Questions after considering Canon HF200/ S100, Panasonic TM300, Sony XR200/ 500/ 520V - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 10-28-2009, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I have considered the following HD camcorders:

Canon HF200, HF S100
Panasonic TM300
Sony XR200V, XR500V, XR520V

Here is my rationale in narrowing my choices:

1) Sony may be better but I don't want to deal with a HDD based camcorder (risk of data loss due to shock) and I do not like the (non-standard) memory stick

2) Panasonic TM300 is best rated on Camcorderinfo.com & is among the top 5 on CNET but that is pretty much it. The overall reviews on Panasonic TM300 are low, including Amazon

I am now down to the Canon HF200 & HF S100 - both have great reviews on Amazon (69 as of date for HF200 - 4.5 stars, 45 as of date for HF S100, 4.5 stars) Not to mention HF100 has 233 reviews of date with 4.5 stars.

Overall, the reviews tell me Canon camcorders are well accepted by the consumers/ prosumers than the Panasonic.

I then compared the HF200 and the HF S100 on slashcam.com; see link at
http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/compare.html and I observed the following:

1) Both are rated good (5 out of 7 stars)
2) Both have pictures at 1200 lux that looked quiet the same - hard to tell the difference for my eyes atleast
3) At 12 lux, the HF200 has a brighter picture but shows noticeable noise, the HF S100 is darker but the noise is not-so-noticeable. What I am perceiving is (and I may be wrong) is that the HF200 has more light coming to the sensor and hence displays more noise
4) HF200 has 15X optical zoom while the HF S100 has 10X - advantage HF200; a big one for me - all else being closely similar
5) Pixel count - 2.8 million for HF200, 6 Million for HF S100 - not sure if more pixels mean better video quality on a camcorder; I do not care about still pics, I have a DSLR for it
6) White Balance - HF200 only has auto & manual, HF S100 has those two + presets - something I do not care about
7) HF200 has no zebra lines (for understanding exposure, I think) or histogram but HF S100 - advantage HF S100 (although this does not matter to me)

Everything else is similar or same on the two camcorders.

Now - my needs: I will mostly be shooting videos of my kids or when on travel. I would say 80% indoors (incandescent lights - typical living room; and maybe some situations with a single bulb or dusk/ evening setting. I understand how technology works, basically speaking, but am no expert on video cameras.

What is important to me:

1) Decent picture quality, good opticalzoom (15X works best, 12X is a compromize, 10X iffy)

2) Flash memory - prefer SDHC cards, NO hard disk, embedded flash is too expensive

3) Ability to shoot indoors with typical home lighting (ceiling lights; all rooms have either two or 23 watt 4 CFLs, depending on the room size). I can crank-up the lights in the living room to have 6-8 CFLs.

I got a HF200 with a 8 GB card, a mini HDMI cable and a Canon carry case at a local Costco for $ 569; the HF S100 (no add-ons) is available on costco.com for $ 899. Clearly the HF200 is better value for money right now, given my needs

I do not want to spend too much money now. My take is to go for the HF200, wait till 2010 holiday season or 2011 - we will get better technology at a better price. That would be an apt time to decide on which camera to spend $ 1k+.

Questions:

1) Am I missing out anything drastically? Is there anything I missed out or did not consider?

2) Does the analysis make sense for my needs?

3) Any particular reason that you would recommend the HF S100 over the HF200?

Please feel free to add anything else that you consider relevant. Thank you for your time and making this a great forum for all of us.

Cheers!
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post #2 of 40 Old 10-28-2009, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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BTW select the HF200 & HF S100 when you open the link given above
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post #3 of 40 Old 10-28-2009, 01:43 PM
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Hello,

I have the S100 and find the color reproduction to be excellent. The images are very sharp and it's easy to copy files to the PC.

That being said, the camera is way too light and the image stabilizer is poor in preventing minor bumps making to the screen. The sound is also not ideal, with some bzzzzz making into the video. I find this quite odd, since the only moving part is the zoom motor.

I tried shooting some fireworks at night and was quite disappointed with the results, even in manual mode. During the day, the video is excellent.

I was also between the Panasonic TM300 and the S100. I bought the Canon because the image size is easier to work with in Adobe CS3, while I read the Panasonic is more trouble-prone (and I love editing!). Also, the TM300's microphone is too close to where your fingers grasp the camera and therefore prone to handling noise. And its price was $400 more than the Canon at the time.

If I were you, I'd strongly try to handle both cameras in a store and see how they handle and how their IS works. Since I live in a small city, I could not handle either one.

One more thing, you'll definitely need to buy an extended battery for the Canon as the original one barely lasts 45 minutes.

Regards

Newbie
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post #4 of 40 Old 10-28-2009, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, slo007. Please let me know what you think about the low-light capability. Did you compare the HF200 & the HF S100 (maybe just web-reearch) before you bought the latter?
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post #5 of 40 Old 10-28-2009, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
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The HF S100 manual states on page 79 that the digital teleconverter can be set to on to achieve the same effect of using a tele-converter lens without affecting video quality at all; is this practically correct?

Canon does not state this anywhere in their specifications or use it as a marketing feature to attract a client to "an effective- same-as-optical" 17X zoon; wonder why
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post #6 of 40 Old 10-29-2009, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsnqst View Post

I have considered the following HD camcorders:

Canon HF200, HF S100
Panasonic TM300
Sony XR200V, XR500V, XR520V

Here is my rationale in narrowing my choices:

1) Sony may be better but I don't want to deal with a HDD based camcorder (risk of data loss due to shock) and I do not like the (non-standard) memory stick

Two points:

1. The HDD is not nearly so fragile as you imply. HDD crashes are extremely rare. The major tradeoffs are increased size vs. increased capacity.

2. You don't consider the CX500 because of its memory stick. While it pisses me off too, to write it off for this is a mistake. The problem with the Sony memory stick is one of increased cost (because sole source). Just factor in the slightly higher cost for the cam because of this, but otherwise ignore the issue.
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post #7 of 40 Old 10-29-2009, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernhtp View Post

Two points:

1. The HDD is not nearly so fragile as you imply. HDD crashes are extremely rare. The major tradeoffs are increased size vs. increased capacity.

2. You don't consider the CX500 because of its memory stick. While it pisses me off too, to write it off for this is a mistake. The problem with the Sony memory stick is one of increased cost (because sole source). Just factor in the slightly higher cost for the cam because of this, but otherwise ignore the issue.

Thanks for your feedback, bernhtp. It would be great if you can share your experience about post-processing/ editing issues that other users have mentioned.
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post #8 of 40 Old 10-30-2009, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bernhtp View Post

Two points:

1. The HDD is not nearly so fragile as you imply. HDD crashes are extremely rare. The major tradeoffs are increased size vs. increased capacity.

2. You don't consider the CX500 because of its memory stick. While it pisses me off too, to write it off for this is a mistake. The problem with the Sony memory stick is one of increased cost (because sole source). Just factor in the slightly higher cost for the cam because of this, but otherwise ignore the issue.

I stayed out of this thread because it sounded like the decision had already been made. But I bought a CX500V about two weeks ago as an upgrade to a CX12, and I agree with #2 in the quote above based on your mention that much of your video will be taken indoors. You might want to do some reading on the newer CX models.

I was actually quite happy with the CX12 and had no plans to update to "next year's model". I took 90% of my video outdoors. But the heavily improved low light capability and similar improvements in stabilization met a need I didn't have until September - taking video of new pets indoors in normal or subdued lighting (they're nocturnal). The posts from CX5xx series owners uniformly praised the low light quality, so then I started reading posts from XR5xx series owners since the two cams have the same optics and basic specs. I did some marketing specs comparisons to see if the new cams were enough better to justify spending money. After taking some low light footage with the CX12 (not why I bought it but it's about average at that), I decided the CX500V really was better by a significant margin, and bought one. I can compare the low light footage of the two cams in the same place with the same lighting and roughly the same activity, and to me, the new Sonys excel in this area just as a number of other people have stated.

Of the three modes, the real improvement is in taking video in normal to subdued lighting - not putting the cam into any special mode. The colors are excellent and there is hardly any noise in the video vs signficant noise for most other cams. There is a "low lux" mode that you might use with only one 60W bulb in a large room, say, or candles - I'm not an expert. This does brighten the picture over the regular mode at that lux but at the cost of losing a bit of detail and adding a bit of noise. So if you're happy with the brightness in the normal mode, I'd say you would use it over the low lux mode. The third mode is an infrared "Nightshot" mode which probably performs about the same as prior cams if I had to guess - it's good but noisy.

You need to watch two things when reading about these new models with the Exmor R chips (the better low light capability). First, many people mistakenly "test" in the low lux mode when there's plenty of light and they should use the regular mode. So they're not getting the best performance out of the cam and will pan it because of not using it well. Second, sites doing physical measurements like Camcorderinfo seem locked in on taking two separate measurements related to low-light performance and not figuring out how to actually represent the combined effect of the design as people really see it. They'll rate these cams as average based on the separate measurements but the responses from actual owners are basically "Huh, what are you looking at that you can't instantly tell the difference between this performance and earlier cams?".

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and this may be one of those cases where new tests are needed to really reflect the success of this design. The low-light video I've shot with this cam is easily the best I've done so far and there's no question it's the cam and not improvements in my technique. To the degree that low-light is important to you, the CX/XR5xx series may be worth a second look.
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post #9 of 40 Old 10-30-2009, 10:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Tom Gull:

Thanks so much not only for your feedback & analysis but especially also for taking your time to read my post (which, I admit, is long). After posting, though, I did reading on the SonyXR520v/ 500V and read a lot about user and professional reviews. The Sonys do seem to be better at low-light. It looks like I have to either accept a compromized low-light capability on the HF or spend a bit over a grand and spend it on a Sony. I am not buying into the Panasonics.

So I am back to research on the Sony models; thanks again.
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post #10 of 40 Old 10-31-2009, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by nsnqst View Post

Tom Gull:

Thanks so much not only for your feedback & analysis but especially also for taking your time to read my post (which, I admit, is long). After posting, though, I did reading on the SonyXR520v/ 500V and read a lot about user and professional reviews. The Sonys do seem to be better at low-light. It looks like I have to either accept a compromized low-light capability on the HF or spend a bit over a grand and spend it on a Sony. I am not buying into the Panasonics.

So I am back to research on the Sony models; thanks again.

You're very welcome, I depended heavily on the hundreds of posts that people make so I'm glad to be able to summarize some of it and am hopefully doing that accurately. I'm not directly recommending that you personally get one of the Sonys, I'm just saying they're worth a second look if low light is a primary shooting mode. If you're doing this in your home, you could also probably just manipulate the lighting directly if you find another cam that appeals to you more.

I was fortunate that none of the Sony's CXs publicized missing features (viewfinder, zebra and sharpness controls, etc.) were important to me. I'm also not a high-level videophile or still photographer - I'm definitely a point-and-shoot consumer.

Examples of two things I wanted personally that influenced my choices:
(1) We vacation in Colorado and the West every other year or so and spend some time ranging around from about 7,000 to 13,000 feet. That's one reason I preferred a flash cam over a hard drive one - the reduced air density due to altitude and sometimes cold can affect hard drives. I think the websites and manufacturers warn you to be careful with HDD models above 9-10,000 feet.
(2) I wanted cams with enough resolution and quality to take stills so I didn't have to carry a camera as well. That pushed me towards HD.

Anyway, researching these can be kind of fun, and once you get tired of it, it's hard to believe you'd go wrong with either the Canons or the Sonys.
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Tom Gull:

Thanks so much not only for your feedback & analysis but especially also for taking your time to read my post (which, I admit, is long). After posting, though, I did reading on the SonyXR520v/ 500V and read a lot about user and professional reviews. The Sonys do seem to be better at low-light. It looks like I have to either accept a compromized low-light capability on the HF or spend a bit over a grand and spend it on a Sony. I am not buying into the Panasonics.

So I am back to research on the Sony models; thanks again.

Hey, there's a coincidence. Camcorderinfo.com just posted a CX500V review.
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post #12 of 40 Old 10-31-2009, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Tom.

I went to a local best buy store with mh HF200; they had a XR-200V, SF S100, CX-500 and XR-500V. I took the time to ensure the settings were similar on all camcorders (same on the HF200 & SF S100).

Here is what I found:

1) HF S100 definitely has a better low-light performance; HF 200 is NOT for me (unfortunately)
2) XR-200 noise and low-light performance seemed to be similar to the HF-200, maybe better, maybe worse; I did not care as it was not acceptable to me. That model is out.
3) HR-500 V had the best low-light performance; I liked the Sony touchscreen menu. I always prefer the viewfinder because the camera is closer to the body and prone to less shake. Sony has less manual controls but that is acceptable; I am a point-and-shooter for the most part; I can be a videophile but do not have the luxury of time.

The decision is now between the CX-500 & XR-500/ 520 V. At the outset, it looks like the XR-520 V because of viewfinder, immense storage. I do not have to worry about flash media. The HDD has a drop=protection. If the camera is dropped, it protects the data. I don't go to high altitudes often but if I do, I will remember to take flash memory. The price difference between the CX-500 and the XR-520 V is small; CX-500 and XR-500V are identical in price.

Thanks a ton; your inputs were priceless (for everything else, there is mastercard

PS: I will check out the CX-500 review
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post #13 of 40 Old 11-01-2009, 12:21 PM
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Thanks Tom.

I went to a local best buy store with mh HF200; they had a XR-200V, SF S100, CX-500 and XR-500V. I took the time to ensure the settings were similar on all camcorders (same on the HF200 & SF S100).

Here is what I found:

1) HF S100 definitely has a better low-light performance; HF 200 is NOT for me (unfortunately)
2) XR-200 noise and low-light performance seemed to be similar to the HF-200, maybe better, maybe worse; I did not care as it was not acceptable to me. That model is out.
3) HR-500 V had the best low-light performance; I liked the Sony touchscreen menu. I always prefer the viewfinder because the camera is closer to the body and prone to less shake. Sony has less manual controls but that is acceptable; I am a point-and-shooter for the most part; I can be a videophile but do not have the luxury of time.

The decision is now between the CX-500 & XR-500/ 520 V. At the outset, it looks like the XR-520 V because of viewfinder, immense storage. I do not have to worry about flash media. The HDD has a drop=protection. If the camera is dropped, it protects the data. I don't go to high altitudes often but if I do, I will remember to take flash memory. The price difference between the CX-500 and the XR-520 V is small; CX-500 and XR-500V are identical in price.

Thanks a ton; your inputs were priceless (for everything else, there is mastercard

PS: I will check out the CX-500 review

Handling the cams was a great idea - I'm OK with the small size of the CX500V but if it were any smaller, my fingers wouldn't fit on it. I noted in a forum somewhere that if you use the Sony active shoe, the CX vs the XR size might be important. On the CX, your fingers rest on the cam's top backbone. On the XR, your fingers mostly rest on the hard drive backbone. So I suspected you'd have to curl fingers under on the CX but not on the XRs if you used the active shoe.

The 200 series Sonys aren't the same generation or performance level as the 500s, I think. So I'm not surprised the 200 wasn't impressive.

Side note - some Sony owners in the SR11 or 12 forums talked about disabling the power hookup for the hard drive and writing just to the flash memory at high altitudes. It sounded like not that big a deal if you were comfortable with computer technology - though of course Sony wouldn't advocate it.
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post #14 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Handling the cams was a great idea - I'm OK with the small size of the CX500V but if it were any smaller, my fingers wouldn't fit on it. I noted in a forum somewhere that if you use the Sony active shoe, the CX vs the XR size might be important. On the CX, your fingers rest on the cam's top backbone. On the XR, your fingers mostly rest on the hard drive backbone. So I suspected you'd have to curl fingers under on the CX but not on the XRs if you used the active shoe.

The 200 series Sonys aren't the same generation or performance level as the 500s, I think. So I'm not surprised the 200 wasn't impressive.

Side note - some Sony owners in the SR11 or 12 forums talked about disabling the power hookup for the hard drive and writing just to the flash memory at high altitudes. It sounded like not that big a deal if you were comfortable with computer technology - though of course Sony wouldn't advocate it.

Thanks, Tom; unless I find something better (which is unlikely), I think the XR5xV is the way to go. Thanks for all your help.

The only thing I am considering is whether I should wait till January to see what they announce at CES for the 2010 cameras; would not want to spend a grand now only to realize I could have waited a few months (e.g. a better sensor or a longer zoom). One advantage of buying before Christmas is we will get a good price on the current models.

Does anyone have an idea what to expect for the 2010 models from Sony?
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post #15 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 07:48 AM
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The only people that know will certainly not tell. I can't imagine how they will make their units much better next year, but every camcorder makers have been significantly and substancially improving their AVCHD units each year for the last 3 years, so I'm sure they'll do it again.

Whether you wait or not, take into account that whatever gets announced in January from Sony will not be available until March or April, and when it will be, it won't be at a discount (like the XR500V/XR520V is currently) until 2-3 months later. In other words, you'll have to pay about $300 more in 4 months for the XR500V replacement (or wait for 6-7 months to get it at around the same price than the current XR500V). If you're not in a hurry... you can always wait until the announcement and take a decision then if it's worth waiting some more or not.
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post #16 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 07:52 AM
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I too am interested to know what is going to be available next year. Quite honestly, the cams that are available now don't really have any one that stands out as the best across the board.

I played with the CX500v at BB this weekend and was less than impressed. It's too small and the touchscreen was annoying. Further, I would much rather buy more SDHC cards than Sony cards. The stabilization did seem to work rather well though. The biggest negative I see with the Sony is that you are limited to just the Sony proprietary mics as it doesn't have a standard mic-in port. For me, the audio is as important as the video and I'm afraid onboard mics won't cut it. Also, the manual control dial seems to be in a good place for one handed operation, but it is too recessed and you need to really crank it to get any kind of change from it (not much of an issue if you're only going to be using P&S operation.)

Right now, the S100 for $900 is in the lead for me with its audio port, SDHC support and joystick control. But honestly, I'd really like to see some newer cams with better features brought out. Unfortunately, the local BB didn't have any Canon cams in the store to look at.

-Suntan
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post #17 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 09:20 AM
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FWIW, the XR500V has better handling, better and bigger LCD, is cheaper, has a mic-in, and has a pretty good nob for some manual tweaking (when needed; in my experience, I rarely have to tweak anything) when compared to the CX500. And while you don't need to use it, you also get the opportunity to record on the internal 120GB HDD just in case you run out of space on your flash memory.

IMO, the SD vs MS argument is all but moot. The price difference isn't that big anymore and you can even get MicroSD to MS Duo adapters for $5 these days.
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post #18 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 10:26 AM
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However, I already have a good number of high capcity SDHC cards and a fast SD card reader for the desktop. Lastly, my laptop has a built in SD reader for transferring in the field.

That said, yes maybe I should re-look at the HDD based models. Perhaps I dismissed them too quickly.

-Suntan
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post #19 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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However, I already have a good number of high capcity SDHC cards and a fast SD card reader for the desktop. Lastly, my laptop has a built in SD reader for transferring in the field.

That said, yes maybe I should re-look at the HDD based models. Perhaps I dismissed them too quickly.

-Suntan

I was in the same boat; I had SD cards/ built-in readers & I did not want the HDD. Tom Gull set my expectations right (without directly doing so); he just brought up a point that I should consider the X500 or the X520; trust me my perspective has changed.

Good luck.
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post #20 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ericjut View Post

The only people that know will certainly not tell. I can't imagine how they will make their units much better next year, but every camcorder makers have been significantly and substancially improving their AVCHD units each year for the last 3 years, so I'm sure they'll do it again.

Whether you wait or not, take into account that whatever gets announced in January from Sony will not be available until March or April, and when it will be, it won't be at a discount (like the XR500V/XR520V is currently) until 2-3 months later. In other words, you'll have to pay about $300 more in 4 months for the XR500V replacement (or wait for 6-7 months to get it at around the same price than the current XR500V). If you're not in a hurry... you can always wait until the announcement and take a decision then if it's worth waiting some more or not.

Agreed! We will see if the patient part of me takes over the impatient or vice-versa; just kidding. I will wait if I can; it also depends on what the pricing turns out to be during the holidays.
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post #21 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsnqst View Post

I have considered the following HD camcorders:

Canon HF200, HF S100
Panasonic TM300
Sony XR200V, XR500V, XR520V

What is important to me:

1) Decent picture quality, good opticalzoom (15X works best, 12X is a compromize, 10X iffy)

2) Flash memory - prefer SDHC cards, NO hard disk, embedded flash is too expensive

3) Ability to shoot indoors with typical home lighting (ceiling lights; all rooms have either two or 23 watt 4 CFLs, depending on the room size). I can crank-up the lights in the living room to have 6-8 CFLs.

I film a lot of video in very dark conditions and while the HF-S10 was a good camera in adequate lighting, it was a disappointment in most low light situations. I wouldn't suggest the HF-S series (10 or 11) unless you plan on using a good video light. Also, the HF-S image stabilization isn't very good so a tripod is recommended.

The Canon HF10/100 series from last year outperformed this year's models in low light due to resolution. If Canon improves low light performance, image stabilization, increases the optical zoom range and adds a lanc port (without having to buy an add-on such as the expensive RA-V1 adapter) next year, they'll have a winner on their hands.
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post #22 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 11:29 AM
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......................
I played with the CX500v at BB this weekend and was less than impressed. It's too small and the touchscreen was annoying. Further, I would much rather buy more SDHC cards than Sony cards. .............-Suntan

Your post demonstrates cleanly why I think you have to handle the camcorders physically before buying even if you like the specs. Liking the feel and size of the cam and things like touchscreens vs joysticks are incredibly personal. The CX500V is even smaller than the CX12 and I thought that I might not like it because of that. Now that I've used it for hours, I'm delighted with the handling and weight and the smaller size. And I prefer a touchscreen over the joystick or rocker switches on digital cameras I used to use. There's no right or wrong on this - it's entirely what you like and not what any reviewer says.

Re the Sony CX500V manual dial - I thought it was meant to be one-handed but you'd have to have a contortionist (and very long) right thumb to use it that way. It's still two-handed in practice - just moved and harder to turn than the XR500V dial. It's usable but I feel it could have been designed better.
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post #23 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 11:34 AM
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..........IMO, the SD vs MS argument is all but moot. The price difference isn't that big anymore and you can even get MicroSD to MS Duo adapters for $5 these days.........

No comment on the adaptors fitting in cams . But I'd taken the MS pricier than SD for granted - it wasn't the deciding factor for me but was clearly true.

I was at Best Buy last night and shocked to see that the higher-speed SD 16 GB card was the same price as the Sony 16GB MS Pro Duo 2. Maybe this is apples vs. oranges if the cams don't require the high-speed SDs. But I didn't think the prices overlapped at all, with Sony always more expensive. This ma be changing...
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post #24 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 11:42 AM
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.............That said, yes maybe I should re-look at the HDD based models. Perhaps I dismissed them too quickly.
-Suntan

This may help since you've looked at the CX500V already (copied from a different thread):

Specs comparison between CX500V (32GB flash) and XR500V (120 GB HD) overlaps in most ways but the following differences appear:
1. Main storage (flash vs HDD). Note that both use about 1.3 GB for op sys files, maps, etc.
2. About a 4 oz weight difference (HDD 20% heavier).
3. Case size and some control placement.
4. Cam control dial on XR500V near lens (as in CX12). Cam control dial on CX500V at upper-left rear on left side. I expected to prefer the latter but found the dial kind of stiff to rotate and also my right thumb was just barely long enough to get there. The CX dial is definitely smaller. Did like it when using left hand to turn the dial, but I'd bet the intent was that it be used by the right. Note that the cam was cord-secured without a battery, so might be better when held for real.
5. HDD LCD is 3.2" 921K pixels, CX LCD is 3" 230K pixel. CX very much like CX12, no problem reading it, but the other one is much "finer" resolution per these specs.
6. HDD has headphone out jack, CX doesn't.
7. HDD has "microphone input", CX doesn't. Not sure what this refers to given active shoe on both.
8. HDD has "Easy" button/mode, CX doesn't.
9. Shutter speed for scene selection shows 1/8 to 1/725 for CX, 1/8 to 1/800 for HDD. ??
10. HDD size: 71x75x137 mm; CX 62x65x133.
11. HDD LCD has some basic buttons to left of LCD, same as on CX12; no buttons on CX, all LCD.
12. HDD has separate viewfinder, CX does not.

I handled both at Best Buy today, and they feel very different in the hand. The HDD one feels like a huge beast to me after using the CX12 and holding the CX500. But this is preferred by some people for balance, etc., so no amount of text will describe which you'll prefer (if either).

Since the right hand fingers rest on the HDD case on the XR500 and on the camcorder top ridge on the CX500, finger placement may be an issue for large hands. Mine just fix on the CX500 without covering the built-in mic. I don't use the active shoe, but if I did, I think I'd have to curl two fingers to keep from intruding into that area while it was in use. Not true on the XR500, I think, since your fingers don't normally rest on the camcorder ridge and the active shoe cover. Both cams have a small bump forward of the zoom rocker that I guess helps keep the next finger forward from slipping into the rocker.

The little button on the CX12 that suppressed flash if ANY add-on filter was screwed in is gone. That is, I think flash is now electronic-controlled again even if a filter is attached.

XR menus seem the same as the SR and CX12 menus. CX menus changed significantly from CX12 - they're flatter and easier for me personally to use. Another plus: you can again create "My Menus", assigning six items each for Photo, Video, and Playback modes for easy access instead of dipping into the stock menus.

The manuals and spec sheets are all online at Sonystyle.com. Except for the differences noted here (hopefully complete), the optics, sensors, and other basic capabilities should be the same assuming the processing chip is also using the same programs to capture and record in both cases.
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post #25 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Spearing View Post

If you exclude Sony's Night Shot feature, the TM300 is better in low light. It's not a huge difference but it is noticeable when comparing the TM300 to Sony's CX500 series, which should be the same as the XR500/520.

That's your take (and camcorderinfo's), but I beg to differ. The Sony models may have a little less light response than the Panny's, but the Sony low-light overall PQ looks significantly better than the Panny IMO mainly because of the absence of noise on the Sony's side in low light (see attached snapshot of 12 lux from http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/compare.html, an unbiased comparative website).
LL
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post #26 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 02:23 PM
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That's your take (and camcorderinfo's), but I beg to differ. The Sony models may have a little less light response than the Panny's, but the Sony low-light overall PQ looks significantly better than the Panny IMO mainly because of the absence of noise on the Sony's side in low light (see attached snapshot of 12 lux from http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/compare.html, an unbiased comparative website).

Your example is well-chosen. Who would really want the picture on the left (the Panny) instead of the Sony picture on the right?

I think Camcorderinfo was more positive about the CX500V's low-light than the XR520Vs when you read the detail, though they still tried to downplay this aspect of the Sony a bit in the summary.

I agree with you 100% on the visual difference - it's in the very low noise and graininess of the low-light Sony video. The new Sonys excel in this area.
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post #27 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ericjut View Post

That's your take (and camcorderinfo's), but I beg to differ. The Sony models may have a little less light response than the Panny's, but the Sony low-light overall PQ looks significantly better than the Panny IMO mainly because of the absence of noise on the Sony's side in low light (see attached snapshot of 12 lux from http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/compare.html, an unbiased comparative website).

I've compared the Sony to the Panny on Slashcam before and indeed the XR looks better than the TM in low light when looking at their pics, but when I set up the CX & TM on a dual-tripod mount with identical settings, the TM beat the CX falling more in line with camcorderinfo's review. And yes, it's just my take on things.
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post #28 of 40 Old 11-02-2009, 08:58 PM
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I've compared the Sony to the Panny on Slashcam before and indeed the XR looks better than the TM in low light when looking at their pics, but when I set up the CX & TM on a dual-tripod mount with identical settings, the TM beat the CX falling more in line with camcorderinfo's review. And yes, it's just my take on things.

Hi Spearing,

so you would go for the TM ?

I am puzzled if to but the HS350 or the XR520

My new camcorder has to be good under very dim light (very low lux).
My feeling is that the sony will not see at very low lux (ex. 1-2 lux), while instead the panny HS350 would.
Now I know that the panny would add noise to the videos in comparison to the XR520, but :

1) how much more noise the panny adds ?

2) can the sony see under very very low light conditions or not ?

I hope you could add few more notes to your review of the 2 camcorders please

Thank you
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post #29 of 40 Old 11-03-2009, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by marcolisi View Post

Hi Spearing,

so you would go for the TM ?

I am puzzled if to but the HS350 or the XR520

My new camcorder has to be good under very dim light (very low lux).
My feeling is that the sony will not see at very low lux (ex. 1-2 lux), while instead the panny HS350 would.
Now I know that the panny would add noise to the videos in comparison to the XR520, but :

1) how much more noise the panny adds ?

2) can the sony see under very very low light conditions or not ?

I hope you could add few more notes to your review of the 2 camcorders please

Thank you

The CX500V marketing specs sheet says the Sony needs a minimum of 3 lux in Low Lux mode (using shutter speed of 1/30 sec) and 11 lux for standard low-light filming. The Nightshot mode is infrared so you need no light for that as long as you're close enough for the camera's infrared light to cover the subject.

In all of these cases, low noise and graininess at a given lux is the clear benefit of the Sonys over their own prior models (I can easily see it) and other cams (per reviews and forum postings). There's also a suggestion that the Sony retains color definition lower than competing models. The new Camcorderinfo.com CX500V review commented on the color retention and has various images comparing the Sony with three other cams. This review seems more balanced to me than other reviews from them and it's certainly worth reading.

Within its three modes, Nightshot is the traditional gray-green of infrared goggles, Low Lux sacrifices some color and detail to get a brighter image, and the best image by far is in standard mode if the light is adequate (very low noise or graininess, very good color, good detail).

Basically, if a room is lit well enough for eyeball comfort, I don't even think twice about filming indoors anymore. If it's dimmer, I stick with the regular settings in preference to low lux unless the subject itself is shadowed or we're talking one small light in a living room well away from the subject. Nightshot is fun but much grainier than the other two modes so I use it only if it's actually dark inside.

What I've found personally watching low-light videos from now going back 15 years to the birth of our son is that I really dislike graininess (noise). I'm spoiled - I like sharper pictures after HD and Blu-Ray. I think all the cams are going to figure this out over the next few years and what is typical today is going to be unacceptable in the future.
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post #30 of 40 Old 11-03-2009, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcolisi View Post

Hi Spearing,

so you would go for the TM ?

I am puzzled if to but the HS350 or the XR520

My new camcorder has to be good under very dim light (very low lux).
My feeling is that the sony will not see at very low lux (ex. 1-2 lux), while instead the panny HS350 would.
Now I know that the panny would add noise to the videos in comparison to the XR520, but :

1) how much more noise the panny adds ?

2) can the sony see under very very low light conditions or not ?

I hope you could add few more notes to your review of the 2 camcorders please

Thank you

The main problem I had with the Sony is that it was unable to focus when zoomed in from 10-12x optical zoom in a very dark setting. The Panny was a bit brighter and at the same zoom range it was able to focus on different subjects. The CX has a low light setting which I enabled and the Panny was set to candlelight mode. I'll try to do another test later on and possibly upload a comparison vid.

By the way, Tom's post has some great info.
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