1 2 Previous Next 51 Replies Latest reply on Sep 11, 2007 8:46 AM by Jim_Simon

    What HDV camera would you recommend?

    Level 1
      I'm getting into video editing with the intent to shoot > edit > transcode > deliver for different platforms (DVD, web, etc..) and don't have a video camera. Ive done some initial research and heres what Ive come up with:

      - HD camera offers best resolution
      - Recording options are Mini-DV tapes, HDD and solid state (SDHC cards)
      - Some PP users say its easier to edit video when using Mini-DV tapes rather than HDD or solid state is this true?
      - Using an external HD for archiving/transferring video footage

      Some questions I had but couldnt find info on:
      - Is there a chart that lists all of the video cameras that PP CS3 supports importing video from?
      - Is AVCHD supported in PP today? If not is there a plan to support it via an update?
      - Id like to get a camera that is using todays standards/technologies

      Based on some reviews I've found on the web these are the cameras Im looking at (budget is under $1500):

      Panasonic HDC-SD5 AVCHD
      Panasonic HDC-SD1 AVCHD
      Canon HG10 AVCHD
      Canon HV20
      Sony HDR-SR8

      I'd be interested in hearing any recommendations of one camera to consider purchasing or if someone is using one of these cameras to provide their feedback.

      thanks in advance,
      Bill
        • 1. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
          Harm Millaard Level 7
          AVCHD is not supported, so from your list it would be the HV20.
          • 2. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
            Jim_Simon Level 8
            >Id like to get a camera that is using todays standards/technologies

            For me, that means waiting just a little bit. High Definition is nice, but using intraframe compression (as both HDV and AVCHD do) is just a bad idea. The future of HD acquisition will be AVC-Intra, being offered by Panasonic.

            The only question is when they will bring it to market in an affordable camera. Unfortunately, they're not telling.

            So, if you can wait for HD, do so. Use standard definition MiniDV for now, and upgrade when an appropriate camera becomes available.
            • 3. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
              (Ed_Cread) Level 1
              HV20 is the camera of choice from your list. I have one and the video is stunning. You can downconvert or just scale down and put out very nice SD videos if you don't have blu-ray yet (like me) and archive the HD footage and projects until ready to put out to blu-ray DVD.

              'Waiting' for something that the manufacturer is not even telling when it will come out sounds like a bad idea. And then, when it comes out, something better will be on the horizon, unless you think technology progress has at that moment ceased.

              If HD video is something you are interested in getting into, do it now or just watch the months and years roll by. Sure, the money is still in your pocket, but you never had any fun or learned with hands-on experience because you were 'waiting' for the next great thing.
              • 4. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                Jim_Simon Level 8
                That's one way to look at it. I prefer to see it as not spending my hard earned money on a flawed system that I would have to upgrade once the better system comes along later this year.
                • 5. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                  Steven L. Gotz Level 5
                  Later this year? Optimist.

                  New systems capable of being better than HDV and still at the HDV price, and supported by the major NLEs? Hmmm. Very optimistic. Maybe for next year's NAB.
                  • 6. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                    (Ed_Cread) Level 1
                    ...and then when that "better" system comes along, it too will be flawed in comparison to what is next. How great it must be to know that all the flaws have gone with this next new product!

                    A few short years ago a P200 chip (with MMX!) cost $1000 for the chip alone. Did you wait until this year to buy a computer??
                    • 7. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                      Level 1
                      Thanks everyone for the feedback, appreciated. Given the consensus I'm going to get a MiniDV camera so I can focus on editing and gaining experience with that process. Maybe in a few years I'll get a new camera that uses standards that are tried and proven.

                      FYI... most likely will get the Sony HDR-HC7.
                      • 8. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                        >and supported by the major NLEs?

                        I admit, that's where you get me.

                        >when that "better" system comes along, it too will be flawed in comparison to what is next.

                        Maybe, maybe not. I've no idea what's next. But here's the thing. GOP sources are flawed in comparison to what came before. They're a step in the wrong direction.

                        AVC-Intra will get things back on track.
                        • 9. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                          Steven L. Gotz Level 5
                          >AVC-Intra will get things back on track.

                          I believe that is entirely possible. But at what price? Stored how?

                          The P2 is still pretty pricey. And will the AVC-Intra camera be small enough for weddings and vacations or shoulder mounted for ENG?
                          • 10. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                            Very good questions, Steven. Answers for which I eagerly await. Panasonic has recently removed several models from their official lineup. My guess is that the new models aren't far behind.
                            • 11. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                              Level 1
                              >Given the consensus I'm going to get a MiniDV camera so I can focus on editing and gaining experience with that process.

                              Good decision - You will learn a ton in a very short period of time, which will only make you a smarter shopper on the upcoming technologies and a better video editor now. If you took the 'wait for better technology approach' you are likely to be waiting a very long time for any substantive difference and would have missed out on a lot of experience.
                              • 12. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                >If you took the 'wait for better technology approach'...

                                He kind of is if he goes with a MiniDV camera. For someone new to editing, it's probably a better way to start than with HDV. Certainly it'll be easier to work with.
                                • 13. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                  (Ed_Cread) Level 1
                                  >He kind of is if he goes with a MiniDV camera. For someone new to editing, it's probably a better way to start than with HDV. Certainly it'll be easier to work with.

                                  The camera he indicated that he will be purchasing is an HDV format camera. He was apparently referring to his choice of miniDV over HDD or solid state (see original post).

                                  I agree - good decision amongst the current choices.
                                  • 14. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                    Level 1
                                    >He kind of is if he goes with a MiniDV camera. For someone new to editing, it's probably a better way to start than with HDV. Certainly it'll be easier to work with.

                                    Agreed on the easier to work with if you are comparing standard def miniDV to high-def miniDV, but who amongst us is here because we seek easy solutions?

                                    No doubt throwing $300 to $400 at a stand definition miniDV camera would be ill-advised at this stage of technology. I recently had to make that choice when my stand def miniDV cam finally proved to me it was time to replace. For another $600 to $700 you have high-def. Although HDV is obviously not an end point in compression technology, it is the best place to be today, for those that want to work with HD material today.
                                    • 15. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                      Jim_Simon Level 8
                                      >who amongst us is here because we seek easy solutions?

                                      I would have thought everyone.

                                      >No doubt throwing $300 to $400 at a stand definition miniDV camera would be ill-advised at this stage of technology.

                                      That's where we disagree. The point I've been trying to make is that throwing any more than that at an HDV camera would be ill-advised, given the impending approach of a much better format.

                                      If you have work work in HD right now, yes HDV is the most affordable choice. But if you don't need High Definition, I feel the investment in such a technology would be a waste of money.

                                      It's comparable to having purchased an expensive laser disk player only months before DVD officially hit the market. Yes, at the time Laser Disk was better than VHS, but if you could have just held off a little while longer, there would have been no need to waste money on a dying and inferior format.
                                      • 16. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                        (Ed_Cread) Level 1
                                        >who amongst us is here because we seek easy solutions?
                                        I would have thought everyone.

                                        I seem to recall recent posts where comments like "how can someone willing to buy a professional NLE not know this???" were tossed about. For those who want easy, perhaps they should consider Windows built-in movie maker or the Mac iMovie solution. Not everyone who is passionate about their hobbies (or profession) pinches pennies.
                                        • 17. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                          Level 1
                                          I tried asking Adobe directly but they wouldnt answer the question. If I went for the Sony HDR CR8E is has hard drive rather than mini DV tape. How does premiere control the camera? Does it treat it like a tape and operate forward backward pause etc. Is it better like another contributor to go with the HC7E which is DV tape but does not have dolby 5.1 which is another consideration. What started as a simple question seems to have got complicated.
                                          • 19. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                            Level 1
                                            It may be a bit pricey, but I like the Sony FX1. It outputs to MiniDV tape and compared to my Canon Elura (DV), there is no comparison. The only problem I have is the size. Everyone thinks I am news crew. On a positve side of that, I get many opportunities to shoot where most people do not have access.

                                            Bill
                                            • 20. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                              Level 1
                                              I might start recommending this little fella.

                                              Pansonic SDR-H250.

                                              I had a play yesterday at web design company and considering Imovie now supports the format i think it would be great for the every day user. The image quality is actually very good and so convenient.
                                              • 21. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                Steven L. Gotz Level 5
                                                That is one of the worst possible choices for a camera that I can imagine. The format it records is difficult to edit, the quality is inferior to MiniDV, and with no viewfinder it isn't even easy to use.

                                                Read the reviews online, the video quality is "average". Convenient to shoot? Without a viewfinder? Conevenient to edit? No way.

                                                And what the heck good is iMovie to people on an Adobe forum?

                                                This was a thread about HDV cameras. That junker is SD at best.
                                                • 22. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                  neil wilkes Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                                  I keep reading posts junking HDV.
                                                  Why?
                                                  What is wrong with it?
                                                  The footage I have seen in HDV is a definite improvement over pure SD, no mistake about it.
                                                  Sure there are compatibility issues - Mac FCP HDV native codec is not cross-platform, but with the combination of both Cineform's excellent tools & the Raylight system (with the Raylight Decoder allowing PC Quicktime playback of DVCPROHD footage) gives a very viable options that will not break the bank.
                                                  Even after downscaling to SD for the final DVD-Video, I can attest to the fact it will look better than SD does.
                                                  It will reveal detail that actually fools a lot of people I have tried this on into thinking they are watching HD.

                                                  @Steven
                                                  What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                  I have looked at the P2, and it's around the same price as a top-of-the line HDV - minus the memory cards, and those puppies are serious money here. $800 for an 8Gb card. Plus of course in PAL land, a P2 shooting in 25p or 50i will never go to Blu Ray or HD DVD, as 25p ain't in the specs.
                                                  • 23. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                    Steven L. Gotz Level 5
                                                    If you can afford P2 (in NTSC land), get it.

                                                    Otherwise, the Canon cameras look pretty good, and I am not unhappy with my Sony FX1. You really need to read all of the reviews and see what works for you.
                                                    • 24. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                      Level 1
                                                      > I keep reading posts junking HDV. Why? What is wrong with it?

                                                      At the end of the day the footage only has a percieved increase in quality, sure it looks good and most of it does look good but it has some problems.

                                                      1) It is MPEG, end of story.
                                                      2) HDV only allows for a compressed audio channel which is useless to any veteran porfessional.
                                                      3) It is tit hard to edit man.

                                                      But these things really do not matter to some people, som folks literally could not give a crap. Some people really want to have the best and HDV is not the best.

                                                      It is a matter of personal taste, but if I were to buy an HDV camera it would be the Canon Xl H1 no contest. (Although is is not under $1500) as the OP wants, but still.)
                                                      • 25. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                        >I keep reading posts junking HDV. Why? What is wrong with it?

                                                        I suppose that depends on what you use it for. Shooting a lot of high motion sports and low lit weddings with fast moving multicolored lights tends to freak out the MPEG encoders. The footage I've seen, despite being in HD, actually looks worse than my DV footage when brought down to a DVD because of the encoding artifacts.

                                                        For the corporate work Steven Gotz does, it's probably perfectly fine. But, I still recommend against it on principle alone. (Interframe source is the devil's spawn!!! Just imagine how many more camera choices we would have if no one bought into HDV and Sony, JVC and Canon all had to switch to intraframe DVCPro HD just to stay in the market.)
                                                        • 26. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                          Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                                          > If you can afford P2 (in NTSC land), get it.

                                                          I agree with Steven. Adobe handling P2 natively is pretty cool. And IMHO DVCPRO HD is a nice alternative; in between HD uncompressed and the cineform or prores type solutions as far as file size. Editing it natively without any witchcraft of matching up 3rd party vendor revs, drivers, voodo dolls, etc... is enticing.

                                                          Would be nice if larger, less expensive P2 cards would come sooner. Remember the onboard tape transport on the P2 cams is only for SD DV. So any HD shooting requires the P2 cards (which is sortof the point of the camera I suppose)

                                                          Curt
                                                          • 27. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                            Level 1
                                                            > 1) It is MPEG, end of story.

                                                            How does that difference?

                                                            /rant on/

                                                            Do you really think these formats matter? IMO everything is about the content. If you can get decent content on any camera, that works. Why do you think companies like CNN, ABC etc., use cell-phone footage when they are in dire need of content?

                                                            Again, being MPEG doesn't matter. Technicality doesn't matter either. Its the content that matters and something that many people seem to forget.

                                                            I am not debating that good cameras don't have their place. If you have the budget and the time, then you should go with good cameras, but if you need decent content, technicality doesn't matter. Do you think my clients care if I tell them that gorgeous footage was shot with a <$1000 HDV camera? No, they don't.

                                                            /rant off/ :D

                                                            - Aanarav
                                                            • 28. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                              Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                              >If you can get decent content on any camera, that works.

                                                              Therein lies the problem with HDV. It's not always possible to get decent footage under shooting conditions that lowly DV handles perfectly fine.
                                                              • 29. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                                                Its true good hw is useless if the content is poor. But content being equal, I should would prefer to Not edit MPEG.

                                                                Curt
                                                                • 30. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                  Level 1
                                                                  > Its true good hw is useless if the content is poor. But content being equal, I should would prefer to Not edit MPEG.

                                                                  I agree and hence the last statement of my above post.

                                                                  > Therein lies the problem with HDV.

                                                                  So, when networks air 320*240 15fps footage that works? I am not debating the good cameras don't have their place. They do and should be used. However, when you look at the big picture, content matters.

                                                                  - Aanarav
                                                                  • 31. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                    Network news that accepts footage from the public is a very different scenario with a different set of rules. That's not a valid argument. Production companies by and large shoot their own content, more so for event work.

                                                                    The Mission Statement for my company (perfectly valid for ALL production companies), is as follows:

                                                                    "To rapidly deliver entertaining/informative videos with excellent picture and sound quality to fully paid clients in sufficient quantity to be viable."

                                                                    Now, it's no mistake that content (entertaining/informative) comes before quality (excellent picture and sound quality), but it's also no mistake that quality is there, and MUST be considered alongside content.

                                                                    HDV simply does not allow me to be true to that goal.
                                                                    • 32. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                      Level 1
                                                                      > Network news that accepts footage from the public is a very different scenario with a different set of rules. That's not a valid argument.

                                                                      It IS a valid argument. It only shows that content > technicality.

                                                                      > HDV simply does not allow me to be true to that goal.

                                                                      Then, you are one of few. For the past few months, you have expressed your problem with HDV and have yet to try it out.

                                                                      I consult for 2 of the big 4 networks, especially in the HD arena and even they use HDV. So, you must be doing something unique.

                                                                      - Aanarav
                                                                      • 33. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                        Level 1
                                                                        Aanarav, in what ways are networks using HDV? War coverage? I frequently see smaller camcorders in the background of news reports from Iraq. Are there other instances where networks are relying on HDV?
                                                                        • 34. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                          Level 1
                                                                          HDV is fine for budget aquisition. Money talks. Content is king. I can emagine how relieved the news studio crew would be to get their hands on any "live" footage, even if emailed in from a camera phone. So much more important to witness the event than to have crystal clear interviews, (which will happen anyway).

                                                                          I use a Canon G1 and HV10 (as deck or b-roll, or another A1 rental). Proper lighting is key, and so is having optics that will catch the light needed for the light starved HDV format. HDV is so much better on a G1 than say a Sony HC1 or even the HV10. This is all relevant to glass size. Big windows, more light.

                                                                          Pick any palm sized consumer miniHDV with small optics and it won't matter. What hits the film after compression does. If you going HDV and you want quality, get some large glass. You'll pay four times the money, and believe me, having 2 stops more is worth it.

                                                                          I only aquire HDV. I edit cineform, were the losses stop.
                                                                          • 35. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                            Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                                                            My thoughts on hdv:

                                                                            I went HDV about 6 months before I wanted to due to my old SD cams busting and too expensive to repair. On the plus side the low light is better than I thought it would be (though not as good as a good sd cam). Image quality is great. I am using Cannon A1s and the ability to tweak the image is very good. Very fast movement is more of a problem in HDV than SD DV. You have to watch fast pans or very fast action.

                                                                            Editing: Pain in the BUT! Native mpg /hdv editing stinks (IMHO) Cineform works, but is a work around. Too many great PPRO features are practically uselss when using cineform preset. I am actually considering aquiring the hdv footage analog uncompressed so I can edit natievly in PPRO. But then I need to spend a fortune on disk.

                                                                            Go P2 if you can afford it.

                                                                            Curt
                                                                            • 36. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                              Level 1
                                                                              > Aanarav, in what ways are networks using HDV? War coverage?

                                                                              Yes, for war coverage and political coverage (especially with the upcoming US elections).

                                                                              - Aanarav
                                                                              • 37. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                                Level 1
                                                                                HDV is a matter of personal taste, as simple as that, if you like what you see then buy what you see.

                                                                                Like I said some people love it and others loathe it for reasons of their own. I am an editor, writer, director and cameraman so I get to see it from more than one view. From a producer's POV HDV is great cause it is basically a poor man's Hi Def, for a director it is great cause it makes him look cool, for the DOP it is a little harder to get a great picture (due to the compression artifacts), and for the poor editor he hates it!

                                                                                Guys, nobody is right or wrong in this argument,
                                                                                b it is all a matter of what you are going to do with it.
                                                                                It is about budget, that is why it is popular with Indie Filmmakers. To say that broadcasters will use cellphone footage is not a valid enough argument, reason being they are a news agency and they will buy anything to sell the story, they would even use footage shoot on a digital watch if they had to. Let us say some famous celeb was caught cheating on his wife and somebody caught it on camera, nobody would give a crap what camera was used they wanna see the shot. That is ENG for you.

                                                                                I myself prefer DVC PRO HD, or really well shot SD but this is me and my story. Each to his own.
                                                                                • 38. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                                  Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                                  >It IS a valid argument. It only shows that content > technicality.

                                                                                  The argument fails because in such case as news, the gap between the requirements of content and quality are much, much farther apart than they are for production work.

                                                                                  A local Joe's shaky-cam cell phone footage of a car accident may be all that a news outlet has to work with, but a production company will just reshoot to get it right. And an event editor will cut out the sloppy intro to the bride and groom's first dance, or edit creatively around it. In this area, which I think is where most Premiere editors work, technical quality may be behind content, but not nearly as far behind as it is for news.

                                                                                  For news, you can get away with just one. For production work, you NEED both. That's why your argument fails. That's why HDV often fails.
                                                                                  • 39. Re: What HDV camera would you recommend?
                                                                                    Level 1
                                                                                    Jim,

                                                                                    You forget that news companies are production companies as well. Its funny how you attribute that this isn't the case. As a consultant to these companies, we have spent countless hours and more money than any small production shop to get stuff working.

                                                                                    Just to add one final statement: I am not arguing that better cameras aren't required. Our studios are equipped with camera packages that cost $100,000+, but that doesn't mean HDV footage is not and cannot be utilized. Again, to each their own. If you haven't tried it, you can't complain. If you have tried it and doesn't work for you, look someplace else. Each project has its own requirements.

                                                                                    - Aanarav
                                                                                    1 2 Previous Next