$3000 Video Camera

Posted by Brian Paris on Mar 29, 2009 in Blog |

A friend of mine asked me if I knew of a good camera to be had for a $3000 budget. That is a budget range that I don’t usually deal with. Most of the time I am looking for equipment at a little higher end or cheaper consumer cameras. I gave it some thought and did a little research and this is what I came up with. Let me know what you think.

First thing that I think about when asked to look into cameras is what sort of accessories will be needed. When you start adding up the cost of a tripod, carrying case, microphones, lighting, and all the other little accessories you will soon find that the extras can cost as much as the camera itself. That is why I start off the list with cameras that are well below the $3000 limit.

First group is a couple of canon cameras. They are consumer cameras without good manual controls, but they still produce good looking images. They are both pretty cheap so there is lots of extra room for extras. Another downside is that there is no XLR inputs.

Canon HV40: ($1000) Consumer HDV camera. Very small. Not much in the way of manual controls. I had the HV20 which is the older version (and loved it). Great pictures for such a small price.

Canon HF S10: ($1300) Like the HV40 but records in digital to the internal drive or removable SD cards. Files need to be converted before using in Final Cut. No need to use a separate VTR for ingesting video.

Next there are a couple of Sony cameras. The FX7 is a newer camera but doesn’t have the XLR inputs that pros look for. They both leave some money for extras.

Sony FX7: ($2000) HDV camera, uses mini dv tapes. 1/4” Chips. No XLR inputs. Good zoom range.

Sony HVR-A1U: ($2000) HDV camera. A little older camera than the FX7. Has XLR for Audio. Reminds me of the PD150’s that I used to use for Standard Def cameras.

Next up is prosumer stuff. This eats up the full 3K budget without any room for extras. The Panasonic records to SD cards while the others are HDV cameras that record to mini dv tapes. All but the FX1000 have XLR inputs. They all have manual controls.

Panasonic HMC150: ($3500) A little more expensive, but it records to solid state SD cards. New camera, everyone is talking about it. The files need to be converted to quicktime before they can be edited in final cut (doesn’t take long, but adds an extra step).

Canon XL-A1: ($2999) This is an HDV camera so it records to tape. People seems to be very happy with the image it produces. Price doesn’t leave anything for extras.

Sony FX1000: ($3000) Upgrade for the FX7. Bigger Chips. No XLR Inputs.

Sony HVR-V1U: ($2995) Upgrade from the A1U. HDV, XLR Inputs.

Next group is out of the price range, but is the first group that can be considered low end pro cameras. I included this because it might just be a good idea to use other people’s equipment until you save enough to buy something better.

Panasonic HPX170: ($5200) Newest P2 based camera. Better than the HVX200s that we have. It is out of the price range, and the P2 cards can be expensive.

Sony EX1: ($6100) Records to SxS cards. They are expensive, but not as bad as the P2 camera.

Sony EX3: ($8400) Like the EX1 but with interchangeable lenses.

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Apr 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Great information! Thank you for putting this up here!
For years, I salivated over the Canon XL1. In my mind, light came down from heaven to shine on it while the angels sang. Never got it, but it was very exciting for me when I started working at WILL and got to use pro cameras, instead of prosumer. I still would love to have this little baby, though.
Side note–the only episode of Dawson’s Creek I ever saw featured a camera I’m pretty sure was a Canon XL1 (or a camera very similar). It made me so mad at the time to think that some high school kid could have a camera so nice. Damn rich kids! : )

Sep 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Q: What is going to happen when Canon fianlly, one day upgrades there video cameras to use a better chip such as the one like the 5D has? Will the photo camera video Craze be over? The hype has been over the cinematic film look that the 5D produces right not the actual application, although the concept of shooting video with a still camera is exciting, what happens next?



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