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Shooting Stars
Posted Apr 1, 2003 - October 2004 Issue Print Version     Page 1of 4 next »

Whether your focus is DVD, film, or Web delivery, pro-quality video begins with a pro-level camera. How do you choose the three-CCD DV camera that's right for you?

April 2003|Video is the ultimate "garbage in/garbage out" medium, and whether you're shooting for film, video, DVD, or Web delivery, it all starts with the camera. Here we look at three DV cameras, the Canon GL2, the Panasonic AG-DVX100, and the Sony VX2000, that raise the quality of your video input to new levels—especially for the sub-$3,500 price range.

At a high level, the three cameras are very similar, built around the same Sony VX1000-inspired design, with a long, narrow body style, handle with boom microphone on top, tape bay on the right, and LCD panel on the left. All the cameras have three CCDs, providing the optimal quality environment, with optical image stabilization, manual audio gain controls and volume meters.

Features like zebra-striping and color bar-generation are also relatively consistent among the three models, along with external, easy-to-access controls for white balance, neutral density filters, and exposure gain control. Though there are some varia- tions in quality, especially in low light, all three cameras are capable of outputting sufficient quality video for broadcast or even independent films.

Complicating your selection is the price compression occurring among these three units. At www.epinions.com, for example, we found the GL2 for $1989, the VX2000 for $2070, and the AG-DVX100 for $3250; all these are bound to drop in the next few months.

Focal Points
So, how do you choose the three-CCD camera that's right for you? To break down the process, we rated each camera on seven different metrics (as shown in Table 1) with 1 being the best, and 3 the worst. Let's quickly identify each of the different parameters, most of which are discussed in detail in the individual reviews.

Table 1 

Progressive scan213
Advanced features213
Ease of use132
Video quality1.511
Low light312
Still-image capabilities132
Look and feel312

One of the most significant differences between the cameras relates to progressive scan capabilities, useful when shooting for film or the Web. For example, the DVX100 can capture in 24 and 30fps progressive scan mode, while the VX2000 can only manage 15fps. The newest and most expensive camera reviewed, the DVX100, also offers more advanced features, like six programmable shooting modes.

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