So I’ve been using my trusty ole Canon XH-A1’s and last year I purchased a Canon 60d DSLR to add a new look to some corporate videos. I have tweaked the 60d with Magic Lantern and picture profiles, however its still limited. I always said, “I’d LOVE it if I could have that 60d wrapped up in a traditional camcorder fashion.”
Now some people will disagree with me–and that is ok, but I prefer the larger camcorder form factor for various reasons:
- It “feels” better. Controls are easier to get to without having to use thumb wheels and menus to get to most everything.
- Stability. One has to purchase rails, external monitors, shoulder supports, etc to adapt from a still camera to a video camera when using a DSLR for video. Why build it with parts that will end up looking like something out of a transformers movie than have one already made? (Granted there are some nice looking rails and support systems out there…)
- Looks better going on a shoot. I HATE being asked, “Oh, you’re a photographer, how are you doing video?” In a way, I am, but mostly I’m not… but then again, when I have a large camcorder in my hands or shoulder, I get people stopping in their tracks, strike a pose and “say cheese!” Ugh, well that’s another post one day I guess. I film/shoot video/etc so when I walk into a room, my gear should reflect that (in my opinion.)
Before I proceed, let me say this, “A camera is only a tool in one’s toolbox and is only as good as the operator knowing how to use it properly to obtain the results they and their clients want.” There’s so many people with all their and their “fan camps'” opinions–and that’s ok!!! This camera has not gained much in popularity and has actually received a lot of criticism from the masses. Whether its “Oh, it only has a APS-C sensor in it… my _______ DSLR kills that.” to something like “It has rolling shutter.” Ummm, ok, practically ALL CMOS sensors on the market is rolling shutter and not global shutter like CCD’s are. Some cameras simply don’t show the effects of it as bad. I HATE rolling shutter effects such as skew, but change your shooting style or learn how to compensate your shots and its not as huge as an issue. By the way, I have found that 60p (60 frames per second) shows LESS skew than 24p, 30p or 60i. I’ll show that sometime.
So I ended up researching A LOT on this camera, emailed a couple of users that were doing some good work with it and decided to purchase. So far, I’m very happy with my purchase! Is it a perfect camera? NO! Is it a camera for everyone? NO! Is it ready to get out of the box and start filming? NO! Do I like this camera? YES!!! Are there things I don’t like about this camera? Yes, but not deal killers.
Things I like so far:
- DSLR quality in traditional camcorder form factor.
- Interchangeable lenses. Can’t wait to get a couple of cine primes!
- Weight. With the addition of a small weight to the shoulder pad, I have it feeling very balanced. Not so without the weight.
- Eye piece “tube” attached to the LCD.
- Ability to get 4:2:2 colorspace out of the HDMI port to send to another recorder such as the Atmos Ninja.
- Its fairly customizable.
Things I don’t like so far:
- CMOS rolling shutter. (I’ll have to deal with it and work around it…)
- Can’t scroll through ISO/Gain settings. Must choose Auto or from Low, Medium & High. You can set the high limit for auto though.
- AVCHD format. I’ll probably end up doing the Ninja Atmos recorder before its all over.
- Stock lens. I feel it could be better in so many ways, but it’ll work.
- “Power Zoom” is lame. It’s VERY slow even on high. Since I don’t zoom much when filming anyways except to re-frame a shot, I just keep it on manual and manually change it. It’s kind of stiff, but manageable.
- Auto focus. My Canon A1’s did this very well. It’s weak on the Sony. It’s ok, because I usually manual focus anyways. Only some times I like to hit auto focus…
- No built in ND filters. It’s ok, I have a variable ND filter on the way.
If you care about getting the image right and such, I found I need to spend a lot of time learning it, familiarizing myself with it, and just film stuff and keep checking. I love the fact I can pretty much alter the picture profiles how I want. I wish I could change a few more things, but it doesn’t allow, but it’ll work. The main thing is I can get DSLR “look” footage without the camera looking so “DSLR-ish” and the it doesn’t physically look like a DSLR in any way! I can’t wait to see how the large sensors will end up playing out in camcorders….
I’ll save the chatter for now, but here’s my “Day One” with the camera. The YouTube clip (even at 1080) has some weird compression on it. (I may try vimeo or another encoding recipe for YT soon.)
(View this in HD & full screen)
>>EDIT: I received a couple of emails basically saying “I can’t get my videos to look like this one.” Ok, I’m sorry. The first 5 minutes IS slightly color corrected/tweaked/and has some noise reduction applied. The LAST 5 minutes is straight out of the camera. SO WATCH IT ALL! Also, the paint brush doesn’t make one an artist… I’m not a master at this camera by any means–yet. Just saying.