General Question

badapple's avatar

Best Prosumer Camcorder?

Asked by badapple (198 points ) July 10th, 2009

I have done a decent amount of freelance work but I really need to get some better equipment. I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s products but I heard that Panasonic has a better “film look” compared to Sony’s current models. I’m looking to spend around $3,000 on the camera itself not including any accessories (any recommendations on the accessories would be appreciated as well) I might even consider some models above $3,000 if the performance matches the price difference.

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8 Answers

CMaz's avatar

A better “film look” is subjective. Your editing software will give you the “film look” you want.

Panasonic AG-HVX200 is a good cam within your budget. That also being subjective.

kevbo's avatar

Camcorderinfo.com has more data than you will ever need.

quasi's avatar

The “film look” your refering to prob. has to do with the camera recording in progressive and not interlaced (ie. 720p vs. 1080i)

Interlaced looks more like video-video, Progressive (because it has discreet frames) looks more like film. So this is something to keep in mind, look at the format.

Also, make sure the camera has some manual controls (most any prosumer ones will) so you can adjust the “shutter” speed, aperture etc.

Audio Inputs are important, look at what kind of equipment you can plug into the camera etc.

I can’t tell you Sony over Panasonic etc. I would just decide what features are the most important to you and make the comparison.

And I apoligize up front if you already knew all of that.. I was kind of responding to the first comment.

CMaz's avatar

Interlace and progressive are more of a playback and viewing process. 720 or 1080 are lines of resolution. And, do not provide a more film look. It is purely a resolution thing when viewing the final product. Because a camera shoots in “HD” I prefer to call “HD” 1080 because the lines of resolution will always be there but compression which is what most “HD” cameras are using now and the broadcasters transmitting at 57:1 pretty much kills the term High Definition. But it is still 1080 which still looks better then 520.
Frame rate such as 24p can and will give a more “film look”.
There are plenty of pluming in editing software that can give that illusion of film.
A little trick I have used is to drop a frame, or creat a 1 frame strobe. Meaning removing a frame within every 30 or 24 frames. Not to be confused with recording in drop frame to keep a long format program from falling out of sink with the time length of the program.

High end cameras, such as the RED have a way of processing the signal to provide a film look. But can also generate a native signal so you have more flexibility in post production.

martijn86's avatar

I love the Sony HVR-Z7, or on a tight budget, leaning a bit more to consumer.. the Sony HVR-A1.

The film look in general will be caused by a higher dynamic range of colours and contrast. The Z7 does that a bit better then the competition.. for real high dynamic range (and no 4K RED cam) go for a Sony XDCAM.

badapple's avatar

@martijn86, I took a look at the Z7 and it looks awesome! I was considering the Z1 but I might hurt my pocketbook a little more and go with the Z7.

quasi's avatar

you can’t get the “film look” that you do with 24p (p as in progressive) with interlaced 1080i.. that is the only reason why i stated the diff. between the two. 24 fps gives you the closest to film that you can get with digital (without any additional equipment.)

rovdog's avatar

Also at that price range you should also really check out some DSLRs like the Canon 7D and the Canon Mark 5D mark 2. A lot of filmmakers are using DSLRs to shoot HD cheaply nowadays- the main advantage being that there is a built in interchangable lens system and lots of availability of nice lenses. There are some big drawbacks in using a camera like this for production but you asked about making it look like a film and this is one approach that it being taken on the cheap.

If you really want to replicate a film look I think one of the major things to pay attention to is you lensing. On it’s most basic level- if you start shooting very shallow depth of field stuff you will move more toward a look that people associate with film. I find also that in terms of resolution shooting more close ups will stop people from noticing the lack of detail with certain types of video versus film- this is form observation of seeing other people’s video work projected. One thing that I’ve noticed also is that the work in lighting goes a long way in making video look like film- the more you approach video as you would approach film- I mean with the same kind of care and precision that film requires- I think the close your video is going to come to looking like film.

Definitely check out what people are doing with these DSLRs- I kind of doubted it first as you probably will but so far I know a lot of people who have been impressed.

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