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DVCPRO HD Vs. XDCAM EX which do you prefer

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Hi all, I need to pick up a prosumer camera to use around the office.

 

I am looking at the Panasonic AG-HVX200A as well as the Sony PMWEX1. In the past I would have just gone with the Panasonic as I really don't like HDV but I have been given some footage recently shot in XDCAM EX and found it looked surprisingly good and was fairly easy to work with.

 

It's been a long while since I have had to shoot anything, and I haven't used either camera so any advice would be much appreciated.

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Hi all, I need to pick up a prosumer camera to use around the office.

 

I am looking at the Panasonic AG-HVX200A as well as the Sony PMWEX1. In the past I would have just gone with the Panasonic as I really don't like HDV but I have been given some footage recently shot in XDCAM EX and found it looked surprisingly good and was fairly easy to work with.

 

It's been a long while since I have had to shoot anything, and I haven't used either camera so any advice would be much appreciated.

 

We have 3 Ex1's and love them. The trouble with the HVX is that is has a tiny sensor (900ish x 700ish), whereas the Ex1 has a 1920 x 1080 sensor. In terms of physical size, the HVX has 1/3", the EX1 1/2". The extra bit of size gives you shallower depth of field.

 

XD CAM EX is MUCH better than HDV, although it still has crappy colour compression, but overall it looks pretty fine. HVX uses DVCPro which is great for colour compression, but it also doesn't really have a lot of information to begin with to fill that nice codec (number of pixels is very low).

 

I would say Ex1, just cause I have them and know they produce great pictures, and speaking technically, I think its a bit better.

 

Really, if you know what you're doing you'll get lovely images out of them both.

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EX1 is a dream to use - you won't really notice the compression. The DVCProHD codec has theoretical colour space advantages, but the files are significantly bigger, and I haven't seen any visual evidence that shows any advantage of footage from the HVX200. Greenscreen is very doable (I tend to film 1080p for 720p delivery) - you can grab uncompressed via SDI if you really need to. Lovely big, high res sensor (for the form factor), great built in monitor - rarely find I have lost a shot through incorrect exposure or focus. Good low light performance. Very low noise, even in low-ish light. I get the impression the HVX200 is a bit old now, and suffers by comparison in most the areas I have listed.

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I was on a multicam shoot with both of those cameras focused in on the same subject with same lighting- The sensor size on the EX1 made all the difference in the world. The colors on the HVX looked a little muddy, from the knee and below. I like both but vote EX1

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If you like the P2 workflow though, I'd look into the HPX170 also. It is less expensive than the EX1 and has a much better sensor than the HVX200. But for the extra cash, the EX1 might be the best option though

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P2 is expensive, and if you want to use a Macbook Pro to offload footage, SxS cards are pretty easy and very fast. Note the new Macbook Pros 15" have ditched the Expresscard slot needed for SxS, but the 17" still have it.

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just to beat this dead horse a little more....at my last job we had an hvx200 and used it for basically talking heads. i always thought it looked pretty good until someone shot the same thing on xdcam (not sure which), and it looked way better. more sharp and less noise in the low ranges.

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Canon 5D MII. 'nuff said.

 

-gl

 

We actually considered this and played around with one shooting some video etc. definitely an amazing tool but as it stands now not quite there in terms of all the features and reliability needed for an all around video camera (record times, audio etc.).

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Guest Sao_Bento
We actually considered this and played around with one shooting some video etc. definitely an amazing tool but as it stands now not quite there in terms of all the features and reliability needed for an all around video camera (record times, audio etc.).

Definitely not what you want if you ever expect to key or do heavy color manipulation of your footage.

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Here's the thing

 

The HDX is awesome quality hd for 2005, when I first used the camera, but even then there were 6 bazillion attatchments to get it looking the way it should have always looked, and it sucked at low light. What do you know, 5 years later, it still sucks w/o 60000 attatchments sucks in low light, and doesn't do the quality it should by now on the 4th (im 90% sure it's 4th now) gen of the camera.

 

Then you have the ex, which was taking the amazing quality for 2003 with hdv, and making it 100% digital which makes it great quality for 2006, which makes it 1000% better than an average hdv camera for 1 reason, capture on hdv, fails, 6 ways to sunday. There aren't as many doohickies and wizbangs for it, the lens needs A LOT of work, but it's better at low light, less noisy in general than the hdx. the 1080 hdv footage is at best, ok in any context of HD, but In many cases it ends up being better than the 720 footage off the hdx.

 

If you are looking at buying either, I'm going to call you dumb and point you to a scarlet, then again the age old debate arises

 

Is it better to buy now what you can have, and be unsatisfied in the future or wait for what will eventually be, but have nothing now.

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The HVX is very noisy, so I would stay away from it if you intend to do chroma stuff.

 

agreed. Just had to pull keys on about 2 hours of footage shot on one...the noise was borderline unbearable (then again, it wasn't shot all that well to begin)

 

the P2 workflow is nice, however.

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I'm going to call you dumb and point you to a scarlet

 

Really...I'm supposed to tell clients well we can't do that now because we are waiting until the scarlet ships (does the Scarlet even have an approximate ship date yet I took a quick look at the Red site and didn't see one, anyone know what the word on the street is about that)?!

 

I don't doubt that in the near future the scarlet and maybe even the next gen of the Canon still cameras will put the HVX and PMWE1 to shame, there is always something better right around the corner but I wouldn't be buying gear if I didn't need it for projects coming down the pipe (especially not in this economy, now that would be dumb:).

 

I appreciate the detailed response on the pros and cons of the cameras...but I couldn't just let that dumb comment slide :lol:

Edited by anothername

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Guest Sao_Bento
Really...I'm supposed to tell clients well we can't do that now because we are waiting until the scarlet ships (does the Scarlet even have an approximate ship date yet I took a quick look at the Red site and didn't see one, anyone know what the word on the street is about that)?!

 

I don't doubt that in the near future the scarlet and maybe even the next gen of the Canon still cameras will put the HVX and PMWE1 to shame, there is always something better right around the corner but I wouldn't be buying gear if I didn't need it for projects coming down the pipe (especially not in this economy, now that would be dumb:).

 

I appreciate the detailed response on the pros and cons of the cameras...but I couldn't just let that dumb comment slide :lol:

RED's whole marketing approach is to stop you from buying anything else by introducing doubt into the equation. They've not done well at meeting their deadlines, specs, etc. (although they will argue that they have never promised anything at any date or at any price) thus far, so I sure as hell wouldn't bet my business on them doing a 180 and suddenly being able to meet dates or demand. If you need higher resolution, just rent a film camera. You could also probably rent a RED ONE cheaply from an individual, as many people got caught up in the hype and bought cameras that they never use.

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If you need higher resolution, just rent a film camera. You could also probably rent a RED ONE cheaply from an individual, as many people got caught up in the hype and bought cameras that they never use.
As always very wise words.

 

It's also about the right tool for the right job. When the situation warrants we are renting more "pro" cameras but at that point it is a more involved shoot so involves getting a DP involved or at least an experienced lighting cameraman etc. The nice thing about the HVX and EX1 (I think if they are anything like they're predecessors) is you can give them to someone relatively inexperienced set everything to auto and get really decent results. For a camera that I am actually going to buy to keep around the office (as opposed to rent) I want something that has enough versatility that it can be used on more "pro" jobs by someone who knows what they are doing if budget or scheduling prevent the rental of a camera, but also something that can be handed off to a PA/Producer/someone who doesn't know a ton about shooting, to get some reference stuff, or B roll, or behind the scenes stuff on more involved projects. In other words I'm looking for an everyday workhorse video camera that can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I don't think the 5D MII or RED ONE, or Scarlet are that (even though I think those cameras are absolutely fantastic for other situations). BUT I must admit if I could buy a Scarlet tomorrow instead, I'd probably do it because I don't think I could resist...

 

Don't mean to beat a dead horse but thought people reading the thread might might want to know why I zeroed in on those two cameras specifically.

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Oh I agree 100% sao, If you can wait, get a scarlet, if it needs to be done now and those are your only 2 options, I think it depends on what you are going to be doing, but both are good.

 

Keys can be really nasty, def don;t shoot blue screen, as the blue channel is awful (that goes for most non film cameras). I'd say if you can squeeze the money and have to shoot soon rent a better camera like an HDX of something similar, with the, dare I say it, overflow of red cameras, renting them has gotten exceeding cheap as the average-jo side of the market has lead to viscous undercutting.

 

Also on the note of current economy, renting is a much wiser choice, You are paying to make sure everything works, as it is. Unlike buying your own camera, which is 1) harder to factor into your rate 2) requires constant upkeep) and 3) doesn't have the ability to be another camera if you prefer it. I can';t tell you the amount of times I've been on set and something has gone wrong and had a guy from the rental house drive out, and fix it, free of charge. vs having some one's camera just, break, and being done for the day, or worse, driving to the rental house and having to then pay for that too.

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I've used the HVX for a few chroma key projects and haven't run into a single issue pulling keys from it. I've seen some muddy color results straight out of the camera, but 4:2:2 gives you a little more lattitude for color correction and more information for keying than you'll get out of the EX with 4:2:0.

 

Plus you can find the HVX used for pretty cheap if you do some digging.

Edited by wwDB50

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I've used the HVX for a few chroma key projects and haven't run into a single issue pulling keys from it. I've seen some muddy color results straight out of the camera, but 4:2:2 gives you a little more lattitude for color correction and more information for keying than you'll get out of the EX with 4:2:0.

 

Mathematically, I suppose...but fewer pixels to work with. The EX shoots "true" HD with square pixels, no stretching. That will be of great use to someone trying to get clean edges on their chroma keys. Better DOF, too, due to the larger sensor. The XDCAM EX codec is pretty darn good for long-GOP and I have to say I've achieved some fantastic keys from even questionably-lit footage. The few times I've taken the camera out myself, I've been amazed at how FUN it is to run, I like the lens features and the images it brings back are fantastic.

 

One factor in going with the Sony in my case was the ability to archive to XDCAM discs. Sony's been dragging their feet on that feature but it's just about ready. Until then I have a paperweight XDCAM disc drive on my desk. Dang.

 

Cf

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Mathematically, I suppose...but fewer pixels to work with. The EX shoots "true" HD with square pixels, no stretching. That will be of great use to someone trying to get clean edges on their chroma keys.

 

I will agree that the square pixels is a benefit...but the number of usable pixels is pretty relative to how big your subject is in your frame. As far as I can tell, it will always be easier to get a clean key with uncompressed SD than with any form of compressed HD.

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We've had an HVX200 in house for a few years now. Used it on multiple green screen shoots and it keys, not without it's issues though. Retaining any kind of edge detail is a pain as a result of DVCPROHD and it's sampling. I've noticed the same problems with their bigger cams such as the HDX500. The noise can be horrendous, even with lots of light. It's still a great image, just has limitations, as does any camera.

 

I've seen some tests between an HVX and a EX1 and the EX1 is a clear winner for resolution and sharpness. The HVX may be more filmic in it's image thanks to the CineGamma, but anyone can dial in that look in post. The 4:2:2 color space is a clear advantage for the HVX though. Some people don't care about this, some people do.

 

If I had to choose I'd almost go with the EX1 just to have a bigger sensor, cleaner image, better low light/noise, and true 1920x1080 HD. That's one thing that's always bothered me about the HVX, it's not even native 1280x720, which is hard to justify in 2009 with native 1080 quickly becoming the norm.

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