The Best Camera Ever! 20 years of Corporate Video Cameras

The Best Camera Ever! 20 years of Corporate Video Cameras

Disclaimer: This blog post is blatantly biased, utterly incomplete and replete with the meandering, melancholic musings of my muddled memory.

I started my video production career in 1998 on a Sony VX-1000 mini-DV camcorder. It was Uh-mazing! The quality was comparable to the big $50K Beta SP cameras of the day (so I was told). And the price? A paltry $6K.

When a local furniture store owner called up my deejay Dad needing a voice over for a local cable TV ad, I talked her into letting me shoot and edit the commercial. After all, I had a whole set of Lowell hot lights, with umbrellas (probably already 30 years old at the time). And I had a brand new PC, loaded with 96 MB of RAM, Windows NT, Speed Razor and a Fast DVMaster Pro Firewire capture card. What else could I possibly need?! Experience? Pshaw!

So, I made a pretty bad furniture ad (which seemed pretty good at the time). I'm pretty sure I still have it on a mini-DV tape somewhere. Let's hope my kids don't find it and play it at my funeral.

Down the road, I upgraded to a Sony VX-2000, which had vastly better low light performance. Then it was a Sony PD-170. With XLR inputs! That was huge.

Then my whole life changed.

I spent $25K and bought a Panasonic HVX-200, P2 cards, a real production monitor and a jib. But that's not all. I kitted my HVX with a Letus Extreme 35mm lens adapter and a set of vintage Nikon primes. Those were the days!

I was shooting 720p24, and the footage just had this beautiful, organic feel to it. And having such control over the depth of field?! I would never be same.

Eventually, the Panasonic GH2 lured me into the world of 1080p. I got a Micro 4/3's to Nikon lens adapter and continued to use my Nikon primes. The resolution was nice, and the image was sharp, but still I missed the organic look from my HVX/Letus combo.

When the Panasonic GH4 arrived on the scene with it's 4K recording, I sold my GH2 and Nikon primes (twinge of regret about those lenses) and bought into the native Micro 4/3's ecosystem. It's been a great dual-purpose camera for stills and video.

I've recently discovered the Metabones Speedbooster, and I've been shooting with EF lenses on my GH4. It's a real kick to dial in an fstop faster than the native lens!

Here's my GH4 dangling off the back of a Canon 70-200 f2.8. With the Metabones Speed Booster Ultra 0.71, it's effectively an f2.0 lens.

So, over the course of 20 years the resolution of my camera has increased 24 fold. And oddly enough, the price of the VX-1000 and this GH4 rig is about the same!

28th Feb 2018 Jason Jenkins

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