HD Camera Buyers’ Guide: Manufacturer Suggestions, Part II

By Carolyn Braff
When transitioning a college athletic department’s video operations from standard- to high-definition, choosing a camera and lens complement may not be the first decision a video director makes, but it can be the most important. To assist in this process, SVG-U has compiled product suggestions from seven major camera manufacturers, wrapping up our buyers’ guide this week with notes from Canon, Fujinon, JVC, and Sony.
For last week’s suggestions from Ikegami, Panasonic, and Thomson, click here.
Canon offers two hard-disk-drive HD camcorders, VIXIA HG 20 (60 GB, $949) and VIXIA HD21 (120 GB, $1,299).
“What’s great about these cameras is, you have an option of recording to the internal hard-disk drive and also recording to an SDHC memory card,” explains Ben Thomas, marketing supervisor for Canon. “You have the added flexibility of transferring your video onto a memory card and then inserting it into a computer to start editing right away.”
The VIXIA HF11 is Canon’s newest HD flash-memory camcorder. Using 32 GB of internal memory for 12 hours recording time, it retails at $1,199.
“The HF11 has increased memory and higher bitrate; it can record up to 24 Mbps, which is the ceiling that you can achieve with the AVCHD format,” Thomas explains. “With 24 Mb, you’re going to have a seamless look whenever something is moving fast across your screen.”
Fujinon’s ZA series of HD ENG lenses are specifically designed for cost-effective HD solutions. By committing to manufacture a large number of these lenses, Fujinon was able to drop the price by about 30 percent without losing any appreciable quality.
“For colleges and universities that are looking to HD, this is a very, very good way to go,” explains Dave Waddell, marketing manager for Fujinon. “These are very good lenses, and they utilize the same electronics, the same zoom and focus and so forth, as the high-end lenses.”
The ZA22, with 22 times magnification and a 2x extender, is useful for shooting in the field, while the ZA17 and ZA12, without the range extender, are available at a lower price point for studio applications and interviews.
Sony offers a range of options for low-cost HD capture. The least expensive is the HVR HD1000, an HDV camcorder that relies on tape and retails for around $2,000.
“The nice part about it is, once you record it in HDV, there are any number of editing programs on the market you can use to edit the HD material: use an HDV deck that runs $3,000-$4,000, hook it up to a hi-def projector, and you’re on the air with an investment that’s under $15,000 total,” explains Bob Ott, VP of optical and network systems for Sony.
Moving up the price chain, Sony’s HVR-Z7 uses both tape and compact flash and retails for $7,000.
JVC’s GY-HD110, with a list price of $4,500, is the company’s least-expensive HD camera. Equipped with a 16x Fujinon manual lens, the 110 shoots in 720/24p and /30p, which is effective for small-screen playback and streaming images.
“For standard- and high-definition, it shoots progressive images, which is ideal motion capture for sports,” says Craig Yanagi, national marketing manager of creation products for JVC. “It’s also ideal for streaming.”
The GY HD200, retailing for $5,995, offers a faster shutter rate at /50p and /60p, which is useful for slow motion. The HD200 can also output 1080i out of the IEEE 1394 Firewire connection.
“Our flagship camera, the GY HD250, has uncompressed HD-SDI output with studio-system capability,” Yanagi says. “The cost of the camera and the system, around $11,000, makes it very affordable for schools.”
JVC’s cameras are easily repurposed between ENG and studio applications. The company offers a full studio system — including studio viewfinder, camera-control unit, rear camera lens controls, and studio adapters — for less than $20,000.
“All of our cameras in the lower price category are 100 percent professional equipment, so, when students are trained on our equipment and they go into the field, they know where the controls are,” explains Edgar Shane, general manager of engineering for JVC. “That’s why, traditionally, we work well with colleges, because, when somebody is trained with our equipment, they find themselves very comfortable in the field.”
For some key questions to ask before purchasing an HD camera, click here.