Digital Video Forum

Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
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    Advice for camcorder shopping

    I'm an amateur movie maker on the looks for an inexpensive solution to my camera needs. I'll primarily make music videos with my friends and we take a lot of time with them and do a lot of planning and so on. Our current camera just plain sucks and I would like to upgrade the image quality and get some focus/zoom controls. Other manual controls would be nice, but I don't think they are necessary. I do not need a good mic on the camera as I don't usually need a mic, and if I do need one I would use my computer. I am looking in the $500 range, and it seems that the cameras I have found fit that range.

    I've looked around a little and I see that Canon ranks high in the camera market right now.

    Canon ZR85
    Canon ZR90

    ^ Differences? I didn't really find any. The 85 is priced higher than the 90, however. Any reasoning behind this?

    Canon XL1S

    ^ The top dog of an amateur film producer's needs I hear. I could probably afford this camera, but would the other cameras I listed do near the same job, but without manual controls?

    Any other suggestions?
    Last edited by [mooninite]; 05-22-2004 at 06:17 PM. Reason: errors

  2. #2
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    If you really are interested in film production then you really need to get a 3 chip video camera, like the Canon XL1S, you could probably pick one up in good condition second hand if you have to, just try the camera out first.

    The cameras that people in film production are getting now are widescreen ones as well, just keep that in mind.

    If Skyman sees this posting I am sure he will give you some very good informed advice as well, having just completed a film course he undertook recently.

  3. #3
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    XL1s Not Top dog anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashram_Peter_AUS
    If Skyman sees this posting I am sure he will give you some very good informed advice as well, having just completed a film course he undertook recently.
    i finished in 2002 so recently is not entirely true however working in the photographic/video pro retail helps to keep me on top of the new models. Actually i spent most of saturday at the sydney photo imaging trade show and saw planty of neat cameras. the two best are supposed to be the xl1s and the sony equivalent (pd150 i think) but i saw a couple of panasonics on the weekend that leave both of them for dead. model names escape me. I do have a good memory but it was about 3pm when i saw them and i had already seen well over 1000 new cameras that day. anywho both with top quality leica lenses (the trick to leica's quality is that they build the lenses with a higher resolving power than the medium they are recording to) note that none of the pro mini dv cameras offers true 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios so it is one or the other folks (affordability says go 4:3 but more people own widescreen tv's now) anywho the panasonics are both mini dv (remember canon doesn't make cameras higher quality than mini dv at the moment but panasonic do) so these babies have all the bells and whisltes of the xl1s (except interchangable lenses) for much better prices. the cheaper of the 2 doesn't give you a manual zoom (although the touch control on the electronic zoom is nice) and whilst it does have manual aperture shutter speed and gain controls they are as difficult to use as the xl1s (not the best design i have seen and different from a "pro" design unless you get the more expensive manual pro lens) but it does have some awesome preset gamma controls for much better control over your video signal. the better of the two has a fixed "broadcast standard" zoom on it with a proper manual focus ring, proper aperture ring (with all the distance settings so you can push and pull focus like a pro) and a manual aperture ring. in short the sort of controls you would find more at home in a studio or large cinema camera with dual xlr audio imputs built in (no adapter like the canon needs) and nearly as good audio control (this is the only feature the canon wins on and only because it tells you when your audio signal reaches at -12db, the panasonic does this but without a numeric guide) oh and in Australia it is about $1000 cheaper than the xl1s, and is distributed by a company called rexell (they distribute panasonic's pro line of cameras) although having said all of that i do have some inside info on the XL1s. I was talking to canon australia's resident video guru and he informed me that the XL1s will be dropping in price in about a month or so. he wouldn't commit to an amount, but implied that $1000 would be close to the mark, so retailing for approx $7000. however the panasonics i saw retailed for about $4000 and i think $6000-$7000 and in my opinion were better all round cameras than the xm2 and xl1s. oh if this is to much money then panasonic have a cheap camcorder size 3ccd camera that in aust retails for about $1700 and is not to bad (does have full manual control but impractical to change setting whislt filming although auto does a good job) and it does have a manual focus ring. oh incidentally i did look at the sony cameras fairly extensively as well but they just didn't stack up although i think from memory there top models offered both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, although if you film with the panasonic in 4:3 stretch mode you can pull the image out to 16:9 without a signicicant loss of quality in after effects or i think in cp but i have not yet doen it that way. and a curious aside 4x4=16 and 3x3=9 can anyone explain to me the difference between the ratios then, in theory following that math they should actually be the same aspect ratios ???? I hope this has helped i know it is a little wrambling but my brain was a little full by the time i found these babies so it was getting hard to take it all in.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the reply, Skyman.

    I've found a great deal on a XL1S for $1000 brand new so I plan on getting it next month.
    Last edited by [mooninite]; 05-25-2004 at 08:18 PM. Reason: edit

  5. #5
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    We are mooninites from the inner core of the moon. Our race is hundreds of years beyond yours. Some would say the Earth is our moon, but that would belittle the name of our moon, which is "The Moon."

    The point is, we're at the center.
    A good craftsman never blames his tools.

  6. #6
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    Man, scammers love the XL1S so beware and only buy retail.

    I am going with the Canon GL2 though as I have no need for interchangeable lenses and the GL2 has *everything* the XL1S has (save lenses).

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