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klaas4's avatar

What's is a great HD HDD-camcorder for Final Cut Express?

Asked by klaas4 (2194points) January 4th, 2009

Hi all,

I am looking for a camcorder for when I get my new MacBook Pro. I was looking at the JVC GZ-HD5, and it looks very good value for money. (€548,- for a 60GB drive + firewire) Do you have any other recommendations. I’m looking for the following:

– min HD-space: 30GB
– Full HD
– FireWire and compatibility with Final Cut Express
– Less than €850,-?


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12 Answers

sndfreQ's avatar

Try the new Canon HF series camcorders…they record at full 24MB/s AVCHD, and have both hard-drive and solid-state (flash) versions.

Personally, I’d look into:

The HF S10 has dual memory-32GB internal flash, and a card slot for up to 32GB SD Flash. each 32GB will yield up to 2hrs 55 minutes of full HD recording at the highest quality (24MB/s).

With the removable memory stick and the USB 2.0, you shouldn’t have any problems transferring files. With flash-based media, you don’t need to “log and capture” as you would with tape-based/firewire based cams.

I’d also steer away from hard drives, as they are prone to failure and difficult to get repaired (expensive). The flash gives you the best of both worlds: cheap storage, no moving parts, etc.

klaas4's avatar

Wow! Looks awesome, the only thing is that it doesn’t have firewire and that that JVC I talked about in my first post has a bigger drive for less (looking at all those features, that must have a price).

Thanks anyway. :)

yay! 1500 lurve

sndfreQ's avatar

^^ FYI, the model you’re referring to doesn’t have FireWire, it’s a USB 2.0/1.1 interface, like the Canon.

What’s the reason behind a hard drive based storage? Those are the same hard drives (Toshiba 1.8”) found in iPods…the Canon has the equivalent storage if you buy an external 32GB stick, and higher bit depth recording in AVCHD (24 MB/s), plus the JVC uses MPEG-2 as the encoder, versus the newer MPEG-4 based AVCHD; you may want to read up on comparisons in Final Cut editing MPEG-2 versus AVCHD.

Here’s a link to a Panasonic camera AG-HMC-150 that shoots AVCHD (though it’s a “prosumer” camera that’s a bit more in price), but the link provides a basic explanation regarding MPEG-2 (in this case, HDV), versus MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codecs. It may help you in considering whether or not to go with AVCHD.

Final Cut Express accepts both codecs, and unless you’re mixing formats, the video processing is about the same in terms of CPU processing power required for editing.

klaas4's avatar

The JVC does have FireWire, but they call it iLink. Also I do want great quality but, it doesn’t have to be really the best. It’s just for fun.

I think that JVC is the way to go, but you might have some other ideas?

sndfreQ's avatar

not really…wow, the JVC is available online for $350 US?!! Amazing that the price is that low for HD…again, my advice is to read up on the conversion methods (HDV/MPEG-2 versus AVCHD), but otherwise, go for it!

klaas4's avatar

Will I notice a significant difference in quality?

sndfreQ's avatar

Can’t say for sure but editing HDV is somewhat cumbersome if you don’t convert it first. The tech behind HDV uses “group of pictures” or GOP to fill in missing data between groups of full frames. You could do a bit of research on GOP technology, as all of the MPEG-2 compression standards use the Long-GOP method to achieve data compression.

What I’ve seen on Final Cut is, whenever a clip is trimmed or merged (with a transition for example), you’ll get the render line every time (the red line along the timeline), requiring a render for each edit you make.

AFAIK AVCHD as a codec doesn’t use the Long-GOP method, and renders each frame wholly on acquisition (when filming, it takes full-frame video, rather than a full frame once every 10 frames).

klaas4's avatar

Oh, that’s indeed very unhandy. But, you know, I’m a kid and can’t really make an excuse for buying a cam for >€1000,-. I mean a notebook is something else, but a camcorder isn’t worth so much for me.

Unless I can find a real AVCHD-cam for €300—€800, I’m going to have to accept that I’m going to have to use alt-R a lot. (=shortcut for rendering if you don’t know :))


sndfreQ's avatar

Hi Davey,

Well, €300—€800 means that shipped your camera cannot exceed $1070 or so…there are several of the Canon line cameras that have your specs, for well under that price.

^^That one has a 60GB internal HDD, plus SDHC Flash cards, and comes in at around $899.00 (plus shipping).

I also noticed that JVC also has cameras around that same price that have dual shooting mode, shooting both MPEG-2 and AVCHD, such as the GZ HD30:

That one comes in at $949.00 US, and has the added ability to output via the HDMI connector at 60p (1080 p resolution) via an internal processor. Plus has an 80GB internal HDD, to boot. Also, another factor is that it has a CMOS sensor, which produces a more vivid image compared to the older, CCD sensors.

Good luck with that; I think that you’re getting pretty close to equal specs between the two models, except that with the Canon, one of their big selling points is the 24 MB/s “high quality” AVCHD, whereas other camcorders capture at 12 MB/s. You may want to check that out on the JVC cam.

klaas4's avatar

I also saw this one;
It’s €498,- full HD (1440×1080) + AVCHD. Great deal, I think…

- edit -
Damn, hasn’t got Firewire.. Is that a problem? I think it is, or isn’t USB that bad?

sndfreQ's avatar

1440 is not full HD-it seems to be somewhere between a 720p and 108i camera; without 1920×1080 (i or p) it’s not a full-size or what is termed “full HD”; as for AVCHD, it is always encoding video using that encoder (codec), so remember that you’re describing two separate functions-size/resolution (Vertical x Horizontal lines of resolution, i or p for interlaced or progressive), frame rate (30p/60i depending on whether the cam is a 720p or a 1080i), and the encoder type *(remember MPEG-2 used for older codecs like HDV, newer AVC/H.264 codec used in AVCHD and QuickTime).

I pulled the specs for the camera you mentioned here:

even though it’s from JVC Australia, it’s the same camera I think.

sndfreQ's avatar

transfer rates for USB and Firewire are really not going to be a big deal for those file sizes, so I’d say no it’s not a big deal. Back in the days of tape-only camcorders, you absolutely needed firewire for any kind of HD video (back then HDV was the primary flavor of camera, as in some of the legacy Canon HDV consumer cams).

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