Palm Sized HD

I recently bought a new "consumer" HD camcorder. I put consumer in quotes because while yes, it is a one-chip camera, and no, it doesn't have XLR audio inputs or an HD-SDI connection - but the features it does have and the images it produces are up there with cameras many more times expensive than it - so I'd call it a "prosumer" camera for a "consumer" price.

The camera is the brand new Canon HV20. Click here for a link to the Canon website.

The main thing (for me anyway) that sets the camera apart from anything else remotely close to it is the 24p capabilities. This is the first camera in this price range offering TRUE 1080p24. This is not some "cinemode" or frame blending technique. This is real 24 frames per second. And I must say, it looks really, really good.

The camera also offers a myriad of other "pro" features like manual white balance, manual focus, manual audio adjustment, and manual exposure.

In the 24p mode (or even in the interlaced mode) you can switch between several different gamma settings to achieve a more "filmic" look. This again is very nice and has never been available on this level of camera. The 1080i video looks great too. Especially in bright sunshine.

Earlier I mentioned the camera only has one-chip. And this is true. But, don't think that means bad image quality. The chip is CMOS instead of a CCD. I won't get into the technical mumbo jumbo here, but I will say that all the major high-end HD cameras like the Viper use ONE-CHIP CMOS setups. The Viper was used most recently to shoot David Fincher's "Zodiac". Now I'm not saying my HV20 can produce those kinds of images. Not at all. What I am saying though is that one-chip cameras are a lot different than they used to be.

A few weeks ago I was in Mexico on a corporate shoot and our crew was shooting at the Pyramids at Tulum (near Playa Del Carmen). We had a JVC HD100 HDV camcorder and couldn't take that in (too big), so we had a second, smaller camera - a Sony VX2100. The officials at Tulum let us bring that in (for a $35 fee), but as we were shooting a security guard approached and said the camera was "too professional" (we had put a wireless mic on it) and they confiscated the tape. We fought it, but as of this writing it has not been returned (even though it was supposed to have been).

So why am I telling you this story? Well, obviously I wish I'd had my new Canon HV20. There were many tourist there with small palm sized cameras and NO ONE said a word to them. EVEN THOUGH the HDV ones will shoot a better image than most of the mid-sized SD cameras.

I personally own a JVC DV500 camera. I bought it in 2000. It has been a GREAT camera for corporate style work (and I shot my second feature on it too). The camera has three 1/2" chips. So it produces nice images. But I gotta tell you, I shot some test footage with the HV20 and I think it looks better. Of course it's HDV and not standard def DV, but the clarity, etc. was just plain better.

The JVC costs me roughly $6500 and the new Canon cost only $1100. Crazy.

Of course understand that I'm not planning on using this new Canon for my main camera on my pro gigs. I mainly bought it for scouting locations, shooting behind-the-scenes footage, and for cast/crew interviews for DVD extras, etc. I also might use it as a "B Camera" on a shoot or two to match in with my main camera.

I'm attending NAB next week looking for a new primary HD camera. I plan on taking the HV20 along to shoot some footage in Las Vegas. Maybe I'll shoot some HD video of my new HD camera? Isn't technology great? :)


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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and And speaking of, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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