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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  17:55:13  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
off topic, but a friend of mine who is less experienced then I am is trying to convince me to settle for a cheaper hd consumer camcorder such as the vixia INSTEAD of a higher end Prosumer such as an xl or xa. He thinks they are "BETTER" camera for amatur filmmakers.

aside from the obvious differences, he's dead worng sin't he?

whats the spec differences? i just feel like looking them up?
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  18:12:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My daughter is 9 years old and is taking violin classes. When she started, 4 years ago, I had to buy her a violin. While a good Guarneri (or Stradivari) is an excellent instrument, I had bought her a $40 Chinese-made violin. Since she was a "noob", any decent violin would have been wasted on her. This year, she outgrew the old one, so I spent some $180 on a newer (and better) one. If ten years from now she still plays it, I'll probably spend a few grand for a solid performer's instrument.

If you are a "noob" (as you say so yourself), a $4000 pro(sumer) camcorder would be wasted on you until you get the hang of it. A Vixia, on the other hand, has consistently ranked quite high among consumers models it its price range, so it is a good way to start. If you ever end up doubting your purchase, you can always remember that they shot a lot of scenes in "Crank 2: High Voltage" on Vixias (in other words, the "if it's good for them, it's good for me" excuse).
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  18:46:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
i'm not a total noob, but i don't want to be limited in my purchase. so if down the road a few months say i want to hook up a redrock 35mm adapter, then hook it up to a steadycam and maybe i'll be using matte box. can vixia's handle that set-up?
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Corax
Average Member

Canada
209 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  20:23:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

i'm not a total noob, but i don't want to be limited in my purchase. so if down the road a few months say i want to hook up a redrock 35mm adapter, then hook it up to a steadycam and maybe i'll be using matte box. can vixia's handle that set-up?



Well no, the Vixia doesn't have interchangeable lenses: it's fixed. It does look like a nice camera though for that range, I've been looking at it myself. There might be some options for a matte box, but consumer camcorders really aren't designed for professional accessories like that. It does have an accessory shoe though, so there is room for modular additions.

You could fabricate a DIY steadycam for a camcorder like that, and I'm sure there are other professional steadycam-esque options for such a camera.



You must remember, you're comparing a consumer camcorder to a professional camera that is more than quadruple the cost. Apples and oranges here.

One thought though: let's say you get a consumer camcorder like the Vixia. Now, the quality of the image is not going to be near the same as the other professional Canons you've mentioned. However, if you can learn and manage to make a fantastic image/aesthetic on the Vixia, then your results with a professional camera after acquiring that experience should be even more fantastic.
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bjdzyak
Senior Member

USA
592 Posts

Posted - 04 Jan 2010 :  23:26:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by aburke09

i'm not a total noob, but i don't want to be limited in my purchase. so if down the road a few months say i want to hook up a redrock 35mm adapter, then hook it up to a steadycam and maybe i'll be using matte box. can vixia's handle that set-up?



I'm a bit unsure of why you'd ever want to place a 35mm adapter on a low-end camera like this in the first place. And why do you want a matte-box? Do you intend to use filtration at some point?

I ask because while the glass in front of the imager may be better with those types of additions, the guts of these low-end cameras you're talking about will pretty much negate any potential benefit you think you're going to gain (at a significant financial cost, I might add). It's kind of like putting a Ferrari body around a Dodge Dart chassis. It may look cooler on the outside, but no amount of dressing it up will make it go faster.

Currently, the highest end HD cameras record at 4:4:4 uncompressed. This is the level of cameras like the SonyF35, SonyF23. Mid-level HD cameras, like the Sony F900R, record at 4:2:2. And then the Pro-sumer level shoot at 4:0:0. Image sensor size also comes into play as does sampling rates and a whole lot of other technical information (technical "stuff") that a serious "filmmaker" should at least be aware of before venturing into purchasing pricey equipment. Not to mention effective ISO, which impacts the lighting equipment you need to spend money on.

You can see a nice comparison of most of the types of cameras at http://www.fletch.com/images/2009_Digital_Comparison_Chart.pdf .

And, as far as filtration goes, it can get a little risky "degrading" a compressed image that the low-end cameras give you. But beyond that, just for information's sake, diffusion filters you might end up thinking about using cost around $400 a piece to purchase ( http://www.tiffen.com/results.html?tablename=filters&search_type_no=355&family=Tiffen+Filters&page_no=25&x=0&y=0 )

Brian Dzyak
Cameraman/Author
IATSE Local 600, SOC
http://www.whatireallywanttodo.com
http://www.realfilmcareer.com
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  09:16:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My understanding is that Canon's VIXIA line has a sensor (and the accompanying imaging chip) that capture HD at 4:2:2 chroma subsampling, but AVCHD encodes it in 4:2:0. If you want the original colour sub-sampling from VIXIA, you can only get it by capturing from HDMI output into something other than AVCHD. This is somewhat pointless, since the gear needed for that will cost much more than the Vixia itself.

Some prosumer models have ventured outside the AVCHD specification and can encode with 4:2:2 subsampling resolution. Those tend to be in the $4k-$6k range. The consumer models definitively have 4:2:0 subsampling (which is still somewhat better than 4:1:1 that MiniDV used to have, back in the SD world; by the way, 4:0:0 would be impossible, as it implies no chroma sampling in either first, or second rows of pixels per sample).

There's a reason why consumer models are cheap: compromises are made that are perfectly acceptable for consumers, but not so for pros. Good luck pulling decent key out of AVCHD footage shot with Vixia. I'm not saying it can't be done; I'm just saying, good luck...

Edited by - Vasic on 05 Jan 2010 09:22:01
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  10:28:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Brian, here is a sample of what a film can look like with an adapter and a "low-end" camera as you say.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT1ciQf3Wsg

Is there something wrong with this? Does this not qualify me as a "Filmmaker" because i'm not using a 40,000 dollar camera? Also, the Canon Xl H1 rocords 4:2:2.

As a "Cameraman/Author" that you state after every one of your posts, maybe you shoulda known that?






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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  11:38:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, not quite. Your Canon XL H1 is a HDV camcorder. HDV uses MPEG-2 for compression, and chroma subsampling is 4:2:0. What you are quoting it from Canon's marketing material; they cleverly tried to sneak in 4:2:2, and you bought into the deceit. If you read carefully, you'll learn that the camera "acquires" video at 4:2:2, and IF you use SD-HDI output on it, you can capture raw, uncompressed stream (with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling) into any format of your choice, assuming of course you already have the capturing hardware. In my previous post, I said that even the cheapest $500 Vixia (the HF-200) can output raw, uncompressed HD video (with 4:2:2 chroma) on its HDMI output, which can then be captured using appropriate hardware (such as BlackMagic Intensity or similar). On the other hand, if you use the camera as is, the uncompressed, raw, 4:2:2 images are captured, processed and compressed into HDV onto a MiniDV tape, which reduces chroma subsampling to 4:2:0 (same as AVCHD in Vixias). I have no doubt Brian knows this.

I've seen many tests with 35mm adapters grafted onto consumer camcorders (HV20/30 seem to be the most common choice). They bridge, to some extent, the issue of DoF that plagues those minuscule sensors, but it is really kind of pointless. If you own a Toyota Corolla, you can spend $20k to soup up its engine, suspension, add spoilers, tint windows etc, but it would really be a massive waste of money, since you could get a very zippy BMW for the same money. Do you really prefer a $35k souped-up Corolla over a BMW?

The sample you had shown is from YouTube. If your filmmaking is destined for YouTube, then of course, Vixia is more than adequate. After all, YouTube compresses significantly more than Vixia, so a lot of image quality is lost/sacrificed. However, if at some point you hope to show your films in a theatre, shortcomings of a consumer camcorder will become obvious to a lot of people.
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  11:49:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Once again; a feature film CAN be made with Vixia. A very skilled and experienced cinematographer will know very well what are the limitations of a consumer camcorder. Working with the director, he will do his best and shoot the film within those limitations. With very strong skills and experience, he will know how to light and shoot in order to avoid (or minimise) the obvious shortcomings of such camcorder. However, the work will be immensely frustrating for all (not just the cinematographer), and in the end, none of the creative people would be pleased with the result. Again, the result may well look great, but would end up being a massive compromise, made in order to hide the shortcomings of the equipment.

To use the analogy from before, if I were to give my daughter's violin to Maxim Vengerov, he would no doubt be able to perform Brahms's Concerto for Violin on it. However, his extraordinary talent and musicianship would be blocked at every attempt at delivering subtle performance nuances with a $180 instrument. He would certainly play every note that Brahms wrote, and to many it would sound beautiful (Vengerov is, after all, an extraordinary violinist), but many would easily hear the difference, and Vengerov himself would be immensely frustrated with the instrument.

On the other hand, my daughter probably couldn't tell the difference between her $180 violin and a $500k Guarneri...

Edited by - Vasic on 05 Jan 2010 12:48:19
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  12:47:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
all this talk is giving me a headache
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  12:49:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Are you sure you want to get into the filmmaking business then? I mean, if you can get a headache from just talking about it, I can't imagine what would happen if you end up doing it...
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  12:56:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
did i mention I film Porn?
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  13:02:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
also, you guys are really bringing me down. I usually have fun when I film stuff. You guys make it sound like work!
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Vasic
Senior Member

USA
501 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  13:17:37  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, for many, it's both. For some, it's work and very little fun. Then there's guys like you for whom it's all fun and (apparently) no work.

There is no question, good filmmaking involves a lot of actual work, since there are many, many things that contribute to a good film. If you have some allergies to work, you'll need to figure out how to treat them if you have serious intentions with your filmmaking quest. There is really no way to avoid some serious work when you're making a good film.
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aburke09
Junior Member

46 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2010 :  13:30:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hell Yeah, all fun is fine with me. and I work a full-time job, part-time job on the weekends, I am a part-time Film student and I have a 2 year old son. I don't need to be told what "hard work" is. I do enough of that so id really rather have fun with filmmaking. The minute it becomes work is the minute I stop doing it!
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