Which HD camcorder?

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Yumbo, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    Hi all,

    What is your experience and buying plans?
    Sony or Canon?

    Compatibility with iMovie?

    Hard drive, flash memory?

    Battery life?

    etc.

    Any comments appreciated!
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I guess the largest factor will be your budget. With that said, I would look at either the Sony HDR-SR12 (writes to hard drive and/or memory stick) or the JVC GZ-HD series (they all have hard drives and 3CCDs).
     
  3. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    Budget will be ok.

    Aiptek has an el cheapo at $150 to test the waters I suppose.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Uhm....

    This is a bit tough.

    Most new camcorders use AVCHD compression. Initially they were
    not compatible with Macs. iMovie has been updated so now it is
    compatible, but it takes a lot of processing power to transfer files to it.

    I have a tape-based Sony HD camcorder I bought 3-4 years ago.
    Though tape has its disadvantages, it is still the most widely preferred
    format by broadcasters. That is because there is no visible compression.
    Problem is, whatever you record, transfers in real time to the Mac.

    I have been wanting to go to a hard drive based camcorder but the
    AVCHD scares the shit out of me.

    The best camcorders out there are Canon and Panasonic. Both have
    models for $1k that are highly rated. Personally, if you want good
    footage don't go cheap.

    The biggest concern you will have is what format to go with. I doubt
    you'll want tape, but honestly, it's the best quality wise. If you want
    to go with AVCHD I would read the reviews on Amazon by actual users
    to see how it works with their Mac. Past reviews have indicated that
    Mac users initially were having problems.

    Let us know what you buy.
     
  5. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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    The other issue with AVCHD is unless you transcode it to another codec, you need obscene PC/Mac requirements to edit the footage.

    Also opinions vary widely on AVCHD vs. MPEG2 (HDV flavor), and having owned a number of cameras, I'm quite happy with MPEG2.
     
  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  7. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I have an iMac and a Sony HDR-SR7. I was pretty peeved after I spend over $1000 on this camera to find that the software for it was not MAC compatible. I didn't know that Apple had added that to iMovie. I'll have to try it and report. Don't know how soon I can - I jut returned from a 20 day sabbatical...
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Please do report back as your experiences with
    iMovie and AVCHD may affect my next camcorder
    purchase.
     
  9. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I'll try to fit it in, but I just got back Tuesday and I have almost three weeks of household chores to get to, not to mention work stuff... Since it is all so new to my it will take me hours to find out anything useful.
     
  10. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    Anyone considering the Sony TG1?

    How does one verify the battery supplied and its life?
     
  11. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    THis weekend I connected my Sony to my iMac. It took me a while to figure out I need to run iMovie. iMovie found the camera right away and started downloading the content. Four hours later it was done. The Sony uses USB for some silly reason - not firewire.

    I had to explore a bit to figure out where my movies were stored.

    I found the whole experience not very intuitive. It my be my unfamiliarity with the iMac, but still... The PC is much more intuitive when it comes to finding media files.

    I didn't have time to edit my movies. It did seem to run smoothly with only one meg of RAM.

    THe video itself looked good. The jpeg or icon for each file looks like crap, but once it starts it clears up very nicely. I'll be viewing it on my bigscreen soon and I'll share how it looks and sounds.

    For now this is the most I had time to do. I can only say that iMac does work with AVCHD. I am still a n00b with the iMac - so an experienced user would not likely face the same obstacles I did. I would not defer a purchase if I were worried about AVCHD. I also suspect it is only a matter of time before there is more software for the iMac to manipulate these movies - especially considering Apple accounts for nearly 10% of computer sales (not including iPhone sales - which would dramatically increase their penetration)
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Eric,

    The one part here I am having difficulty with is the following...


    It took four hours to download the content? How many hour(s) worth
    of content did you have?
     
  13. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I had quite a bit of content. I know one clip alone was over an hour (my son experemented with video of an icecube melting then playing it fastforward) I am guessing it was over two hours of content, maybe more. Most were one to five minute clips.

    Thinking about it - it may have been three hours and a few. I should add - the audio is 5.1. I'll play closer attention next time. It did seem to me like it was downloading in real time.
     
  14. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Big changes to FCE today dealing with AVCHD. Plus the new pro editing format evolves with a version for windows.

    Final Cut Express 4.0.1 released - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
    Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder 1.0 for Mac and Windows - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

    I haven't done HD capture yet, I've been focused on my DSLR for a while, but from what I have read it seems like you almost need three seperate codecs.

    1 codec for capture, AVCHD seems like the biggy here.
    1 codec for editing, which is where apple is marketing ProRes
    1 codec for delivery, H.264/Quicktime or flash based...

    I'll be getting an HD ready mac when BD burners are a BTO option direct from Apple, hopefully its this year but I'm not holding my breath. I appreciate you all Beta Testing this stuff till I'm ready tho =)
     
  15. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    I have noticed that my movies have eaten up HUGHE CHUNKS o my memory. Monstrously gigantic supersized chunks... I am still trying to figure out what to do about it.... I have an external network drive - but It isn't large enough to hold many of these massive files either...
    It does not help that I am an Apple N00b and still trying to figure out exactly the file structre of my iMac.. It is not nearly as intuitive as I had hoped... I stil cant figure out where my movies are even stored - i'm looking it up online right now...
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Eric,

    This is why I fear AVCHD -- it goes with everything I have read
    about the way Macs handle that format. Slow, cumbersome transfer
    that needs huge amounts of hard drive space and processor power.

    I think I will stick with MPEG tape camcorders for now.
     
  17. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    Well, I will be diving into AVC HD in a big way soon-- maybe I'll be able to pass on some helpful info. We are getting new cameras for one of the classes I teach and they are going to be AVC HD so I will have to figure out a workflow for our lab environment.
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    David,

    I will be awaiting to read your experiences. AVCHD just scares
    me right now. I also read that you can see slight compression
    artifacts in the picture playback.

    I am sort of happy we have a few here willing to try these new
    camcorders out so the rest of us can better gauge whether it is
    worth the investment or not.
     
  19. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    Ron, don't get me wrong it scares me a bit too, but I've got to make it work, so I guess I will. One of the interesting dilemmas with all of these new tapeless formats is how best to archive the material. In some ways, I miss tape. Most of my shoots now take place with a direct capture or to a Panasonic P2 card. We have gotten into the habit of buying external drives whenever we find them on sale in order to archive our footage. They sit on shelves along side all of our legacy tapes. The camera I use for home is a tape based HDV and there is something comforting about having the tapes to go back to.
     
  20. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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