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$2,500 Camcoder Budget, but frustrated

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Currently I own a Canon Vixia HF11, which is has been decent, but I'm frustrated with the lack of manual controls and DOF control.

I am an amateur photographer I shoot with a Nikon D700 camera, and mostly prime lenses as I love shallow depth of field and creamy bokeh.

The dilemma is: I want a smallish camcorder with excellent manual controls (not buried in menus, specifically focus and exposure.) and good DOF control. The lack of easy exposure control is probably my biggest pet peave with most camcorders as I feel many shots are incorrectly exposed (typically over exposed in the case of Canon.)

Anyway, I don't want a DSLR as I have one, I want full time autofocus and decent sound without having to rig up some strange beast.

I have looked at the Sony VG20, but the Eseries mount lenses are limited and even some of the 50mm 1.8 looks soft wide open; also the manual controls might be sub par with a wheel on the bottom, so I'm not certain about it.

The XF100 looks like what might work, but again, not sure about how the dedicated lens could control DOF, I can't find much on that issue.

The G10 seems ok, but I've heard terrible wind sound on the stock mics and it really doesn't have good DOF.

Not sure about the XA10...

So, to some up, I am looking for a camcorder with:
DOF Control
Decent on board mic (I don't really use XLR)
Easy manual controls for Focus, exposure, gain, apperature, shutter
Small
Obviously good image quality and low light capability
I'm pickly about lenses, they need to be fast and have no barrel distortion
Around $2,500 or less.


FYI - I don't make anything professionally, I just like to make videos of my family, vacations, etc and it is a hobby to me - also I edit all video in Vegas Pro.


Thanks for any input or recomendations.
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 
Sorry about the poor grammar and spelling, I'm drinking wine smile.gif
post #3 of 20
seabert - the only way to get shallow depth of field with a small sensor camcorder like the XF100 is to use the long end of the telephoto, as in this video: https://vimeo.com/37103979

The depth of field control you have with your Nikon D700 is the result of the size of the camera's full frame sensor. Within $1000 of your price point ($2500), if you want shallow depth of field with a camcorder, your choices are pretty much limited to the $1600 VG20, the $3670 Panasonic AG-AF100, and the soon to be released $2995 BlackMagic Cinema Camera.

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
post #4 of 20
I bought the Sony HXR-NX30. A ND filter can help the DOF but I agree with brunerww, there is no miracle with small sensors.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the posts.

I have looked at the AF100 in the past and it does produce great video. The deal killer for me is it is too darn big.

The Sony VG20 really has weak lens choices (seriously only a 3.5 max apperature on a 50mm equivalent...) and I'm not committed to buying lenes that will probably decrease heavily in value and that I may not use in the future.

So, I guess I will have to live without DOF control in video.

In light of this, which camcorder would you get?

The main features in order of importance are:
1. Easy manual controls for exposure, focus, gain
2. Good video and low light quality
3. Audio quality
4. Size and handling (small)

Thanks again.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by seaberttheseal View Post

Thanks for the posts.
I have looked at the AF100 in the past and it does produce great video. The deal killer for me is it is too darn big.
The Sony VG20 really has weak lens choices (seriously only a 3.5 max apperature on a 50mm equivalent...) and I'm not committed to buying lenes that will probably decrease heavily in value and that I may not use in the future.
So, I guess I will have to live without DOF control in video.
In light of this, which camcorder would you get?
The main features in order of importance are:
1. Easy manual controls for exposure, focus, gain
2. Good video and low light quality
3. Audio quality
4. Size and handling (small)
Thanks again.

seaber - did you know that you can put Minolta/Sony Alpha lenses with full autofocus and autoaperture functions on the $1600 NEX-VG20 with a $275 LA-EA2 adapter? There is a lot of high quality Zeiss glass for the Sony system, to include this new $1100 24mm f1.8 for E mount, or this $1325 24mm f2.0 for Alpha mount.. These lenses have a wider max aperture than what you will see on fixed lens camcorders.

If the prices for Sony lenses are too high, you can always get something like a full auto $199 Sigma 19mm f2.8. Sigma and several other third party manufacturers have announced that they are committed to producing lenses for the NEX system. In my view, the "NEX lens shortage" is a thing of the past.

With interchangeable lenses and adapters, there are almost infinite lens choices for the VG20.

If you're still interested in a fixed lens, small sensor camcorder for less than $2500, I would take a serious look at the $2000 Sony HXR-NX30. It is an incredible gyro stabilized optical steady shot camera. Here's what it can do: https://vimeo.com/39824407

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Bill, thanks for the thoughtful post.

Unfortunately, the LA-EA2 adapter causes 30% reduction in light, which is not so hot. The Zeiss and Sigma lenses in the 35mm range are good, which I would get, however, in the 50mm equivalent range, which is my staple FL, there is no 1.4-2 aperture range… There is quite a difference in the look between shooting a 50mm FL at 1.4 or 1.8 to 2.5 and above. The current lenses don’t offer that.

Slimoli and Bill, I am looking at the HXR-NX30 under your recommendation. Can you tell me how manual controls are on the camera and how practical they are to use when shooting? No one seems to specifically talk about this. Again, not to be a broken record, but the ability to easily change exposure (not in menus) when shooting is my biggest concern.
post #8 of 20
The Sony HXR-NX30 has one small dial that you use to focus or change "exposure". You have to first shift (by a button press) the mode of that dial to one of the uses. You *cannot*, however, independently set iris, shutter and gain - there is no full manual mode.

The new Panasonic AG AC90 just announced appears to be just what you are looking for: it has three independent rings on the lens - one if which is dedicated to iris. It has professional audio inputs (XLRs), scene settings, timecode, etc. and is a handheld camera, not shoulder mount. Full manual control of everything independetly. Lots of buttons on the body for other settings, hardly need to go into any menu. I have the 3D version (Z10000).


http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/15/panasonic-ag-ac90-professional-camcorder/
post #9 of 20
I would have bought the AC90 instead but it will only be available in December and I need the camera now.
post #10 of 20
Hi seabert - completely understand your light loss concern with the LA-EA2. But if light loss is your primary concern, you might want to look at the $140 LA-EA1. There's no translucent mirror, so there's no light loss. That said, autofocus is not as fast as with LA-EA2

With the VG20, LA-EA1 and a $218 Sony Alpha 35mm f1.8 or $479 Rokinon 35mm f1.4 or one of the new $549 Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses, you would have the focal length and aperture you're looking for.

And you would have full separate manual control of iris and shutter speed! wink.gif

Otherwise, I agree with Mark and Slimoli - the Panasonic AG-AC90 looks like it is at your price point and has the features you're looking for, but you'll have to wait a few months until it is released. And I would personally wait a little longer until after the reviews and first footage start rolling in.

Cheers and good luck again with your decision,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
Edited by brunerww - 8/21/12 at 8:10am
post #11 of 20
You aren't going to get much DOF control with the Panasonic AG-AC90 and its tiny 1/4.7" sensors. That's smaller than the 1/4.1" sensors in Panasonic's consumer camcorders! I think your best bet today is a hacked GH2 with a Rode VideoMic Pro. With a good native m43rds lens, that gives you everything you've asked for.
post #12 of 20
My recommendation is to get a decent camcorder like the GH10 and get a 35mm adapter like the Letus 35 Extreme ($540) or the Letus 35 Elite ($960). That way you will get good imaging and the DOF you require with the lens of your choice. Many, many people, professional and prosumer alike use this type of setup. Works great, search Vimeo, YouTube and the webs for samples. You'd be highly impressed, guaranteed. :-)

If not, cam choices I'd recommend:
  • Sony NX70 ~$2,700 (with $300 mail in rebate)
  • JVC GY0-HM150 ~$2,500
  • Panasonic AG-AC120 ~$2,600
  • Panasonic AG-HMC40 ~$1,800

The best for DOF is the VG20 and you could always get a lens adapter to use Nikon or other lenses.

Good luck.
Edited by Troy LaMont - 8/22/12 at 10:15am
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Bill,

Thank for the comments on the other adapter - I read the reviews a good portion of them talk about how painfully slow the autofocus is. It's probably not my best best.

Tony,

I have used a DOF adapter on my Vixia HF 11. The problem is severe vignetting, you have to zoom up, typcailly losing wide angle, and no autofocus (although you do get good DOF.) and you might to hack the thing so it's not upside down. So, I'm done with those...

I think I am going to have to abandon DOF for other features.

I'm going to look into the options on the other cams and spend some time look at everyone's suggestions.

SonyNX30 - I am really intruiged by the Sony's special stabilization system.
•Sony NX70 ~$2,700 (with $300 mail in rebate)
•JVC GY0-HM150 ~$2,500
•Panasonic AG-AC120 ~$2,600
•Panasonic AG-HMC40 ~$1,800
AC90


Thanks, I'll be back with some questions....
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok, I've circled back.

Doing a lot of research on features and video quality - I really like the XF100. My only drawback is the size of the camera compared to the consumer ones like the G10 and TM900 etc.

The XF100 dynamic range is stunning - it makes all the consumer camcorders look murky. The best video comparison of the xa10 to the Xf100 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWLL-zjSkYA. I am really impressed with the XF100.

Any inputs on weather you would choose something other than the XF100?
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by seaberttheseal View Post

......Any inputs on weather you would choose something other than the XF100?

Cut and pasted from the description at Amazon: "60p Frame Rate (Available in 720p Mode Only)" Nor does it use common SD cards.

So, if you are shooting for broadcast network TV, YouTube or Vimeo it won't matter much. If you are shooting to watch at home on a 1080 HD TV or projector, you might want more than 720p. To get 1080 the XF100 has to use interlacing.

I don't know about compact flash cards or what they fit in, but I do know SD cards can be used in BD Players, USB readers and most laptops. And, you can buy them anywhere and everywhere if you need more "film".
Edited by bsprague - 8/30/12 at 7:27am
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Yes, I am aware of the 60p at 720, which is a slight negative, but ok. Unfortunately, every camcorder has some issue and the XF100 seems to be the best overall fit in this price range. (Also, don't flame me, but I cannot tell much difference between 720 and full 1080 on a HD TV...)

The CF cards aren't a big deal either, i fact I prefer them, the transfer rates on dowloading to computer are much higher. I already have them for my D700. I know they do cost more.

The only real reservation is the size... it's the same when I think to take a point and shoot camera vs my d700. I ca regret not taking the d700 when I get the pictures back from my point and shoot, and can be annoyed when I take the d700 places where I would just when to fit the camera i my short pocket (I can fit a small camcorder in my cargo short pocket or wife's purse.) It's the quality vs convienence issue.

If I get the XF100 I would be taking my photography backpack with the camcorder, which is comfortable, but not preferred to sticking the camcorder in my wife's purse. Maybe the solution is for my wife to get a bigger purse smile.gif

I'm leaing toward lugging the xf100 around as I really do like higher quality pictures and videos.
post #17 of 20
Sony announced a direct competitor to the XF100: the PMW-100, almost tooth for tooth in comparison to the XF105. Just FYI if you're a Sony man. I think it's slightly more expensive but like I said it's more on par with the XF105.

On another note, shooting 1080i @ 50Mbs isn't the same as shooting with a lesser bitrate, I'm sure the image quality would equal or rival most broadcast 1080i images..

Happy shooting.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy LaMont View Post

Sony announced a direct competitor to the XF100: the PMW-100, almost tooth for tooth in comparison to the XF105. Just FYI if you're a Sony man. I think it's slightly more expensive but like I said it's more on par with the XF105.
On another note, shooting 1080i @ 50Mbs isn't the same as shooting with a lesser bitrate, I'm sure the image quality would equal or rival most broadcast 1080i images..
Happy shooting.

The challenge, as you said, is that the Sony is more expensive ($3500 for the PMW-100 and $3000 for the XF100) - while seaber's budget started out at $2500.

Looking at the two cameras side-by-side, it looks like you're essentially paying $500 more for a mic and SDI out with the Sony. If you get the XF100, you can buy your own mic, and with 50mbps recording, you don't really need SDI out to an external recorder smile.gif

Cheers,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
post #19 of 20
Hello. I'm in a similar situation. I need help settling on a camcorder for between $2000-2500.

The Sony HXR-NX30 looked good for awhile at $1999 and with XLR & other professional audio features. But the HXR-NX70 is $2,499 after a rebate through 9/30 (two days left, so I may need to figure this out quick); http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/761581-REG/Sony_HXR_NX70U_HXR_NX70_Compact_Dust_and.html. Now I see in a month Panasonic is releasing the AG-AC90 for $1999; http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/893072-REG/Panasonic_agac90pj_AG_AC90_AVCCAM_Handheld_Camcorder.html.

Are these good and ultimately safe options to consider? I'm under the impression the Sony's have some of the best stabilization technology on the market, and between the two the HXR-NX30 lacks some manual fine tuning on the lens and settings. Is the HXR-NX70 worth $500 more? It sounds like Panasonic's have a superior image with their 3MOS sensor technology but lack with DOF. Sans the shotgun mic, is the AG-AC90 comparable to the HXR-NX70, or is it closer to being in between the NX30 & NX70? Is it a better option to purchase the NX70 within 48 hours for $2499, or wait a month and buy the AG-AC90 for $1999 and buy a shotgun mic separately?
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by henry_the_horse View Post

Hello. I'm in a similar situation. I need help settling on a camcorder for between $2000-2500.
The Sony HXR-NX30 looked good for awhile at $1999 and with XLR & other professional audio features. But the HXR-NX70 is $2,499 after a rebate through 9/30 (two days left, so I may need to figure this out quick); http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/761581-REG/Sony_HXR_NX70U_HXR_NX70_Compact_Dust_and.html. Now I see in a month Panasonic is releasing the AG-AC90 for $1999; http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/893072-REG/Panasonic_agac90pj_AG_AC90_AVCCAM_Handheld_Camcorder.html.
Are these good and ultimately safe options to consider? I'm under the impression the Sony's have some of the best stabilization technology on the market, and between the two the HXR-NX30 lacks some manual fine tuning on the lens and settings. Is the HXR-NX70 worth $500 more? It sounds like Panasonic's have a superior image with their 3MOS sensor technology but lack with DOF. Sans the shotgun mic, is the AG-AC90 comparable to the HXR-NX70, or is it closer to being in between the NX30 & NX70? Is it a better option to purchase the NX70 within 48 hours for $2499, or wait a month and buy the AG-AC90 for $1999 and buy a shotgun mic separately?

I bought the NX30 and so far very happy. The NX70 is basically the same camera with better manual control but there is a lot of people complaining about the zoom switch, even after the latest firmware upgrade. The fact the NX70 is dust and rainproof can make a difference if you need that. For 500 bucks more I would go with the NX70 but this model is more than a year old and we should see a replacement soon.

The picture quality of almost all these new AVCHD 1080p camcorders is about the same but for me the 26mm wide-angle lens on the Sony made my choice easy.
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