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    Best HD camcorder

      I am still using PP 6.5 as part of the Video Collection Professional. I am building up my war chest to upgrade but that is daunting as I understand my old dualy athlon with a gig of ram won't cut it anymore. A new system is in the upgrade budget too so it could take awhile. I am a hobbyist/pro and try to do enough outside pay work (editing/transfer archive & DVD production) to fund my hobby. I've read some good things about HD camcorders and prices are reasonable so thought I would start shooting my home videos in it now for future editing and viewing enjoyment.

      This is my question? Do you have any recommendations for a HD camcorders?

      Here are my thoughts on the subject. I like the idea of MiniDV for storage. Over disks and flash.

      I can get a Canon Recertified Model HV20 for $424. Is that a steal?

      Here is my fear. When I upgraded from a Sony TRV240(Digital 8) to my Sony 3ccd TRV950 I did not see a big difference in quality/color saturation, especially for the money spent. I fear that I might be disappointed in HDV.

      System board: Tyan Thunder K7 (S2462) NG
      Proccessors: Athlon AMP 1600, 1.4Ghz,
      Memory: (1024MB) 2- Kingston KVR266X7RC25/512, registered DDR memory
        • 1. Re: Best HD camcorder
          Harm Millaard Level 7
          First, invest in a good workstation. Your current PC doesn't cut it. Then, depending on budget, consider a camera.
          • 2. Re: Best HD camcorder
            Jim_Simon Level 8
            (Forum error.)
            • 3. Re: Best HD camcorder
              Jim_Simon Level 8
              If you're interested in HD, I recommend the entire chain be HD. This means not just the camera, but also a Blu-ray burner for your computer, Blu-ray player for your living room and of course an HDTV to view it on.

              That's suddenly a much bigger budget than you may have planned for. You can upgrade in steps, of course, but you really should plan for all the parts of that chain at some point. Leaving any part of it in SD really defeats the purpose of shooting in HD.
              • 4. Re: Best HD camcorder
                shooternz Level 6
                >Leaving any part of it in SD really defeats the purpose of shooting in HD.

                I disagree. The higher quality photographic capture obtained with a decent HD camera can greatly enhance the end result (including SD).

                ...but I would agree that even considering HD shooting requires extensive upscaling of hardware and software that is not immediately apparent on a surface level.
                • 5. Re: Best HD camcorder
                  Jim_Simon Level 8
                  I have yet to see a DVD "greatly enhanced" by shooting in HD. My own limited observations so far actually show the opposite, primarily because of the motion artifacts found in HDV and probably because of the difficulty NLEs have with proper downconversion.

                  Though I'd certainly be willing to look at more examples, or even a direct comparison - same scene, same camera, shot twice. Once in DV, and again in HD. Then both encoded with the same bitrates into a single DVD.
                  • 6. Re: Best HD camcorder
                    shooternz Level 6
                    Ever seen a movie shot on 35mm film played on DVD Jim.

                    Ever seen one shot on HD...

                    What about one shot on DV (SD)....

                    Compare them.

                    Checkout TV shows. All broadcast the same (mpeg) but what they are shot on makes a hell of a difference.

                    I shoot SD and HD and 35mm. You will never convince me that a wedding you shoot on mini DV (SD) looks as good as if I shot same event on 35mm or HD when viewed on a DVD .

                    There is no substitute for "pixel power" at time of capture.
                    • 7. Re: Best HD camcorder
                      joshtownsend Level 2
                      All the movies they've shot in HD look way better on dvd than if they were shot in SD. And it's not just because of the lighting and lenses.

                      Just like with encoding stills for web pages, the more information you have in the picture the better the encode your going to get.

                      You mean you can't tell on TV the difference between TV shot SD (like local news) and shows shot on HD (like the discovery channel)?
                      • 8. Re: Best HD camcorder
                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                        >Ever seen a movie shot on 35mm film played on DVD Jim.

                        Sure. And I've seen DV footage from a good, professional DV camera that looks every bit as good from a resolution standpoint. The "betterness" of the film original has more to do with the gamma, color gamut, lenses and other things than the resolution.

                        But I bet the DV footage was a hell of a lot easier to get onto that DVD than the film. And 35mm film doesn't suffer from encoding artifacts as does HDV.

                        >You will never convince me that a wedding you shoot on mini DV (SD) looks as good as if I shot same event on 35mm or HD when viewed on a DVD .

                        From film, I won't even try and convince you. But some of my competitors shoot in HDV and I've seen their work. Mine looks better without the artifacts. And it's easier to work with.

                        Bit I say it again, I'd certainly be willing to look at a direct comparison - same scene, same camera, shot twice. Once in DV, and again in HD. Then both encoded with the same bitrates. The MPEG2-DVD clips could be uploaded to a something like FlyUpload for others to download and burn to disk. One can even mark them as simply A and B so as not to give away which was which.
                        • 9. Re: Best HD camcorder
                          shooternz Level 6
                          >Bit I say it again, I'd certainly be willing to look at a direct comparison - same scene, same camera, shot twice. Once in DV, and again in HD. Then both encoded with the same bitrates into a single DVD.

                          I will take up that challenge later in January Jim.

                          I will be running tests on a Letus 35 DOF adapter then... so its easy to throw some images onto a DV tape at the same time as a P2 card.

                          BTW - forget HDV (and artifacts). Its not really the contention of this discussion.
                          • 10. Re: Best HD camcorder
                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                            >I will take up that challenge later in January Jim.

                            I look forward to it. I was leery about Vista till I tried it. Now I just hate working in XP.

                            >forget HDV (and artifacts). Its not really the contention of this discussion.

                            It is on my end as the OP is looking at an HV20. My point was that if you don't have a Blu-ray burner, player and HDTV to go with it, then he'd be missing the whole point of HD. He may still get artifacts once he get's those things, but at least he'd also have the benefit of an HD viewing experience to somewhat mitigate them.
                            • 11. Re: Best HD camcorder
                              Level 1
                              Since the op asked about "best HD camera", and didn't mention price, I'll throw in a vote for Sony's PMW-EX1. :)
                              Although an HV20 for $420 IS a good deal for a starter cam.

                              For Jim,

                              You're comparing DV to HDV? It doesn't surprise me that you'd see no improvement--HDV is an interlaced format, very highly compressed at that.

                              We've been shooting progressive XDCam footage and producing incredible quality DVDs that, on a 50" plasma with a good upscaler, look as good as 720p broadcasts, but without the block artifacts.

                              DV and HDV are both interlaced formats, and take much higher bitrates to encode with a given quantizing loss. XDCam, or any truely progressive video, from a low-noise imager, at 24fps, will produce breathtaking DVD images, if encoded properly. I have a number of techniques that I use to encode DVD, which bring up the clarity of the images, but they are a trade secret of mine.

                              In short, you need a true HD source to see a noticable improvement over DV-shot footage on DVD.
                              • 12. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                >you need a true HD source to see a noticable improvement over DV-shot footage on DVD.

                                I'd welcome your direct comparison as well. Same scene, same camera, shot once in HD and once again in SD, final output to identical bitrates. (Though I wonder how you'd do that. The EX1 doesn't shoot SD, right?)
                                • 13. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                  shooternz Level 6
                                  Jim the criteria starts getting really difficult when you add the proviso .."same camera"

                                  Not many cameras have that ability. One of mine does so I can oblige you as it happens.

                                  Usually when we test cameras, labs, lenses etc we have to see through the "ideal control " situation (because it is impossible to achieve)

                                  We must take the results simply on their own merits.
                                  • 14. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                    Jim_Simon Level 8
                                    >Not many cameras have that ability.

                                    In this range, I think only the Panny 150 and the EX1 don't. As far as I know, all other HD cameras can also shoot DV.
                                    • 15. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                      Mark Farmer,

                                      You can pick up a brand new, not refurbished, Canon HV30 for $580. Of the only two HDV cameras in this class (Canon HV30 and Sony HC9) I would pick the Canon HV30. I own both.

                                      HDV encoded to DV at the highest quality settings DOES in fact look better than DV from the same camera. And the Canon outperforms the Sony. And 30p performs better than 60i on the Canon.

                                      How do I choose which format to use? If I am shooting fast action sports I use DV. Everything else I use HDV. HDV does not handle motion well. Everything else is gorgeous.
                                      • 16. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                        >HDV encoded to DV at the highest quality settings DOES in fact look better than DV from the same camera.

                                        I reserve the right to hold my own opinion on that one pending direct observation.
                                        • 17. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                          Jim_Simon Level 8
                                          "We have an HDV camera, but when I know our client will want the final product on a Standard Def DVD, we shoot in Standard Def, rather than shooting in HDV and down-converting. The image looks better and we save the time that down-converting would have taken."

                                          From another thread. Seems I'm not the only one who thinks so.
                                          • 18. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                                            "I shot some runners with my Sony Z7U in HD. Brought the clips in CS3 and bruned with Encore as a standard dvd. The quality is poor"

                                            From yet another thread.
                                            • 19. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                              shooternz Level 6
                                              I guess you wont be needing that Scarlett Camera then Jim.
                                              • 20. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                Well...I suspect there'll be other reasons besides resolution that'll make me want to use it even for DVDs. I'm sure I'd get a much nicer bokeh out of it's 2/3" chip than my normal 1/3". Plus I'd get single file clips on fairly affordable SDHC cards. Plus the downres workflow using .r3d clips should be MUCH easier than downresing HDV. Plus more control over color and gamma in post using RAW files.

                                                If Red can deliver, the new Scarlet will change things for many shooters.
                                                • 21. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                  Level 1
                                                  For Jim Simon,

                                                  All I know is with my two HDV cameras and my encode settings my video ALWAYS looks better in HDV converted to DV than shooting straight DV out of the camera EXCEPT when doing fast action just as football or car racing. What settings were you using?

                                                  Regarding the quote...
                                                  'Poor quality' is a phrase which doesn't tell you much. Is there any other more helpful info about the clips upon which the comment was based?
                                                  • 22. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                    joshtownsend Level 2
                                                    Craig why bother arguing? Your pissing in the wind.
                                                    Some have Widescreen TV's in there house and stretch 4:3 shows out of proportion. Try to tell 'em it why it looks funny but they're blissfully ignorant. When you correct image all see is black bars on the side and wasted screen space. So they go back to stretching the image so the project does what they think it should do. Not what it's meant to do.
                                                    Same case here.

                                                    Jim, I've edited RED clips using the Adobe workflow. Saying it is an easier SD workflow than HDV is being blissfully ignorant. The Red workflow is way more complicated. You know you have restart the program every time you wanna change editing resolution. Also you have to Render with AE and create a new project there. Then there's that little thing about having now use 'color managment' setting each clips colorspace to 709 HD manually.

                                                    Oh that's right you said it "should" make it "MUCH" easier. Maybe on your planet. On mine I edit HDV files naively then just render out to SD if needed. I'm comfortable stating that as a"FACT". Another fact is 4k Red footage converted to SD look better than any DV footage even if the DV camera had 1 inch CCD's and $40,000 glass.

                                                    Also if you are militantly single that you decided not keep the metadata files associated with the .r3d file that are created it you'd be handicapping yourself greatly. Without them you can't create any kinda 'look' in the camera. When you import the .r3d file without metadata the footage looks it like it was washed in bleach and is very ugly. Any kind adjustment you did to the LUT you shot with is gone. They only reason you need a monitor is for framing and focus because anything you see in that monitor is not gonna be replicated without it. You go that route and your gonna spend twice along maybe three times as long correcting each so they look the same. That's maybe OK if your shooting shorts for yourself but for bread and butter shooting it's ridiculous. Imagine yourself at a shoot having to explain to a client that the image they see on the TV won't look anything like the final product. They will think your crazy. Might a well hook it up to a $100 black white tv for framing and use the histogram for iso and focus assistant to focus. Anything else would be a waste.

                                                    There is still no guarantee at all the fixed lens scarlet will even GET MADE a year from now or not. They change there plans every few months regularly. It's say it 50/50 now. And your gonna stay technology a nearly a decade old and (a century old in digital cinema years) until the perfect dream camera is made that fits whatever is in your head (most likely, finally I'll be able to make my first feature is what's in your head, but I'm guessing. That's what Scarlet is, a dream, that only exists as 3d renders made by a company who motto is 'every can and will change at anytime'.

                                                    But then again you wouldn't know because you've never bother test Premiere CS4 or test RED footage(easy to find free footage online). Everything I said true not because I read it somewhere it's because I've seen it with my own eyes. I've seen a RED-ONE camera on set and I've edited the footage.

                                                    Merry Christmas....sorry for being so hard. And CRAIG, if Jim needs proof of anything I've said will you find the appropriate link. I just want any who reads this post to believe the assumptions Jim throws out (like CS4 came Cuda accelerated). I'm tired of trying to help him understand all this and I'm gonna go have my own Merry Christmas.
                                                    • 23. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                      Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                      >with my two HDV cameras and my encode settings my video ALWAYS looks better in HDV converted to DV than shooting straight DV

                                                      That's what I'm doubting, but willing to look at as suggested.
                                                      • 24. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                        >You know you have restart the program every time you wanna change editing resolution.

                                                        For now, yes. Once the plug-in comes out of beta, which I expect long before I get my hands on a Red, that won't be an issue.

                                                        Even still, restarting Premiere seems a LOT easier than trying to get quality SD encodes out of Premiere from HDV (using Dan Isaac's definition of 'quality' here.)

                                                        >Another fact is 4k Red footage converted to SD look better than any DV footage even if the DV camera had 1 inch CCD's and $40,000 glass.

                                                        I have no way to test that.

                                                        > Imagine yourself at a shoot having to explain to a client that the image they see on the TV won't look anything like the final product.

                                                        Given the post processing that occurs these days, I'd say it's par for the course.

                                                        >There is still no guarantee at all the fixed lens scarlet will even GET MADE a year from now or not.

                                                        That is true. Jim's pretty consistent with his "expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed" caution. Still, until I actually need to buy an HD camera, it's something to look forward to.
                                                        • 25. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                          Wade S Zimmerman Level 1
                                                          Mark Farmer never came back I wonder if he had a relative that had been in show business?
                                                          • 26. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                            joshtownsend Level 2
                                                            He decided to shoot 35mm film instead. Better quality ;)
                                                            • 27. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                              Level 1
                                                              Wow guys. I just got back from Christmas vacation. I did not mean to start an argument. Thanks for all your....input. I'll respond.

                                                              Wade - I'm back and had a wonderful time with family and friends, none in show business I am sad to report.

                                                              Josh - I don't have room to store those big reels.

                                                              Harm - I do realize I'll need a new workstation before I upgrade PPro but I thought I might get the camera now so I can start shooting my home videos in HD. I am just starting on my SD video from 2002. It will be a while before I get around to editing any HDV I might shoot in 2009 giving me plenty of time to save up for the work station. BTW the one I use now I built from the case up and it works like a champ. I call it the Hammer.

                                                              Jim - I've got a nice 52" 1080i LCD and am using a PS3 for a blue ray player so I am kinda there already except for the camera, workstation, software and what I dread in the way of the learning curve for the upgraded PPro. It's been a few years since I've done any reading on this forum (I figured out what I needed to know) and even though I know it's mostly people having trouble that make the most noise I am nervous about the upgrade. My new workstation will have a blue ray burner.

                                                              Mark - thanks for the comments on the cameras, exactly what I was looking for. HDV sub 1K$. I have always been a Sony guy but was leaning towards Cannon this time and after what you said almost ready to tip over.

                                                              ?Question? - thoughts on HDV on MiniDV tapes. I like the idea of tapes for storage until I get around to editing. I am beginning to think that with the price of hard drives now and dropping all the time that I might be wrong about tape for storage and archive. I would like to hear some opinions on it if you guys can keep it civil:)

                                                              I am just a video hobbiest who shots about ten hours throughout the year of just my own family. I like to edit the video down to what is fun to watch and build DVDs so I can get to what I want. I like to play with After Effects and Photoshop too. Like I said in my initial post I will do editing and build DVDs for pay but I know that hardly makes me a pro.

                                                              Thanks in advance.
                                                              • 28. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                Sounds like you have all the pieces in place to make the HD camera really worth it.
                                                                • 29. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                  Bill Heslip Level 1
                                                                  >I reserve the right to hold my own opinion on that one pending direct observation.

                                                                  That would be a welcomed New Year's resolution for you, Jim.
                                                                  • 30. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                    Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                                                    > I am just starting on my SD video from 2002

                                                                    A man after my own heart for my personal videos. Just got to the 2001 reunion in October. My family gets the "shoemakers" treatment for our personal videos.
                                                                    • 31. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                      Level 1
                                                                      So nobody has anything to say about the relative merits of shooting on hard drive versus tape.

                                                                      Is it quicker to download video from a camera with a hard drive?

                                                                      Getting the ball rolling again.
                                                                      • 32. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                        joshtownsend Level 2
                                                                        Every thing is quicker when your tapeless. WAY QUICKER. No more hours of capturing or dirty heads or dirt drop outs.

                                                                        All you do is shoot then plug in the computer and you can edit right there on set while waiting for the next lighting set-up. (did this a few weeks ago, clients love that stuff)

                                                                        I've been using mostly P2 cards for over 2 years and DV tapes now look like VHS tapes in my mind.

                                                                        In a few years DV tape will be dead like VHS especially since solid state media is plummeting price. In two years a 100 gig SD card will cost the same as a quality DV tape now.
                                                                        • 33. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                          Level 1
                                                                          I think shooting with a hard drive or flash memory is a fantastic idea. It simplifies the process at every step.

                                                                          HOWEVER, until solid state media does in fact get down to the price of tape, I would still archive to tape.

                                                                          The other issue is that hard drives and solid state media introduce a single point of failure which, in the corporate IT world, is a disaster recovery no no. You may lose pieces of video on a tape, but rarely would you ever lose the whole tape. Another plus for tape as an archive medium.
                                                                          • 34. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                            joshtownsend Level 2
                                                                            I've never had a failure and I still use the 4 gig cards I bought when the HVX200 came out. People complain about P2's price but the reason they cost so much is because they use only the best chips. Never lost a clip. Ever. I archive to double or triple harddrives. Never had a failure but if it did happen I have it on two other disks.

                                                                            Archive to DVD is better than tape, Blu-ray will cheap in a year or so.

                                                                            Also I've never heard of a solid state failure. 98% of the time disks, hard drives and tapes fail because they have moving parts or because or because they become demagnetized. Solid state has none of those problems. There are so many ways a harddrive can completely fail. Solid state failure comes from melting or breaking, same risks as tape.

                                                                            Think of it this way. Do you archive your audio on tapes still? What about digital stills? See where I'm going? In years mini-dv tape will have gone the way of VHS, Hi-8, SVHS and the dodo bird.

                                                                            Consider this, BBC and discovery channel shoot mainly P2 solid state. Sin City, Crank, Slumdog Millionaire were shot to computers. Hollywood isn't scared of getting rid of tape....actually almost all Hollywood movies end up on Harddrives. Celluloid Film Masters are becoming a thing of the past. They must be kept in huge temp and moisture controlled rooms and it still doesn't keep them from rotting and it costs a ton. All the old films being restored aren't being archived on tape or celluloid.

                                                                            Remember when photographer were saying the same thing you are about Digital photography?

                                                                            I'm not saying film is dead at all. I'm just saying tape, especially DV are gonna be the equivalent of cassette tapes in 3+ years. That's just my informed opinion.
                                                                            • 35. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                              Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                                                              > The other issue is that hard drives and solid state media introduce a single point of failure which, in the corporate IT world, is a disaster recovery no no.

                                                                              The Professional IT worlds stores its data on hardrives; with backups synchronized in multiple locations. Except for the behind the times IT shops that still have huge robotic tape backup machines that take hours to save and restore. BTW; even the old tape backup robotic cages keep track of how many times a tape is used then marks it unusable; because tape is fundamentally fragile.

                                                                              Solid state cant come soon enough. Its just a tad pricy right now.

                                                                              Curt
                                                                              • 36. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                                Jim_Simon Level 8
                                                                                The main problem with solid state right now is that there are no affordable cameras that shoot I-frame to such media. Cameras that don't shoot to tape and cost $2,000 or less all use GOP codecs. The only way to get I-frame only to solid state is the Panasonic models in the $5,000 range. So from that viewpoint, I can see where tape still has some life left in it.
                                                                                • 37. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                                  Harm Millaard Level 7
                                                                                  The only thing I wish for is a 4K shoulder camera that weighs less than 8 pounds, has a battery life of at least 12 hours with the standard battery, has exchangeable lenses but comes with a factory standard with at least 40x optical zoom with an equivalent of max 21 mm wide angle in 35 mm terms, so 21-820 mm range, has solid state recording/flash cards for less than $ 0.01 per MB and records for at least 12 hours, records in a I-format of 4:4:4 AND can handled in RT by PR. Of course for a price of less than $ 750. Then it would all be nice. If they would then also reduce the tripod prices from $ 4K to a more affordable level of $ 400 it would all be juicy.

                                                                                  Dream on....
                                                                                  • 38. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                                    Bill Heslip Level 1
                                                                                    >HOWEVER, until solid state media does in fact get down to the price of tape, I would still archive to tape.

                                                                                    As I mentioned in another thread, we are already there. 58 minutes of EX1 best quality (1920x1080) can now be recorded to a $28 SDHC card. But that was last week. Could be less now.
                                                                                    • 39. Re: Best HD camcorder
                                                                                      joshtownsend Level 2
                                                                                      I Awesome Post Harm.

                                                                                      I just want a film camera that doesn't use film and can be controlled by voice commands. Your way more picky than me.

                                                                                      ;)
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