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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My old Canon HV20 has finally gone to that great fade-to-black in the sky and I want to take a step up from it.


My main use for my new camcorder will be to add some motion to my model and dance photography which is currently stills. See my work in the last five galleries at pnart.com (warning: some NSFW). I will probably also travel with it and use it for personal work. I have a D800 which takes great, almost cinematic quality, video but I can't stand the ergonomics of shooting video with an SLR. So I want a camcorder form factor, and something small enough to shoot run-n-gun style with.


I was looking at the Canon XA20 - it's small and light and cheap (~$2000 in the US), and it's got a 20X zoom, and built-in overcranking for 60p at full HD. But after looking at hours of videos made with it I've come to two conclusions:

1. Videos taken with it have that "small sensor look" - too much depth of field ( everything is in focus at the same time) and too little dynamic range ( blown-out highlights on many sunny-day shots, and loss of shadow detail).

2. The lens has lots of visible CA, vignetting, and lens-flare. Look: making a 20X zoom requires a ton of compromise. I've got professional 3X zooms for my DSLRs that cost more than the entire XA20. Trying to make the entire camcorder, lens and all, come in at that price requires cutting too many corners.


So what would be a step up if I was willing to part with more cash, ($3K? $4K?) but I still want to retain a relatively small light camcorder format? ( a little bigger is OK, but nothing that requires a shoulder mount or wearing special gear) I'm looking for a bigger sensor, and better quality optics (10x zoom is OK) and I don't want to lose the overcranking in the camera.


Thanks in advance.
 

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You could phrase your question much shorter: traditional camcorder ergonomics with shallow DOF. Jogiba might have some advice for you, he has the Sony VG900. Or you may want to look at the Panasonic AF100.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24421408


You could phrase your question much shorter: traditional camcorder ergonomics with shallow DOF. Jogiba might have some advice for you, he has the Sony VG900. Or you may want to look at the Panasonic AF100.

The AF100 is gigantic and heavy - not exactly run-n-gun. Do an image search on the web and you will find very few pictures of it being used handheld - it's almost always on a tripod or shoulder mount.


The VG900 is interesting but I've found very few really thorough, detailed reviews of it. The lenses I've seen available for it are typically quite slow and often have a limited zoom range. I've also seen many complaints about aliasing/moire patterns with the VG900. Since I do lots of work with models and cloth fabric that could be a real dealbreaker. It's also unclear what the story is with image stabilization and the VG900.


Both of the units you mentioned have interchangeable lenses. I'm perfectly happy to have a permanent lens that's well-matched to the camera. And I don't need an APS-C sensor, just a BIGGER sensor than the XA20 has. As you can see here there's a lot of territory between those two extremes: http://www.gizmag.com/camera-sensor-size-guide/26684/pictures#1
 

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Have you considered the AX100? Seams like something that would suit you well. It has a 1" chip and it's shaped like a traditional consumer camcorder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24423453


Have you considered the AX100? Seams like something that would suit you well. It has a 1" chip and it's shaped like a traditional consumer camcorder.

Is it on the market yet? I've only see preorders. Are there reviews out for it anywhere? I don't mean PREviews where bloggers comment on published specs, but actual REviews by serious videographers who've used it?


The price seems really low, which makes me suspicious - it might have a big sensor but be cheap or consumer-y in other ways. It doesn't seem big enough to have XLR inputs and I don't see a place to mount a shotgun microphone. But yes, I'm aware of it but I don't know much about it.


Also, I think 4K is a gimmick. In order for a human to even see the difference between 4K (UHD) and regular 1920x1080 HD you need a huge screen plus sit really close to it. Plus the rest of the image pipeline - optics, compression, bandwidth, etc, would have to be much better than they are now. So I don't think it will catch on with consumers because most of them won't see any benefit. I think 4K will be a niche like tube audio - a few purists and rich people but everyone else will ignore it.


Also, N.B. I didn't say "consumer camcorder", just "camcorder". There seem to be plenty of professional camcorders that cost $3K, $4K, $5K, $6K, etc. I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I just want a step up from the XA20.
 

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Hi again PL - as I think you're seeing, the handheld, large sensor video camera phenomenon is relatively new (less than 5 years old) and there is not a lot as much product diversity in this niche as we might like.


Canon large sensor camcorders start at $5K and lack power zooms.


The Panasonic AF100 , as you've pointed out, is a huge brick - and their new Varicam will be over $10K and too big for handholding.


Sony has the widest range of models in this area - but they all have serious flaws for the pro shooter:


The NEX-EA50 has an APS-C sized sensor and XLR inputs - but it has a serious moire challenge and is a shoulder mount - so it may be a little larger than what you're looking for


The NEX-VG900 has a beautiful full frame sensor - but no power zoom, no XLRs and once again, it is susceptible to moire


The NEX-VG30 , has an APS-C sized sensor and a power zoom, but again, no XLRs and moire challenges



The new Sony CX900 "looks like a camcorder" (and is the 1080p version of the 4K AX100 ).


It too has a 1" sensor - but won't start shipping until March 21st. It has no built-in XLRs and there are not a lot of hands-on reviews, just this test footage:





Another thought - the $1298 Sony DSC-RX10 has a 1" sensor and a fixed lens 8.3x f2.8 power zoom. Like most Sony cameras, it has very good image stabilization. With Sony's XLR module , it would seem to meet your size, image quality, pro audio quality, ease of use and depth of field needs - but it "looks like a still camera" and has a 30 minute continuous recording limit. That said, here is what this camera can do (wedding shot with the RX10 - except for the ceremony, which was shot with an XA20 and the speaker, shot with the VG30 ):






I am the moderator of one of the RX10 groups over on Vimeo - there are other examples of what this camera can do there: http://vimeo.com/groups/rx10



Bottom line - the new Sony 1" camcorders seem to be closest to what you're looking for - but it will be a few months until there's enough information on them to make an informed decision.


If you can't wait, I have rented and shot with the RX10 and it is absolutely the best "large sensor camcorder that is not a camcorder" on the market today. Because of its fixed lens and built-in stabilization, it is certainly more convenient for run and gun than the interchangeable lenses on my GH3 .


You might want to try renting an RX10 from borrowlenses or lensrentals to try it out while you wait to see whether the CX900 is a better option.


Cheers and good luck!


Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24424584


Hi again PL - as I think you're seeing, the handheld, large sensor video camera phenomenon is relatively new (less than 5 years old) and there is not a lot as much product diversity in this niche as we might like.

I don't care if it has a "large" sensor - I just wanted one that's biggER than the tiny one on the XA20. That's why I linked to the chart, so people could see how tiny the XA20's is and how many steps there are between that and the "big" sensors. Every little bit helps - all else being equal (which it seldom is) larger sensor sites will have more dynamic range because they won't saturate as quickly. On the other hand, if the manufacturer makes a bigger sensor but then crams it with more sensor sites, say, for 4K, they defeat that.


But as I indicated above, I find the DSLR form factor to have poor ergonomics for handheld shooting - otherwise I'd just use my D800 with has a 24x36mm sensor and I have a dozen professional Nikon lenses. One thing I like about the XA20 is the articulatable VF, something no DSLR-format camera offers.


But it sounds like what you're saying is that I'm out of luck - that for traditional camcorder form factors, not matter how much I spend it will mostly be "1/3", or "1/2.8" size sensors.


Oh well, thanks anyway, I appreciate your efforts.
 

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I would go for the AX100 with the optional XLR adaptor given today's choices. However, NAB is a little over a month away so we will see some more updated pro and semi pro stuff soon. Sony pro uses AVC intra for the semi pro versions and true 4K (4096 x 2160). 4K isn't a gimmick (like 3D was), it's coming fast, and will be here to stay (until 8K takes over).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24421408


You could phrase your question much shorter: traditional camcorder ergonomics with shallow DOF. Jogiba might have some advice for you, he has the Sony VG900. Or you may want to look at the Panasonic AF100.
I like my VG900 because it's the only full frame camcorder and I could use any DSLR lens on it . It has an adjustable angle OLED EVF and mult-interface shoe for XLR mics, wireless mics and high powered flash when shooting jpeg/RAW 24mp stills.


Here it is with the new full frame E mount Sony 28-70mm FE OSS zoom and Sony ECM-W1M Wireless Microphone receiver for cameras with Multi-Interface Shoe.





With full frame 24-200mm Nikon mount lens :

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by plnelson  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24424042


Is it on the market yet? I've only see preorders. Are there reviews out for it anywhere? I don't mean PREviews where bloggers comment on published specs, but actual REviews by serious videographers who've used it?


The price seems really low, which makes me suspicious - it might have a big sensor but be cheap or consumer-y in other ways. It doesn't seem big enough to have XLR inputs and I don't see a place to mount a shotgun microphone. But yes, I'm aware of it but I don't know much about it.


Also, I think 4K is a gimmick. In order for a human to even see the difference between 4K (UHD) and regular 1920x1080 HD you need a huge screen plus sit really close to it. Plus the rest of the image pipeline - optics, compression, bandwidth, etc, would have to be much better than they are now. So I don't think it will catch on with consumers because most of them won't see any benefit. I think 4K will be a niche like tube audio - a few purists and rich people but everyone else will ignore it.


Also, N.B. I didn't say "consumer camcorder", just "camcorder". There seem to be plenty of professional camcorders that cost $3K, $4K, $5K, $6K, etc. I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I just want a step up from the XA20.

I have a G30, which is virtually identical to the XA20, and trust me, you absolutely can see the difference between that and 4K footage. Even if you don't want 4K, the 1080p mode is a lot better than what the Canon does. The Canons have a nominal resolution of 1080p, but the effective resolution is more like 720p. If you buy a G30/XA20/XA25 when something like the AX100 is about to be released, then you are a fool.


Physically the AX100 appears to be very similar to G30.


I would be very surprised in Canon don't release a "G40" that can do 4K this year as well.


So unless you really need a camera right now, you are best advised to wait a bit.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevypower  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24427069


@Jogiba, I'd love to see a true 4K version of your VG900 with a global shutter. That would be a BMD killer.
That is true but Sony would have a problem selling the 4K FS700R, F5 etc after that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tugela  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24427457


I have a G30, which is virtually identical to the XA20, and trust me, you absolutely can see the difference between that and 4K footage.

See it on what? If you have a big screen and sit really close to it (Sony says you have to be 5 feet from a 7-foot screen) then you can definitely see it. Otherwise whatever difference you're seeing is probably due to something else like contrast ratio, differences in the lenses, compression algorithms, anti-aliasing filters, etc, etc.


The only way to test if you can see the difference between UHD and HD is to have two identical signal sources and displays and vary them only by UHD -vs- HD.


Where would I mount a shotgun mike on an AX100?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jogiba  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24426308


I like my VG900 because it's the only full frame camcorder and I could use any DSLR lens on it . It has an adjustable angle OLED EVF and mult-interface shoe for XLR mics, wireless mics and high powered flash when shooting jpeg/RAW 24mp stills.


Here it is with the new full frame E mount Sony 28-70mm FE OSS zoom and Sony ECM-W1M Wireless Microphone receiver for cameras with Multi-Interface Shoe.


...



With full frame 24-200mm Nikon mount lens :


...

How do you mount a Nikon lense and is it still autofocus after that? If not how do you do critical focusing with it?


Also, I've seen many complaints about aliasing/moire patterns with the VG900. I do lots of work with models and cloth or other fabric so moire patterns would be a major deal-killer. Here are some examples of my work: http://pnart.com/figfabj.htm (warning: NSFW).

What can you tell me about moire and the VG900?


Thanks!
 

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The VG900 is a full frame mirrorless with E mount like the Sony A7 and A7r so any DSLR lens will work using E mount adapters in manual focus mode using focus peaking etc . If you use the new FE mount ( full frame E mount) lenses then you will have AF . I have not had any problem with moire in any videos I have shot but like most large sensor cameras with 24mp or more that might be a problem compared to video cameras with 2mp sensor made for video only.


current FE mount lenses:



rumored FE lens roadmap :



http://www.metabones.com/products/?c=e-mount
Quote:
Metabones® introduces third-generation Smart Adapter™ for mounting EF and EF-S mount lenses on Sony NEX cameras. Smart Adapter™ III is now also compatible with the full-frame NEX camera VG900, with auto-crop support so that both full-frame and cropped lenses can be used without any configuration. This is not a Speed Booster™ but maximum aperture and focal length remain unchanged. It retains existing features such as a detachable AS-style quick release plate, chrome-plated brass for all mounting surfaces, EXIF, autofocus and image stabilization (IS) lens support. Since its advent in 2012, the Metabones® Smart Adapter™ has become an indispensable tool for the most demanding cinematographers and other professionals, and it has been continuously refined based on customer input. Smart Adapter™ III is available right now at US$399+applicable tax/duty from Metabones' distributors in many countries all over the world and the Metabones® online shop.
http://www.metabones.com/article/of/metabones-introduces-third-generation-smart-adapter


VG900 with Canon 85mm F1.2 has AF with Metabones Smart Adapter III
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by plnelson  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24430682


See it on what? If you have a big screen and sit really close to it (Sony says you have to be 5 feet from a 7-foot screen) then you can definitely see it. Otherwise whatever difference you're seeing is probably due to something else like contrast ratio, differences in the lenses, compression algorithms, anti-aliasing filters, etc, etc.


The only way to test if you can see the difference between UHD and HD is to have two identical signal sources and displays and vary them only by UHD -vs- HD.


Where would I mount a shotgun mike on an AX100?

It is pretty easy to see the difference in areas of high detail, such as vegetation on a wide angle shot. Keep in mind that the average effective resolution of the typical camcorder is ~750 lines, not 1080p, even though it says that on the logo. You sure as hell don't need to be 5 feet from a 7 foot screen to see that difference.


The XLR adaptor allows you to mount a wide range of microphones.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tugela  /t/1520204/new-camcorder-advice#post_24433623


It is pretty easy to see the difference in areas of high detail, such as vegetation on a wide angle shot. Keep in mind that the average effective resolution of the typical camcorder is ~750 lines, not 1080p, even though it says that on the logo. You sure as hell don't need to be 5 feet from a 7 foot screen to see that difference.


The XLR adaptor allows you to mount a wide range of microphones.

I agree that the resolution of most camcorders/cameras touting "full" HD is nowhere near 1080h. But why then do you think that the effective (real) resolution for 4K consumer camcorders will be at 4K? They won't really meet that spec either, will they? Or, why is it easier to meet the 4K spec than it was to meet the 1080 spec?


One really important benefit of alleged 4K cameras is that when you dowrez to 1080 you can really get 1080 (unlike the alleged HD cameras), even if the 4K cameras do not really meet the full 4K specs.
 

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4K cameras will not be resolving 4K either, the 4K is before debeyering, afterwards it will be much less.


But, the decrease in resolution at that scale on a typical TV will be much less noticeable than it is with 1080p and current TVs. Certainly, on a 1440p monitor 4K footage that is in focus appears pin sharp. A 4K monitor would not be worse than that, and at typical TV viewing distances you would not see a significant difference.


With most current 1080p cameras (except some of the latest examples, which appear to downsample a larger pixel area to get approximately true 1080p resolution) the lack of resolution becomes very obvious in wide angle shots with lots of fine detail. They are fine when the object of interest has relatively macro dimensions, but fail when the dimensions are micro. So, if you are doing an interview such cameras are perfectly adequate, but not when your object of interest is at relative distance in a wide angle field.


At least that is my view. The difference is pretty clear to me, and is one of the prime areas of dissatisfaction I have with had had with every video camera I have owned (that, and sensor light scattering effects on the small sensors prevalent in typical camcorders). Fix those two things and I will be a happy camper!
 

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So the takeaway is that a 4K cam can finally saturate a FullHD panel (provided proper codec and bitrate).


Well, I take this back: to fully saturate 1920x1080 frame one would need 3 Gbit/s uncompressed stream, so compressed 4K is not a solution either. It may provide more detail in regions of the frame, but not over full frame. Still may be worth it.
 
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