Video: Solid-state high-def camcorders

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I'm beginning a new project on Japanese sexuality next year and I've been thinking of how to shoot it. For my mental illness project, I used the Canon XL-H1. This was ideal for the location and topic where I was working -- larger rural spaces, people who wanted a video camera that was obviously a video camera. This is an HDV format camera, which meant it shot on HDV tape, not flash media.

My next project will be largely urban and I'd like to get a camcorder that I can take into smaller spaces.  I've been testing out the various tiny SDHC based high-def camcorders such as the Canon Vixia series, and I've been impressed with most things (except for the pain of dealing with the AVCHD file format and the limited wide-end of the zoom).  So I think my next project will be entirely shot on flash media.

I'd like to use this space here to think about several options with the following requirements:

  • High definition 1080p
  • Interchangeable lens or at least 30mm equivalent on the wide end of the zoom
  • Small / medium size
  • High-quality onboard audio for times when I can't use boom or lav mics
  • Relatively inexpensive flash media
  • Easily usable file format  (aka not AVCHD)

In my initial survey, here are some options:


Canon XF100 HD   @ $3300
- Dual CF card slots, 50MBPS @ MPEG2, 1080P,  dual XLR, 30.4mm - 304mm zoom

JVC GY-HM100U ProHD @ $2795
- SDHC cards,  35MBPS@ MPEG2, dual XLR, 1080P, 39mm - 390mm zoom


Panasonic AG-HVX200a @ $3595
- Dual P2 cards,
40~100MBPS@ DVCPRO HD, 1080P, 30mm - 490mm zoom



If I put AVCHD back into the picture:

Panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCCAM Camcorder @ $2825
- SDHC cards  24MBPS@ AVCHD (H.264), 1080P, 28mm - 368mm zoom

Panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCCAM Camcorder @ $$1689
- SDHC card,  24MBPS@ AVCHD (H.264), 1080P, 40.8mm - 490mm zoom


Sony HDR-AX2000 AVCHD Camcorder @ $3498
- AVCHD....

Sony HXR-MC50U Ultra Compact Pro AVCHD Camcorder @ $1500
- AVCHD....



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Darn you Jason Romero..... Previously, I was content in separating my photography and filmmaking equipment into separate cognitive and physical categories. Still cameras took great photos, but they weren't fit for video work. Video camera took great vi... Read More



why not use a canon 7d?

I thought of using a SLR -- either a semi- or full-frame SLR like the 7D or a micro-four-thirds like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G series or Olympus Pen series.

I haven't made my final decision but there are several points against using SLRs as digital camcorders:

* Onboard audio recording is extremely poor, even by digicam standards
* The form factor is not designed for extended holding like a digicam
* Some models can't do simple things like zoom and autofocus at the same time
* They use the dreaded AVCHD recording format

The people who are using SLRs as digicams are almost always scripted filmmakers. In those instances, the SLR isn't much of a liability. But for documentary/ethnographic filmmaking, its negatives might outweigh the positives.

I have a micro-four-thirds camera and will be testing it out as a digicam, but I'm not entirely convinced it will work.

The 7d sure does look pretty though, especially for such a compact device. I wish you'd take this route, but that comes from the position of my own selfishness (would love to see you forge the path and be able to draw on your experiences) and ignorance (you know much better than I what's best).

Here's an example of 7d footage to entice you.

""Last Minutes with ODEN" nabbed the Best Video award. It's a 6-minute documentary about having to put down a terminally ill dog, Oden. Eliot Rausch did the film in which Jason Wood, the dog's owner, talks about his own addition while the dog is in the periphery of much of the film. I hear it's a tear-jerker so have tissues on hand when you watch it."

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on December 2, 2010 11:30 AM.

Rant: on OSX doesn't support PDF signature? was the previous entry in this blog.

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