Best Indie digital camera

Lazlo

New member
Im looking to get a good digital camera under 3000$... I've been looking at the AG-DVC30, AG-DVX100, GL2 and the DCR-VX2100. On the specs these all look like very good cameras, but I know that different cameras have very different feels. I am therefore asking people who have had experience in working with any of these cameras how they felt about them, as well as their quality. Any help would be appreciated.
 
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uberLC

Guest
I love the AG-DVX100. Handling and the look is wonderful.

I really want to try the XL2 and compare the two
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
XL2

XL2

XL2 allows for exchangable lenses. We had one at the workshop in burbank california for people to look at and Roy took some shots with it.


Kim
 
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Digigenic

Guest
When you consider that the technology of these cameras will be replaced within the next year. It is strongly suggested that one take the rental route as oppose to purchasing.
IMHO, among the prosumer DV cams, the DVX and XL2 are the best, and the DVC30 is a nice alternative. It is always best to test these cameras out before rental or purchase, and to make sure that you can tell your story with the camera you have chosen.
 
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JLNeir

Guest
Even though renting cameras is a smart move for those who arent going to be shooting all the time, if you are going to be using the camera on a regular basis, it will cost less for you to buy it. But I agree with Digi, rent it before you buy it, get the feel for each of the cameras before you buy them, you dont want to make a wrong decision. Or, if you dont want to spend the money on renting them, see if you can find a friend that has one.
My personal prefrence is the AG-DVX100A, it feels comfortable to hold in any position and is balanced correctly, the XL is rear heavy if you are using the steandard lens. As Kim stated, the XL has interchangable lenses, which is a powerful tool, if you have the money to buy the other lenses. And if you think to yourself, "ill buy them later" you most likley wont due to the fact that the camera is going to be outdated in the near future and you are going to want to get the newest one. As long as you can tell your story with the camera, that is all that matters in the end.

Jeffrey Neir
 

Lazlo

New member
Im confused...

Im confused...

Im not up to date with all the latest technology advancements that are going to be coming out within the year. Why is everyone saying hold back with the cash? What is going to make the VX-2100 look bad in the next year? What new technology is coming out that will top DV at an affordable pric? HiDef? Better digital???
 
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DerekEastham

Guest
It's not that it's some new revolution that comes out next year...
All that Jacob & Jeffrey are saying is that every year Sony, Cannon, Panasonic, JVC and the others release a new camera boasting a few upgrades & features that the old model didn't have...
Sometimes it is a revolutionary camera, like the DVX-100 or the XL-1...
other times it's just an improvement on what they've already got, like the DVX-100A and the XL-2.
In the end... the cost of purchasing these camrea's to do some filming here and a little more there does not add up... it becomes a fiscally irresponsible decision that you will regret sometime in the next 365 days...
However,
to properly make the choice... you've gotta put on your producer's hat. Find out how much a local equipment rental facility will charge you to rent out your camera of choice per day... then figure out how many day's you'll need to shoot your film... when you've done that add up the numbers... if the cost of renting is higher than the cost to purchase, then like Jeff said, go ahead and buy...
however, if the cost to buy is higher... you're better off saving your money and letting the rental facilities absorb the higher cost of purchasing.
 
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JLNeir

Guest
A quick note on buying your camera...if you decide to buy it, see if you have any friends who would like to use it, then charge them a small rental fee, something cheaper then one of the rental facilities, say cut it in half. Make sure that you write up an agreement and have the person renting your camera sign it. So if it breaks you can be compensated.
 

MarkG

New member
What is going to make the VX-2100 look bad in the next year?

HDV, potentially: but I'm still waiting to see some actual footage from the cameras... if it is good, it will probably quickly kill DV as a format for low-budget movies.
 

Lazlo

New member
I have a recent a aquentence who owns a DVX-100, and he said he would rent it to me for a reasonable price. Only first, he wants to be on set a few times to make sure I handle it nicely. He said he would really only charge about thirty-fourty dollars, really nice price for a days rent.
 

Jared Isham

Moderator
I hate to burst a lot of peoples bubble with the whole technology thing but there is no way that you can out do technology advancements. If you wait for the new one to come out then by the time it does you will be waiting for the next one. The story thing, whatever tool you can use that best tells your story, great let's thank Roy for making that statement at the workshop.

If you are really looking to buy a camera I would say go with DV, HDV is not there yet and I think that DV is going to be around and working hard for at least another two years or more. I work at a post house and people still use VHS, 3/4" and even Hi8 and we work on a tone of huge movies and TV shows so don't think that DV is going to die out anytime soon.

Renting equipment and testing it is good but if you know people who own the camera there is a good chance that even $30 is too much to borrow it. You can easily get use of one for free. The trick is to do some dealling, if you don't have the money offer them a Camera Assistant position or if you like their work ask them to be the DP. This industry is all about connections, well not entirely talent and hard work also help, but if you help someone out chances are that they will be willing to help you out in the future. I am sure that you can test out the camera you want for free if you look hard enough. Go to a rental house and ask them if you can test out, in house most likely, one of their cameras - do some motion test and depth of field test, play with everything you can and don't be afraid to ask the technicians questions - People can actually be really nice in this industry.

I saw a post for test fotage of an HDV camera. http://www.stgham.com/trymovie.html - it is a short I shot on the JVC camera, I hate the camera for various reasons. Anyway, the story and a few shots don't work as well as I hoped but at least you can see some failrly decent test if you are interested in seeing what it looks like - Don't forget that it is compressed and is not full resolution but it gives you an idea. The footage was downconverted to DV and the web version was compressed from the DV downconversion.

thats all
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
what did you not like about he JVC?

what did you not like about he JVC?

What did you not like about the JVC? What camera do you sugest?



Kim
 

Jared Isham

Moderator
There were a lot of things that I did not like about the camera. Let's start with the image functions.

The camera has the option to shoot in DV mode SD mode and HD mode. What is nice is that the chip is a 16:9 chip or the native aspect ratio for HD is 16:9. The camera has a few issues with it's pans and fast movement infront of the camera. If the camera pans really fast it almost looks like the camera is dropping frames or is trying to catch up but can't quite do it. So on fast pans or when objects that move in front of the screen at a slightly faster than normal pace the camera jitters and the image looks like it is moving at 15fps rather than its 30fps. A rep I was talking with once tryied defending the jitter by saying it looked like the 24p thing people liked in the Panasonic camera - it doesn't and that was a bunch of bull.

The camera has some fairly decent latitude but the biggest problem with its exposure is with the iris and shutter speed. I have told people to imagine a wheel like in The Price is Right, When the contestant spins it only one number is selected, they don't get to choose from the other numbers and have them selected at the same time. Now imagine that wheel has the exposure setting on it: iris, shutter speed, gain. You are only allowed to have manuel control of the choosen selection. So if you want to have manuel control of the iris the gain and shutter speed will default to automatic, and the same for shutter speed and gain - the other options default to automatic - so you never have true control of you picture. When I was shooting one project we had to figure out a different way to tell the story because of the issue, We were shooting infront of a bay window that was at a f/32 and inside was about a f/4. What we ended up doing was forcing the camera, as best we could, to expose to a certain part of the frame - we chose the window because it was the biggest thing in the frame, thus making the actors silhouettes.

The last thing that I could not understand was the green hazing to the frame, it mostly happens in overexposure but happened to us even in normally exposed light, Either way it only happens in the highlights. What happens is a green haze appears on the image, like a digital flare or if it were film, like flashing the film but it turning green instead of foggey, It might not be all that bad if the entire frame had this happen, just fix it in post, but it only happens to portions of the frame. In one shot I was doing an actors black jacket was green on one side and its normal black on the other.

Audio was another issue.

For those who like to run audio straight into the camera, this is not the camera for you when shooting in HD. The only thing the camera gives you is audio meters but you cannot monitor the audio with headphones when it is in this mode. The first project I discovered this, the second one we ran audio from a seperate source so we could monitor audio levels by using our ears - what a concept.

The only difference between the consumer version of the JVC camera and the proffesional version is the Audio inputs and the microphone. On the Proffesional version the put an XLR adapter on it and included a fairly nice shotgun mic. The XLR inputs are not really XLRs, they are XLR inputs connected to the camera through a 1/8" jack, basically a Beach Tek adapter.

Editing is another issue, I ended up doing all of my stuff offline because there wasn't a decent editor at the time I did the projects. CineForm I hear is the best plugin - at least for the PC - and it think it is called Huris (the indie film pack) for Mac. All the info can be found at http://www.hdvinfo.com or http://www.hdv-info.org.

I personally will never shoot on that camera again because it limits my story telling.

At this point if you want to shoot on HD I would suggest HDCAM or DVCPRO HD. Or try S16mm film - it looks a heck of a lot better than HD, in my oppinion.

If you budget is only for the MiniDV market, go with either the Panasonic DVX100A or the Canon XL2. And if you are a lover of HDV, then wait for the newer models to come out. The JVC model is a DPs nightmare.
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
JVC, Panasonic, Canon

JVC, Panasonic, Canon

Thank you for the detailed post. I was thinking of getting the Panasonic for my business but we decided to wait and see what hits the market towards the end of the year or wait untill we have a project that warrants the investment.


Kim
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
integrity

integrity

You are wrong. There are many cameras that blow away Sony in regards to Picture as well as heuristics. Do you work for Sony?

We are not just talking about Canon XL2 but have you tested the image and compared it? What tests have you done or what tests do you know about?

I know there are many cameras that will shoot as well as Sony and better and besides it is about the artist and how he uses the equipment and the look he is going for. And it's abou the expiereince with the company , the support, the integrity... I like the new Panasonic VariCam HD camera very much. it a very excellent camera and I think it competes soundly with sony and exceeds capabilities with color with matrix settings and more.


If you can present HARD FACTS in regards to the image quality of Sony being better than another company then please let us know where we can see the third party review, testing and comparisons.

Have you used the Panasonic VariCam HD camera?

What have you shot anything that we might recognize and know or can see?


Kim Welch
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
Standing

Standing

and, i still say give me the 3rd party hard facts and not just that you like sony better. The sony competitors have cameras with as good or better images.
 

morgan_peline

New member
Or... maybe you can phone up some facilities houses and buy a used camera for cheap until the next new, new camera comes out. I was in the market for a Sony PD150 a month ago and a rental house offered to sell me a one for $1200 as they had upgraded to PD170s - not too bad.

Just a thought.
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
It is not just who is using it.

It is not just who is using it.

Good marketing can sell stuff but it does not mean it is the best. people get comfortable with a product but it does not mean it is the best. You don't know until you really test see for sure if it will do what you want. And, "what you want" is a subjective thing for each person.

So, i still say give me the 3rd party hard facts and not just that you like sony better. Many companies have cameras with just as good or better image aquisition.

Truly
Kim
 
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DerekEastham

Guest
as one of Sony's biggest fans... I felt it a necessity to chime in on the Sony v everyone else debate...

I love sony products... don't get me wrong... and I've seen the PD-150 and the VX2100... but really, I have to go with kim...
as RABID (seriously) a fan of sony as I am... I go hands down to the DVX for DV. The image quality, tone & feel are really what work best for me...

THAT'S NOT TO SAY, that the sony's aren't great camera's & definetly an industry product.

However,
to chime in on the big & expensive camera's...
in HD... my favorite line is still the cinealta... love their texture & quality... even blown up on film...
&, btw, Star Wars III looks brilliant all blown up from a 950.

HOWEVER,
I recently began working as a script supervisor & then some on a local independent production... the producer has in his posession one of Lucasfilm's old Panasonic DVC-PROHD camera's... and I'm begining to fall in love with the look & feel of that camera as well.

All in all,
the brand matters 0% when choosing a camera to buy...
even the commercial video industry is an art... and the people who make video/film should choose a camera for it's artistic merits... not the brand name.
So, if you love the PD-150/VX-2100 from SONY, then stick with it, you'll make brilliant images...
If you love Panasonic or Cannon or JVC or someone else, stick with them, you'll make brilliant images...

Stick with what you love... because the nuances of image tone & quality that you prefer from a camera, are going to provide you with the best artistic tool you can use for the job.

Ok... that's my 2-cents... and I'm stickin to it.
 
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