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Best Prosumer Camcorder

I've been looking at camcorders for a while now, and I think it's time for me to step up from my Canon HV-20. Don't get me wrong, it's a great camcorder; the picture quality is amazing and it's packed with plenty of great features, but it can be quite limiting at times.

For instance; I cannot control the aperture and shutter speed at the same time, and I can only shoot in 24fps if I also shoot in 1080. Not to mention the frustrating mini "focus wheel".

I would like to have a "less automatic" camcorder mostly for creating short films and the occasional snowboarding trips. Here are some of the things I consider most important:

1. Overall image quality.
If I can find a camcorder, whether it be HD or not, with the same crystal clear sharp picture that the HV-20 delivers, I will be satisfied.

2. High Dynamic Range.
I hear that one of the most important things to look for in a prosumer camcorder is the 3CCD technology. I also heard that having 3CCDs gives a wider dynamic range, which would be great for snowboarding (less blown out snow and skies and more properly exposed subjects).

3. Variable Frame Rates.
I almost always shoot in 24fps with the HV-20 because of the "film look" you can achieve. It would also be great to have higher frame rates available for shooting for smooth slow motion.

4. Sensor Size.
I would like a camcorder with a large enough sensor to capture a nice shallow depth of field without using an expensive 35mm adapter. I feel that this is very important and adds a lot to the creativity of your shots.

5. HD
Not the most important, seeing as right now, rendering in FCP is painfully slow with 1080 footage, but it would be nice to have the extra pixels. If there are any camcorders that shoot 720, that would be perfect size.

Oh and low light performance is a large factor as well. Shooting night scenes with the HV-20 always guarantees a grainy image.

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3ccd Camera and Lens Size

In reply to: Best Prosumer Camcorder

I purchased my last consumer camera because it was 3CCD. However, it did not give me the broadcast quality I was looking for. Then I purchased a Sony HVR-V1U. It has a larger lens and is super high quality. The larger lens really helps in low light conditions (probably not important to you).

The body of most prosumer cameras is bigger than the consumer models. Again, I do not know if that is important to you.

I would try to get to a professional videogapher supplier if at all possible. I was fortunate with one in my town so I could try out the various cameras. One or two tries is better than reading an entire book of camcorder reviews!


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The Canon XH-A1 has most of what you are looking for.

In reply to: Best Prosumer Camcorder

Aperture, shutter, and focus are all adjusted via "rings" which are grouped on the lens assembly. All can be adjusted while shooting. It has great reach and very good low light performance.

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I agree with jimhaleyscomet and kiddpeat

In reply to: Best Prosumer Camcorder

perhaps a list of the "usual suspects" for you to look at:

Canon XHA1
Panasonic HDX200

I started with the Sony HDR-HC1 several years ago... Rather than replace it, I decided to augment, so my requirements are different from yours. I ended up getting a Sony HDR-FX1 and have been very pleased with its behavior (I do not require 24p).

Anyway, the difference in lens and chip size provide for a much more flexible shooting capbility - but the camera body will be a lot bigger (and heavier) than you are used to using in that HV20.

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In reply to: I agree with jimhaleyscomet and kiddpeat

Thanks for the list. Yea, I know there will be a huge difference in size and weight. I'm actually looking for something bigger.

A month or so ago I was hired to shoot a couples wedding video and I could tell that they were nervous when I showed up with a consumer cam. Haha.
They loved the end result, but having a larger, more professional looking cam would definitely help me be taken more seriously.

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If you are going to shoot weddings!

In reply to: Thanks

If you are going to shoot weddings you will really like the larger lens broadcast quality cameras. They help to pull in more ambient light for great low light performance.


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