Camera debate: Canon G20, JVC GC-PX100 or Panasonic HC-X920 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 07-12-2013, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I'm getting a camera for my school and debating the options. I did a couple years of videography and enjoyed the PD150 in the SD days. So, here are my needs:

- primary purpose is filming low-light concerts and plays,
- quality sound of those concerts and plays - mic input or sound in needed,
- editing will be done on Macs, probably iMovie 9 and iMovie HD 6. I might use FCExpress 3.5. For the older software, I was drawn to a camera that created more than AVCHD formats for quicker editing. Transcoding is not desirable.
- max price $1000 - $1200
- ease of use for other staff members

I was steered toward the Canon G20 by a B&H rep but a forum posted alerted readers that the G20 does not do 60p saying it looks inferior on his HDTV. I was liking the X920 except when one poster complained about the lack of full manual. I'm not sure how important it is for the school, but I do like to create a narrow depth of field - probably not a crucial issue.

I appreciate your thoughts comparing these cameras.
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post #2 of 25 Old 07-13-2013, 11:58 AM
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GKolor,

I can not speak for anything other than the JVC stated above. I too, searched for a camera and included your trio of cameras. After months of reading forums, watching videos, and debating with my wife on how much to spend on a camera, I chose the JVC for its capability to do way more than the other camera choices. I really could not tell, based on YouTube videos which camera is better as there were few out at the time (for the JVC). So chose based on gut and return policy. Costco had the JVC for $899 with a 32Gb card and extra battery. Their return policy of 90 days is VERY lenient. If you do not like it, just return it to a Costco near you without a hassle.

I liked mine and therefore kept it. Before I go on about how nice it is, I will point out the faults and fixes which are numerous.

1) Chromatic aberration is terrible in certain conditions // Don't shoot in those conditions
2) Has noted issues with Final Cut // Don't use FC
3) Zoom rocker squeaks like a horror movie door // Graphite is awesome!
4) Wireless is kinda slow and therefore pointless IMO
5) Zoom can be jittery without practice //practice before you use it



The camera is pleasing to the eye and touch. Balanced perfectly in the palm of my hand, the controls are easy to reach and use. The access to the controls VIA knobs is one of the reasons I picked this camera over the others. I can change settings on the fly in a short time as opposed to searching for similar options on a buried menu of a touch screen.

The sound this records is spectacular. Expect a full range of stereo recording on the provided internal mics. There is an adjustable gain (+2 -2) that will limit distortion.

There are many videos out now for the JVC GC PX100. You are certainly better off for getting what you want now. If you have other questions or wish for a demo of a specific option, write me in my YouTube channel "PerspicuousBreeze".
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post #3 of 25 Old 07-13-2013, 04:53 PM
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Welcome to both of you!

It is not a busy day on this forum, so I'll take a whack at an answer so you'll have one. I'm going to come from a non-technical direction that is more about people than camera specifications.

Nobody anywhere is likely to own all three of your choices. So, your not going to get much technical review based on the way you asked the question.

You say you are buying for a school and will be sharing with other staff members. When you are buying for other people, with other peoples money, you should consider buying "mainstream" and "brand name" quality. Stuff happens and you don't want to be defending any unusual choices.

Canon and Panasonic are more in line for as front row mainstream brands than JVC. Canon is one of the two kings for DSLRs, not consumer video cameras. Of the three, my view is Panasonic is the leader of the three for consumer camcorders.

The mainstream video format standard, related to the wide adoption of Blu-Ray and the current crop of TVs, is AVCHD 2.0 that includes 1080p60 as a setting choice. Canon weaves around their description of HD, tries to make it sound like AVCHD but does not fully buy into the AVCHD standard.

So, if I have anything to do with it, you will buy the Panasonic HC-X920. It is the most mainstream, high quality, easy to use consumer priced camcorder on your list.

Will it do the job for a school?
  • Multiple users? Yes, it has a terrific full automatic ("iA") mode that anybody can get good video with.
  • Multiple formats? It has full AVCHD. It also has "iFrame" a MP4 variation for Apple iMovie addicts.
  • Concerts and Plays? Those are not "low light". They are well lit so people in the audience can see. All three of these and most any other current camera or camcorder will record school stage events without any difficulty.
  • Sound quality? There is none in a boxy room built for basketball. The X-920 will record the sound present in the room in 5.1 Dolby. If the school does have a sound system that can be (skillfully) tapped into, there is a mic input and headphones output for quality checks during recording. (Gymnasium sound will be your biggest problem.)
  • Full manual control? Any of the amateur staff members that try to fiddle with that on an occasional use basis will make the resulting video worse, not better. Full manual control is for do it every day professionals and gear heads, not education professionals that should concentrate on the students. You want this to be easier to use than a teacher's iphone and with better results. The X-920 has enough manual control to handle truly unusual video situations or entertain you if you want to be a gear head once in awhile.
  • Narrow depth of field? It is a wonderful thing for art films and photos. Getting it right in school concerts it is not such a good thing. You won't get a lot of it (under the laws of light, optics and physics) until you get a camera with a big diameter lens like an expensive pro camcorder or an awkward (for video) DSLR. The X-920 will allow you to manually open the lens as far as it will go and adjust shutter speed automatically to get the exposure right.
  • Transcoding? That has nothing to do with the camera, it is about the editing software. Skilled videographers would much rather add quality to their video with grading, trimming, transitions and effects than limit themselves to clips glued together without a little manipulation. AFAIK, you will have to buy a PC that will run HDWriter (that comes with the x920) or "TMPGEnc MPEG Smart Renderer 4". Neither runs on a Mac.
  • Long concerts and plays? Most video that people can watch without getting bored to death are under 10 minutes. If you really are going to produce full length concerts and plays on video, you need a BIG battery or be able to plug in to 120 wall sockets. If the x920 is the same as the earlier model I own, it comes with a power cord that can be used in place of the batter. The limit is then only the memory card that can now be so big you could get between 5 and 27 hours of video.


Good luck!

Bill
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post #4 of 25 Old 07-14-2013, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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PerspicuousBree,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It is helpful for me.
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post #5 of 25 Old 07-14-2013, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by gkolar View Post

PerspicuousBree,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It is helpful for me.

So, what are you going to buy?
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post #6 of 25 Old 07-15-2013, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Bill,

Thank you for such a detailed response. If you saw my school's stage, you'd see that the lighting is pathetic and most actors are covered with shadows. Boxy gym - true, but there has to be a difference between horrible sound and less horrible sound. LOL. My careful work with a sound system does improve the presented sound. I appreciate your response on full manual - its the geeky & photographer side of me that wants TOTAL CONTROL. But in reality, I probably wouldn't use it much except for specialized student movie projects.

So if I record in iFrame mode, aren't I loosing a lot of pixels going from 1080p to 720p?

Also, when using the AC cord with the camera, if AC fails, will the camera automatically switch to battery without any frame loss?

Greg
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post #7 of 25 Old 07-20-2013, 08:24 PM
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"So if I record in iFrame mode, aren't I loosing a lot of pixels going from 1080p to 720p?"

Yes, BUT the default capture mode for this camera is 1080p60 anyway which can be edited in iMovie, either on the Mac OR the iPad. As they are standard MP4 files, you should be able to use them anywhere, but I haven't tried them on a Windows OS. There will be some transcoding if you use 1080, but nothing like what you'd get coming from AVCHD. IFrame is an option, but I don't think you'll need it.

Regarding power, I don't think I've ever tried that. If I had to guess (until I get to try it), its likely ALWAYS running from the battery if one is present and disconnecting the power just means your battery won't charge. I predict there won't be a frame loss. Also, this camera isn't the all-seeing-eye in low light situations, but it does a pretty good job in some pretty bad situations. The marginal light you have available should help it greatly.
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post #8 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fairly Whale View Post

likely ALWAYS running from the battery if one is present and disconnecting the power just means your battery won't charge. I predict there won't be a frame loss.

There is no frame loss BUT if the camera is "on", it doesn't appear to charge the battery. So, if you've got very little charge left, then you plug in, you can still record. But if you lose power, you will be back at the low charge state you were in before you plugged in. Additionally, there is an indicator on the screen to let you know when you've lost power, so if power does go flaky, you'll be aware.
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post #9 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 09:37 AM
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I don't think that iMovie can edit 1080p60 natively. I am not sure it can even open it for conversion. Apple created iFrame so that its pathetic excuse for free editing system, that is iMovie, could open it. I presume iMovie can edit iFrame natively. iFrame has originally been 960x540 @ 28 Mbit/s intraframe, but it seems that Apple recently beefed up the specs to 720p @ 40 Mbit/s. I've seem videos made with the former - it barely looks like SD. The latter I suppose should look like early HDV stuff. That is some progress: 40 Mbit/s AVC having the same quality as with 25 Mbit/s MPEG-2. But it is intra; iFrame seems to choke hard on interframe content.
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post #10 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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PerspicuousBree and all,

I've chosen the Panasonic X920. The JVC certainly had my attention, but the sway away from Final Cut was a big issue since my school is Mac based and I'm experienced in FC. The Panasonic looks like a quality camcorder that will do well for the school.

Thanks to all who weighed in.

Greg
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post #11 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

I don't think that iMovie can edit 1080p60 natively.
It does. What you've heard about iMovie not editing 1080p60 is likely related to AVCHD which was never designed for 60p anyway. You can definitely open and edit 1080p60 mpeg4 files with no problem.
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post #12 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gkolar View Post

I've chosen the Panasonic X920. The JVC certainly had my attention, but the sway away from Final Cut was a big issue since my school is Mac based and I'm experienced in FC. The Panasonic looks like a quality camcorder that will do well for the school.
Congratulations!! smile.gif Great thing about this year is that you can't really go wrong with any of this year's flagship cameras. I didn't have a problem with Final Cut when using this camera, but I've done all my editing in the default mpeg4 mode.
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post #13 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

I don't think that iMovie can edit 1080p60 natively.
It does. What you've heard about iMovie not editing 1080p60 is likely related to AVCHD which was never designed for 60p anyway. You can definitely open and edit 1080p60 mpeg4 files with no problem.
There is nothing with AVCHD that makes it "never designed for 60p". It is just a container. In case of AVCHD there is a file container (MPEG-2 TS) and a directory structure that comes with it. In case of a simple MP4 file the container is just the file. This does not mean that MP4 cannot use file structure, for example XDCAM EX uses MP4 files and an elaborate directory structure with metadata.

So it is quite surprising to me that iMovie can handle 1080p60 AVC encoding in MP4 container but cannot handle the same encoding in MPEG-2 TS container. If anything, working with encoded data is much harder than parsing a container.

Are you saying that iMovie can natively edit 1080p60 MP4 (which is, in Apple's terminology, is probably called iFrame), or it can only open it, but still requires converting to something like AIC for editing?
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post #14 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 05:53 PM
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People have been using Clipwrap for their 1080 60p files when editing in software made by Apple.
http://www.divergentmedia.com/clipwrap

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post #15 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

Are you saying that iMovie can natively edit 1080p60 MP4 (which is, in Apple's terminology, is probably called iFrame), or it can only open it, but still requires converting to something like AIC for editing?

iMovie can not natively edit 1080p60 mp4 (although there are supposedly hacks to allow it to work in 108060p. I have not tried such hacks.

iFrame is not 1080p60 mp4, which is normally an inter frame format (that is, upon decoding, a frame needs to be reconstructed from earlier and later frames.) iFrame is an intra frame format, that is, each frame stands alone, and can be more quickly decoded, but at the expense of more storage space. The consumer cameras that I am familiar with that use iFrame have been limited to 960X540 format. That might work for some purposes. Personally I would like consumer camcorders to use an intra frame format at 1080 60p. This would result in huge file sizes, but SD cards are inexpensive, and disk storage is cheap. However, I am not aware of any consumer camcorders that do that. On the pro side, things are different.

Some pro cameras can record in Apple ProRes formats, which are similar to iFrame in that that they are intra frame formats, but at much higher data rates and full 1080 or even 4K resolution, in some cases up to 4:4:4 sampling. The file sizes are huge, but are immediately ready for responsive editing, even with multiple streams.
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post #16 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 06:42 PM
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iMovie can not natively edit 1080p60 mp4 (although there are supposedly hacks to allow it to work in 108060p. I have not tried such hacks.

iFrame is not 1080p60 mp4...
Right, brain freeze. iFrame was originally 960x540 @ 30 fps, progressive @ 28 Mbit/s. Apparently Apple beefed it up to 720p @ 40 Mbit/s. Strange that I cannot find full official specs of iFrame.

So can iMovie edit iFrame natively? I suppose it can, AFAIK this is the format designed specifically for iMovie. Can it edit non-1080p60 AVCHD natively?
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post #17 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 11:40 PM
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There is nothing with AVCHD that makes it "never designed for 60p". It is just a container.
Sorry about that. I remembered reading a snippet of something awhile back about problems with AVCHD doing 60p. It was NOT characterized as "never designed for" but I presented it as such, sorry.


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So it is quite surprising to me that iMovie can handle 1080p60 AVC encoding in MP4 container but cannot handle the same encoding in MPEG-2 TS container.
From what I've read, Apple supports AVCHD import at 60p for Final Cut Pro, but not for iMovie. That may be due to licensing costs that they don't mind paying for the Pro software.


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Are you saying that iMovie can natively edit 1080p60 MP4, or it can only open it, but still requires converting to something like AIC for editing?
While I did indicate that there was transcoding in my first reply, I wasn't at all clear on the follow up answer. It DOES transcode to AIC (double checked on an import just now). The primary difference between AVCHD and MP4, then, would be that iMovie supports (that is, converts to AIC) MP4 at 60p, but does not import AVCHD at 60p. AVCHD at 30P is no problem for iMovie.
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post #18 of 25 Old 07-24-2013, 11:52 PM
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Just did another check… iMovie converts iFrame 720p to Intermediate as well. It doesn't look like it officially supports anything "natively". I'll need to test convert a one hour file to see if the import is any quicker with one or the other (at the small size of my test files, they're both quick). So, everything gets converted to AIC, but iMovie will not convert 60p AVCHD to AIC.
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post #19 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 04:23 AM
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Just did another check… iMovie converts iFrame 720p to Intermediate as well. It doesn't look like it officially supports anything "natively". I'll need to test convert a one hour file to see if the import is any quicker with one or the other (at the small size of my test files, they're both quick). So, everything gets converted to AIC, but iMovie will not convert 60p AVCHD to AIC.

In the past, I had two cameras that, among other formats, could shoot in 960X540 iFrame, the Sanyo FH1A and the Nikon AW100. I have some footage on my computer that I copied from the memory cards of the cameras. I just tried importing the footage into iMovie to edit it, and there is absolutely no conversion or transcoding taking place. You can choose to either import the movies into iMovie by either moving them or copying them. The copies are identical to the original footage, so no transcoding or conversion is taking place. That is the whole point of using the iFrame format - for quick import and editing in iMovie, without conversion. As far as I can tell, the iFrame format is basically the same as 960X540 AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec). I don't normally use iFrame, as I generally want higher resolution than 960X540 for most projects.

As for iFrame 720p being converted or transcoded in iMovie, I don't have any such footage (the AW100 and the FH1A only shoot 960X540 iFrame), so can't test it. My guess is that it might be converted under some circumstances, depending on your import settings or project settings (960X540 or 1920X1090). But then that defeats the whole purpose of using iFrame in the first place.

I have been shooting AVCHD 1080 60p with a variety of Sony cameras (HX9V, HX30V and GW77) and using ClipWrap to convert to 60p AIC for import into iMovie, and potentially into FCPX if I decide to go that route. It converts faster than real time on my MBP (roughly twice as fast as realtime), so it really isn't an issue. Importing the converted AIC footage into iMovie is easy, and you get fast and responsive editing. The AIC footage takes up far more space than AVCHD, but storage is cheap - I just bought a Seagate 3 TB USB 3 drive at Costco for $100.

Edited to add: So iMovie does support 960X540 iFrame footage natively, and it appears that footage is essentially the same as AIC format. Again, that it the whole point of shooting in iFrame, so that iMovie can edit the footage natively and responsively.
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post #20 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 06:49 AM
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So iMovie does support 960X540 iFrame footage natively, and it appears that footage is essentially the same as AIC format. Again, that it the whole point of shooting in iFrame, so that iMovie can edit the footage natively and responsively.
Found it! During the import for another project, I had "Optimize Video" selected. SO I can now confirm that the content below does NOT transcode when imported into iMovie.

1080p60 MP4
iFrame 540 (I own an fh1a as well)
iFrame 720

If you're using iMovie and you want to shoot 60p with no transcoding (and not having to make any additional purchases), it looks like the px100 is the only one that can accomplish that. Sony's and Panasonic's cameras won't capture MP4 at 60p

So iMovie does support 960X540 and 1280X720 iFrame footage natively AND also 1080p MP4 from the px100 and fh1a. Generating the thumbnails does add time to the import, though.
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post #21 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 09:42 AM
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Thanks for doing the research. We need to put it into some sort of a reference thread. Maybe make it sticky.

BTW, new Canons shoot 1080p60 @ 35 Mbit/s in MP4 container, I wonder whether this would work in iMovie.
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post #22 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
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As far as I can tell, the iFrame format is basically the same as 960X540 AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec).
I don't think so. AIC was introduced in times (or even before) of HDV, which is MPEG-2 Part 2. This was at least 10 years ago. I don't think that AIC is a so forward-looking codec to use AVC encoding, whereas iFrame uses AVC encoding.
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post #23 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 02:24 PM
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BTW, new Canons shoot 1080p60 @ 35 Mbit/s in MP4 container, I wonder whether this would work in iMovie.

Ah, right. I was looking at that one, but I was focused on getting a Hybrid camera/camcorder and the Canon was Camcorder only. I'll see if I can find a shop nearby that has one. Have SD card will record! smile.gif
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post #24 of 25 Old 07-25-2013, 05:33 PM
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I don't think so. AIC was introduced in times (or even before) of HDV, which is MPEG-2 Part 2. This was at least 10 years ago. I don't think that AIC is a so forward-looking codec to use AVC encoding, whereas iFrame uses AVC encoding.

You are correct. iFrame is NOT basically the same as AIC. There are major differences, as you point out. What is the same about them is that they are both intraframe formats (no temporal compression), and that they both ingest without transcoding and edit smoothly in iMovie, even on modest processor machines.
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post #25 of 25 Old 07-27-2013, 11:21 AM
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BTW, new Canons shoot 1080p60 @ 35 Mbit/s in MP4 container, I wonder whether this would work in iMovie.
Canon Vixia HF R42, 1080p60 is supported natively. I do really have to do a side by side comparison of iFrame versus MP4 to see if creating the thumbnails takes more time with MP4 than iFrame. I'm sure there's a thread here that goes over the benefits of AVCHD over MP4, so I'm going to go look for one of those now. smile.gif

Just wondering if there's any case where I would recommend someone shoot in AVCHD over MP4 if both are available at the same 1080p60.
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