To upgrade video or not..

Rick Lipscomb

I have been using Sony Digital 8 for a pretty good while. (Sony TRV 250 and a TRV 350.) I had read on a previous blog that it was coming to the end of it's life and was thinking of what to purchase next. My TRV 350 has the ability for me to plug into it with my electric tripod, thus controling the camera function without ever touching the camera. It has been a work horse for shooting weddings and both cameras give great results. I have looked at some of the Sony and Canon models and they are way out of my price range for now. I looked at Panasonic and JVC and the had a few lower end models that had some pretty good reviews. I would like a shoulder mount camera for around $1000 to $1500. Any recommendations on what kind of upgrade or should I stay put for now? Thanks in advance for any responses.

Working in the news industry, a shoulder brace has been a great help when using smaller unconventional cameras. I would suggest getting a shoulder brace for a good DV or HDV cam. This is one type of shoulder brace,

If you get another Sony it will support the LANC remote control function, just buy one of those $50 stand alone remotes and use some Velcro to strap it to the shoulder brace.

If you don't want to spend $3000 on a HDV camera I don't blame you, the technology is new and personally I think HDV cameras right now are extremely poor in quality when compared to RAW DV formats. There is no way to properly fit true HD video on a miniDV tape, there is just not enough room to give you an hour of play without compressing the video heavily. Stick with something like the PD-150 for economic pricing and good DV quality.
To upgrade or not to upgrade, what a question.

I had found a GY-X3U Professional 1/3" S-VHS Camcorder with Fujinon 14x5.5 Lens and Viewfinder on B&H for $1495.00 or used at $1095.00. Another model I am considering is the Panasonic AG-DVC7 Professional 1/4-Inch CCD Mini DV Camcorder at $999.00. Both are in my price range and have favaorbale reviews. But I dont think they have the remote tripod option. I can live without that if I have too. BUT, which recording format? I was curious how long tape is expected to be around. Thank for responding Tom!

I would stay away from the DVC7. I've always been puzzled by the existence of the DVC7 because its only selling point is its appearance (bigger, pro-looking shoulder-mount camera). Looking at the specs, it's hard to see why it has such an appeal or even grouped together with prosumer cams. It is a one-CCD cam with the features of a $400 consumer model, packaged into a big case at 3 times the cost. Those I know of that actually have it say it is a disappointing camera.

There really isn't a good option for a shoulder-mount in the consumer or prosumer range. The ones that are available, like the DVC7, are mainly 'junk' packaged into a big impressive-looking overpriced casing. I'd check out a used VX1000 or VX2000 - bigger camera, good specs and within your price range. If shoulder-mount stability is a must, there are brackets sold that you can use with any camera.
I have to agree with David, that is a big step backward.

It is however a very nice camera, has that news camera look and feel I am sure. The problem with S-VHS is that it is no different than regular VHS and the thing is VHS can only support a maximum of 300 lines of resolution.

Given the amount of money you are going to spend it is truly not worth it.

The Panasonic camera on the other hand looks nice! Not sure of the specs or lines of res.

Whatever choice you make, always go with miniDV. miniDV tapes are the industry norm and are coming down in price so stick with miniDV.

A miniDV tape has a run time of about 60 minutes, some tapes will only run 40 and others like the new Panasonic tapes will run for 80 minutes. Your tape run speed also effects that too, so if you are using the long play function where the quality sucks (don't use it) you can get 2 hrs out of it.

I would suggest you get a camera which has 600 lines of resolution or more, a nice shotgun mic (like the one on the Panasonic), it has professional like audio plugs (2 channel XLR female) and some form of remote control function. Most of the new cameras do have some remote function, call the manufactures and get all the specs not listed on the website.

This site has many good reviews, but not all the cameras you like may be listed.

Good luck with the search!
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Still not the best, but a better choice than the GY-X3U and made by a much better company (Panasonic) also. You might consider the AG-DVC60. A little over the price range you specified but if you need that shoulder mount with at least a little bit of professional look and quality this unit would be a better buy IMO. I am sure other opinions will vary here though...
Alrighty then...

I dont know what I was thinking about the S-VHS camera. Guess I got hung up on the looks. I guess I am going to have to just wait, save and spend more but will get what I need. My two Sony H8Ds will suffice for now as I have great results and I edit with Pinnacle 10.6. I mostly shoot nature videos for my own enjoyment during time between storms, but I have let time pass without the thought of upgrading and now its getting close that I need too. Would rather wait and get the right product instead of spending money and getting something that will only disappoint me. Mickey, Tom, Dan thank you so much for the responses on here. It is a great place to get information and chat with people on chasing and other subjects as well. We don't have too many chasers in my neck of the woods, or not too many that I am aware of. Thanks again!