Question by ponechaisit: Anyone no of a great professional camcorder?
I am starting video production and am wondering what equiptment is the best to buy, at an affordable price. I guess I am wanting a professional camcorder at a budgeter’s price.
Answer by Nikolai
Great question. Here are my top picks for the best professional camcorder. I have taken price into consideration. If you want HD:
1) Red Scarlet (coming soon, 2009) $ 3,000
2) Sony PMW-EX1 $ 6,000
3) JVC GY-HD200U $ 5,500
4) Panasonic AG-HVX200 $ 5,000
5) Canon XH-A1 $ 3,300
RED SCARLET: Many are skeptical about the Red Scarlet as it is a relatively unknown brand, but I believe it is the best professional camcorder under $ 10,000. No contest. With a traditional camcorder, like that made by Sony, Canon, etc, you’ll be lucky if you get one that records in true HD. That is, most camcorders do NOT record in true 1920 x 1080 resolution, apart from the Sony PWM-EX1, as listed above. The Red Scarlet however, records footage in 3K, that is about 150% of the resolution of 1920 x 1080 HD. All that for $ 3,000. I don’t know how well the Scarlet will perform when it is released in 2009 as far as color reproduction, cinematic look, audio capabilities, and manual controls, but I do know that it gives you better resolution than any camera I know of under $ 20,000. Therefore, the Red Scarlet is definately worth looking into. 3K footage for under $ 3K is a total steal!
SONY PMW-EX1: It is a relatively new camcorder that records to tapeless media the SxS cards. The EX1 has better resolution that its Canon, Panasonic and JVC competitors, as the XDCAM cards do NOT compress nearly as much as HDV. Another huge advantage is that it has 3 CMOS chips that are 1/2″ each, as opposed to 1/3″ or smaller chips found on every other camera under $ 10,000. The larger image sensor gives your picture a much narrower depth of field, which is great for budding filmmakers, wanting that look of celluloid film. The only setback is that the EX1′s media format, the SxS XDCAM media cards only record about 25 minutes of high quality footage on the supplied card, and purchasing additional cards is very expensive.
The HD200U is no Sony, Panasonic, or Canon, but it is an excellent camera nonetheless. Some pro reviews have said that the earlier model, the HD110U was the second best camera as far as picture quality in the prosumer level, next to the Canon XL-H1, which is $ 8,000. I really like the HD110 and HD200 as it is the only prosumer HD camera, apart from the XL-H1 with interchangeable lenses, rather than a built in lens. The only problem is that the HD200U does not record HD in 1080p or 1080i, but instead, it only has a lower-resolution 720p mode. To me, this isn’t all that bad, as I prefer 720p at 60fps over 1080p at 30fps; it blurs much less, but you’ll have to make the decision. Numerous independant films have been shot on the JVC HD110 and HD200, so its an excellent camera!
Panasonic HVX200: The HVX200 is a great inexpensive choice for the indie filmmaker. It has excellent picture quality and an excellent 24p mode. Another huge upside is that it records to both HDV OR P2 cards, so its really convenient. However, it does not have quite as good picture quality as the Sony EX1, nor does it have interchangeable lenses like the JVC HD200. It’s an excellent, well-rounded HD camera nonetheless. I found it works excellent with the Redrock M2 35mm adapters though.
Canon XH-A1: The XH-A1 is rated as one of the best cameras out there for its combination of quality and value for your money. I agree. It’s a nice, well rounded camera; relatively easy to use (compared to the others at least) and is packed with loads of features, making it an excellent value. My only problem is that it does not have a 720p mode. It also lacks a real 24p mode, and instead has what Canon calls a 24f mode. According to Canon, the 2 are identical, but I really don’t know.
For standard definition, which is still a great option, as HD is still new and expensive:
1) Panasonic AG-DVX100B $ 2,500
2) Canon XL2 $ 3,000
3) Sony DSR-PD170 $ 2,500
I really can’t decide whether I like the DVX100B or the XL2 better. I’m leaning towads the DVX100B as a better overall camera (and its very user friendly), but then again, the XL2 has interchangeable lenses. Both can record in 24p, which is a great option. The PD170 is a total low-light wonder, is easy to use, but does not have a 24p mode.
If this is still not what you had in mind for a budget, here are some decent consumer HD cameras:
1) Sony HDR-HC3 and HDR-HC9
2) Canon HV20 and HV30
both are HDV. I highly recommend it. I can’t stand mini DVD or flash media. HDV is also considerably better than Hard Disk camera; they don’t compress your footage quite as much.
Hope that helps, and I apologize if that’s still not what you had in mind. Well good luck, and have fun!!!
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