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conventional camcorder vs compact stills in video mode


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#1 John Dory

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 01:21 PM

Hi

I have been using my Mako housing with a Sony 1000 camcorder for several years now but wish to upgrade to HD video. I have my eyes set on the Bluefin housing from Light and Motion, with the appropriate camcorder, as I know the systems and am very happy with it. However, my other half got talking to a salesman in an u/w camera shop and he was recommending using a compact stills camera such as Canon 550D in video mode. I have seen some footage and I have to admit I was impressed - the clarity was fantastic with no camera shake. My biggest concern about using this system would be stabilty. I like the Mako housing and feel it is a very robust camera to handle, particulary filming in British waters where one can experience currents. I don't know if I could get the same stability with a small housing such as would be with a compact.

Anyone got any comments regarding this?

John Dory

#2 Drew

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:45 PM

John
The Canon 550D is a compact DSLR and not a compact camera. That means the housing isn't optimized for video functions.

Picturewise, in low light, the 550D will beat out most comers due to the sensor size, but loses resolution due to line-skipping sampling. I'd say the resolution on camcorders are mostly slightly sharper due to the same sampling issue. However, the lenses on the DSLR are superior.

As for handling, if you shoot WA, you'd have to use a domeport with wide lens, and that creates more drag.

I suggest you do a search on ViDSLR in this subform for the pitfalls of shooting with such a camera.

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#3 wydeangle

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:01 PM

Uh......

Drew......

Might you want to rephrase that last comment a little bit? LOL

#4 Drew

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 07:32 PM

Hey spellcheck is a bitch. There's no child proofing that is there?

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#5 John Dory

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 12:54 AM

Thanks very much for your reply, this has given me a starting point as to where to search

John Dory

#6 johnny boy

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 01:52 AM

Hi,

i currently use a canon HFS10 in a light and motion bluefin. the quality is great both in the housing and images coming off the camera. i too have started to wonder whether to switch to something like a NEX5 or GF1. i've done quite a bit of research on the subject and Drew's comments are typical of my findings. I also have noted that the video bit rate coming off the NEX5 is 17mbps, whereas off a dedicated video camera [in this case the HFS10] it's up higher at 25mbps. Some sony models though are down at 16mbps, [although the latest sonys are higher now at 25].

can i tell the difference i ask myself? dont know, but at least with the canon i know i'm getting a higher bit rate. when i play back the film on my PS3 the bit rate is shown on screen varying between 22-25, so it's VBR - variable bit rate. one thing to also consider is the editing software you use. i use sony vegas but cannot render out mt2s format at 25mbps, only 16, so sony haven't done a codec yet in that format so i can't get the same quality out what i've put in if you see what i mean unless i render to mpeg 2 which is 25mbps.

i would like Drew to comment on whether he can tell a great difference between 17 and 25 mbps video bit rate!


what appeals to me about the NEX5 is the ability to take quality stills and relatively good video [although lower bit rate] in one small convenient package. i'm still undecided.

regards

john

#7 Drew

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 12:32 PM

John
If you are happy with the quality you see, then what's the difference? Depending on the scene, 30% of the time, no one can tell the difference between XDCAM EX and AVCHD. As scenes just more difficult, then the differences show due to bandwidth. From 17 to 24, the difference can be non-existent,insignificant or noticeable, depending on the scene and how hard you are looking for it.
It's like this comparison I recently watched on a 4k screen between a F35 and a Red Mx. Sometimes you can see the difference, sometimes you can't and sometimes you just don't care! It's easier the see the difference if you have a 24mbps shot in a busy scene, then switch to 17mbps of the same scene, on a big screen.

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#8 uwxplorer

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 04:42 PM

Not an expert at all and moreover, I have never been interested in underwater photography, just plain HD video, but I have faced the same dilemma: should I invest in a digital camera with video capability, just in case I find the shot of a lifetime? I eventually dumped this idea as irrelevant. The reason I am chipping in is that I was recently on a boat of UW photographers, one of only two videographers out of maybe 20 people. The first main difference you notice is that their lights are different: they use strobes, not flooding lights. To take advantage of the strobes, you need fast shutter, which a camcorder does not really provide you with (more so now, like in my CX550V, but it's not coupled with a TTL output for strobes, so you cannot take advantage of strobes with a camcorer).So if you want to do video AND photography, you are pretty much limited to a digital camera. Large camera housing are probably stable enough (due to their bulkiness) and just as expensive as camcorders. BUT, it seems that camera drain their batteries quite fast and camera housing are maybe a miracle of technology, but to me they look way to complex, with way too many controls... I love the simplicity of the L&M housing where after a few dives you don't even look at the controls anymore.
Then their is indeed the resolution issue and zooming capabilities while shooting. AND memory capacity. Camcorders come with plenty (and NEED plenty), while that's not necessarily the case with digital camera. You can buy memory cards, but then 64 GB cards are in the many $100...
In summary, my 2 cts are: like photographers decide whether they want to shoot macro or wide-angle before they jump in the water, you should probably make your mind on whether you want to shoot video or stills before you buy anything. Then buy the best for that purpose. It seems hard to do both well with a single rig.