Which DSLR do i choose for filmaking???? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 05-16-2012, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I borrow my brother's Canon Rebel T3i and it works fantastic for me. I love the quality of video and I haven't run into too many problems. I am a amateur filmmaker and I was wondering, for Film purposes, would you recommend I use a DSLR? If so which type/model would be good? If not a DSLR would an HD camcorder - such as the Sony PMW-EX3 for example - be a better investment? Price is an issue as well. Thanks for the help!


PS: I just want to throw this out there since I mentioned it. One problem I ran into when using the T3i was that at times, the camera would just stop recording after 4 seconds. I did my research and it said that the SD card could be the problem, and it suggested that I get a Class 10 HCSD card. But the card I was using was a Class 10. Does anyone know what the problem could be?
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post #2 of 25 Old 05-16-2012, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JjayJ View Post

I borrow my brother's Canon Rebel T3i and it works fantastic for me. I love the quality of video and I haven't run into too many problems. I am a amateur filmmaker and I was wondering, for Film purposes, would you recommend I use a DSLR? If so which type/model would be good? If not a DSLR would an HD camcorder - such as the Sony PMW-EX3 for example - be a better investment? Price is an issue as well. Thanks for the help!


PS: I just want to throw this out there since I mentioned it. One problem I ran into when using the T3i was that at times, the camera would just stop recording after 4 seconds. I did my research and it said that the SD card could be the problem, and it suggested that I get a Class 10 HCSD card. But the card I was using was a Class 10. Does anyone know what the problem could be?

Did you check the settings to see if the video time was set for a max of 4 secs ? I have a nephew that has that camera but he told me he prefers to use his Sony camcorder instead of the T3i .
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post #3 of 25 Old 05-17-2012, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JjayJ View Post

I borrow my brother's Canon Rebel T3i and it works fantastic for me. I love the quality of video and I haven't run into too many problems. I am a amateur filmmaker and I was wondering, for Film purposes, would you recommend I use a DSLR? If so which type/model would be good? If not a DSLR would an HD camcorder - such as the Sony PMW-EX3 for example - be a better investment? Price is an issue as well. Thanks for the help!


PS: I just want to throw this out there since I mentioned it. One problem I ran into when using the T3i was that at times, the camera would just stop recording after 4 seconds. I did my research and it said that the SD card could be the problem, and it suggested that I get a Class 10 HCSD card. But the card I was using was a Class 10. Does anyone know what the problem could be?

JjayJ - welcome to the AVS Forum. Quite a big price and capability spread between the T3i and the EX3! It would be good to know what's important to you for making the kind of films you want to make before offering advice - large sensor for shallow depth of field? interchangeable lenses for flexibility in focal lengths and "look"? low light capability? clean images free of aliasing and moire? professional quality in-camera sound with manual gain control and pro connectors? 1080p slow motion? maximum video clip length? autofocus in video mode? video codec that is easy to edit without a lot of transcoding? price? And that just scratches the surface :-)

In the absence of the answers to these questions, Here are some general recommendations at price points between the T3i and the EX3.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have shot with most, but not all, of these cameras. My advice is limited to cameras that are available today.

At the <$1000 price point, I would get the Panasonic GH2 for video before I bought a T3i. Here's why - unlimited video clip length (T3i has a 12 minute maximum) - viewfinder is usable while you're shooting video (T3i viewfinder goes black) - more efficient AVCHD video codec records video to Class 6 cards (T3i needs Class 10) - resolution better than Canon cams - and almost zero moire and aliasing (Canon cameras, outside of the $3500 5DMkIII have a problem with moire, shown here). Autofocus available in video mode with Panasonic/Olympus/Sigma system lenses (no autofocus in video mode with the Canons). The GH2 also has power zoom with Panasonic PZ lenses, while the T3i has no power zoom lenses. The T3i is, however, a slightly better still camera.
GH2 (straight out of camera): https://vimeo.com/21092959
GH2 (hacked for increased bitrate - amateur): https://vimeo.com/41379315

At the $1000 - $2000 price point, I recommend the Sony NEX-7 for both video and stills. The only other camera in this space that I would recommend is the Sony NEX-VG20 camcorder, which has about the same video image quality as the NEX-7, is better in low light than the GH2, and has unlimited clip length (the NEX-7 is limited to 30 minute clips). On the other hand, the NEX-VG20 has limited control of color in camera.
Here is what the NEX-7 can do: https://vimeo.com/34327108
Here is what the VG20 can do: https://vimeo.com/38673429

At $2000-$4000, I recommend the Panasonic AG-AF100 camcorder for digital filmmakers. Interchangeable lenses in a pro, large sensor camcorder. Pro sound with pro connectors. Built-in neutral density (ND) filter. Incrementally adjustable frame rates up to 60p for slow motion. Power zoom with Panasonic PZ lenses. Better for filmmakers than the great fixed lens camcorders in this price range due to better control of depth of field. Here is what the AF100 can do at the pro level: https://vimeo.com/22958276

Between $4000 and $10000, I would get the Sony NEX-FS100 and not the PMW-EX3. Better in low light than the AF100. This camera can almost see in the dark. Pro sound. Autofocuses in video mode. No power zoom or ND filter, though. Here is what can be done with it at the pro level: https://vimeo.com/39453069

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
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post #4 of 25 Old 05-17-2012, 07:33 AM
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This is great advice. GH2 / AF100's are great. I would start with the GH2.
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post #5 of 25 Old 05-17-2012, 02:12 PM
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Great answer, Bill! All answers to requests of "which camera" should be as helpful as yours. Bravo.
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post #6 of 25 Old 05-18-2012, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help!! How are the stills for the Gh2 though? I understand that they aren't as impressive as the t3i but with the right settings would I still get quality pictures?
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post #7 of 25 Old 05-18-2012, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

JjayJ - welcome to the AVS Forum. Quite a big price and capability spread between the T3i and the EX3! It would be good to know what's important to you for making the kind of films you want to make before offering advice - large sensor for shallow depth of field? interchangeable lenses for flexibility in focal lengths and "look"? low light capability? clean images free of aliasing and moire? professional quality in-camera sound with manual gain control and pro connectors? 1080p slow motion? maximum video clip length? autofocus in video mode? video codec that is easy to edit without a lot of transcoding? price? And that just scratches the surface :-)

In the absence of the answers to these questions, Here are some general recommendations at price points between the T3i and the EX3.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have shot with most, but not all, of these cameras. My advice is limited to cameras that are available today.

At the <$1000 price point, I would get the Panasonic GH2 for video before I bought a T3i. Here's why - unlimited video clip length (T3i has a 12 minute maximum) - viewfinder is usable while you're shooting video (T3i viewfinder goes black) - more efficient AVCHD video codec records video to Class 6 cards (T3i needs Class 10) - resolution better than Canon cams - and almost zero moire and aliasing (Canon cameras, outside of the $3500 5DMkIII have a problem with moire, shown here). Autofocus available in video mode with Panasonic/Olympus/Sigma system lenses (no autofocus in video mode with the Canons). The GH2 also has power zoom with Panasonic PZ lenses, while the T3i has no power zoom lenses. The T3i is, however, a slightly better still camera.
GH2 (straight out of camera): https://vimeo.com/21092959
GH2 (hacked for increased bitrate - amateur): https://vimeo.com/41379315

At the $1000 - $2000 price point, I recommend the Sony NEX-7 for both video and stills. The only other camera in this space that I would recommend is the Sony NEX-VG20 camcorder, which has about the same video image quality as the NEX-7, is better in low light than the GH2, and has unlimited clip length (the NEX-7 is limited to 30 minute clips). On the other hand, the NEX-VG20 has limited control of color in camera.
Here is what the NEX-7 can do: https://vimeo.com/34327108
Here is what the VG20 can do: https://vimeo.com/38673429

At $2000-$4000, I recommend the Panasonic AG-AF100 camcorder for digital filmmakers. Interchangeable lenses in a pro, large sensor camcorder. Pro sound with pro connectors. Built-in neutral density (ND) filter. Incrementally adjustable frame rates up to 60p for slow motion. Power zoom with Panasonic PZ lenses. Better for filmmakers than the great fixed lens camcorders in this price range due to better control of depth of field. Here is what the AF100 can do at the pro level: https://vimeo.com/22958276

Between $4000 and $10000, I would get the Sony NEX-FS100 and not the PMW-EX3. Better in low light than the AF100. This camera can almost see in the dark. Pro sound. Autofocuses in video mode. No power zoom or ND filter, though. Here is what can be done with it at the pro level: https://vimeo.com/39453069

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution


You pretty much made a very similar list that I was going to. Except The Sony Nex-5N would have been also one of the recommended cameras on the under $1,000 camera and it'd be above the 7n, which costs more. Low light is superior on it.

In the $3,000+ range the most absent camera is the most revolutionary camera probably ever announced. The BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera which shoots 2.5k Raw, 12-Bit Color with 13-Stops of Dynamic Range, 5" touch screen and includes $1,600 in free high end software for $2,995. No camera under $16,000 includes all of these features. Only one is the Red Scarlet and above.

Another good choice is the 5D Mark III in the $3,000 range....especially if you need to go wide, fast and have a great low light with customizable picture styles.

FS100U is a great choice for $4,000+ if skipping the BMC. Another good one is the new Sony FS700U which can shoot 240+ FPS for amazing slow mo....future 4K resolution. However, not much is known how much that firmware upgrade will cost and the fact that you can get a Black Magic Cinema Camera shooting RAW or prores + and FS100U for less than one FS700 is discouraging. lol
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post #8 of 25 Old 05-18-2012, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JjayJ View Post

Thanks for the help!! How are the stills for the Gh2 though? I understand that they aren't as impressive as the t3i but with the right settings would I still get quality pictures?

You should be able to get quality pics from it. It's not as good as a t2i or t3i, but it should be capable of nice image.

Also, remember to get good glass to shoot with and get a lighting kit. If you're shooting films you need this stuff as well.

Don't forget a shotgun microphone. You'll probably want to record audio separately on a Zoom H4n recorder and sync in post. You can record to both, but you'll want the manual audio of the Zoom to get that quality audio. T3i with a hack though can record good manual audio.
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post #9 of 25 Old 05-19-2012, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JjayJ View Post

Thanks for the help!! How are the stills for the Gh2 though? I understand that they aren't as impressive as the t3i but with the right settings would I still get quality pictures?

Yes, you can get quality still pictures with the GH2. I am a JPEG, not a RAW shooter, and my number one recommendation is to adjust the white balance away from the green and toward the magenta. I also shoot in the most colorful mode (Dynamic).

I'm not the best photographer, but now my results look like these:





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post #10 of 25 Old 06-02-2012, 10:29 AM
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So, how does the Panasonic GH2 stack up against the Sony NEX-5N?

I noticed the Sony can record at 1080p at up to 60 fps whereas the Panny only does 60i. Besides that, are their pluses/minuses I should look at?

Do both cameras capture and output true/native 1080p 24fps or is this frame rate converted to 60p or 60i using 2:3 pull-down (that would be a bummer)?

Some cameras will output video on their HDMI ports prior to internal compression. That would be great if I had a capture card to get RAW video off the camera, though I'm not expecting it on these more basic cameras.

I'm also trying to get a decently priced, quality video shooter with interchangeable lenses. Less sensor noise in low light situations would be a plus. Don't want to go over board (staying in the under $1,000 range, if possible) since I'm a newbie as well.

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post #11 of 25 Old 06-02-2012, 12:48 PM
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Dan - both are great cameras and can produce terrific video images in the right hands.

 

Here is a great mood piece shot with the 5N: [VIDEO]http://vimeo.com/31349130[/VIDEO]

 

Here is what the stock (unhacked) GH2 can do: [VIDEO]http://vimeo.com/39977657[/VIDEO]

 

And here is what the hacked GH1/GH2 can do: [VIDEO]http://vimeo.com/42107369[/VIDEO]

The GH2 does shoot true 24p (no pulldown), as well as 30p - in addition to 60i. The 5N shoots 24p and 60p only. I like 60p a lot, but 30p at 24mbps is pretty good (see the unhacked video above).

That said, for video, I would get the larger sensor $598 5N, and for video, I would get the $749 GH2. Here is why:

- the GH2 has 4-level manual control of audio - the 5N gives you no control of sound
- the GH2 has a 2.5mm mic input, easily adapted to standard 3.5 mm mics, the 5N has a proprietary hotshoe mic input, which can only be used with a $93 Sony ECM-SST1 mic
- the GH2's LCD can be rotated 180 degrees and turned to face forward for self-portraits and side angle shots, the 5N's LCD cannot
- the GH2 can shoot video clips of essentially unlimited length, the 5N has a 30 minute video clip length limit, and a tendency to overheat even before that point
- the GH2 has a built-in viewfinder, the 5N does not
- the GH2 has clean recordable HDMI out with no graphics or overlays (see this example and this one) - the 5N does not.

As I said, the 5N is a fine still and video camera, but it's not a very flexible production tool. If you want a Sony NEX that overcomes most of these challenges (except the 30 minute limit and the forward facing LCD), you should look at the $1198 Sony NEX-7

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
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post #12 of 25 Old 06-02-2012, 01:54 PM
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@Bill (brunerww)

I was also looking at the NEX 5 and 7 and the VG20. I'll be shooting an action sequence and am concerned about distortion (i.e. rolling shutter, etc) with fast moving in the frame (people running/dodging) and quick pans with the camera itself. Should I be worried using about either of these cameras?

Thanks!
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post #13 of 25 Old 06-02-2012, 06:26 PM
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c54 - all of these cameras have CMOS sensors and are subject to rolling shutter. But it can be managed. Here are action/fight scenes shot with these cameras plus the GH2:
GH2 action scene: http://vimeo.com/41180238
NEX-7 fight scene: http://vimeo.com/41885096
VG20 fast motorcycle ride through Singapore - no jello, but I do see moire on the building at 3:02 to 3:07: http://vimeo.com/37946194
VG20 fast BMX action: http://vimeo.com/32560389
Music video with fight scene shot with VG20 and 5N: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtaQsqqYH_0
BTS of fight sequence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4FqyBHGBrM

Cheers,

Bill
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post #14 of 25 Old 06-06-2012, 02:46 PM
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I'm in a quandary. I have limited funds (under $1,000) and am at a beginner's level of photography/cinematography skill... though I want to learn some of the various styles from documentaries, to nature, to scripted narratives.


The GH2 looks mighty tempting and the price is right for the body and basic 14-42mm lens kit. It has potential flexibility due to its interchangeable lens capabilities, ability to add good accessories like a Follow Focus later on, etc., but...

After reading countless forums it seems like there's a much larger initial cost associated with it to make the damn thing work and look better than the most basic camcorder that is actually even cheaper than the GH2 .

For instance, the better hack patches demand very expensive, fast SD cards to lower the possibility of (but not totally eliminate) crashes and write errors. In a long shoot, that would mean more than one.

Then you need to upgrade from the kit lens to get something halfway decent. That could require some big investments in an assortment of glass and adapters.

I can see the potential cost creep and I'd assume a $770 camera would soon become a $1,500 to $2,000 (or more) investment to push it past it's out of box performance and into the realm of a Canon 5D (and possibly beyond).

After investing a lot in the GH2, it's already a little long in the tooth. No 1080p/60 support, no clean HDMI output to capture, battery run time is limited, somewhat noisy and outdated MOS chip, wonky user interface, ISO bug, etc.

---

Then there is the Panasonic TM900 or X900M. I've seen them around the $900 mark. They have their own set of problems, though better for the "run n gun" or "nature" scenarios.

Fixed zoom lens (you're stuck with a wider DOF and it's very hard to get that scripted "movie" look). However, no more additional lenses to buy (or are there...?).

No apparent hack to increase the video bitrate beyond 28 Mbps for 1080p/60, though it does have the latter frame rate feature going for it. The final product won't look as good blown up due to more compression artifacting.

Low light shooting is a bit more fuzzy than some more expensive units.

Fan is a little on the noisy side.

---

I am aware that either a cheap DSLR/Micro 4/3 camera or a camcorder will require a separate digital recorder and mic to get the best audio, and a tripod or stabilizer rig. But I can always add those later.

Should I wait to see what the GH3 looks like... (it will have 1080p/60 and a new sensor) or perhaps it might end up costing even more than the GH2?

Any other suggestions or advice? I'm at a loss.

Thanks! smile.gif

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post #15 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 12:01 AM
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If you want a Sony that overcomes most of these challenges (except for the 30 minute clip length limit), you'll need to spend the money for a $1200 NEX-7
.


Hope this is helpful,


Bill


Well the NEX-7 overheats just as badly as the 5n - keep that in mind too.

Shawn
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post #16 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 01:37 AM
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Any other suggestions or advice? I'm at a loss.

Dan - I feel your pain. As someone who shoots with both the GH2 and the TM900, I would say that your analysis is spot on. The GH2 is the best bang for the buck - but the initial investment is only the start. Faster lenses, external recorders, high speed memory cards for high bit rates* - all cost money (not to mention lighting, tripod/steadicam, ND filters, etc.).

On the other hand, the TM900 is a great camcorder, and doesn't need a whole lot of accessories to produce terrific video - but its fixed lens is somewhat limiting and it doesn't produce that 'cinematic' shallow depth of field look.

My advice? Since the TM900 has now gone back up in price, and the X900 is at least $900, go ahead and spend the $800 for a GH2 14-42 kit and start shooting with it. You will learn a lot more from shooting than from poring over spec sheets and opinions on camcorder fora ;-)

If you really can't make a decision - try renting first. You can rent a GH2 and a lens from lensrentals for a week for about $170, including shipping.

Cheers,

Bill
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*only needed with the hack - part of the reason I have been reluctant to hack my camera - the stock Panasonic 24mbps HBR mode is fast enough for me - and does not require expensive cards.
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post #17 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 08:01 AM
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Bill,

What is your view on the lack of a 1080p/60 mode in the GH2? It definitely is a neat feature that improves greatly upon the standard "filmic" 1080p/24 rate from the downloads I've seen IMHO.

Any idea how the camera captures 1080i/60? In some scenarios if the video frame and field headers are being encoded a certain way (and they aren't pre-filtered in-camera to lessen interlaced artifacting) you can do a "perfect" de-interlacing and get real 1080p/60 output via software on your computer.

However, sometimes cameras will encode only 30 fps and "package" it in a 60 fps interlaced container. Obviously, you then couldn't extract real 60 fps progressive no matter what processing tricks you did.

Blu-ray players with AVCHD 2.0 can play back 1080p/60 recorded material.

In your honest opinion, how does the non-hacked, out-of-the-box GH2 with the basic kit lens (if you happen to have the LUMIX 14-42mm lens) perform PQ-wise (low-light, etc.) and compression artifact-wise vs. the TM900 and its fixed zoom lens?

Dan

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post #18 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 08:10 AM
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My GH2 has far better sharper quality than cams and cameras i have with 50P recording [pal area] on them.
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post #19 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 08:36 AM
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Flintyplus,

Non-hacked GH2, by any chance, or are you basing your view on a hacked version?

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post #20 of 25 Old 06-07-2012, 11:17 PM
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Never bothered hacking just the 1.1 update.
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post #21 of 25 Old 06-08-2012, 01:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

...
In your honest opinion, how does the non-hacked, out-of-the-box GH2 with the basic kit lens (if you happen to have the LUMIX 14-42mm lens) perform PQ-wise (low-light, etc.) and compression artifact-wise vs. the TM900 and its fixed zoom lens?...

Dan - When I need/want shallow DoF or when I want the flexibility to switch to a fast lens for low light, I prefer my GH2 and its 1080/30p high bit rate (HBR) mode over my TM900 and 1080/60p. I don't shoot 1080/60i unless I accidentally hit the little red button, so I have not tried to de-interlace 60i in post. Easier to just shoot in HBR :-) I have the Lumix 14-140mm kit lens, rather than the 14-42.

Here is an example of a vacation travelogue shot with HBR:

I am with flinty - I have not bothered with the hack either. With results like these, I don't need to, in my view.

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post #22 of 25 Old 06-08-2012, 06:43 AM
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Bill,

I think I'm being persuaded to go the GH2 route even with its various quirks. I'm a beginner and it certainly has some room to grow as I do.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that even the more "reasonable" hacks like the Vanilla 44 Mbps, Cake 2.x, newest Flow Motion, and Sanity 5 patches do quite noticeably improve upon the compression artifacting. They're reportedly stable too.

Just have to spend the money on the super-fast Sandisk Extreme Pro SD cards to do them without hiccups and allow for clip spanning. Always a catch. biggrin.gif

However, I have read a few new articles that state some of the lower bitrate patches may work on cheaper Class 10 cards as well.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #23 of 25 Old 06-08-2012, 11:46 PM
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Cant help with the hacks i have never found the need for them,i get no problems with my GH2 video,i personaly think its just that if you have a GH2 these days hacking is implanted in your brain,not mine.
Dont forget they can cause problems.
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post #24 of 25 Old 06-09-2012, 02:59 PM
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I use the hacks for the gigs I shoot so I'm definitely confident in a lot of them such as Sanity, Flow Motion, Cake or the intra hacks from Driftwood. When it comes to 24p some people might be happy enough since the detail level is already very high but when it comes to 720p, it did not change much from the GH1 so if you like to shoot in that mode, I'd strongly recommend hacking it. I don't think I'd ever want to shoot in non hacked 720p ever again. For the hacks that has trouble spanning, you can always choose the lower quality mode which is still higher quality than the stock high settings. I'm talking changing within the camera itself so it's a breeze to go from the high to moderate hack settings. For example an Intra hack that is over 170Mbps may or may not span and in situations like this, the hacker might have a lower 100Mbps Intra setting in the same hack which is selectable within the camera. I know I sort of said that already but that's in case someone doesn't get that.

Obviously the Sandisk 95 cards has solved the span issues in some of the top hacks but that card cost a lot. The 45 ones are to be avoided since some people noticed that the cheaper Extreme HD cards were better for the GH2.

This site will definitely explain everything:
http://personal-view.com/
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post #25 of 25 Old 06-09-2012, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira View Post

I use the hacks for the gigs I shoot so I'm definitely confident in a lot of them such as Sanity, Flow Motion, Cake or the intra hacks from Driftwood. When it comes to 24p some people might be happy enough since the detail level is already very high but when it comes to 720p, it did not change much from the GH1 so if you like to shoot in that mode, I'd strongly recommend hacking it. I don't think I'd ever want to shoot in non hacked 720p ever again. For the hacks that has trouble spanning, you can always choose the lower quality mode which is still higher quality than the stock high settings. I'm talking changing within the camera itself so it's a breeze to go from the high to moderate hack settings. For example an Intra hack that is over 170Mbps may or may not span and in situations like this, the hacker might have a lower 100Mbps Intra setting in the same hack which is selectable within the camera. I know I sort of said that already but that's in case someone doesn't get that.
Obviously the Sandisk 95 cards has solved the span issues in some of the top hacks but that card cost a lot. The 45 ones are to be avoided since some people noticed that the cheaper Extreme HD cards were better for the GH2.
This site will definitely explain everything:
http://personal-view.com/

Looks like they're still debating whether 45 MBps Scandisk Extreme cards are decent for at least the lower bitrate hacks. Spanning, of course, only seems to work reliably on the 95 MBps Extreme Pro cards, which are fracking expensive. I won't be hacking until I get used to the camera and have more money to burn. biggrin.gif So, it looks like for the price I'll just start with one 45 MBps card as I'm sure it would work with the out-of-the-box camera.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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