Love at first sight…

My “last” camera arrived a week ago and I’ve been doing something I’ve never done before. Sat down, figured out a testing schedule, read the manual (now THAT was a first) and have been methodically going through the controls. Every other camera I’ve bought I just hit the ground running with.

But this little girl (gonna hafta think up a nice nickname for her) is special. My first non-tape camera in decades (of course that last one was 16mm). Panasonic HCM150.

When I pulled her out of her box and unwrapped her, I shivered. Sleek lines, sturdily built. All of the requisite controls on the OUTSIDE, not in some damn menu.

So here’s the agenda for checkout…something you might consider with your next camera. Keep in mind I’ve built up a good supply of accessories and need to check them out to make sure all is compatible.

First day – Pull from box, scan the manual. Shoot and play back some tape video, just to see how it looks. Review the manual again re the basics of setup and shooting.

Several days later…sat down with camera and manual and went through everything page by page to get a basic handle on what I need to know to shoot. Dumped a few files into my (five year old) MacBook, iMovie 9 just to see if I could. Imported fine, rough playback. Note to self: next time use a firewire external drive, not the USB drive. But it is nice to know I can get by for a little while longer with my current computer…will get the new one when a paying client appears.

A week later…met up with cohort Larry Nance and we reviewed and did a comparison to cameras we’ve used in the past. This one rocks. Not quite up to broadcast standards (smaller, lighter, 1/3″ chips, different media), but masterfully planned. Made arrangements to meet in a week and do side-by-side shoots with older cameras.

Today…ran audio tests. First, the on-camera mike. Next a wired stick mike (Electovoice 635) and then wired shotgun (Sennheiser ME66) and then each mike run on the wireless (Lectrosonics) system. All worked wonderfully…the shotgun definitely peaks higher than the stick mike and was able to run off phantom power when on the wireless transmitter. That and I walked to the back of my property and the audio was crystal clear at 200 feet on the wireless. Rock on!!!

Next week Larry and I will shoot and post side-by-side comparisons with our older JVC GY-DV300s and my Canon HV20.

Now I want a new carbon fiber tripod!

A word to why the above process is important for teacher/students/newbies: Unless you research thoroughly and even then, problems will develop with equipment. I knew in my heart that all of my older gear would hook up to the new camera. But the worst time to test new systems is when you are under the gun. Plug in everything you’ve got. Take notes. Check out every variation with every item. Be prepared to order adapters or make adaptions. Know your gear.

Oh…and Larry…I finally found the composite outs/RCAs. Hidden over the XLR outs in a well-concealed compartment. (Sneaky, that.)

7 thoughts on “Love at first sight…

  1. Understood teach…when I retired last year my resolve was NOT to go quietly, but to get myself back in shape and into the game again. Not necessarily new…but video. A good camera is essential and I learned a lot on the road to choosing one. Now I have to get re-familiarized with the camera so I can focus on work, not where are the buttons.

    • Cyndi

      I’ve enjoying following the process so far in which way to go. When the network I work for drops SX taqe I wonder what kind of media wrangling we will be in for. Tape is cheap so if you liked you pretty images it up it went on a shelf. Now there will be cards that need to be reused rather quickly. Looking forward to your approach on that part of that new part of media.

  2. Hmmmm…tape is not archival and I’m guessing SD card prices are right in the same realm as DVCPro tapes…but more expensive than mini-dv tapes. I know when CDs and DVDs came out they were hailed as the best yet…and then it was found that they were good for about as long as tape (20-25 years). I also wonder how long hard drives will retain information.
    Re archiving…dump the clips onto hard drives. Reuse the card.

  3. You could buy a large internal drive 4-8 TB and then back it up to a service like Carbonite, Mozy or Amazon’s backup service. You could just keep your current project and stuff you really want for the future. I know we spend a good deal of time dumping old projects. You can also use cloud services to backup your final projects like YouTube and Smugmug.

  4. I tend to like external drives for that purpose…you can shelve them just like books/tapes. And when you save, do what I call a “raw edit” save. Meaning I dump the poor takes, bad clips…just keep the best and maybe the full-length interviews if relevant. Most TV stations do NOT keep raw tapes unless it is a major story. Waste of space. Newspaper/print media got in the habit of keeping negatives, continued with digital still files and are now attempting the impossible by keeping everything. Talk about system overload.

    • Having working in both print and TV, I know that print people are obsessive savers. Guess it comes from the newspaper traditions of a morgue and clipping files. Plus you are encouraged to keep your notes for a certain period of time too.

      In TV, we only kept stuff that we thought we might use later because it was of value. That means darned little. Plus, video tape had to be reused. That stuff is too expensive to use just once.

      I still like the idea of cloud storage. If you have an earthquake, flood, hurricane, fire, etc. – you just can’t haul that physical media – there is just too much. Cloud storage is usually redundantly backed up in multiple locations. Of course their business model may be in trouble with GB caps from the major internet providers on their way.

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