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Thread: Does HD Matter?

  1. #1
    FilmBuff
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    When I buy my next camera should I go for HD? I don't know much about it but I don't want to spend money on SD if it's going to be outdated soon.

  2. #2
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    I think the answer depends a lot on your location. In the USA, high definition has gained a reasonable foothold and is showing some promise. However in some parts of the world very few people know or care about it and SD may be current for much longer.

    The looming introduction of high definition DVD will make a difference, but exactly how much difference I don't know.

    One way to gauge interest is to ask your local appliance retailers how many HD TVs they sell. HD will only gather momentum when enough people own compatible TVs.

    I'm actually facing the same dilemma myself. I think my next camera will be HD but I'm not 100% convinced. I could certainly afford a nicer SD camera with better features for the same price. However I think I want to future-proof my videos with HD.

    If you can afford to wait a while I would recommend doing so. The HD market is still very new and potentially volatile. You could spend a bunch of money on a 720p camera and find the format dies in a few years. Or you could buy 1080i and then regret not waiting until 1080p became available (it's not available yet).

    Another thing to consider is who will be watching your footage and how important HD is to them, even if they do have a compatible TV. I've come across people who find it hard to tell the difference between SD and HD.

    Also, as I hinted at before, you might be able to get better features for the same price in a SD camera. For example, your videos could be improved more by a nicer zoom control, better viewfinder, etc than by high definition pictures.

    Tough choice.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  3. #3
    Bob
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    Actually, the new Panny HVX200 can record 1080p (24p or 30p). The flash media is a bit spendy though (to put it ever-so-mildly).

    I would say the biggest factor (of several), in making a choice between purchasing a SD camcorder or purchasing a HD camcorder is in the editing. DV (standard definition) is much easier to work with than HDV (high definition). If you are a novice with editing or don't have the computer horse-power and software (or budget for it) to work with HDV, then go with good old standard DV. I should mention though, that the HDV camcorders available on the market today can also shoot standard definition DV as well as the high definition HDV.

    High definition footage can be burned onto standard DVDs, using either DivX-HD or WMV-HD, with about 1 hour of decent quality video on a single layer disk. There are currently two DVD players available in the U.S. (at a cost between $200-$350) that can play such disks.

    I have a JVC GY-HD10U camcorder. It's a challenging camera, but can shoot decent footage in the right hands (good lighting is certainly a must). It's definetly not a point and shoot (it is a little more forgiving in DV mode though). I haven't tried on yet, but. from what I've read and some sample footage I've seen, the new lower end HDV camcorders from Sony (HDR-HC1 and HVR-A1U) look fairly user friendly and shoot nice video, at a reasonable cost (under $2000).

    In a couple years, it's quite likely that standard analog broadcasts will end (I think congress is looking at ending standard analog broadcasting in 2008). When analog broadcasting ceases, HDTV will really take hold.

  4. #4
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    Thanks for pointing out the HVX200, I had completely forgotten about that one. I read a couple of favourable reviews a while ago but in my recent research I completely overlooked it. Although I've backed off the idea of purchasing a HD camera for now I might have to look at the Panasonic again later in the year.

    One thing that does put me off is that we've had bad experiences with DVCPro at work. Anything that carries that logo makes me nervous .

    I've been tempted by the Sony HDR-FX1 but spending that amount of money when it's not quite the full deal... maybe not.

    The editing is also a very good point. I've just started mucking around with HD editing recently and I was taken aback by how much computer power is required. My normal working computer is a 3.2GHz Pentium with 1GB ram... I thought this would be enough to experiment but it's too sluggish to be much fun .

    Unfortunately I don't have access to much HD footage so I'm still largely relying on other people's anecdotes. I'm very interested in hearing more stories and experiences shooting in HD, e.g. do you find focussing much more difficult? Do you have any stories about audience perception?

    BTW, I heard that the US analog broadcast cutoff date has been put back to 2009 (but don't quote me).
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  5. #5
    Bob
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    What camera do you use currently?

  6. #6
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    I'm not sure if you're asking me or FilmBuff but I'll answer anyway. I'm afraid my own camera is a very cheap and nasty Panasonic DV camcorder (can't remember the exact model - it's not here at the moment).

    Because I've always had access to professional cameras through work I've avoided having to pay for one of my own. However my work situation has changed and I really need to own my own camera now, so I'm looking at the options. There's no hurry though so I'll probably hold off for a little while.

    At work we've been using various Sony BetaSP cameras but recently upgraded to XDCam. Very nice camera .
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  7. #7
    FilmBuff
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    Thanks

    Thanks for the replies. I hate it that I need a new camera when the future of video formats is uncertain. I think I will probably buy a cheap DV camera for now.

    My old camera is a Sony TRV108 which has been knocked around quite a bit.

  8. #8
    Bob
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    If you're on a tight budget, there are a couple cameras you might look for on eBay. It takes some work, but if you really hunt them down, there are some real treasures to find there.

    Three of the best camera purchases I've made there were a Canon Optura 10 for about $70, a Sony DCR-TRV70 for about $450 and a JVC GY-DV300U for just a tad under $900 (I just bought the DV800 yesterday, and am looking forward to it's arrival).

    It's not likely to see another Optura there for under a couple hundred again for a long time (unless it's broken), but the TRV70s (and TRV80s) often sell for around $500, which is a lot of bang for the buck. The TRV70s and 80s are among the best single chip cameras ever made and can shoot very nice, crisp footage. My only serious complaint with them is the silly touch screen, which is a pain in the butt to navigate. I think it was the Panasonic GS-953 and GS-400 that eroded the market for the TRV70s and 80s. Everybody seems to just love those 3 chip Panasonics, and they're great cameras and have better controls, but the TRV70s and 80s are still pretty dang close in video quality (even though they are one chippers - 1/4 inch with 2 megapixels gross and more than 1 megapixel effective). When you can get a TRV70 for less than half the cost of a GS-400, that's a no brainer in my book (and I'll even put up with the touch screen).

    If you can spend up to a little under a grand, you might keep an eye out for another GY-DV300U to come along. I haven't actually used one yet, but from what I can gather, they stand about right along side with a Sony VX2000.

    I also regularly look for older cameras in good condition for under $100, to give to my kids, my girlfriend's kids, my brother's kids, etc. Every once in a while, a perfectly fine old low end camcorder comes along that goes all but completely unnoticed. That's how I snagged the Optura 10. The old low end Panasonics (like a PV-DV53 for example) tend not to fetch much on eBay, but can be perfectly fine beginner miniDV cameras (they do have manual white balance and other basic controls, and can actually even record full 720 x 480 pixel 16:9 widescreen, not the letterbox 16:9 recording, even though it's called vertical stretch under digital effects, or something like that). You'd really enjoy the step up from Hi8, even to an old low end miniDV camera, and they can be had, in good condition, for a song. I do buy from individuals, but I prefer buying from pawn shops that sometimes get rid of their dust collectors on eBay. They tend to represent their items pretty accurately.

  9. #9
    Bob
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    Re: Does HD Matter?

    Dave - You might want to look at the HVR-A1U. Sony is offering a $500 rebate on them now (through March I think), that brings the bottom line cost down to just a hair under $2K, purchasing from a reputable dealer like B&H. It'll even shoot DV and DVCAM (small cassette) too. I'm very tempted to get one myself.

  10. #10

    Re: Does HD Matter?

    I got my GY-DV300U yesterday. I like it!

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