The DV Expo was really small this year. We ripped through the tiny section of the Pasadena Convention Center set aside for the likes of Panasonic, Sony and JVC, in about three hours, and that included saying hi to nearly every person working every booth. My cranky left knee and I like small shows.
Of course, we’re looking for our next tapeless camera purchase, and it didn’t take long to be neck deep in options. We want something that will shoot a picture that will knock your socks off, we want it to be relatively light weight and tough, we don’t want it to cost too much money and we want the recordable media to be affordable. Also, if it would open the garage door and cook dinner every now and then, we’d like that too.
Most expensive on our list are the Sony EX3 and EX1. It’s hard for me to turn my back on a Sony, even when they tell me the media will costs ten billion times what compact flash and SDS cards cost. I’ve fallen asleep with my Sony Z1U cradled in my arms in a tent in the Outback of Australia, on a night train between Hamburg, Germany and Paris, and after a very strange night of drinking some neon green liquor in Lyon, France. It’s been in dozens of fire engines and ambulances with me, not to mention smoke filled houses and burning hillsides. But it’s getting tired. I can’t blame it. And that whole recording to tape nonsense is getting really tired. So soon, I’m going in to have it surgically removed from my right hand.
Do I want to replace it with another Sony? Yes. Do I want to pay Sony SxS card prices? Um, no. Is the EX1 and the EX3 worth the price? Probably.
But I thought I should look around, and there was something about the GY-HM100U that really drew me over to the JVC booth. I loved the view finder – BIG! I loved the size of the camera – small! I loved that it stored files on the cheapo SDHC memory cards. I loved that the entire XLR shotgun mic assembly (which comes along for no extra charge) popped off with the turn of a nob, making the camera positively minute. I swear that camera could fit into a pocket on my shooters’ vest without the mic. It weighed a little more than the competition across the show floor – the Panasonic AG-HMC40, but it was much smaller, and the view finder was higher resolution and the XLR shotgun mic came with it. I thought this was an awesome, itty, bitty little camera that I could add to our Sony line up, that would be inexpensive enough to abuse and replace as needed.
I expected the price to be right around that of the HMC40 – list $2,295. Then they told me the bad news. The HM100U lists at $3,995. I waited for the guy in the JVC booth to start laughing. Give me an elbow in the ribs and say, just kidding. And I waited a little more. He seemed mesmerized by how my mouth was gaping opened. He seemed disturbed when I finally gathered myself enough to ask “Whaaa?”
Anyway, that happened.