Quandary or quagmire?

Which is it?

I’m torn between two worlds right now, with a deadline approaching.

Which camera to purchase? At first it was a simple problem. The Panasonic AG-HMC150 or the JVC GY-HM700? The deciding factor was the price and my budget. The 150 fit the budget, but the 700 has the little bit of extra “oomph” … a better/longer lens and the ability to change the lens out. All that for about three grand more. Ouch.

Then I decided to include the alien world of DSLRs. First just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything…then, as I dove deeper and deeper into research, I found myself actually seriously putting them on my list. Ouch. For an old die-hard videot like myself, this was sacrilege. I should be burned at the alter of analog…done in by digital demi-gods. Shudder.

So for now I’m looking at the Canon 5D MarkII and possibly the Canon 7D as well.

The latter fits the budget and the former has the goodies. Similar to my problems with the video cameras. One I can afford and one I want…but I also know that no matter what I can afford or want, there will always be another camera just out of my range. Time to get realistic.

Both of the video cameras are familiar territory. I know how they shoot…where the controls are…how far and hard I can push them. The DSLRs are an unknown…but I’ve been wowed by their quality. I do see that they have minimal audio input and controls…a biggie for me. Audio is right up there with video quality – the two are inseparable.

So now I sit on a pretty damn uncomfortable fence…researching, thinking, asking question. With about three weeks to go until I make the final final.

(for those of you who are confused by two seemingly similar “Q” words: a quandary is a state of uncertainty or perplexity and a quagmire is NOT a character on Family Guy, but a situation from which extrication is very difficult. Meaning I may be stuck in a state of indecisiveness for a long long time.)

Addendum 2/24/2011
Well that was faster than I thought it would be. Thanks to reader comments, facebook input, and Chuck Fadley over at the Yahoo newspaper video board, I’ve moved on and am only considering video cameras again. The DSLRs are wonderful – don’t get me wrong. But they are not for me. Despite the amazing quality of the video, the limitations on shooting (12 minutes) and lack of embedded audio (mini-jack input only or go with what essentially amounts to a double sound system) put me off. Plus the alien (to me) design. I’ve used DSLRs and love them for still shooting – but slinging one for video just wouldn’t be the same…so added on to other factors, I’m back in familiar territory. Video cameras are meant for run and gun or slow and careful…and there IS a choice.
Cameras still on the horizon include the Pano HMC150 and Sony Z5u, with others still on the fringe. I pulled back and did a reality check on my budget…everytime I scanned the possibilities, I kept seeing better and more expensive gear. That is NOT what this is about…it’s about getting the idea camera in a set price range. The Sony is actually OUT of that range…but that long lens keeps pulling at me. Sigh.

10 thoughts on “Quandary or quagmire?

  1. Form factor is a significant factor that you should pay attention to. I’m a still photographer who made the transition to video. I began with a Canon XH A1, around which I always felt stumble-fingered and inept. When the 5D came out, I sold all my other video gear. Having one kit that could do both still and motion assignments, and which my hands knew unconsciously how to operate, was a huge boon.

    For you, it may well play out the other direction. The 5D by itself is not enough to do quality work. You’ll need to trick it out with a Zacuto finder (another $500), or an external monitor ($400) a decent pre-amp (another $400), and various microphones. You’ll need media, at a few hundred per fast card. By the time to adhere all this stuff to the camera, it’s an unwieldy mess, the antithesis to ergonomic function. Nonetheless, it works for me.

  2. Doug – you put into words my greatest fear. My mind and body are geared for a familiar form. And while I’ve had to learn several new forms over the years, they were always in a familiar context. I do have a monitor…but would need the other accessories…many of which I am clueless about. Do you shoot news, local projects, docs??? My plans are to stay fairly local shooting in my region…doubt very much if I’d go for high end production or commercials. I like working small (in a team sense) but don’t mind big projects.

  3. Also things to consider. Look at the size of the DSLRs. Look how you hold them. If you want to use them without a shoulder stabilizer, you need a rig. Rigs are damn expensive. The cheap ones being Cavision at 500 bux (no mounts for gear), and decently nice ones at well over 1k (including mounts for mics, external monitors, etc.)

    Also, you have to think about your media as Doug said. DSLR’s use media using an old archaic filesystem which only lets you record in 4GB chunks. At 1080p 4GB is just a bit over 10 minutes of recording, then you need to stop, hit record again, and go for another 20 minutes.

    An 8GB card runs ~80 dollars and up for 233x speed cards.

    Then you have the issue about your existing hardware. I bet most of your audio equipment is XLR based. You need to run it through something that can power all your mic’s, process it, and then output it in a 8mm stereo headphone jack, or buy some of the Rode Videomic accessories, which are decent.

    Then the difference between the 5d mk2 and the 7d.
    The 7d is a great camera, I use it for events and weddings. Its got great ISO so I can shoot fast indoors without grain (ISO 4000 at 1/320th of a second, F 5.6)
    It does decent video as well, and you can swap lenses.
    This was taking with the cheap 50mm f1.8 ($100) on the 7d.

    Its shot at over ISO 2000 if I remember correctly.

    The 7d has a problem where it will overheat during extended recording sessions.
    I did video for a documentary that was going on about WW2 a while back and after 25 minutes my camera wanted to shutdown and was throwing overheating warnings.

    In comparison, I was at a private recording for Mark Growden, and he was recorded with both a 5dmk2 and a 7d (two angles) and when the 7d shutdown, the 5dmk2 kept running without a problem.

  4. Griffin…I’m bailing on the idea of DSLR. Audio controls are not up to snuff with video cams and the workarounds are not streamlined enough. I like my audio embedded (and have worked double system film in the past…so I know what THAT is like.). Have narrowed down to three, maybe four cameras. Thanks for the comments.

    • Ugh…sorry for the long delay Angela. I’m officially retired and starting up my video production biz (http://thinknews.wordpress.com). Getting the biz end taken care of finally this week – license, fictitious biz name, insurance. Then registering with the state for small biz bids as well as other more local stuff. I don’t wanna make a ton of money (well, that WOULD be nice) but just keep doing what I love. While old bones and body may not be an asset, loads of experience are.

  5. DSLR Camera. An important tip to consider with photography is that photography is one case where you might be at the mercy of the tools you use. This is important to consider because there is only so much you can do with a non dSLR camera due to processor and lens limitations. Invest in a DSLR camera. The single best thing you can do to improve your photography is to purchase a good camera. A digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera allows you to use lenses specific to the type of photography you are pursuing, and offer the ability to control every setting.-

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  6. Tam
    This is not photography…rather VIDEOjournalism. Storytelling with a video camera (or DSLR). Each type of camera has its own merits/demerits. I prefer the classic videocamera over the DSLR for shooting news because it is designed for run and gun. I do agree that a DSLR has it all over a non-DSLR. But a true camera designed specifically for shooting news beats out a DSLR every time. (personal opinion)

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