I need your opinions: Panasonic AG-DVX100B or Sony HVR-A1E ??

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Laurent, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. Laurent

    Laurent Guest

    Hi!

    Here's the point: I have a project to shoot some documentary, it will
    mostly be made of interviews (studio conditions, with good lightening).
    But I hesitate when it comes to which camera I should take for that task.

    The documentary will later be released on DVD and, who knows, maybe
    there could be some TV broadcasting.

    I hesitate between Panasonic AG-DVX100B and Sony HVR-A1E (I haven't
    selected the HDR-FX1 because it lacks XLR mikes inputs, and the HVR Z1
    is over my budget). Both have, to my point of view, pros and cons:

    Panasonic AG-DVX100B
    pros: 3-CCD quality, possibility to then use the camera in 24p mode in
    order to shoot some "cine-look" short movie, possibility to use a
    FireStone FS-100 in DV+HD shooting
    cons: We're in NTSC here in Taiwan, might make things difficult to deal
    with NTSC --> PAL conversion if I need to release a PAL version for
    foreign market.

    Sony HVR-A1E
    pros: HD shooting that would make things easier for NTSC --> PAL
    convertion (assuming that there would only be the need for standard
    quality video)
    cons: not compatible with FireStone FS100, not really suitable for later
    "cine-look" shootings.

    So, to your opinion, which one should I take?? I'm really found of
    Panasonic, but the NTSC --> PAL convertion makes me wonder if it's the
    right choice.

    Thanks for your advices
    Laurent
     
    Laurent, Sep 20, 2006
    #1
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  2. Laurent

    Mike Kujbida Guest


    My personal opinion would be to go with the Panasonic. It's been
    around a lot longer so there are a lot of experienced users for advice
    and add-ons/tricks/tweaks to help you get the most out of it.
    As far as the NTSC-PAL conversion, NLEs like (my personal favourite)
    Sony's Vegas can do this for you right from the timeline. It aslso
    handles Pansonic's 24p footage easily.

    Mike
     
    Mike Kujbida, Sep 20, 2006
    #2
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  3. Laurent

    Spex Guest

    Ask yourself how much SD work you'll be doing with the camera in the future?

    If I were you and buying a camera now I wouldn't consider a SD at all.
    The future is native widescreen HD in whatever flavour you like. The
    A1E will end life as a B camera to your other HD projects of the future.
    A DVX will just end up in the bin...

    Also HDV down converted to DVD looks far superior to SD -> DVD.
     
    Spex, Sep 20, 2006
    #3
  4. Laurent

    Frank Guest

    I need your opinions: Panasonic AG-DVX100B or Sony
    HVR-A1E ??>,

    Also, unless you're on a tight schedule and cannot wait until
    December, you might want to review the features of the recently
    announced Sony HVR-V1U (60 Hz) and HVR-V1E (50 Hz) DV/DVCAM/HDV
    camcorders.

    Aside from the usual interlaced video, the 60 Hz model also does
    23.976p and the 50 Hz model also does 25p.
     
    Frank, Sep 20, 2006
    #4
  5. Laurent

    Spex Guest

    Good point!

    There are also 2 canon cameras coming out Oct/Nov that also have 24/25p
    capability. XH series are at a similar price point to the Sonys.

    Recording progressive frames in HDV is far more efficient for the
    encoder too.
     
    Spex, Sep 20, 2006
    #5
  6. Laurent

    Laurent Guest

    Mike Kujbida a écrit :
    I'm not Windows user, I work with a Mac Powerbook + FinalCut Pro, and
    that also makes me wonder if my computer (G4 1,67Ghz, 2MB Ram, external
    HD) can handle the HD footage without any problem, even if what I'm to
    do is not very processor-stressing -- mainly cutting and color correction.

    However my past experiences with NTSC-PAL conversion of DV footage (with
    a Sony DSR-PD150 I used to own) were not that great... or maybe I'm just
    too picky...

    Thanks
    Laurent
     
    Laurent, Sep 21, 2006
    #6
  7. Laurent

    Laurent Guest

    Frank a écrit :

    I've just read some infos on the web about these cameras... they will be
    far above my budget I'm afrais...
     
    Laurent, Sep 21, 2006
    #7
  8. Laurent

    Frank Guest

    I need your opinions: Panasonic AG-DVX100B or Sony
    HVR-A1E ??>,
    It's tough to compare the progressive modes of the Sony HVR-V1 to the
    Canon models because the Sony uses either standard 2-3 pulldown
    (HVR-V1U 23.976p) or PsF (HVR-V1E 25p and HVR-V1U 29.97p) while the
    Canon models use Canon's unique "Frame" mode.
    What encoder? That silly lossy log-GOP MPEG-2 thingie? :)

    Heck, connect the HD-SDI output of a Canon XL G1 to the HD-SDI input
    of your favorite Blackmagic Design card, add lot's of fast hard disk
    drive space, and you're in business! Great for in-studio work, but not
    so useful if you're on the run in a war zone, unfortunately.

    Or...

    Connect the HDMI output of a Sony HVR-V1 to a Blackmagic Design
    Intensity card, add lot's of fast hard disk drive space, and you're in
    business! Again, great for studio work, but not so useful if you're on
    the run in a war zone.

    The reviews aren't in yet, obviously, but the HDMI output on these new
    camcorders, including Sony's two new AVCHD models, _should_ provide a
    level of visual quality that's on par with an HD-SDI link.
     
    Frank, Sep 21, 2006
    #8
  9. Laurent

    Frank Guest

    I need your opinions: Panasonic AG-DVX100B or Sony
    HVR-A1E ??>,

    I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe if you do a bang-up job on this first
    assignment, you'll have the opportunity to use better gear on your
    next assignment.

    Good luck!
     
    Frank, Sep 21, 2006
    #9
  10. Laurent

    Laurent Guest

    Frank a écrit :
    I hope so too. In fact, my first choice was not to buy but to rent a
    video cam, and my choice was the Panasonic AG HVX-200. Unfortunately I
    haven't found any rental shop here in Taipei (and they usually make
    things difficult for foreigners who want to rent something).

    Plus, strangely, they don't seem to be very Panasonic-friendly here. You
    find a lot, I mean a damn' lot stuff from Sony, you can find some Canon
    cams too such as the XL2 (not the HD ones though). But Panasonic cams
    are difficult to find. Unless you want to buy entry-level cams like
    NV-GS series, I just know one shop that sells the AG DVX100B...
     
    Laurent, Sep 21, 2006
    #10
  11. Laurent

    Spex Guest

    Well that's good news for you! The HVX 200 is NOT HD by any stretch of
    the imagination. Its a pretty low grade SD camera that just happens to
    record in a HD format i.e. DVCPRO HD.

    One of the bullshit lines that Panasonic have thrown out into the mix is
    how poor HDV is for post production as any colour correction soon shows
    the limitations of the format. Well as anyone who has tried colour
    correcting footage from the HVX200 will testify it is an absolute
    abomination. There is so much chroma noise in the image that it simply
    is a joke in post production. Even the dark areas are buzzing with noise.
    Simpletons who read Panasonic "influenced" websites are the only ones
    that buy that turkey.

    The Sony A1E shoots rings round the HVX200 for a 1/3 of the price.

    If you are renting then take a look at XDCAM HD from Sony.
     
    Spex, Sep 21, 2006
    #11
  12. Laurent

    Toby Guest

    I checked system reuqirements for FCP handling HD and it appears that you
    should be OK as long as you are not going to try authoring HD DVDs.

    If I am not mistaken you must commit to either PAL or NTSC SD when shooting
    with the Sony unless you shoot in HD and buy an expensive deck to covert to
    SD in either format after the fact.

    I have had quite good results converting NTSC to PAL using Canopus
    Procoder--I shoot in Japan (NTSC) for European broadcast (PAL) and the
    broadcasters I work for are perfectly happy with the converted pieces, but
    of course this is news...Still there is very little loss of resolution and
    the motion interpolation is actually quite good.

    I've used both the Panasonic and the Sony Z1 and I actually prefer the Sony.
    Most of the commercial clients I work for are specifying the Z1 over the
    Panasonic as well. I'm unfortunately not familiar with the little Sony so I
    can't really comment directly. The advantages with the Panasonic are higher
    sensitivity (about 1 stop I believe) and the 24p modes, but unless you plan
    to do direct film conversion with the 3223 pulldown, the Sony fake 24-look
    compares favorably (IMO) with the Panny 3232 pulldown for video, if you like
    that kind of thing.

    Both are excellent little cameras, but the Sony does give you that HD
    possibility, which is more and more in demand.

    Toby
     
    Toby, Sep 22, 2006
    #12
  13. Laurent

    Toby Guest

    XDCam has major problems. CBS bought a whole bunch and have been tearing
    their hair out over the miserable quality of the software, among many other
    issues. I would stay far away from XDCam for at least another year or two.
    If you are renting think about the Panasonic Varicam. I've shot a bunch of
    footage on it for some glossy docos and it looks excellent.

    Toby
     
    Toby, Sep 23, 2006
    #13
  14. Laurent

    mv Guest

    I think I'm getting the picture now. Toby, are you or are you not a
    person with some sort of vested Internet in Panasonic? I guess if you
    are a person who shoots Varicam for "glossy docos" it would suggest you
    have professional provenance, however your remarks about broadcasters
    being concerned with HDV drop out on another thread did raise an
    eyebrow. I won't argue as to whether or not CBS have had problems with
    XDCAM software because it's yet another non secitur. Other people
    including BBC and major independent producers are getting on very well
    with XDCAM. Like HDV and other 'new' formats, there are steep learning
    and appropriate equipment acquisition curves to be completed. Clearly
    CBS, like certain other over large organisations who mistakenly take the
    erroneous assertions of their in-hose techies to be gospel, should not
    take their own shortcomings for a generality.
     
    mv, Sep 23, 2006
    #14
  15. Laurent

    Toby Guest

    No John, I don't have any vested interest in Panasonic. MII was a disaster;
    I supported Sony all the way in those days. I was not a great fan of SX, but
    it did have its nice points. When my company went DVCPro 8 years ago I
    cringed, but I've been reasonably happy with the format. I reason I've shot
    about 2000 hours with very few problems--and very few dropouts--although I
    was seeing quite a number on some tapes we shot in Kinshasa recently (a very
    inhospitable environment). I also think Digibeta is great, although the
    tapes are too big...

    As I said, CBS Tokyo is finding their XDCams a disaster. There are nice
    tings about them for sure, but they are huge power hogs and getting data off
    the disk with their inadequate software I am told is maddening. Going to
    non-linear is a big pain as well, as importing the files is only marginally
    faster than 1:1, so you have to use proxies. If you're interested I'll talk
    to them and get a list of bitches. There are definite teething problems.
    BTW, do you have a vested interest in Sony?

    I think that Panasonic's decision to go flash memory with P2 was much
    smarter for the long-run, although they have also dropped the ball with
    their method of dumping the files to disk. But you can plugs those cards
    into a reader, or hotplug the disks with dumped data and you are ready to
    edit at full resolution immediately; and they are truly random read and
    write, as opposed to Sony's discs which are sequential write and thus files
    can't be erased. And the P2 cams are usable in rough locations where head
    bounce kills the Sonys, even with their 16 second buffers. When the card
    prices come down a little bit more and they get up to their projected 64 and
    128 gig cards--5 slots hot-swappable--it's going to be hard to beat that.

    I think that Sony Professional has dropped the ball--my NBC colleague thinks
    the same. Their consumer stuff is great, though, I find the little Sony Z1 a
    great camera, except for a few points--much better than the Panasonic
    offerings unless you need real 3223 24p for film transfers, but XD? No,
    sorry, not my cup of tea.

    I did like the Varicam, we got beautiful footage from it, and it has some
    useful features--including the ability to shoot 25fps for PAL conversions
    and other nice motion effects--not like Sony pandering to the amateur market
    with assignable buttons on the handle and intervalometers...

    Sony may get their software act together, although s/w seems to be one of
    their major weaknesses, and perhaps they'll pull XD out of the fire, but
    with HDDs going for $1 a gig there is no advantage to storing data on
    writeable plastic disks, especially since they can't be selectively erased.
    So I think that XD will ultimately prove to have been a mistake, and I wager
    we'll soon be seeing Sony recording to silicon or directly to HDDs.

    You missed the earlier thread, apparently, with PTravel, in which we were
    discussing the rate of visible dropouts on DV. Everyone agrees that life is
    orders of magnitude better now than in analog days, but the discussion
    centered around whether DV copying could truly be considered lossless, as is
    generally claimed. A number of us argued that while near perfect, DV copying
    was still going to be subject to data corruption from mechanical exigencies
    (tape and/or transport problems) that even the sophisticated error
    correction algorithms in use would not be able to compensate for, and so the
    marketing claims of "perfect copies" had to be taken with a grain of salt.
    In fact a number of manufacturers now claim "near lossless", which is more
    honest.

    I thought it was interesting that IBE (International Broadcast Engineer),
    "The Industry Standard" they claim, writes about industry concern with
    dropouts from digital tape (although as others pointed out, they refer
    specifically to Mpeg2-encoded material, in which dropouts can be much more
    egregious because of the interframe compression). My point is that while
    extremely rare, dropouts do occur with DV, and apparently often enough that
    they are a topic of concern among broadcast engineers. Sorry if you didn't
    understand the context of the post.

    I'm not a Luddite, I love digital. But I'm interested; why would my post
    about dropouts in DV make you think I have a vested interest in Panasonic?
    DVCPro is as digital as XD, except that it uses tape instead of discs. If
    you want to claim that XD is superior because of random-read, then P2 must
    be a step better because it is random-read and random-write.

    Me, I'm waiting for the HDD cameras to go pro, although flash is probably
    better for rough rides.

    Toby
     
    Toby, Sep 23, 2006
    #15
  16. Laurent

    Laurent Guest

    Spex a écrit :
    Do you know of any website where I can find sample footage of A1E?? I
    found a couple so far but too many compression artifacts to have a real
    idea...

    Thanks again for all your answers, and sorry my post seems to have
    started a new Panasonic vs Sony war. I'm really not concerned by the
    brand, only the result matters for me -- "tools" are secondary...

    Laurent
     
    Laurent, Sep 24, 2006
    #16
  17. Laurent

    Spex Guest

    Sorry that was my fault.

    I didn't write what I did to start a Sony vs Panasonic lame(sic) war.

    I think the current marketing techniques of some camera manufacturers to
    use web forums and fake blogs to hoodwink some naive people is
    reprehensible. Whenever I see HVX 200 the raw nerve is tweaked and I go
    into automatic mode!

    You'll find that Sony's much derided range of HDV cameras are performing
    extremely well in the field and making money for those that have chosen
    to ignore the ill-informed and partisan bullshit.

    As far as clips on the web, I don't know where you could find clips that
    might accurately demonstrate the camera's capability. The danger with
    clips from unknown sources is determining the whether the operator was
    competent in the use of the camera or whether the camera is indeed crap.

    I strongly urge you to get down to a dealer and have a demo and perhaps
    capture some footage of your own to see if it meets your requirements.
     
    Spex, Sep 25, 2006
    #17
  18. That's not a proper way of testing, shooting some stuff inside a store.
    What you really should do, is rent the camera for a day, and go out and
    shoot some real stuff. Shots of nature, shots of fast moving subjects,
    shots with a huge contrast range and on and on. That will give you a good
    idea whether a camera is worth the money. I reckon it would cost you
    US$125-150/day to rent it (or even more or less, depending on your
    location).

    cheers

    -martin-
    --
    "Every picture defines its own look, and that definition begins with the
    director's intentions for the script ... I have Ingmar Bergman to thank
    for letting me experiment with a kind of cinematography that utilizes
    true light where possible. ... He was intensely interested in light and
    how it can be applied to create a given atmosphere."
    - Sven Nykvist, passed away 20-9-2006

    Farewell Sven. You are a great inspiration. May you guide our lights
    from heaven!
     
    Martin Heffels, Sep 25, 2006
    #18
  19. Laurent

    Spex Guest

    Sorry that was my fault.

    I didn't write what I did to start a Sony vs Panasonic lame(sic) war.

    I think the current marketing techniques of some camera manufacturers to
    use web forums and fake blogs to hoodwink some naive people is
    reprehensible. Whenever I see HVX 200 the raw nerve is tweaked and I go
    into automatic mode!

    You'll find that Sony's much derided range of HDV cameras are performing
    extremely well in the field and making money for those that have chosen
    to ignore the ill-informed and partisan bullshit.

    As far as clips on the web, I don't know where you could find clips that
    might accurately demonstrate the camera's capability. The danger with
    clips from unknown sources is determining the whether the operator was
    competent in the use of the camera or whether the camera is indeed crap.

    I strongly urge you to get down to a dealer and have a demo and perhaps
    capture some footage of your own to see if it meets your requirements.
     
    Spex, Sep 25, 2006
    #19
  20. Laurent

    mv Guest


    Good advice
     
    mv, Sep 25, 2006
    #20
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