View Full Version : Want to Rent: HD Pro Camera

08-15-2008, 09:46 AM
I am looking to do some amateur filming and need to rent a pro quality camera for a weekend.

Ideally an Panasonic AG-HVX200P. Vistek's website says they rent these, but they actually don't.

Absolute musts in the camera:

- 16:9 720p30 recording
- USB or 1394 interface

If anyone has one or know of where I could rent one in Calgary, please let me know.

Consumer grade HD camcorders absolutely will not work.

08-15-2008, 10:03 AM
What are you looking at filming where consumer grade HD cams won't work?

08-15-2008, 10:26 AM
Promotional videos for my company. I bought a number of consumer HD cams and just couldn't deal with the noise and terrible contrast.

These consumer HD cams aren't all that far ahead of the better SD cams. The extra lines of resolution means nothing if the picture is full of noise, and artifacts.

A lot of the cams also record in low bitrate formats, which again means another hit in quality.

A bit of a gauge: a proper Pro camera would fill my existing HD camcorder in 8 minutes of record time. At maximum resolution settings my HD camcorder can fit 8 hours of video.

08-15-2008, 11:03 AM
I've played with a few pro HD cameras to compare with my 1st gen JVC 720p HD consumer cam, you're not going to magically get production quality videos.

Contrast is going to be completely dependant on lighting, especially when filming in HD. The most important is you have as perfect lighting as possible. Too much light and you'll wash out all the colors. Too little light and you'll get a lot of noise. The window for error is a lot smaller than SD.

Next, choose a camera with a decent sized lens. Unless you're doing a hollywood production, you can get very low noise with something like a Sony HDRSR10 sized camera. Getting a 3CCD or 3CMOS will help with post processing, less noise when trying to bring out the colors. If you do zero post processing, there's next to no difference between 1CCD or 3CCD. If your lighting is spot on, you can get very similar results with a 1CCD setup too.

Low bitrate formats does not equal to lower quality. AVCHD is a lot more efficient than HDV or MPEG2 compression, so even at low res, the image is very sharp, detailed, very minimal visual quality loss. Don't judge a camera by it's bitrate setting without looking at the codecs involved.

Post production is the big one here to get good quality output. You have to pay attention to each scene being filmed and setup the filters accordingly. I usually do each scene, do a screengrab, and put it on my 2nd monitor to ensure that there's no huge jumps in the look and feel for each scene.

If you don't follow these guidelines with a $5000 camera, you'll have the same problems that you're facing with a $1000 camera. I think if you played more with post processing, you'll get much better results than renting a crazy expensive HD cam.

I've done a whole whack of videos that look amazing on a 60" HDTV, and it's all due to post processing. I'll try to dig up some samples and post them here.

08-15-2008, 11:58 AM
The biggest issue with the noise is the size of the CCD. The pro gear stuff is all 1/3" and the consumer stuff is 1/5". The smaller CCD but same resolution (assuming 720p) effectively means everything is jammed in closer together, hence, more noise. This is the same situation as point and shoot cameras vs DSLRs.

Additionally the lenses available for the pro gear far outweigh the consumer stuff. No I shouldn't say that. They in fact completely obliterate the consumer lenses.

My test shots on the cams were setup in a room with blacked out windows, two halogen lights with umbrella reflectors and a third halogen light in a softbox.

Post processing is irrelevant when comparing the features of one camera to the next. The most accurate comparison is of the video in its least processed state, since the post processing actually has nothing to do with the camera.

If you must know, on the MPEG2 cameras the direct stream was imported into VirtualDubMod, de-interlace filter applied (blend mode) for 1080i recordings, MSU DeNoiser applied, and a series of chroma and color balance filters were played with. The video was encoded using a 4-pass x264 encode at 9999kbits/sec.

Similar steps were taken with other formats.

In regards to the bitrate issue, I was not referring to the difference in compression codecs, but to the maximum bandwidth available during record. Lots of consumer cams boast 720p recording, but can only manage to record 720p at a low bitrate because of memory bandwidth restraints.

For this reason the high end pro gear all record in different ways than the consumer stuff. For example the AG-HVX200P uses P2 cards, which is essentially several RAID-0 arrays of SD cards.

08-15-2008, 01:11 PM
Have you tried the camera store and vistek?

08-15-2008, 02:31 PM
I tried Vistek. No go there and the staff weren't helpful at all.

The Camera Store does carry the Canon XH-A1, which would have worked as a fallback, but both of their units are booked until middle of October.

Anyway, after doing some calling around I stumbled onto Matrix Video. They carry a lot of high end units, and are gonna take care of me.

Thanks for all the help guys!

08-15-2008, 02:43 PM

08-17-2008, 11:55 AM
Sounds like you've already found Matrix. Look in to renting the Sony EX1. I think they rent for somewhere in the $250/day range. The post and archiving end of things can be a pain in the ass if you're not used to dealing with SxS cards. It's best to have a laptop with an express card slot (Macbook Pro) or rent a card reader with the camera. Otherwise you're only going to be getting 25min or so on a 8GB card. Or if you don't mind shooting HDV and 60i, they have few Z1U's for slightly less.