Looking for a DV camera

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I am inquiring about what you all think is the best Dv camera for the money out there these days? What should I look for? Can you adjust for light and aperature and frames per second and all the good stuff that you can do on regular Film motion picture cameras? What is a reasonable amount of money to pay for a camera? Is there anything out there that could work for a feature length film for under $2000?

-- Scott Farnsworth (Scottf@metro.net), February 03, 1999


Scott -

I'd recommend the Sony TRV-900, which is a 3 chip DV in your price range. The critically acclaimed foreign film "The Celebration" was made with an earlier 1 chip version of this camera. Check out Sony's website for more info on manual functions.


-- Chris Ward (Chris.Ward@Showtime.net), February 04, 1999.

yes the tvr900 is a great camera. the picture is very good, some say as good as the canon xl, but for half the price. you would want to get a xlr adapter for about $2oo. the 900 shoots regular 30 frames/second, in interlaced; and 15 frames/second in progressive scan mode.( good for taking still frames.)

-- josh jernigan (meluvoliverstone@hotmail.com), June 12, 1999.

The Canon GL1's MSRP is $2,700, but I bought one from eCost.com for $2,150 including shipping and handling (and there's no tax outside TN and CA). The camera is a very good buy, because it takes broadcast- quality video for a third the cost.

It has 3 CCDs, but its secret is the lens: fluorite. People other than Canon have claimed that it's even a sharper lens than the XL1's and it rivals the multi-thousand-dollar lenses on fully professional videocameras. The lens is also the longest optical zoom range of any I've seen in 10 years: 20:1.

The GL1 has pixel-shift for higher res, just like the XL1, and although the GL1's chips are only 1/4", rather than 1/3" like the XL1, users of both have said that the images from each are indistinguishable. Since it's $1,500 cheaper, I'd take the GL1.

Three features exclusive to the XL1 have been touted as reasons to buy it over the GL1. First, the XL1 has manual audio control. But a pro I know who owns an XL1 said that he usually leaves it on auto anyway. Beware of setting the gain yourself. He said that he had to spend hours fixing the sound on an independent film that he was editing, because the filmmaker manually set the audio levels on his Sony VX1000. If he had let the camera do it, it would have been fine. I had a hard time myself letting go of manual audio control, but then I remembered that the only time you really want it is for music and the like: and of course you don't record that until post. During principle photography all you really want is dialogue, and I can't think of any situation in my 10 years of experience where manually setting the audio was necessary to record dialogue.

The second feature that is missing on the GL1 is an interchangeable lens. But remember the 20:1 zoom?

The third reason, and the only one I would call considerable, is that the XL1 is bigger and looks more like a serious camera. The GL1 is even a bit smaller than the VX1000, so to the inexperienced it looks like a plaything. If you are an event videographer who requires the dignity of shooting with a shoulder-mountable camera, buy the XL1. But if you are shooting a digital movie, or if you are a videographer and you think your clientele won't be insulted by the GL1's modest appearance, save yourself much money and get it instead.

-- Andrew Banks (banksand@yahoo.com), January 10, 2000.

I just got into this discussion since I plan to buy a 3CCD DV myself. I found that TRV900 is slightly more sensitive to light [min 4lx] than GL1 [min 7lx] , which is to considere if a poor light source will play important role in your films. I like to shoot in the dark and I think this feature of TRV900 is very important. Also, the size definitely matters to me. Canon's model is a bit more robust and it doesn't allow you to keep it in the jacket whereas Sony fits inside Levi's just fine. I hate to cary DV in the bag or on my shoulder and be a tourist. TRV900 standard battery allows up to 8 hours of video taping whereas GL1 can make a modest 80 minutes. GL1 is definitely a great cam for the money [$1798.00 today], but I think that TRV900 is more functional one.

-- dragan miletic (apsolutno@apsolutno.com), November 15, 2000.

The Sony TVR900 is the one. Just got one for 1544.99. You just can't beat that.

-- Richard Feinowicz (fiend@bleeckerand bowery.com), April 04, 2001.

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