With these characteristics: 24p mode and 720p recording format. No more than US$6000.
Just to clarify: The Canon XH-A1 does NOT have a 720p mode, nor 24p. It only has 1080i. It does "simulate" 24p with it's so-called "24f" which is supposed to be identical, but its not. The Sony HVR-Z1U does not do 24p either.
Besides, if you are willing to spend that much (which is really really nice btw), there are only 3 cameras worth considering:
1) Red Scarlet $3,000 (not available til 09)
2) Sony EX1 around $6,000
3) Panasonic HVX200 $5,200
Red Scarlet is the highest resolution (it's 720p mode is considered it's "low" res mode). It shoots 3K, which is about 3 times the resolution of 1920x1080 (HD's best). The EX1 can only do 1920x1080 and the HVX can only do 1440x1080. Scarlet can also shoot up to 120fps (EX1 and HVX can only do 60)
Seems like a done deal, right? is an entirely new codec that allows for the little compression; it will require some patience to learn and a Huge computer to edit (like a Mac Pro). It's $3,000 price tag is also deceiving; in order to be fully functional, you'll need to invest in accessories that could easily put you at $5-6K. But still 3K for $6,000 is unheard of.
EX1 is the best prosumer camera on the market (until Scarlet comes in 09 at least). It is the only one under $10K that shoots true 1920x1080 picture, and the only one that has large 1/2" image sensors giving it a better depth of field.
the HVX may seem it is the big loser in the group, cuz everything the HVX can do, the EX1 can do better. Well, I'm not so sure about this. The HVX is my favorite camera. It is excellent, reliable, and I just love the layout of the body. It's very user friendly. It's quite a bit cheaper than the EX1, and I'd say it's THE most popular camera among low budget filmmakers at the moment. If you're going to shoot 720p most of the time anyway, I don't see why you'll need those extra pixels in the EX1.
I have no doubt that Scarlet will be unmatched in picture quality, but the thing is, do you really need 3K? For one thing, there's no easy way to view it. Burning to BlueRay is even a considerable downconversion for Scarlet (even though 3K downconverted to HD will look better than HD mastered on HD).
You see. I can ramble on forever about this. My point is, Red Scarlet, HVX200, and EX1 are the best cameras in their class. They are all tapeless and record to Solid state media; HDV like the XH-A1 or Sony V1U does even come close. The problem is deciding which of the 3 you want. Between the , I'd say its about 80% preference.
Put simply, the Scarlet is probably the best, and the cheapest, (even taking accessories into account). Scarlet is best for serious filmmakers wanting big-screen worthy footage. EX1 and HVX are great for indie filmmakers, broadcast newcasters, etc.
(tip: if you go with the HVX or EX1, and I think Scarlet will work similarly: Use 720p mode, and 24PN, which stands for 24p Native. Put simply, its the most space-saving, yet High definition mode)
Canon XH A1 3CCD High-Definition Camcorder with 20x Optical Zoom
Captures true 1080 resolution, widescreen (16:9) HD video
widescreen LCD monitor; .57-inch viewfinder
20x HD zoom lens; Super-range optical image stabilization
Three 1/3-inch 16:9 CCDs ( megapixels)
DIGIC DV II HD image processor
Not aware of a pro-HD cam that does only 720p. Normal list of suspects:
Sony HVR-V1U, HVR-Z1U
There are some others - you won't find them in normal consumer stores:
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