Your next Camcorder?

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stingman
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Your next Camcorder?

Post by stingman »

What would you look for when purchasing your next camcorder?

Would you go for price? Brand? Features? etc....

I`ve just bought a Cheap JVC model for £149 to replace my orther cheap one that broke. I went for price and features. My old one was a Canon Model and gave great service. Canon wasn`t available in the shop so I went for this one. There was a Samsung model but this looked tacky!

If I had a bit of spare money, I would have brought the Sony FX1. I have used this model in semi-pro situations and would recommend this to anybody?
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ned c
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Post by ned c »

Although standard definition will be around for quite a while yet when it goes it goes! Remember Hi8 and SVHSC? They didn't last long into the DV age, so its some version of HDV although this has now split into three camps, HDV (Sony/Canon) HD (Panasonic) and now AVCHD (Sony, Canon and others!). I opted for Canon HDV, XH A1 and HV20 based on my experience with a Canon XL1s, super camera, great pictures and sound, terrible ergonomics. I still have a VX1000 which must be rated one of the great cameras of all time, amazing as it was the first miniDV camera and to this day still gives great pix and OK sound. But as we all know, its the camera person not the camera that makes good pix,

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FILM THURSO
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Post by FILM THURSO »

Generally price balanced against features are what we look for. BUT we don't want too many advance features on the camera, basic is preferred with the following specs:
1) Minimum 10x zoom
2) 37mm thread on lens
3) 4:3 ratio plate for CinemaScope compatability
4) Stereo sound
5) Stereo mic input
6) 3 CCD plate
7) Mini DV format tape
8) Tripod thread

Most camera "features" are sail gimmicks to get the average buyer but most people never use them and the camera itself only a little more than that. An actual film maker is the only person likely to look at the features but even then maybe not because anything else we can do in post.
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Post by ned c »

If you want detailed reviews and comparisons of camcorders go to www.camcorderinfo.com written for an American audience and sometimes the manufacturers use different names/identifications for PAL versions but this is the place for the in depth reviews.

ned c
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stingman
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Post by stingman »

FILM THURSO wrote:Most camera "features" are sail gimmicks to get the average buyer but most people never use them and the camera itself only a little more than that. An actual film maker is the only person likely to look at the features but even then maybe not because anything else we can do in post.
I think that you have hit the nail on the head Film Thurso. Yes, features are good, but us film-makers want some features that are basic. Mine has a fade from one scene to the next! Certainly not a feature that a film-maker needs when he`s got Premiere!

The first thing I do is, (Altogether Now.....) WHERE`S THE MANUEL OVER-RIDE BUTTON! :shock:
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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett »

stingman wrote: The first thing I do is, (Altogether Now.....) WHERE`S THE MANUEL OVER-RIDE BUTTON! :shock:
How many of really us do that though. And what settings do you insist on putting into manual?

Re the camcorder features I wanted:

1) Low light ability that was an improvement on my already decent Canon XM-1. Top feature

2) Manual sound controls (not in XM-1)

3) 4x3 and Widescreen

4) Optical zoom as long as could get

5) ND filter

6) DV in/out analogue in/out

7) Good battery

8) Mike input

I got the Sony (my first Sony) VX2100 - it's good
Michael Slowe
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Your Next Camcorder?

Post by Michael Slowe »

Whilst repeating Ned's worthwhile reminder that it's the film and filmmaker that makes the difference I would warn everyone not to make any purchase until they review the new Sony trend to tapeless (solid state Express card) cameras. They have had the big expensive (£15,000) disc recording XDCAM HD out for some time but are now going a stage further with solid state (no moving parts) and most important for us, a more reasonable priced camera based on their HDV Z1. The new one however has many advantages over the Z1. The chips (CMOS) are genuine 1920x1080 and are 1/2'' which give better light performance and, vitally, less depth of field. There is a 'proper' lens by Fuji which can be operated by hand, a huge range from wide to tele (good again for less DOF) and the express cards are going to be far cheaper than the Panasonic P2's with different brands to choose from (more competition, lower prices). Much more besides and certainly one for the future and for any serious filmaker who needs to be in the vanguard of the HD revolution. HDV is not going to be the hoped for magic due to the compression system, the XDCAM Ex, although compressed to MPEG2 uses a different method to dramatic effect.

Sorry for all this but this is, for me, the first time I have seen a small semi pro video camera that can satisfactorily replace good old 16mm film! What does Thurso think?
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Post by ned c »

http://www.dvuser.co.uk/

There is a good review of the camera that Michael describes at this site. ( A very good site anyway)

I agree that recording to cards with no moving parts is great but there are some questions that have to be resolved. The cards are a great deal more costly than tape so are used for recording but not for archiving so the information has to be transfered to a storage device. They can of course be loaded directly to the HDD of an editing system. But if you are shooting out in the field and expect to be far from civilisatioon for a week or two and shoot 30 or 40 hours what do you do? You have to wipe the cards and re-use them but where do you store the info safely?

I read a report of a shoot using P2 ( the Panasonic version) where the cameraman had an assistant who when a card was filled took it to a laptop, downloaded it, wiped it and returned to the camera. Not quite how most of us work.

I agree with Michael that this is the future but there are some issues to be resolved.

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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett »

I wasn't tempted to look at hi def. I couldn't justify having up update my whole rig - and then not be able to even show my films at the club or with friends.

Do any of our UK clubs have a hi def projection rig?
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Post by FILM THURSO »

Solid state cameras would be a good thing in many respects but I feel it is important that you can extract a master recording in it's own solid state before anything else, i.e. like having a reel of cine film or tape from the camera that will then be copied and edited leaving the master untarnished. Hard drive cameras whilst a good idea miss the important need for a 'permanent' raw master.
The whole idea of solid state is great, whilst in cine there's nothing wrong with mechanics, in video it is too prone to failure and on digital mediums that leads all too easily to corrupted recordings. That said all our digital footage is very sensative and needs greater care and handling.
The non-mechanical camera will offer an excellent advancement in sound- a camera that doesn't record the sound of it's own machinery!
I like the sound of a manual lens on the camera. Auto-focus was just the worst thing ever invented, gurenteed to screw up the shot at the crucial moment. My camera in stills mode likes to refocus just as you press the shutter release! That's caused a few quotes I can tell you!
All in keep the camera as manual as possible, hard master copies on memory card or such and zero mechanics, it's all fine by me. One thing though, let's just hold back till the dust settles on a standard format!
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billyfromConsett
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Post by billyfromConsett »

FILM THURSO wrote: Auto-focus was just the worst thing ever invented
I'll come out of the closet and admit that I often use auto-focus, because in many general situations, it works.

I trust it more than the typical viewfinder on domestic cams, that let them down imo.

I suspect that I'm not alone.
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stingman
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Post by stingman »

billyfromConsett wrote:I wasn't tempted to look at hi def. I couldn't justify having up update my whole rig - and then not be able to even show my films at the club or with friends.

Do any of our UK clubs have a hi def projection rig?
We don`t even have Widescreen!
We may have but the committee havn`t looked into if our projector does it or not!
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Michael Slowe
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Your Next Camcorder?

Post by Michael Slowe »

I agree that there are issues with the new XDCAM system but there will be plenty of options for storing your raw camera material. Personally, when I have finished a film I don't keep the camera originals anyway, I only keep master tapes (HD as well as DVCAM) of the final production.

My point about the new XDCAM Ex was that instead of the HDV cameras already in use we are getting a camera that is much more what we need with larger chips and much more control over our photography which is, after all, the basis of film making. Hitherto this was only available in £15,000 plus cameras, this will be nearer to 'amateur' price. The flash card recording was not, for me, the main attraction but it is coming anyway.
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Post by Dave Watterson »

I hesitate to join in this discussion with you folks who really make movies, while I just play with my little camcorder. I took heart, however, from a note in the latest IAC magazine that Annabelle Lancaster - no mean movie maker - bought the same little Sony that Jan and I got for last year's trip to UNICA in Korea. We were attracted by the pocket-size and light weight for something we would be lugging round all day for a week or more. There was also the canny notion that if it got lost or stolen (actually not a high risk in South Korea) then it would not be a financial disaster.

Annabelle made a little movie about the trip which won her a prize at the club competition ... and at Orpington Club the standard is high.

Maybe eventually I'll make a movie I'd risk letting you lot see!

BUT the most annoying thing about cheaper camcorders is the lack of a sound input. You seem to go up to around £600 before you get MiniDV as the medium and a miniature jack plug for a mic. It is less important for holiday videos but essential for decent interviews and drama.

I've spent some months translating a handbook on sound for video amateurs from German to English - and as a result I was complaining to the author that at UNICA I was "watching" films with my ears more than my eyes! It was an eye/ear-opener. Many otherwise excellent movies were plain clunky in their handling of sound.

Anyhoo ... (horrible expression) ... my suggestion is that alongside the top-end amateur kit we should remember that most moviemakers work to a budget where home and family get a much higher priority than film making. So I'd plug for a small format camcorder with simple sound input as top of my list.

If it comes to dreams, however, that's another story ...


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Post by FILM THURSO »

My little Panasonic was just under £300 from a high street store and it has a stereo microphone input! :D
Oh and 3CCD plate and a servicable 2.6megapix digital camera. :P
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