DPP Home Gear More Gear Hi-Tech Studio: A Camcorder Primer For Photojournalists

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hi-Tech Studio: A Camcorder Primer For Photojournalists

As camcorders continue to evolve, so does the opportunity for photojournalists to create high-definition video essays alongside their D-SLR work

Panasonic has long been well-known in the high-definition arena with its professional line of VariCam HD cameras. A few years ago, Panasonic cracked open the prosumer HD market with the AG-HVX200, which to many enthusiasts appeared to be a mini-VariCam in terms of features.

The HVX200 offers 720 and 1080 recording to the DVCPROHD format, an arguably less-compressed and higher-quality format than both HDV and XDCAM EX. The HVX200's lens isn't interchangeable; however, the fixed lens is a versatile 13x Leica Dicomar zoom lens.

The HVX200 records to solid-state memory cards using the proprietary P2 PCMCIA-based format.
The P2 cards are highly durable; in fact, the lack of moving parts in the HVX200 makes it well-suited to extreme sports and combat photography. The downside is that current-model Macs don't accept the cards without an adapter, though older PowerBooks and most PCs accept PCMCIA cards directly.

The HVX200 shoots a 960 x 720 native frame in 720p and uses upsampling to derive a 1080 and 720 standard frame. Though the 720p native resolution is technically lower than the Sony cameras, the DVCPROHD format offers higher image quality, making the prosumer choice an ongoing question of trade-offs. Estimated Street Price: $5,995.

The RED ONE camera offers a full 4K frame and the option to use high-quality 35mm prime lenses from companies like ARRI and Cooke. It can approach and even exceed the optical quality of many digital SLRs. The 4K frame generated by the RED ONE measures 4520 x 2540 or almost 12 megapixels and it features a full 35mm-sized Mysterium CMOS imager. This high quality comes with a price—a RED ONE outfitted with the barest essential accessories easily can run upwards of $30,000.

The RED ONE, however, allows a photographer to capture a commercial campaign in motion and stills simultaneously; it's also useful for stock footage creators working in motion and still image capture. Footage generated from the RED ONE is of sufficient quality to derive a 35mm motion picture print for theatrical presentation without compromising image quality.

The company recently announced plans at NAB for an even higher-resolution motion picture camera—the RED EPIC, shooting a 5K frame, making it the highest possible resolution in motion picture cameras under $100,000. RED also announced the SCARLET, shooting a 3K image in a nice pocket size for around $3,000.

Sony stepped up its game considerably with the introduction of the PMW-EX1. This camera represents the company's first 24p prosumer camera, as well as its first solid-state flash memory recording system.

The EX1 offers full 1920 x 1080 24p recording to the XDCAM EX format using SxS flash memory cards via a 1⁄2-inch CMOS imager and a fixed 14x Fujinon lens. XDCAM EX is a similar compression technology to HDV, but with a higher bandwidth, resulting in improved image quality and color fidelity.


Check out our other sites:
Digital Photo Outdoor Photographer HDVideoPro Golf Tips Plane & Pilot