Sony VG-30 or Canon XA20???

Ogemow
Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
I am looking into getting a new video camera and the two I was thinking about was the Sony VG-30 and the Canon XA20. I am leaning towards the Canon XA20. I do review vids in a Studio setting and action vids mainly in the woods. Does anyone have a suggestion on which camera I should go with or any other suggestions on any other camera that I should look at...Thanks
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  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    I'm not familiar with the Sony, but at my work at Industry Hills Expo Center we just replaced all out cameras with Canon Xa25s (which is the 20,but with a SDI port.) The XA20 is a fantastic camera in that price range. We use the Xa25s for live switch camera/Blu-ray recording on large events, such as the recent Monster Invitational Speedway Championship--a multimillion dollar event that was also globally webcast.
    So it's a good camera.
    Again, I don't know the Sony, but I am getting ready to buy an XA25 or two myself.
    If you're North American, Adorama Cameras bundles the XA20 and 25 with a copy of Sony Vegas Pro, and, of course, Vegas has Hitfilm integration. If you don't already have another NLE (Besides Hitfilm), this might be a selling point for you.
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    Thank you Triem23 for your input. I was thinking about going with the XA25 but I don't know if it would be worth the extra money for me. I don't know if I would use the SDI port. But then I think "What if I do want it later on"...lol. So I am still kind of thinking about the XA25 but I just don't know...lol.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    The thing about the SDI port it that's it's really only needed if you're doing multicam work where you need to be able to connect your camera directly into a hi-definition switcher.
    If you're thinking about connection to an external monitor, the built-in HDMI (mini) might work for you. Additionally, Blackmagic design maks HDMI to SDI converter boxes, and, if you bought an XA20 AND a Blackmagic converter, it's still less expensive than the XA25.
    That said, I'm going for the XA25 directly because those converter boxes only have a couple hours of battery life (and, of course, an ac power adaptor), or require another power cable to be run on-site. I'm being a bit lazy, but the $500 dollar price difference between the XA20 and 25 buys you exactly one thing--that SDI port.
    Oh, it looks like Adorama isn't bundling those cams with Sony Vegas 12 anymore. Pity. Although, as a Vegas owner, already, I would have just sold off the Vegas on Ebay for about half cost--that would have more-or-less paid off the price difference between the 20 and 25.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    There is one huge advantage to the Sony. Interchangeable lenses. Especially if you happen to have a Sony DSLR or old Minolta lenses.
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    [quote name="Triem23" post="39813" timestamp="1393727569"]There is one huge advantage to the Sony. Interchangeable lenses. Especially if you happen to have a Sony DSLR or old Minolta lenses.[/quote]
    That was why I was wanting the Sony but then I realized lenses are not cheap and I would probably not buy any. So in short, the Canon has more zoom with the stock lens then the Sony and to get the same zoom with the Sony I would have a really long lens on the front of it. So I did not like the idea of having a huge lens on the front. But I think the Sony has better audio than the Canon but it is cheaper to buy a good mic for the Canon than buying lenses for the Sony. Also, you have to buy an adapter for the Sony to be able to put the Alpha lenses on it and it is $400 to buy.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    All true. So, Canon it is?
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    [quote name="Triem23" post="39817" timestamp="1393733815"]All true. So, Canon it is?[/quote]
    I think so...lol. Unless someone can suggest another camera that I have not been looking at.
  • VFXFilmmaking1
    VFXFilmmaking1 Website User Posts: 33
    edited March 2014
    Have you looked at this sony camcorder it's 4k with a 1" sensor and it's only $2000! 500 less than the vg30 and for $1500 you can get the HD one still pre order but they will be avalible very soon the 17th in fact!
    http://m.store.sony.com/products/27-FDRAX100~B
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    Looked at it. Wouldn't buy it.
    4k at 28mbps on an SDcard recording h.264 and AVCHD?
    Look, 1080p cameras record 28mbps on SD card. Now you are compressing four times the pixel data into the same storage space? It's 4k alright, but it's going to be a really crappy 4k,suffering from massive banding issues and macroblocking.
    That new codec Sony mentioned? Nothing will support it yet, except Vegas 13 (I am guessing Sony's push to consumer 4K is the reason why a new Vegas DIDN'T come out in November, 2013. Sony has consistently released a Vegas version every November since v7.)
    If you're interested in 4K you're much better off looking at the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, because that Sony is one of the many 4K things flooding the market screaming 4K to be 4k without being good 4k. And 28Mbps h.264 4k isn't good 4k.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Does it record H.264? I have heard that H.265 actually handles 4k better so kinda surprised that it isn't using that instead.

     

    I agree with Triem. Recording 4k at 28mbps is not going to be much better than 1080p. However it may be even more compressed as far as "pixel by pixel" goes in order to keep the size manageable. However shooting with a 4k sensor to 1080p will (in theory) produce better results than the XA20 (whose sensor is almost exactly 1080p). A better question is of course, do you want 4k? Can your computer/workflow handle 4k? 

     

    Something else to keep in mind is what kind of audio do you want for your video? The XA20 has XLR inputs with physical dials for volume levels on the outside of the camera. Do you need XLR? Any decent mic over $150 is going to use XLR instead of the consumer 1/8" jack. XLR is the professional standard for audio input. Not to mention the XA20 also has a 1/8" jack. So any mic you want to plug into it, you can. 

     

    I'm a bit partial to the XA20 as I have had a very pleasant experience with the XA10 and HF G10, and I'm a huge fan of canon. It really depends on what you do though.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    Another issue with 4k is light sensitivity and sensor size. Light particles, photons, are a discrete size. As you shove more pixels onto a sensor of the same size fewer photons can strike each photosite (pixel sensor). This is just physics.
    Anyways, the sensor on that Sony is about twice the area as the sensor on the xa20,but has four times the pixels. Logically, each pixel on the Sony gets about half the photons of the xa20, thus is less light-sensitive. Sony will have to use good gain processing to overcome this.
    Matthias notes that a 4K camera at 1080 may be sharpen than a 1080 cam at 1080,and,in theory this is true, DEPENDING on how the Sony shoots 1080. If it uses the whole 4K sensor, then,yes, you can get a sharper image (and that will offset grain from gain). However, if the Sony shoots 1080 by "line skipping" (like a DSLR), then it's only reading half the photosites, and you lose any sharpness advantage.
    I reiterate the whole "compression" thing I mentioned above, and add a way to visualize this. Take a Hitfilm project--something with fine details. Render it out as a 20mbps CBR. Now rerender the same image as a 5mbps CBR. The 20 mbps version represents a 1080 cam shooting at 20mbps. The 5mbps represents a 4k cam shooting at 20mbps--remember, 4 times the pixels in the same data flow represents 4 times the compression. The 5mbps will look ok, but it won't be as clean as the 20mbps.
    If you come across any users on here who went to a 2.5k or 4k camera, you'll see they all had to buy new computers and storage drives to take advantage of the camera--MichaelJames has a good thread about his upgrade to a BlackMagic Cinema Camera for reference.
    4k is good. It's going to spread, but, at the moment there are about zero people with 4K monitors, so who's going to see your footage at 4k,unless you know you're going into a movie theater? You'll just have a slow, memory/storage intensive workflow, and probably end up at 1080 anyway.
    The lack of XLR audio on the Canon is a deal-breaker for me, but I do a lot of event work, and need to be able to use external mics or tap into a sound mixer. Your needs may vary.
    For most practical purposes, most of us don't need to do 4K migration for about another three to five years, once the technology is more mature. Right now the market is starting to flood with cheap 4k crap soley to slap 4k on the box to get everyone to buy more units.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    @VFX the 1080 version of the Sony looks ok, but, for me the lack of XLR is still a deal-breaker for reasons I noted above. I would still recommend the XA20.
    Now, again, I do live event video--often multicam switched events. The Canon's have better/more easily accessed color balance controls... Shooting, say, Speedway racing at 7-930pm in July, when our light changes from sunset to full-dark, the Canons have a quickly accessed dial to change white balance in Kelvin. Sonys (and Panasonics) have to go zoom in on a white object and retake White Balance, which is a pain when shooting a fast sporting event. That Canon letting me directly alter WB temp--while shooting--is an advantage in keeping our cameras a consistent color. However, that may not matter to you depending on what you're shooting.
    I just figure it's better to give specific workflow examples for why I prefer what I prefer. :-)
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    I was talking to someone I know that shoots a lot of video and they are trying to talk me into getting a DSLR to shoot video. Would a DSLR be better for doing video? He also said that he had the Canon XA10 and it was very poor with low light and the digital wrap stabilizer was not very good. Is all of this improved on the XA20 or does what he is saying even have any merit?
  • RedHat
    RedHat Website User Posts: 75
    Sony cx760 & on are the low light kings out of the box on the wide shot. 
    DSLR is too general to know  if it is better. 
    I shoot weekly with nikon d800, vg20, nex5t, cx730.  All of them have specific uses for specific moments & their capture.
  • VFXFilmmaking1
    VFXFilmmaking1 Website User Posts: 33
    edited March 2014
    DSLRs have amazing video quality and DOF but they do have large file sizes and they have record limits around 10-30 minutes. If you only record short clip then a dslr might be a great option and the price range is 350-7000 there are so many to choose from.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    If you do event video work, you want a video camera. If you do mostly film work, a DSLR can be a fantastic option.
  • RedHat
    RedHat Website User Posts: 75
    "Action Vids" maybe a GoPro?
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014

    I was talking to someone I know that shoots a lot of video and they are trying to talk me into getting a DSLR to shoot video. Would a DSLR be better for doing video? He also said that he had the Canon XA10 and it was very poor with low light and the digital wrap stabilizer was not very good. Is all of this improved on the XA20 or does what he is saying even have any merit?
    Online comparisons of the xa10 vs XA20 all seem to say that the XA20 has improved stabilization and low-light over the xa10.
    Although... You could probably get a Canon xa10 AND a Rebel T3i with a couple of lenses for the cost of the xa20. (From what I have researched, there don't seem to be any video advantages to the T4i or T5i. The T3i seems to be the buy for sub-$1000 Canon DSLRs for video. My T3i treats me well.)
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    [quote name="RedHat" post="39960" timestamp="1393978578"]"Action Vids" maybe a GoPro?[/quote]
    I already have 2 GoPro's. I have the Hero2 and the new Black+. They are great for first person stuff but they can not zoom. I want a camera that can do everything or as close to "everything" as I can get. I need really good audio for when I am doing review and how to vids and I need something that can do really well with zoom, low light(which GoPro's do not), fast moving subjects and overall really good image quality. From all of the research I have done and what people are saying here, it really seems like the XA20 is the way to go. But my buddy also told me that there is a industry trade show (NAB) going on soon and there will be new stuff released. Does anyone know when that will be?
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    NAB is in April, and that's usually when announcements are made about upcoming releases, which may be as early as May,or as late as September. March is that point where it's very hard to get new product information as everyone is holding back for NAB.
    Heck, even FxHome released a Hitfilm update listing "integration with Vegas Pro 13," with ANOTHER update the following day listing "integration with Vegas Pro."
    So, yeah, no one will be talking new product until NAB.
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    NAB is in April, and that's usually when announcements are made about upcoming releases, which may be as early as May,or as late as September. March is that point where it's very hard to get new product information as everyone is holding back for NAB.
    Heck, even FxHome released a Hitfilm update listing "integration with Vegas Pro 13," with ANOTHER update the following day listing "integration with Vegas Pro."
    So, yeah, no one will be talking new product until NAB.

    Do you think I should wait until after NAB to buy a video camera or should I just get the XA20?

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    Can't answer that. Personally, as soon as this next check clears, I buy an XA25
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    [quote name="Triem23" post="39975" timestamp="1394002253"]Can't answer that. Personally, as soon as this next check clears, I buy an XA25[/quote]
    Lol...You can't wait?
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    Can a good cinematic quality be achieved with the XA20?
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    So, I did some more research and found out some more stuff about the XA20. It has 9 cinema filters and it can record in slow motion. I also called Canon and they said there would be no new releases in the first half for professional grade cameras.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador

    Lol...You can't wait?
    Actually, I went after, and got, a canon xf305 with case, wide angle lens, extra batteries, LANC controller and a filter pack for about $3200--a good deal.
    If by "cinematic" look, you refer to the soft, muted, shallow depth-of-focus look, then yes and no. You will certainly be able to tune the color the camera outputs, and, at 24fps you'll get a cinematic cadence, but you won't get the same creamy, shallow depth of focus of a DSLR.
    This is basically a physics/optics issue, and has a lot to do with the physical size of the sensor. Larger sensors provide shallower depth of field, so a 1/6" chip (smartphone) has less DOF than a 1/4" chip (low end camcorder), 1/3" inch chip, etc. And an APS-C DSLR sensor (Canon Rebel) doesn't have as shallow a DOF as a 35mm DSLR (Canon 5d mark iii)
    All that said, the xa25 is a well made, versatile camera that can generate a lovely image. If I had NOT won that xf305 auction, I would have bought the xa25 today.
    Oh, part of the "not waiting" is simply this: I am freelance. A few of tthe places I shoot for prefer Canons--xf100/105/300/305 and xa25. I didn't own any Canon video cameras (we don't count my DSLRs), only Panasonics. OWNING a camera in that preferred range is going to get me more work--for example, at Industry Hills Expo Center I only work gigs that a certain other Videographer works, since he owns a XF305 and can borrow a XF105 because he is attached to another facility, he isn't always available. This xf305 mightt get me as much as 20 more days if work this year, and these jobs are $200 for four/five hours. That's maybe another $4000 this year, and that pays off the xf305, my gas for the workdays, and still puts several hundred bucks of profit in the bank. And these jobs start up in April. This was my time to commit to buying, so I have time for the camera to arrive and be tested, and so I can report to prospective employers that I own this new tool.
    I may try for an xf105 as well--it's the little brother of the 305--but the xf305 also records a 4:2:2 color space, instead of the 4:2:0 of my Panasonics, the XA20 and most DSLRs. Without going into detail, a 4:2:2 codec has twice the color information of a 4:2:0 codec, which makes life a heckuva lot easier when shooting greenscreen. Makes it easier to key, you see.
  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,247 Staff
    Keep in mind as well that the majority of what people perceive as a "cinematic look" has nothing to do with the camera, and more to do with the lighting, set design, costume design, and the way the camera operator frames his shots and moves the camera.
  • Ogemow
    Ogemow Website User Posts: 32
    edited March 2014
    I did some research on the Canon XF 300 and XF 305. They are very nice cameras. But I think I am going to wait until after NAB to see if anyone comes out with something better. I also found out that the XA20 has a problem when people are taking pics with a flash the flash makes horizontal white lines in the XA20's picture. Has anyone else heard of this problem and have anymore info on it?
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,381 Ambassador
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_shutter
    Any camera that uses CMOS chips has the flash issue you bring up. This includes all DSLRs, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, all smartphone and tablet cameras, and pretty much every video camera released after 2008.
    This is because of a phenomenon called "Rolling Shutter." I linked the Wikipedia entry for it above.
    The only way to avoid Rolling Shutter is to buy a camera that uses CCD chips instead of CMOS; and, basically you can't, anymore.
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