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Best 3CCD Cam

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I'm kinda looking at the moment for a 3CCD digital video cam... I've got my eye on the panasonic MX500, but I've heard it has problems in low light? It's by far cheaper than the Sony's, and I have a mate with a 1CCD panasonic which is great... has anyone got any experience in this, or can recommend what they consider the best 3CCD cam at the moment for underwater videography?

 

Cheers

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Just as important as the choice of camera is the housing you put it in. Some housings are universal while others are specific to one camera. I don't have experience with the MX500, but anything other that the TRV-950/PDX10 and the VX-2000/PD150 will be relatively poorly supported. Panasonic offers their own housings (possibly for the MX500) but they are inexpensive and only offer a flat port. I see no reason to use a 3CCD camera if you are going to combine it with an inferior optical solution.

 

My advise is to look first at the variety of housings available and decide what you like. Some will like the versatility of a reusable housing while others will prefer the advantages of a housing tailored to a specific camera. Once you understand better what you like, your camera choice may become obvious.

 

Good luck.

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ah, thanks Craig, good point... it'll be used mostly freediving, so a wide angle port is pretty much essential... cheers :lol:

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The sensitivity of 3 CCD video cam should be pretty good even in low light compared to a single chip camera. My MX 300 panasonic is an earlier version of the MX500 and I don't have problem with most of my dives and I also bring down my own light. I would not buy a video cam for UW use unless you could source a housing for it first. A good housing and lens usually cost more than the camera itself. I only know of one manufacturer for UW Panasonic housing - check out SEALUX. There are others but they are mainly universial housing. Sony offers better choice but slightly more expensive. :lol:

 

 

Cheers

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Craig, Panasonic's poly housings are rated to an impressive 5 meters. That's the fancy new one. Before that it was 3.

 

Safety stop video. Hang it on the line on your way down and shoot when you come back up. Sounds like a great deal to me. :lol:

 

CheungyDiver, I like the looks of that Sealux.

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Craig, Panasonic's poly housings are rated to an impressive 5 meters. That's the fancy new one. Before that it was 3.

I missed that one! They were bundling them with the camera at one time. It's all clear now!

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Cheugny, thanks heaps for that! Going off their RRP (hopefully can get it cheaper) it looks like I can get the cam, the housing and wide angle port for around $AU5000 (about $US3600)... that's no strobes, but it sounds a good price for a decent kit that's good quality...

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I've just had a read through the thread on mechanical vs electrical controls, and it seems each has its benefits... I'm thinking I need to take a step back again and look and see which particular housing/camera would suit my needs. So so far, I'd require:

 

* Wide angle port

* macro port (optional, but I'd like to have that flexibility)

* 3ccd camera (ie broadcast quality)

* Electronic controls (upgrading is important, as is not flooding the housing on a failure)

* Ability to integrate a monitor

 

What kind of system would fulfill these needs?

 

Thanks in advance, and cheers for the interesting discussions!

 

 

 

Brad

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Of the current cameras, the TRV-950/PDX10 is the popular one. The VX-2000 is probably better but more costly and twice as large (though the size is nice). Sony has announced the VX-2100 (but hasn't shipped) and some housings will need to change to accomodate its larger eyepiece. I doubt there are any upgradable housings for the VX-2000. The 2000 is the king of low-light, though, and Sony says the 2100 is significantly better in that regard.

 

For monitors, there are ones mounted on the back and ones on the top. I prefer the topmounts because they are more comfortable to use with wide angle. They aren't useful for macro, though, so you have to use the viewfinder for that. Backmounts are useful always but require a less comfortable position to use. The larger the housing, the more pronounced this is. You never see a housed broadcast camera with a monitor in the back, for example. Smaller rigs may be fine with the backmount style.

 

The typical multipurpose wetlens port will give you somewhere around 70-75 degrees. That may be wide enough. Wide angle ports will up that to 85-95 degrees. Superwides will go to 100-110 degrees but are really expensive. A flat port for macro will be available on anything and should be inexpensive. You will want to use diopters in combination with a flat port.

 

The ability to do custom white balance quickly and easily is very important on a higher end rig. This may be the difference between some rigs so look specifically at that. Taking a high quality 3CCD camera with quality optics underwater and relying on auto-white balance is not the right thing to do.

 

Look at the ability to mount filters. A permanent internal filter is the least flexible, obviously. Many offer an internal flip filter while others offer an external. External filters are hard to use with the widest lenses and are more easily damaged (and more costly). A housing that offers both allows you to use a diopter on the internal mount for even greater flexibility.

 

Lots of issues, I know, but the camera is only one factor. Ease of use, quality of the optics, and investment longevity are all important too.

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GOOD NEWS FOR OWNERS OF PANASONIC CAMCORDERS--Ocean Brite and Equinox are offering owners of Panasonic 3 CCD Camcorders (PV-DV953, PV-GS70, PV-GS50 and the Black Mamba (MX-7000 or NV-GS100K) a Housing (the PRO PACK 8 SPC) that will allow the user to OPEN THE LCD SCREEN INSIDE THE HOUSING and provide contol of the Zoom In/Out, Record Start/Stop and Photo Shot Shutter Release ELECTONICALLY for the first time in a US made and WARRANTIED Housing. Check it out at:

http://www.oceanbrite.com/moreinfor.php?id463

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Craig - thanks again! I can see there's a lot more to this than I first thought... I was talking to a mate today who does a little underwater videography, and he mentioned that the 3ccd cameras might be a bit of an overkill for what I wanted to do? What I had planned was to have a digital camera (I'm insisting on digital because it's 1000000x easier for me to edit) that I can get some underwater footage with, and maybe turn that into a dive video to sell. Because of the commercial aspect of this, I immediately thought that I had to have a 3ccd, but he seems to think that the quality of standard mini dv cameras today is such that a 3ccd would be an overkill when a standard cam is only a third or so of the price? Would you agree with this? The videos I was planning on making weren't inteded to be cinema quality or anything - I wasn't out to make the next blue planet (I imagine the cameras they used there must have cost tens of thousands!), but just a similar sort of quality to what you'd see in a dive video you picked up from the dive shop.

 

Thanks again for the help - and incidently, when I'm looking at still cameras and housings, I usually use dpreview.com to check camera reviews and digideep.com for housing reviews... are there equivalent sites for video camera housing reviews, and digital video camera reviews?

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

Brad

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I think you should consider 1CCD cameras, too. I see a lot of that in your application. Digital is obviously the way to go. In new cameras it would be hard not to get digital at this point.

 

I'm not aware of any video analogs of dpreview or digideep. There are dedicated UW video forums (but we try to help here as best we can!) and there are DV camera forums. The DV camera forums can be opinionated, more than dpreview forums IMO, and cater more to video cinematographers. I've not found them to be very valuable for underwater shooters but I'll get some links if you like.

 

The UW video community is not as organised online as still as far as I can tell. We'd like that to change and welcome videographers to participate here.

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Well that will save me a lot money, thanks :lol:

 

Say though we were making a video that had footage combined from both surface and top side... 1ccd would still be good enough?

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1CCD cameras produce very good results. 3CCD cameras are better, but that's not just because of the CCD's. They target a higher price point and a more demanding user. It is possible to produce outstanding video with just 1CCD just as it's possible to produce great stills with just 1.

 

I think above water is less demanding on a camera simply because the engineers that made it expected it to be used that way. Underwater, color balance and contrast are both unpredictable and vastly different. Low light performance is important underwater but there are varying opinions about which technology (1 vs. 3) is inherently better. I think it's fruitless to consider. Consider which housing/camera combination you like and don't worry so much about the video itself. You will probably prefer the smaller size of a 1CCD above water.

 

Issues that will ultimately effect the quality you get are optics, white balance, light sensitivity, and handling. Most of these involve the housing and filters as well as the camera itself.

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So maybe a high end 1ccd? I think also because it'll be predominately used freediving, size would be an issue as well (in terms of drag) - I know it sucks taking even an MMII down to 25m or so because of the drag.

 

Would you be able to recommend a good camera/housing combo that sounds like it would be able to handle what I wanted to do? I'm definitely very pro- flexibility and the potential to upgrade... changable ports and filters would be a must.

 

Thanks again! :lol:

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I agree with small, higher-end 1CCD especially freediving.

 

I like to recommend only things I've tried so I don't feel qualified to be more specific. I like Warren at USVH (www.usvh.com) but haven't used his products. You should look at Gates and Amphibico, as well. Hopefully others will offer their opinions on housings.

 

As for dealers, Ryan (Underwater Camera Pros) is active here. Backscatter sells them and Marine Camera Distributors (wetpixel sponsor) does too. I've purchased from Armato's quite a few times and recommend them. For advise I'd stick to the dedicated underwater stores. I've had very good experiences with Marine Camera. I haven't dealt with Ryan or Backscatter but have heard good reports from others who have.

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I have a USVH housing and a TRV-33 and like the combination.

 

I cannot get to the white balance controls from the housing - apparently Sony has been playing games with the LANC protocol for some of these functions with their various cameras, and some work and some do not - this is a "do not". However, Vegas takes care of that topside, so it works out ok in the end. I'm learning when its best to use the filter and when not to (the risk without is that you can end up with parts of the image overexposed, which you cannot correct topside.)

 

Its a nice and reasonably compact package and produces very nice output. The camera works well topside as well; its very nice and small, and has excellent battery life.

 

My one complaint with the optics on the camrea is that it is quite prone to flare with serious backlighting such as you might encounter when shooting a football game at night. A hood partially addresses this, but not completely.

 

Oh, topside it really does need an external mic for decent audio, but that's pretty normal with consumer cameras. Nothing $100 won't fix.

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