I mentioned last week that it would be nice to have a consumer camcorder geared towards the amateur filmmaker/artist. Here are some specs of the envisioned product:
* A body like the JVC Everio HD7. A hybrid between a consumer camcorder and the Canon GL-2. Painted dark red, mmm…
* 2/3s CMOS chip (or at least 1/2″) which enables a good amount of background blur and adjustable DOF. CMOS is preferable over 3CCD because in order to get the same amount of background blur with 3CCD, the chips will have to be 3x the size, and that would make the camera and lens way too big for the kind of product I am talking about. CMOS quality is good enough.
* Enough dynamic range. How much is enough? Well, as much such a sensor can give me.
* Somewhat-wide-angle built-in good all-around lens, that allows for 52mm or 58mm filters. Filter thread must be metallic and not plastic. It has to be a FAST lens (big aperture size please)!!
* No more than 5x optical zoom is required for this kind of targeted product (especially because with the 2/3s CMOS it would be difficult to offer anything more than 5x, or the lens would be huge). I am willing to lose zoom range for a bigger sensor.
* Optical image stabilization.
* A focus ring. This is a must have.
* A removable lens hood (or as an optional accessory).
* 80 GB non-removable iPod-sized hard drive, or 64 GB flash storage (good for 7-8 hours of 1080p AVCHD). An additional SD slot just in case you run out of space.
* Two rocker-style dials for controlling aperture and exposure (they don’t have to be rings on the lens but they have to be easily controllable without the need of software menus).
* ND filter switch button for OFF, AUTO, 4x and 8x.
* A focus assist and turn on/off manual focus button.
* Full HDMI 1.3 port, USB 2.0, headphones jack, mic-jack, RCA in/out. Also full hot advanced shoe.
* An on-board stereo mic with included wind muff (I don’t care if it would look like a hairy vagina).
* A 3.5mm microphone jack (no reason for XLRs).
* An easy to reach button that immediately brings a special quick menu screen where you can quickly adjust: aperture, ND filters, exposure, shutter speed, gain, white balance and audio levels — independently.
* An easy to reach button that immediately brings a special screen where you can quickly adjust: contrast, brightness, sharpness, saturation, R,G,B color settings, cinemode gamma settings etc.
* Shutter speed up to 1/4000th (HV20 only goes up to 1/2000th, and that’s not enough for some scenes of rock music video clip look).
* Zebra support.
* A basic flash light. It’s not a very useful tool for filmmaking-purposes anyway.
* A big enough, comfortable viewfinder.
* A battery that lasts 120 mins.
* A 3″ widescreen LCD with some controls on it, and the ability to FLIP the picture (so we can use 35mm adapters).
* A kind of zoom control button as found on the Canon prosumer cameras.
* Ability to record progressive full HD 1920×1080 at 60i, 30p and 24p, at 24 mbps (AVCHD’s maximum quality). 30p/24p must be TRUE 30p/24p, without wrappers to 60i or needed [inverse] telecine. We had enough trouble with that pullup/down shit already all these years and especially with the HV20.
* A tripod locking pin in addition to a tripod hole.
* (optional) 200/240 fps at 960×540 resolution, with an option to save the stream either in 50/60i or in true 200/240 fps stream.
That camera is within the reach of Canon for $2000. I would call it the “Mini” and it would be geared towards hobbyist artists (which are one step below true indie filmmakers). Kinda like how the D200 and 40D DSLRs are, geared towards hobbyists who know a thing or two more than the mass market and their point-and-shoot no-background-blur digicams, but yet, they are not true professionals. Know what I mean?
Then, throw some XLRs, 120 GB removable drive or 128 GB SSD, ability to also record in AVC-Intra at 50 mbps, 10x zoom with a bigger body, better built-in mic, more buttons and custom presets, and sell that “pro” version for $3000 and go against the RED Scarlet camera by wooing the indie filmmakers in.
Currently, neither Panasonic, Canon or Sony have anything that caters this new amateur filmmakers or poor indie filmmakers. Their semi-pro cameras don’t have big-enough sensors for the film-look purpose. Only Panasonic comes close with its DVX/HVX series, but these cameras are still far from ideal. I hope Canon listens, because there is such an unsatisfiable market right now. Check for video samples from that underground scene here and here.