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Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:37 pm
by Dave Watterson
OK gang, a personal question.
Having resisted buying a camcorder for years, I am considering getting one now and would like your advice.

It will be essentially for recording holidays and especially film festivals. I am going to start making films to compete with you lot.

I want the cheapest, reasonably reliable mini-dv camcorder which will give decent but not necessarily Slowe / Van der Linden quality of image. And it must be small. It can be pretty idiot-proof and auto for most of the time.

Often the fun bits of film festivals like award-giving happen in relatively low light ... but I realise a cheap camcorder will not have great low-light abilities.

Dave (gulp) Watterson

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:52 am
by Michael Slowe
Oh my goodness, now we can get our own back!

Dave, almost any of the recent DV cameras will do you fine and you should do well financially because most
of the manufacturers are concentrating on HDV which you won't want. Tom Hardwick is the man to consult. More importantly what are you going to edit on? It's not as easy as it looks you know!

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:41 pm
by Willy Van der Linden
I would buy a casablanca, Dave. It's very simple.

Technically I'm a zero. Such a machine is a user-friendly one. But, yes, of course I know that you are a computer freak. Mind, ... I don't want to start a war "casablanca-lovers against computer programme-lovers" here. It's like that in some clubs on the continent. A stupid war, in fact. The machines don't make good films.
The users do.

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:45 pm
by Ned C
Hi Dave,

For the very best reviews have a look at this site. It is American so does refer to NTSC cameras and the PAL equivalents may have different names/numbers.
For inexpensive good results I have used the low end Panasonic DV cameras, around $300 here, however. their 1/6th CCDs do not make for good low light performance.

Good luck and welcome to the asylum

Ned C

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:50 pm
by Dave Watterson
Thanks for the first thoughts, guys.

I have been editing video for several years and am a confirmed Premiere user. I cut other people's work and do subtitling. I sometimes record commentaries spoken by others and dub them.

It is just the shooting bit that is new. I've played with various formats over the years.

So the only hard suggestion so far is Panasonic. Are you Sony people going to leave it at that? Is there anyone else in the market?


Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 9:04 am
by Peter Rouillard


Does this mean DW enters Guernsey Lily ?... yes Michael, revenge will certainly be sweet!

More seriously Dave, I think that Michael is right when he says that practically all the modern MiniDV camcorders will be sufficient for your needs. As a Sony 3CCD user I may have a bias for this brand, but to add to Ned's suggestion for low priced Panasonic I would add Canon and JVC to your list of choice.

As to which model, well, there is such a range out there between these makes that I can only suggest that you look at the low light specification on each if this is important for your needs - I'm sure Tom Hardwick is the ideal man to advise you on this. 3CCD cameras on the whole are rather too large for your request for something small, although I believe that JVC have produced one in recent times.

Whatever your choice, I (and others) await the release of your first movie with excitement!!

Peter (in shock) Rouillard

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 12:25 pm
by Ned C ... -XH-A1.htm

Wow! These will give the Sony HDV cameras a run for their money.


Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 11:55 am
by Ian Gardner
I love the FX1 and want to buy one when I`ve bought a new motorBike. Maybe in a couple of years time.

As for the Canon. Decent brand, Decent Spec. It would be hard to choose between them. I think money/price in £`s will tell.

Thanks for the link.
Ian Gardner

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 12:08 pm
by Ian Gardner
A Premiere man. Well done. 6.5 or pro? I use pro and it`s a lot different to 6.5. Much better and has DVD burning routines built in.

In my old days, well 5 years ago. I was using my Panasonic M10B full size VHS camcorder. Great picture and sound. It broke andso my wife treated me to a cheap Canon MV630i. £349.00, two years ago. Great little camera with normal light. Very grainey when given low light to film. As a first camera it`s great. The `i` stands for `in and out`. All the signals go in and out so I can record via firewire from the computer back into the camera my finished films to enter onto MiniDV tape.

I love the Sony FX1. I have used it a few times in a semi-pro film and it`s excellent. They're getting cheaper now so maybe £1500 - £1800 notes will buy one. It does normal, Proper widescreen and HDV all in realtime.
I borrowed a Panasonic 3CCD camera and it was crap! It filmed ok but the menus are on a touchscreen viewfinder! No good while filming! I like alot of buttons/ dials and switches to press. You learn to know where they all are. You can alter something blindfolded!

David actually takeing films! No more award winning films and cups for us lads. They're all going to go to Scotland! David with a camera! Watchout everyone. If you go to the festivals your be in the `festival film` he`s produced!

Ian Gardner

Camcorder and Catalogue.

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:34 pm
by Dave Watterson
Thanks, Ian. You got it.

Not everyone understood that I am NOT about to go trying to make movies to enter in competitions. What I plan is to make holidays movies ... about the festivals I attend.

Now for all of you who have made successful movies ... here's a chance to check if they are in the catalogue of videos available from the IAC. The entire catalogue is now online. From the home page click the "Library" link on the left, when you reach the introductory page about the library, the index on the left changes to let you get at the catalogue listings.

This is a rough first attempt. Please let me know of any mistakes you find. I want to get it right for the benefit of everyone who ever uses the library ... and people who just might start using it when they realise what a wealth of fine movies can be found there.


Re: Camcorder and Catalogue.

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:04 pm
by Willy Van der Linden
Fantastic ! We're spoilt, Dave ! Well done !

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:38 am
by tom hardwick
An FX1 for £1500 Ian - show me where!

Hi Dave,
The most important requirement is that your new camera should shoot native 16:9 in my view. All tvs have been 16:9 for years now so I'd go that route.

HiDef is certainly not needed, and I'd let the market settle down for 18 months plus before going HDV.

The Sony HC1 is probably your best bet, but it's bottom loading and not good in poor light. It shoots SD as well as HD of course. The HC3 is better in the gloom but has no mic in socket. Top loading, though.

I'd avoid JVC and the Samsungs of this world and look at Canon, Panasonic and Sony. If 16:9 chips aren't important to you than more camcorders are in your sights.

Sorry I can't be more specific as I don't tend to follow the dinky-cam end of the market much, though I am testing the HC3 for FVM right now.


Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:02 pm
by ian gardner
Whoops! Maybe when I`ve managed to save up my hard earned cash, they WILL be that price. I have seen them pretty cheap in the camcorder mags.

A hard-drive version would be good but I would still want a permanent record of my work and Mini DV tape is ideal for this. The FX1 is on my wish list. I`ve used them and they are a dream to use.

I spent a day in Cowes this week and alot of the semi pro people were using them! The finished quality is excellent inside and out. Sorry to get you too excited there Tom. I`m sure they are a bit cheaper than two grand if you look around. The CCD in it is a proper widescreen one.

Does anyone else on here use the FX1?

Ian Gardner

Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:08 pm
by Storyteller
I've just been given a small camcordere for my birthday, with a view to it travelling on holiday in cabin baggage. I am thrilled with it. One feature I wanted, and which you might not think you need, Dave, is compatibility with my broadcast-quality Panasonic AG-HMC41, which records AVCHD/H.264 1080P Hi-def 16:9 pictures to an SDHC card. And this my new camcorder does, weighing in at 270g, including the battery, it is a Sony HDR-CX115. It has a fully-auto mode, which Sony no doubt expect it to be used in most of the time, but there is a facility for manual focus. Output is to component video, composite video, HDMI, or USB. Depending on battery size, they reckon it will run for up to 8 hours on one charge - though I take leave to doubt that. I don't have the biggest capacity battery, and mine runs for 60 mins in normal usage (stop/starting and zooming).

It's got a good zoom lens and can take still photos as well. My wife bought mine from Jessops ( who demonstrated it in the shop before purchase.

It'll be going with me to the Wild West (New Mexico) when we visit family in September, and I confidently expect to come home with stunning images of the countryside near our holiday residence.

And did I say? It's small enough to fit in a handbag. :)


Re: Which camcorder should I buy?

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:09 pm
by Storyteller
Oh, silly me!

Just noticed your enquiry was dated five years ago.

Why don't they clear out old messages?