Equipment->Reviews: January 2006 Archives

SonyHDR-HC3.jpgInformation and specs on the newest Sony HDV camcorder - the HDR-HC3 - have been leaked on The new HC-3 appears to be a new lower-end consumer version of the wildly popular HC-1 model. The HC-3 looks like it will have less pixels, is smaller, and won't have as many manual controls. The killer for independent filmmakers is the lack of external microphone and headphones jacks, as well as no way to adjust the shutter speed.

Adam Wilt reviews four HDV camcorders on (registration required): the Canon XL H1, JVC GY-HD100U, Panasonic AG-HVX200, and the Sony HVR-Z1U:

The Canon XL H1 was the resolution champ amongst the 1/3" cameras, with a crisper, visibly more detailed image than its compatriots. To my eye it showed slightly more noise than the HVX200, with the noise being a fine-grained luma noise compared to the HVX200's slightly softer, more chroma-oriented noise. I preferred the Canon's noise signature as being less video-like, but Barry preferred the HVX's noise for exactly the same reason--you'll want to judge for yourself. In any case, there was potential to reduce the visible noise in the Canon's image that we didn't explore; we'll have to do that in a later test.

The Canon clipped highlights a bit more harshly than the HVX did; it was comparable to the Sony as best I remember. Again, had we set the Canon's knee to "low", we might have eked out a small increment in usable highlight detail; how much so I can't say. Something else to test on another day...

Rant: MacBookPro == iBook?


The new Intel-powered Apple MacBookPros seem very tempting on the surface for photographers and videographers. They have brighter screens and are rated for 2-3x the speed of the Motorola-powered PowerBook G4s. Intel versions of FinalCutPro are due in March.

However, from my own personal perspective, the new MacBookPros are more akin to iBooks than to PowerBooks. In particular, they are missing certain essential professional features:

  • Two FireWire ports/channels. The new units only have one FireWire 400 port. They need at least two ports so that you can connect an external FireWire drive on one channel and a DV/HDV camera on the other in order to capture video. With only one channel, that means the external drive has to be USB2.0 which is not as suitable for video work. Theoretically you could use the ExpressCard/34 to add another FireWire port, but these are supposed to be professional machines, right?
  • 1080i/p incompatibility. Apple should have increased the pixel density so that the new (brighter) screens were 1080 pixels in height, rather than reducing them to 900 pixels which will mean that 1080i/1080p playback is squished and not pixel accurate (which makes gauging critical focus difficult).
  • ExpressCard/34 which is only 34mm in width. I don't mind the switch from PCMCIA but they needed to use the wider ExpressCard/54 standard so that you can have a CompactFlash adapter that fits into the internals of the computer. With the smaller /34 standard, you have to have an easily lost external dongle for CompactFlash. This is a major bummer for professional photographers.
  • The name stinks.

I'll wait until the next iteration to upgrade from my current 15" PowerBook G4.

Link: DVEStore Theatre

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The DVEStore has a product review section that is quite unique -- all of the reviews are QuickTime movies. This of course makes sense since we're talking about video equipment.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Equipment->Reviews category from January 2006.

Equipment->Reviews: December 2005 is the previous archive.

Equipment->Reviews: February 2006 is the next archive.

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