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Alternatives To Iconix

Published : 26th feb. 2008

 

I have an HD project for the fall (probably using the F900Rs) and we'll have some shooting to do inside of cars. One idea was to use two lipstick sized cameras pointed at the driver and the passenger. Are there alternatives to the Iconix that would be small enough so they would not be so visible when the car is shot from outside the car?

Also, is there a pan and tilt head small enough that could also be used or would we need to keep the camera in a fixed position (the fixed position wide angle look, such as in Taxicab Confessions, is something I would prefer to avoid).

Thanks in advance.

Sam Shinn
DP
New York City


There's the new itty-bitty Panasonic HD camera, the HSC1. 1920x1080 and it records to SD cards. Nice little camera.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


You could look at:

Fraunhofer IIS > Business Fields > Imaging Systems > Camera Technology & Image Sensors > microHD

http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/EN/bf/bv/ksbs/microHD.jsp

Looks like an Iconix-type camera.

You know what they say : People in glass houses sink ships.

Paul K. Miller


There's also the Silicon Imaging Mini.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


Mitch Gross writes :

>>There's the new itty-bitty Panasonic HD camera, the HSC1. 1920x1080 >>and it records to SD cards. Nice little camera.

Compression:

HF (13Mbps/CBR)
HN (9Mbps/VBR)
HE (6Mbps/VBR)

The HF mode ought to be competitive with HDV, since AVC has an approximate 2:1 efficiency advantage over MPEG-2. But at that data rate, bring extra cards. 3-CCD is interesting...

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>>The HF mode ought to be competitive with HDV, since AVC has an >>approximate 2:1 efficiency advantage over MPEG-2. But at that data >>rate, bring extra cards. 3-CCD is interesting...

A 4G card yields almost an hour at the best quality. And the camera comes with one card and a little 40G harddrive to download the cards on set. All for under $2K. I sure wouldn't use it as my A-camera, but it delivers suprisingly good images.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


Sam Shinn wrote :

>>...we'll have some shooting to do inside of cars. ... Are there >>alternatives to the Iconix that would be small enough so they would >>not be so visible when the car is shot from outside the car?

The answer to your question really depends on how small is small and how much quality (or lack thereof) is acceptable. You did not mention what type of project this is and what the intended distribution channel would be. Also what flavour of HD (I assume 1080 as you are also shooting F900R) and frame rate may come into consideration. Personally I would not think the Iconix to be a great solution based on tests I have done (if you have space for something larger). Aside from only being marginally happy with the Iconix 1/3" imager finding high quality C mount lenses has been problematic. Frank Barrera who frequents this list is shooting a Indy feature right now and passed on the Iconix in a similar application. You may want to ask his opinion.

I would suggest looking at the Sony HKCT1500 "T-Block" camera. It can output 1080 or 720 in all standard frame rates. This is a miniaturized/component tethered camera that is essentially a Sony HDC1500 imager block with a 2/3" B4 lens mount. Thus, any 2/3" B4 lens can be employed. Arguably the HDC1500 (and T Block HKCT1500) are better looking cameras than the F900R anyway. Finding glass that is compact, wide and high quality should not be a problem.

I suggest looking at the Zeiss 5 mm T1.9 Digi-Prime. As far as recorders go a Sony HDW250 HDCAM portable may be a good choice or if you have more than one HDSDI signal to record simultaneously the Sony SRW1 would be a better choice as you can record two images simultaneously. Lastly if you record 422 HDCAM (irregardless of whether on the HDW250 or SRW1) and have a competent engineer (DIT) you should be able to match all the cameras acceptably.

I am not sure that the T block and Zeiss 5mm Digi-Prime could be "hidden" as requested, but it's the closet thing while still maintaining high quality that I can think of.

The company I work for sells and rents all the items mentioned above and we are based in New York City. I would be happy to arrange a demo if you wish. Contact me off-list to set-up a demo if you want.

- Tom D'Angelo
Director of Rental Services
All Mobile Video


On a budget the new Canon HV20 could work. It’s not quite as small as the Iconix, but it’s a small consumer size HDV camcorder that shoots 24p at 1080. According to Taylor Wigton’s review in the July/August 2007 Showreel magazine, footage of the HV20 could seamlessly cut together with footage from a F900. The American Cinematographer Magazine also featured a short review of the camera a couple of months ago. What’s best about it is that you can just buy it for $1000.

Hope this helped:

Joerg Schodl, Cinematographer, LA


>>According to Taylor Wigton's review in the July/August 2007 Showreel >>magazine, footage of the HV20 could seamlessly cut together with >>footage from a F900.

Only if the F900 fell off the back of the camera truck first. While it was moving. On a dirt road. In the rain. At 50 MPH.

Let's get a firmer grip on reality. No one here would say that super 8 intercuts seamlessly with 35. This is no different.

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California
http://www.bluescreen.com


>>No one here would say that super 8 intercuts seamlessly with 35

IMHO a better analogy might be an Eyemo Spyder with the wooden 400' mag, wild motor with bad brushes and some fungussy Miltars intercutting with a 435 Extreme and Master Primes. Both 35mm, and it kinda works if you can stay in the sweetest part of the Miltars, and you're budgeted for post cleanup anyway. But it's the existence of that equivalence point, no matter how fleeting, that gives one sometimes unrealistic hopes. Then again, someone who knows what they're doing should be able to wrestle decent pictures out of almost any camera, though perhaps swearing all the way.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


Bob Kertesz writes:

>>No one here would say that super 8 intercuts seamlessly with 35

True, but is that an entirely relevant comparison?

IMHO it might be interesting to do an A-B comparison between the Super-8/35 difference and the HV-20/F900 difference. Surely the latter difference will be less extreme in most respects, regardless of the circumstances of the test.

But all this is OT. How does the HV20 stack up against the Iconix? Has anyone done a comparison test?

Dan "Paging Mr.. Wilt..." Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>>No one here would say that super 8 intercuts seamlessly with 35
>
>>True, but is that an entirely relevant comparison?

It was a comparison of the least expensive moving film to the one most commonly currently used for professional work.

The HV20 is more or less the least expensive moving 1080 HD image maker, with the F900 being likely the most commonly currently used for professional work.

All these micro-format cameras look OK on smaller monitors by themselves. I think part of it is the amazement factor that they're able to do HD at all.

But put them on a 60" or larger screen with a direct A-B comparison to something like a properly set up F900, and they all suffer badly from the comparison.

Look, every format has its proponents, and that's fine. If the HV20 is the largest camera one can possibly use in a given situation and still get some sort of 1080 output, that's also fine.

But people shouldn't try to pass off a cubic zirconium as a diamond to group of gemologists.

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California


>>Joerg Schodl wrote: According to Taylor Wigton'??s review in the >>July/August 2007 Showreel magazine, footage of the HV20 could >>seamlessly cut together with footage from an F900.

I'd hate for anyone to take this out of context, so I'll expand if I may. What Taylor was saying was that the HV20 was capable of stunning images, but only under exceptionally well lit conditions. If the light drops, the camera falls out of its sweet spot and produces images that are nowhere near as good. Think of it like a cheap compact camera that is capable of producing great images when you're outdoors on a well-lit beach, but falls apart when you enter the nightclub.

I've shot a lot with the HV20 recently, and it is amazing how much difference the amount of light makes. In the right conditions, I'm sure you could intercut a few seconds of POV/crashcam into something like an F900 shoot without a noticeable drop in quality. But the above quote makes it sound like Taylor is equating the quality of the HV20 with the F900 on a more general basis, which isn't the case.

Steve Parker
Editor
Showreel magazine


Just to stay fully on topic with the subject line, the Panasonic GP-US932 is a decent, less expensive alternative. Saw one yesterday at Panasonic in L.A. It is considered to be a "medical" camera (for use on microscopes and such) and therefore sales for the moment are from Panasonic's industrial division.

It does 4:2:2, 60i or 720p. No 24p or 30p. It also does SD (480i). It has an adequate downconverted composite video output while running in HD. It is not clear whether they scan at 1080 and convert to 720 or vice versa. The control box is smaller than the Iconix, and doesn't run anywhere near as hot.

There is a decent set of menu adjustments, allowing for control of gamma, black stretch, matrix, and detail. It sports the usual shutter and gain adjustments. The picture on a 26" Panasonic LCD pro monitor under office fluorescent lighting was quite good, actually.

Like all cameras of this sort, the lens is the crucial component, and until there are better lenses for these ice cube cameras, the images will suffer. I've seen exactly ONE adequate c-mount lens for this style of camera. And I stress adequate.

I am given to understand that list price is in the neighbourhood of $12k.

There are no reliability statistics for the camera, but on a personal note, I own four of the older SD versions of this, and I have had only a single failure in years of use.

Disclaimer : I have no financial interest in Panasonic or what they do.

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California


Bob Kertesz wrote :

>>It is not clear whether they scan at 1080 and convert to 720 or vice >>versa.

It is my understanding that the Panasonic GP-US932 uses the same front end as does the HVX200.

http://www.panasonic.com/business/medicalvideo/hd-color-cameras.asp

Charles R. (C.R.) Caillouet, Jr.
--
Vision Unlimited/LA
Prairieville, LA
HD production technical support since 1987



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