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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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    Sep 2010
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    Question What type of video camera do people use to edit professionally these days?

    I use to own a Mini DVC camcorder that I would edit video with in Final Cut Pro. Now since my Mini DVC camcorder broke I'm shopping for a new video camera but found myself really confused on what I need to buy for a good professional video camera at this point. It seems like DVC camcorders have been turned obsolete and now my options is a camcorder with a hard drive or a sd card in it, unless there are other options I'm not seeing at the local best buy.

    I'm a little hesitant with the SD and hard drive cameras just for the fact that I would think they would be compression the video when saving it to these new formats, and I also don't know what compression scheme there using. With a DVC all I had to do is shoot the video and then hook it up to my computer via firewire and capture it, this would allow me to compress the video while I was capturing it.

    With these new cameras I have no clue on what compression scheme they use and if there even a good option for good professional video editing. I'm not looking to spend to much money, I was hoping I could get something between $200 - $400 tops, but I wouldn't spend this type of money till someone gave me a little advice on what format is right to use with computer video editing these days.

    Any advice or recommendations would be very appreciated. If the price is right I would take standard definition (just for the fact that my Mac is a G4 and I don't really think it can do HD video that well), but if I could have an option to later shoot in HD that would be very helpful to.

  2. #2
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    Re: What type of video camera do people use to edit professionally these days?

    At that price you wouldn't really be getting a professional camera. Mini DV is still around but it is a standard definition format and so fewer and fewer cameras use it.
    Broadcast quality cameras are usually 3ccd, but the only 3ccd cameras you are going to find in your price range are the panasonic consumer cameras. Don't get me wrong they are great cameras and some of them even carry Leica lenses, but they still aren't really "professional" cameras or even "prosumer quality" (stupid marketing term if ever I heard one) In any event a year or two ago I would have agreed with you, in that a mini dv tape was uncompressed and you could capture to an avi format that was itself uncompressed, but the game has changed. Yes there are a lot of different compression standards and file formats out there now such as AVCHD and h.264 (to name the better ones) and some of them will need to be converted before you can edit them (it wasn't until recently that editing applications natively supported the AVCHD format for instance which if you look at the file structure is actually a series of seperate nested files for video and audio (supporting 5.1) and by itself looks really messy, however most good editing systems now look at that structure and are able to display the mess as a single clip automatically.

    I don't want to bore you with a list of options for file formats and codecs etc. The simple point is that as long as you are going with one of the bigger brands, sony, panasonic, canon, jvc for example you really wont find a problem with the compression. The only thing to look for is the file format it records to (not for any other reason than to see if it is supported by final cut without the need for conversion. This actually saves you truckloads of time. Typically each time you hit record then pause a new file is created, and you can copy these files directly to your computer so you will have a bank of clips automatically without the time spent capturing them. It also means that you can log clips using your application and use this to create a rough cut as you go, so there is less time wasted in the edit suit.

    At work we recently switched to a digital SLR that records full HD and it has actually improved the quality of work whilst reducing editing time (although now we are HD rendering time has blown out substantially, but a new edit suit isn't in the budget yet) unfortunately for you the SLR system would blow your budget as well, but $3,000 for a nearly broadcast system as opposed to $10,000 plus for the equivalent traditional system made a lot of sense, and the fact that we now save time in the edit suit is just a bonus!.

    hmm many of these cameras do SD and HD anyway, but you are right, my G5 pro really struggles with HD, my PC copes ok though rendering can be painfully slow, but it is a bit newer.
    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur


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