Adam Wilt’s HD Shootout Report

If you remember, the Texas HD Shootout was masterminded by Mike Curtis, Chris Hurd, and Adam Wilt, and collected so much data on the Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony cameras that the in-depth writeups and results have been long in coming.

But now DV.com has Adam Wilt’s first report, and it is very thorough. He details and compares dozens of features on each camera and provides frame grabs of charts, interiors, exteriors, action shots, and more. And, as originally explained, there are no clear winners; each camera has its own strengths and weaknesses, and here are excerpts from Adam’s conclusion:

Canon XL H1: The sharpest of the bunch, the best-looking 25-Mb codec, impressively low noise (and that’s without engaging any of the noise-reduction options), and no hue shifts in highlights. Shoulder-mounted configuration aids stability, but it’s still a handful. Highlight handling looks better in some shots than in others. Interchangeable lenses are a plus, but the stock servo zooms, while responsive in run ‘n’ gun situations, are frustrating when precise, repeatable moves are called for. Vivid colorimetry is a bit much, but it’s almost infinitely adjustable. 24f and 30f modes compromise vertical resolution.

JVC GY-HD100: Sharpest 720p recording and very pleasing, naturalistic image rendering with excellent highlight handling. A shoulder-mounted HD100 makes stable, steady pictures, and it’s an ergonomic delight. Best focusing aids of the bunch. Interchangeable lenses with calibrated zoom and focus scales. Its codec suffers the most degradation under stress, and long-GOP sticky details detract from subtle motion rendering. It’s a bit noisy, too.

Panasonic AG-HVX200: DVCPROHD recording with consistent, surprise-free rendering of simple and complex scenes alike. Pleasing colorimetry, but lots of noise. Least stable handheld, and softest image…

Sony HVR-Z1: It has the cleanest image, but was otherwise undistinguished. It has no true 24p option. It is however the cheapest of the bunch, has in-camera downconversion with letterboxing, full 50 Hz/60 Hz switchability in both SD and HD, superb optical stabilization, and arguably the best servo zoom available.

One constant that was brought up is that each camera’s stock lens did leave something to be desired, which is an advantage for the Canon and JVC, with their interchangeable lens options. This is an excellent read, and the pictures really show the different color handling of each camera under different lighting conditions. Note that DV.com requires free registration.