[Question] Best consumer Camcorder for FX?


Hi guys! What’s up?

I want to buy a camcorder for small vfx tests. 3D trancking, chroma keys…etc

I have been thinking on SONY SVR12?-JVC EVERIO HD6- some canon…

what do you think guys.


I will just throw some stuff out there:

Cameras with good low light capabilities will always be helpful. This reduces the need to have lots of lights and other setup for your chroma tests/3d tracking stuff. Also, 3d tracking software will work better when it can cleanly visualize the same points between each frame. With good low light sensitivity, you can use faster shutters (less blur) and you will also have less grain, which might help out the 3d tracking software. Same goes with chroma keying. You want everything to be crystal clear with no grain or blur in the first place so that the edges around the object you are isolating are sharp and don’t need extra work in post. Resolution helps as well, but I think you are already considering HD.


Oh no! Please please PLEASE don’t EVER downplay the importance of lights and good lighting skills. Video production is my main source of income, and lighting is such an important, yet often overlooked. Consumer camcorders have absolutely horrendous low-light performance because of their small sensor size and the fact that they come with a single sensor instead of 3-chip sensors found in pro-sumer and professional cameras. The single most important thing when trying to pull off good chroma key work is good lighting. This is especially important with consumer cameras because of the heavy compression the video goes through. Formats such as HDV and AVCHD throw out a great deal of color, or chroma, information. This makes pulling a key so much more difficult than if you were to use a medium- high end professional camera that doesn’t use such heavy compression.

Using a high shutter speed won’t do anything other than force you to open the iris more, or in most consumer cams, boost the gain to brighten the image. Boosting the gain is BAD because it introduces a lot of noise into your image. Also, a higher shutter speed will give you that strobing effect that you see during Saving Private Ryan. Low-light sensitivity will only take you so far- and that’s not far at all on consumer cameras. Even a $50k cameras need incredible amounts of light to produce a good, clean image. Please don’t assume that skimping out on lights will ever do anything to help your image.

As to the OP, either of those cameras will work out well for you provided you’re not trying to make a living with them! If all you’re looking to do is experiment and play around, those will do just fine.


I have a canon HV20 I got it for 450$ (refurbished) and I love it. There is a wealth of information at hv20.com. This camera is pretty much the best you can get for the price, I highly recommend it.


thank a lot by your answers. is the information that i needed.

With this i must start to think on my new camera; but for example, on a consumer camera, the minimun lux / light needed , bitrate compression…and lots of technicals specifications are difficult to know, there aren’t on any place.

Then from i’m seeying, i’ll spend money on a 500-1000€ consumer camcorder or a prosumer one (2nd hand).

I have this list more or less:

JVC HD7 (where available, here on Europe only 2nd hand. Because too many people says that JVC remove this model from the stores because was too much quality/ price.
Last SONY / CANON consumer camcorder, but i read that was interesting to select a 3CCD model (canon/sony haven’t on their consumer range).

and other prosumer old and not very old:

CANON XL -XL1 - XL2 … i need a 2nd hand obviously
SONY HVR series
PANASONIC cheapest models on P2 Series (2nd hand)


One more thing please please please…i have a good question. For example old models (1-2 years ago), like CANON XL1 ( http://www.tvlocal.com/directorio/dataimg/CanonXL1.jpg )
, there aren’t last HD versions with 1080p@24fps but, are better image quality that consumer camcorders, i think. So,
Is there any limitation on that old prosumer camcorders that do that i woudnt have bought?? like for example mini DV format… max res 480p… only interlaced recording… etc…

thank you guys. you dont know how much usefull is your information for me. I’m very grateful for your help.


One more thing please please please…i have a good question. For example old models (1-2 years ago), like CANON XL1 ( http://www.tvlocal.com/directorio/dataimg/CanonXL1.jpg )
, there aren’t last HD versions with 1080p@24fps but, are better image quality that consumer camcorders, i think. So,
Is there any limitation on that old prosumer camcorders that do that i woudnt have bought?? like for example mini DV format… max res 480p… only interlaced recording… etc…

thank you guys. you dont know how much usefull is your information for me. I’m very grateful for your help.

NO no no, do not buy an older camera like the xl1, the jump to HD has greatly improved the footage of cameras. I would really recommend looking into cmos cameras. Now a 3ccd camera maybe able to get a color space of 3:3:3, (some Panavision and higher end models) but the cmos codecs can use 4:2:2 which is also very good. Mini DV does not cap at 480 resolution. It caps a 1440 x 1080 resolution with a 1.33 pixel, which inturn get converted to 1920x1080 on a square pixel for a full HD.

Go to vimeo.com and compare cameras that you are interested in.

I have shot on a cannon xh-a1, and the footage is great, However this is a 3000$(us) camera. I have a HV20, refurbished for 450$(us), and the footage is really comparable. The cannon cameras I have used really sold me, the quality of the footage is really just unbelieveable. On another note panasonic make great cameras as well, And they are going to release a consumer 3 cmos chip camera, I am really looking foward to see how this performs.

This is from a review ofthe JVC Everio GZ-HD6. This part is comapring the JVC to other similar priced cameras.

Here is the source.


Note the cannon HF series is similar to the HV line, but records to a hard disk instead of mini DV.

Canon HF10
Canon’s gotten the broom out and swept up most of the competition within the past year. The HF10 (Specs, Recent News, $592.95)($1099 MSRP) ranks amongst the HV20 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $903) and HV30 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $574.94), which are nearly impossible to top in terms of raw performance. With beautiful video in bright and low light, three different frame rates to shoot in (60i/24P/30P), stellar audio options, and an ultra compact body, the HF10 is the camcorder to beat. Unfortunately, the GZ-HD6 cannot contend with the video quality, wealth of shooting options, size, and price factor. The only thing the HD6 has going for it is a massive 120GB HDD that allows for nearly a half day of shooting in the highest quality and 60P playback on an HDTV. Take the money you save with the HF10 and buy a 16GB SDHC card to double your recording capacity

Here is a frame exported from my hv20, mind you it is compressed 2x on from dv compression, the other is jpeg compression so i could upload it to cgtalk.



I agree with Ransom. Do NOT spend money on an old XL-1. XL-2 cameras are much better, but for your budget, I’d recommend just going with something like the Canon HV-20 or HV-30. Yes, it’s HDV, which has its drawbacks, but it will give you the best bang for your budget. The higher up camera models like the Sony HVR-A1, V1, or even FX-1 use the exact same format, and they cost more because they have higher quality parts while giving you a greater degree of control.

I suggest you stay away from Panasonic’s P2 cameras as well because the cost of those P2 cards is VERY high. Also, you would need to invest in a significant amount of Hard drive storage since keeping a large library of P2 cards would be out of the question.

In short, get a camera that can shoot HDV. You can always down-convert to SD if you need to, and a down-converted image will look much better than one originating in SD to begin with.

Also remember to spend some of that money on a quality tripod!


ok guys, ufff… thanks for the speed of your reply… i was watching some ebay XL’s models with theirs bids finishing. :smiley:

are you saying that models like Sony HVR… are same quality as consumer models?? I think that the image quality cant be the same.I’m a rookie photographer with a Digital SLR camera, i’m not an expert, but i know what is the difference on lens/objetives that cost 300€ and others that cost 3000€ and looks the same. But this has opened me my mind, and then just i reduce all my options…

i have seen some good opportinities of for example SONY HVRA1 from 600 to 800€, (2nd hand) but if for example i must to select some consumer like:

HV30 , SONY SDL-12 (i dont remember model)… that are from 700-1000€

and have in the other hand, an option of a SONY HVR or an CANON XH for about 1000-1200€?? what is the best option

Canon related:
I have seen the new models CANON LEGRIA, but the only have 1 sensor??? why? on american models, canon call this camcorders as VIXIA:

what do you think on this camera?


Yes, there are many differences between inexpensive consumer models and the pro-sumer models. Consumer models use lower quality parts. Lens quality and lens control are much better as you move up the ladder, as is low-light sensitivity and overall control. Personally, I have a Sony V1 and a Canon HV-30. My Sony V1 has a focus ring and a zoom ring. It has a better viewfinder and flip-out LCD display, along with XLR audio inputs. I have more manual control over more features such as gain and aperture. My HV-30 is much smaller, with very little control over focus and no manual zoom ring.

If you’re just getting into video right now, do not make the mistake of becoming obsessed with if your camera is good enough. Your budget is small at this point. That, combined with your lack of overall experience in this, are your limiting factors. Buying a bigger and more expensive will do absolutely NOTHING to improve the quality of your work if you don’t know how to use it properly! If you shoot something the wrong way on a $50,000 camera, it will look just as bad as if you were to shoot it on a $400 consumer camera.

Right now, the most affordable path is tape-based HDV. Many consumer style cameras do HDV or they do AVCHD. AVCHD is a better overall format, but it is very new, and not many editing programs can use it just yet.

Now, back to your original post: If all you’re doing is experimenting and playing around, any one of those cameras you listed in your first post will work out fine. Same thing for the Canon HV-20, HV-30, or HV-40. As time goes by and you learn more about using your camera, you’ll start to notice your camera’s limits. Once that happens, you can start saving and doing research on a better camera that will fit your needs.

Video gear gets extremely expensive very quickly. On the higher end of things, your current budget would be enough to buy one battery for a higher end camera. It may sound outrageous, but it should put some perspective into things. Hope this helps.


[left][font=Verdana]For discussion on cameras in relation to VFX you could learn a lot from Stu Maschwitz forum over at :


I have a HV20 which I use for experiments, private projects etc and it has been great. The footage is 1080p so you don’t have to correct the interlacing although it is also HDV so its non-square pixels at 1440 wide. I believe there is a new model coming out soon (if its not out already) that shoots 1920 wide so you might want to look out for that.

One drawback of the HV20’s and HV30’s when it comes to VFX is a reported rolling shutter problem when attempting tracking though I haven’t tried this out so can’t confirm it myself.



thank you very much Jim. great link
for now i’ll ask over there, and i’ll wait few months to buy a camcorder, but i want it as soon as possible. :smiley:

last consumer canon starts to be a good candidate.



For the meantime, you can preoccupy yourself by checking the camcorder ratings of various brands. You can examine the pros and cons of the items that suits your liking. Good luck.


LoL I empathise completely.

Whilst you are waiting a few months you could do worse than to get hold of the the Stu Maschwitz book “The DV Rebels Guide”. Its a brilliant read, very inspiring. The forum is formatted to mirror the book so any questions you have you can get answers direct from the author.



Don’t underestimate the problems with rolling shutters and tracking. I’ve seen some fairly good amateur matchmoves from rolling shutters and there are ways to correct the footage in post but do your research into this so you know what you’re in for. Whip pans and fast movement in shots will cause big problems.


The Canon HV consumer series (20 and 30) are the best in that price range for HD, despite the lack of the manual control you’d find on the prosumer level. I use a HV20 much of the time for concept photography/footage. Yes, there are motion-tracking and low-light issues with these cameras, but I overcome this minor flaw by shooting static (on sticks), and using at least a key and a reflector in a normally dimly-lit backdrop. The big advantage here is that although I might not be able to integrate the footage seamlessly into a higher-end setup (such as a Red, VariCam or F900/950), the resolution/composition is similar.

I prefer HDV over AVCHD, for mobility and the lack of native support in many NLEs, and also because I’m still fond of tape-based recording (avoiding the dropouts associated with bad cable/card connections and hard drives). In a studio setting, it’s a completely different story…

Despite the cost of P2 cards, the Panasonic HVX200 is an excellent prosumer HD camera. I’d take it over the XL-2 any day.

Overall, it’s your skill with photography (lighting, composition) that determines the outcome. I shoot with neutral settings and color correct in post, as this gives me the best results; I recommend experimenting on your own to determine what you like/dislike.

Buena suerte!


Jello-cam is a pain in all shots but particularly so if you need to matchmove. However, salvation may soon be at hand, The Foundry have been previewing a plug-in “fix” for rolling shutter on the fxguide TV podcasts. Hopefully it will make it through to a commercially available piece of software:


Episode 55 is the one.



This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.