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Looking for TRUE 16:9 anamoprphic digital camcorder

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_Berger, Nov 4, 2001.

  1. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    I'm looking for a digital camcorder with a TRUE 16:9 anamorphic option to it as well as stereo microphone input and FireWire.
    I've looked at Sony and JVC. JVC at least uses matted 16:9. It's certainly not my first option, but it will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, both Sony and JVC use this absolutely INFURIATING and BULL[CRAP] cropped 16:9 mode. Instead of using true anamorphic compression to gain more on the sides, both Sony and JVC **crop** the top and bottom and then stretch the picture VERTICALLY! [​IMG]
    (What's even more infuriating is that my older Sony 8mm camcorder **does** have true anamorphic compression! Why in blazes did Sony go for this new pull-the-wool-over-the-public's-eyes scheme?)
    Anyway ... you don't know how angry I was when I noticed this because they both have the audacity to refer to it as 16:9 *wide* screen! (How about 16:9 *cropped* screen, since that would be more accurate!) Is it essentally the same as matted 16:9? Well, yes, but it's the principle of the matter! [​IMG] If it's not wider than 4:3, don't advertise it as such!
    Anyway, can anyone recommend a digital camcorder with true 16:9 anamorphic recording, stereo mic input, and FireWire that the average Joe like myself can afford? Based on this false advertising by Sony and JVC, my hopes are not very high... but at least I do have hope.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    Right now there's no such thing as a consumer camcorder which has 16:9 CCDs.
    However, Century Optics and Optex have anamorphic lens adapters for several camcorder models including some Sonys.
     
  3. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    {COUGH} {SPUTTER}
    Good Lord, man! Those 16:9 lenses cost more than some of the camcorders I was looking at! [​IMG] That's what I get for having specific demands, I suppose. [​IMG]
    Thanks for the info. At least I know that what I need is out there, even if it's beyond my range at the moment.
    ------------------
    The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page
    A Member of the Artists Rights Foundation
    http://www.widescreen.org
     
  4. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Yeah, it's killing me as an amature filmmaker
    Oh, if you combine the fake 16:9 mode with the 16:9 lens, you approximate anamorphic 2.35:1 [​IMG] It looks quite lovely or so I hear. [​IMG]
    Even a prosumer camcorder with 16:9 CCDs is at least 2 years away
    Jeff Kleist
     
  5. Kevin Fox

    Kevin Fox Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    I think such a camcorder does exist. I was looking for the same thing, and last week I stopped at a local store to take a Canon ZR25MC for a test drive. They also let me look at the instruction manual.

    Anyhow, this MiniDV camcorder does have a 16:9 mode, and when I activated it, the pictures in the viewfinder and viewscreen all took on the squeezed look you get when playing back a 16:9 DVD on a 4:3 screen. The manual also stated that material recorded in the 16:9 mode would only play back properly on a widescreen TV. Sounds like true anamorphic enhancement to me.

    Based on this feature and others, I've decided to purchase the next step up, the ZR30MC. My local retailer will match Amazon's price of $799, and there's also a $50 rebate currently available.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong about the anamorphic enhancement feature, but it certainly appears to be the real thing.
     
  6. James David Walley

    James David Walley Stunt Coordinator

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    Hate to disappoint you, but the Canon is also uses a "crop-and-stretch" synthesized-anamorphic mode. All consumer camcorders do, since they all come with 4:3 format CCDs.
    If you want a camcorder with true 16:9 CCDs, there are professional models from Sony and JVC. However, you may want to sit down before reading the next few lines. The Sony (model 500WS) produces excellent images, but lists for $15,000. The JVC is somewhere around $10,000, but that's for the body alone, and the lenses cost several thousand each. (I know one place around here that rents the Sony to motion-picture productions for $200/day.) These are obviously aimed at the professional market, primarily for ENG (electronic news gathering) and low-budget-but-not-NO-budget indie filmmaking, which means, also, that they are large, heavy, shoulder-mounted cameras that can't be carried around in a small bag for home-movie purposes.
    Compared with that, the $700 or so for a true anamorphic adapter for a $1200 camcorder doesn't seem so bad, does it? [​IMG] Actually, even the synthesized 16:9 isn't too bad, if you play it back on a 16:9 set at full mode. As others have noted, you might get a better result from using that rather than shooting full-frame and cropping, since "stretching" the picture before encoding will often result in less detail being removed during compression.
    I will note, however, that I recently shot a short motion picture on DV -- since I wanted a wide-screen framing, I wound up shooting full-frame and then cropping the image to 16:9, and it looks quite good when viewed on a Toshiba 40" 16:9 set in "TheaterWide 2" mode. Granted, you get a slightly soft picture, but that takes away some of the hard-edged look that idenitifies it as video rather than film.
     

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