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  • Can we talk 4K/60p camcorders

  • Rob Ainscough

    May 13, 2021 at 6:04 am

    I’ve been looking at my options for a better camcorder with my requirements being:

    1. 4K/60p support
    2. Excellent low light quality
    3. Rapid auto focus

    Here are the three contenders I’ve been looking into:

    • Panasonic AG-DVX200 with four thirds sensor
    • Panasonic AG-UX180
    • Canon XF400

    Thoughts?

    Hopefully this is the right place to ask this type of question.

    Cheers, Rob.

  • Eric Santiago

    May 13, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    Love camera talk 🙂

    Is this for ENG use or Doc?

    Google (right sidebar) has some decent reviews on the Pannies but none on the Canon.

    And it looks like the Canon is available at BH but not the others.

  • Rob Ainscough

    May 13, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Both and anything in between.

    Cheers, Rob.

  • Joe Marler

    May 14, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    I have used the DVX200. It was a nice step up from smaller-sensor, fixed-lens camcorders. But despite the M4/3 sensor, it’s definitely not a low light machine.

    Low light is really, really hard, and 60 fps makes that even harder because it’s only gathering half the light per frame of 30 fps. Good quality low light performance generally requires a large, new technology sensor and a fast lens. You want excellent autofocus which rules out Panasonic or any other camera not using phase-detect AF.

    Achieving all those items in a camcorder-like package including motorized zoom is even more difficult because there are no inexpensive large sensor camcorders. It would be something like a Canon C70 or Sony FX6, which are both over $5,500 just for the body. The Sony 28-135 f/4 PZ lens has motorized zoom and gives a “camcorder-like feel” to a mirrorless camera or an FX6 but it’s $2,500.

    I don’t think there is any fixed-lens camcorder with a 1″ sensor that can do what you want, however I haven’t investigated those lately.

    The cheapest thing would be giving up the camcorder form factor and using something like a Sony A7III and a 24-105 f/4 manual zoom lens. At least that has halfway decent AF, good low light, UHD 4k/60, albeit only 8-bits per color channel.

  • Bill Parsons

    May 14, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    I have been using the DVX200 for better than a year and like it. I have been using Panasonic videocam’s for many years, initially because the iris steps were smaller than those for the alternative brands. Now, I like that they offer a Leica-designed lens.

    I video a lot of stage work, particularly dance, and the background is usually black so the auto iris blows out the highs trying to make the background gray. With the DVX200 I have been successful at using the auto iris more often.

    The low light capability works for me. I keep iso switch settings 2 and 3 at 800 and 4000. Going higher than 4000 gets pretty grainy. When the lighting designers make dark stages, I figure it’s the duty of the choreographers to speak up or settle what what they get in the video image.

    The autofocus works fine with good light. I find this with Canon’s, as well, and always prefocus manually for my stage video work. When I video stage work, I cannot tolerate the focus search during the video process. Blur? Not for me.

    I also use the remote that plugs in and gives zoom, focus, and iris control. I only plug in the larger of its plugs, thus getting focus and iris but not zoom. I am a manual-zoom kind of guy, as I like zooms not to be noticeable. This device works well on my HPX250, but on the DVX200 it is not linear. At the end of the range near infinity, the steps are really small and frustrating to set up. To solve this, before the show begins I zoom in on a dancer, autofocus, set to manual, and zoom out. On this camera, with manual focus, when I zoom, the focus distance changes in small steps (as indicated on the screen), but the results seem to be in focus when viewed and edited.

    Three drawbacks for me: It’s heavier than my HPX250 by a couple of pounds.

    I wish the wide end of the lens were the equivalent of 24mm instead of the (maybe) 28mm.

    I wish the viewing screen folded flat against the camera so it could be viewed from the side. This last feature is mostly useful to me during setup, but occasionally, I use it when working live.

    I don’t particularly like menus.

    I got the longer-duration battery for it and get 5 hours of use with it. Also, phantom power works and it did not on my other camera.

    Best regards, Bill

  • Rob Ainscough

    May 15, 2021 at 12:02 am

    Excellent information, many thanks!

    Some more questions:

    1. Does the DVX200 provide for zoom speed adjustment?

    2. How is AF during motion tracking?

    3. For manual focus, is a secondary display required?

    4. What is needed as a good base for “add-on” hardware, i.e. microphone (I typical use R0DE shotgun mic), power packs, storage, etc.

    5. Mount support?

    Cheers, Rob.

  • Rob Ainscough

    May 24, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    To all,

    Has anyone used a Sony A7S III with a Master series lens at night and/or very low light … a shared video sample would be wonderful!

    I read (but not seen) that the A7S III with the right lens will have very low noise/grain even at ISO 12800 F1.4 1/50 S-LOG 3 (camera spec is 40-409600 ISO) … apparently it’s “switch over to another ISO method” (dual ISO but not dual ISO??) and this varies based on the profile selected. Found a great video here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmWujsJbzDw

    However not actual night time footage? Ugh! I persisted and found this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4MqLTAOsTA at the 5:37 min mark and I think I’m sold!

    S-LOG 3 ISO 12800

    It can also shoot 60 mins continuous video and goes up to 120 FPS 4K with 10 bit color 4:2:2.

    Of course the price bump is pretty significant where I’m looking at about $6000 with one Master series lens (maybe a little less with a Sigma lens).

    Any Sony A7S III users?

    Cheers, Rob.

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  • Joe Marler

    May 24, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    I have two A7SIIIs, an FX6 and shot for years on a DVX-200. The A7SIII and FX6 do very well in low light if you are at the “high base” ISO, which varies with color profile. For SLog3 the switchover point is 12,800.

    However most other current or recent large-sensor camera also do well in low light. The Panasonic S1H does very well, but it doesn’t have great AF, and uses the L-mount.

    The problem with the A7SIII and FX6 is there is a big “ISO noise gap” from around 3200 up to the 12,800 switchover point (in SLog3). You want to avoid shooting in that range if in low light. In a bright setting it’s OK. The FX6 has built-in variable ND so it’s easy to jump to 12,800 and use the ND to balance the exposure. With the A7SIII you’d have to use an external ND.

    Those behaviors are a function of sensor design. You can compare the read noise vs ISO for many cameras on this site: https://photonstophotos.net/Charts/RN_ADU.htm

    Here are some simple test chart sequences where I compared the Sony A7RIII, A7SIII and FX6: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/532676476

  • Rob Ainscough

    May 24, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Excellent! Very helpful links.

    Thank you Joe.

  • Eric Santiago

    May 27, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks, Joe for that.
    Wish this topic was around three years ago when working with a Sony FS7 intercut with an a7S II. I think the culprit was SLog and matching was a hair-pulling experience during Color 😛

    Thanks again!

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