I got off my duff this afternoon (been nursing a head cold) and pulled out the tripod and four cameras: JVC GY-DV300, Canon ZR60, Exilim Z75, and Minolta Dimage S414 with the intent of seeing how they fare against each other. Shot a couple of scenes and edited together for a quick eyeball camera test. Nothing official, mind you.
The JVC is about five years old…three chips. I chose it right after I bailed from TV news cause i couldn’t live without a camera around. It cost $2700 new. Had XLR mike inputs (a requirement) and easy to reach manual controls for focus (a focus ring), iris (dial), zoom, and white balance. The menu offers a ton of settings…and with the A/B camera settings I’m ready for almost anything. The zoom was the only disappointment – only 10x.
Camera number two is my “notebook” camera. I picked it up used on ebay for about $80. It is a little consumer camera with no pretensions. Can go auto or manual with focus, zoom, white balance – but it’s a pain in the rumpus to do manual. Two advantages are its small enough to carry around and the zoom is great (20x).
The Exilim is my newest toy. Got it on the discontinued shelf at Fry’s for $179. It is primarily a still camera with video abilities – in fact the quality of the video is astonishing. 3x zoom, 7 megapixel, and controls are almost as painful to use as the ZR.
Last is my first real digital still cameras – well, almost. Had one before this but all it was was a black box with a lens and absolutely no control. Took crappy photos too – but, hey – they were digital. The Minolta is a Dimage S414 4 megapixel with 3x lens.
(Please excuse – I inadvertantly put the wrong title slide up at the beginning…should just read Camera Test with the names of the cameras. Second part of test has zooms.)
Regarding the test. I shot a fruitbowl with all three cameras (had to reshoot the JVC version when I found I hadn’t turned off the gain). Then went outside and shot a zoom in of a tree in the front yard. Reason for first shot is to look at colors and quality of video. Reason for second is to compare zooms.
In small format there isn’t a ton of difference between the JVC, ZR, and Exilim. The JVC is somewhat better. You can see the difference in the Dimage – I had to enlarge the clip just to make it the same size. JVC and ZR shot on mini-dv; Exilim produced .avi files; Dimage produced very small .mov files.
Looking at the video full-screen on the computer the JVC just pops out – it is by far the best quality. Interestingly enough the ZR and Exilim are very close in quality. I’d be hard put to tell the difference – only thing really noticable is that the colors on the Exilim are more saturated. The Dimage is just plain pixelated.
Regarding zooms. The JVC had the widest angle…and got close enough for most shoots. The ZR began with a tighter shot but got noticably closer. With a 3x zoom the Exilim couldn’t even get close – and didn’t focus on the spot I was aiming at. I’d guess the detector just picks a general spot to focus on. I couldn’t zoom at all in video mode with the Dimage.
Take a look and make your own judgements. If you just need a point and shoot for snapshots or general video (not focused audio) – the Exilim, for the price, is it. The video is great…but to get good audio, you have to be face to face with the source.