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Echoes from the Backyard
Posted Jul 1, 1999 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Dear DJ,
I'm 17 years old and I would like to get your opinion on a DV camera. Right now I have a JVC DV500. I want something more professional, but not too expensive since I'm on a tight budget. I'm looking at purchasing the JVC GY-DV300. Thank you for your advice; I really admire you and appreciate your ideas. They inspire me to continue my dream of being an editor and producer.

Dear Li'l,
Wow…I'm humbled. Thank you for the compliment.

These types of questions are not what this column is good for. I'm a producer first, product evaluator second. I'm primarily concerned with the bottom line; if I no come up with the moolah, I no get the products.

In short, I will only comment about gear and equipment that I can write about confidently and comfortably. What makes me comfortable? My eye. My hands. Period. If I haven't used it, I'm not qualified to comment on it.

I haven't used the JVC GY-DV500 or the 300. So what can I use to help me help you? Well, honestly nothing else but what's already available to you: technical specifications. According to JVC's tech specs, the 300 doesn't perform as well as the 500 in low-light situations (2.65 lux vs. 0.4 lux), the kinds of shooting circumstances we encounter all too often. See these URLs for details:

  • http://pro.jvc.com/prof/Attributes/ specs.jsp?tree=&model_id=MDL100101&itempath=&feature_id=03
  • http://pro.jvc.com/prof/Attributes/ specs.jsp?tree=&model_id=MDL101332&itempath=&feature_id=03

The 500 has 1/2" CCDs while the 300 has 1/3". This alone means the 500 is going to provide a better quality image (assuming that JVC is providing accurate specs). That said, here is what I think I would probably do: Buy another 500 used. If you shop around, you might get lucky and find one for not much more than the 300 is new.

What does this get you? You will have two matched cameras that perform well in low light, have professional audio inputs, and that you already know how to run. Then, you come back and fill in the gap with a smaller, low-profile camera to step in as third unit when your budget allows.

Dear DJ,
I'm really jonesing to get my hands on the new high-def Sony Camera, the HDR-FX1. Any advice?
1080 ENVY

Dear Envy,
Yes: Wait. Give it another year or two. Why? 1-2-3…  

  1. Low-light capability is 3 lux. The DSR-PD170 is better at 1 lux.
  2. There is no mass-market delivery vehicle for HD yet. Blu-ray DVD and HD-DVD aren't available stateside.
  3. The color space of HDV is 4:2:0. DV is 4:1:1 (which is "better" is debatable, but DV tends to get the respect). DVCPRO is 4:2:2.

In his November 2004 article, "From HDV to DVD," Stephen Nathans quoted Ulead's Ian Andes as saying, "Why should I buy a $2,000 SD camcorder now if I'm going to have to buy a $3,000 HDV camcorder when Blu-ray comes out?"

My response: In 3-5 years it will be time to replace your production gear anyway. If you buy an HDV camera now, you'll have to replace that one too. It's not just a matter of resolution. By then, low-light capabilities plus the delivery medium will (hopefully) be in place. NLEs will have caught up as well.

Dear DJ,
I'm new to wedding video and I need some help. I can't decide if I should offer just one package or more.

Dear NEW,
Interesting question. There are two schools of thought on this, and I've seen both used and abused. I've also seen both used successfully.

The first says keep it simple. One package, no confusion. The pitfall is that you're offering only two choices: hire you, or hire someone else. If someone else is offering multiple packages…You see where I'm going with this, right?

The three-package rule is tried and true. You build three packages—a good-better-best scenario—with the goal being to sell mostly the middle package. When building these packages, don't forget to price them according to your true costs.

An example might look like this:

  • Good: 2-camera, 4-hour coverage with basic edit.
  • Better: 3-camera, 6-hour coverage with deluxe edit.
  • Best: 3-camera, unlimited time coverage with deluxe edit, plus a highlight edit.

The sell-to-the-middle concept is based on the assumption that the customer is Goldilocks, so to speak. Not too limiting. Not too costly. Ahhhh… Just right.

At minimum I'd suggest three packages, and not more than five. Provide choices, not confusion.

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