The Texas HD Shootout

It’s been yet another too-busy-to-write week (or two), and there’s been a lot of interesting news that I’ve missed. At the moment I’ve been almost exclusively covering camera tech, which isn’t the total purpose of this site, but it is something I’m very interested in at present since I need to buy a camera very soon. Not until after NAB, of course… and I’m still not finished with my research. However, very shortly we will have the results of The Definitive HDV Camera Test of the Year. In addition to the 24 tests, and DV.com’s camera lineup, Chris Hurd, Mike Curtis, and Adam Wilt and others all got together last week to put on the Texas HD Shootout.

In short, it was a grueling three day test of the Canon XL H1, Panasonic HVX200, JVC GY-HD100U, Sony Z1U, Sony F350 (XDCAM), using the Panasonic Varicam as a pro HD benchmark. For three days with five cameras, it was, to put it mildly, extremely thorough. There were indoor tests and outdoor tests, still tests, chart tests, tone tests and motion tests. All cameras recorded images to their own native media while computers simultaneously captured uncompressed files of whatever HD output each camera had. In short, the whole deal has generated a mountain of data, so there aren’t really any comprehensive analysis reports yet.

However, many of the participants have been writing as they go; Zane Rutledge posted his thoughts on his blog, there’s the DVinfo.net thread, and Mike Curtis put up a whole list of impressions. Actually, HDforIndies is the best place to go for info, with extensive articles and notes from day one, day two, day three, and theteardown. How Mike manages to write and post so much good info while working such long hours, I’ll never know. Obviously it’s a skill I should be working on…

To summarize, the initial reactions for all involved seem to match up with the reviews and info that we’ve been hearing for the past few months; the cameras are all very good; each possessing its own strengths and weaknesses. The Canon produces the best overall image, while the most agree that the Panasonic captures the most film-like color, with the JVC coming close behind, etc, etc… However, there were a few surprises, and I’m sure we’ll have a better idea of the inner workings of each camera once comparisons between the footage can be properly made. Still. I am leaning towards the XL H1, since it offers the most features and flexibility… Unless, of course, anything might come up at NAB.