-2006, 05:43 PM
Ah great point Clive. I forgot that the base price was so low. I love the DVCpro50 stuff I've seen and you can move up to HD whenever you are ready.

TheFirstCause
02-10-2006, 11:24 PM
The HVX200 is HD without the horrible HDV compression. It uses DVCpro HD, which is a real HD format. It has far better color space, and none of the awful mpeg compression artifact blocks that HDV makes during motion. Thats the one I'm getting. Though I'm skipping the P2 cards and simply buying a Firestore or Cineporter. =)

clive
02-11-2006, 04:52 AM
Plus you get great SD options as well, which means of your current editing systems won't cope with full HD, you can still shoot professional formats. I think it's one heck of a camera and am loking forward to testing one.

Timberwolf
02-12-2006, 12:26 PM
I have been shooting on the DVX100 for two years and I can't be more happy with its performance. I'm glad you said the new HD 'upgrade' so to speak is just as good. I have to say I have not been happy with the other HD Minis out there. The JVC is horrible. 1 chip HD? Kinda like a Yugo with a 8 cylinder engine.. no?

clive
02-12-2006, 05:43 PM
That's because the AG-DVX is shooting genuine full HD and not HDV. You don't have the same compression issues.