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  • Camcorder info needed

    My old (Hitachi) tape camcorder just gave up, and I need to replace it. I know NOTHING about the new formats, and need suggestions on a solid replacement. Just 2 musts:

    1) format type (digital or dvd): must have an analog out.
    2) $$ range: up to $800

    If you have or know of a unit that at least has those criteria, I need suggestions, and any features that you're willing to share. Going to a NASCAR event in June and need a decent 'corder.

    Thanks, Paul
    <div class="signaturecontainer">WADAYAKNOW.. For the first time in my life, I'm wrong again !<br />
    </div>

  • #2
    I'd avoid the DVD types, and go with good ol' reliable miniDV tape.

    Word on the street is that Sony camcorders are the most reliable, but I'm a big Panasonic fan. I've been using Panasonic camcorders since 2000 and they've always stood up under, shall we say, difficult environmental conditions.
    _____________________________________________
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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    • #3
      Paully,

      I make my living as a network television director/technical director. You mention your budget is $800 which pretty much limits you to a single chip camera; Craig is correct - in that price range MiniDV is the way to go and chances are the camera you buy will have both firewire and analog outputs.

      What is the purpose of the end product? Are you shooting for personal archival, or do you have commercial aspirations for your footage? Also, what is the nature of the NASCAR event in June that you're attending? (I've written several books on NASCAR racing and attended many events on media credentials for TV/publishing purposes).

      ~Blackbelt

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd recommend the Canon Optura 50. It has full manual controls for video and audio. Plus, it has a good 16:9 widescreen mode, a top loading cassette, and optical image stabilization. It's a really good bang for the buck. Most importantly, the price leaves money for more gear! The Rode NTG-2 mic/shockmount kit with a 701RC Bogen/Manfrotto tripod would make nice accessories. [EDIT] Oh you'll need one of these adapters for the Rode NTG-2. Other accessories: an extra battery, camcorder case, and perhaps a wide angle and/or telephoto lens. There I just spent all your money! You're welcome ...


        Come on, trust your techno lust.
        <div class="signaturecontainer">What's the lesson you learn, when you've learned all the wrong lessons?</div>

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        • #5
          I bought a Sony DCR-TR7000 in 2000. I know it is old by todays standards but there are some cool things about it.

          It works with 8mm tape and IS DIGITAL but what is real cool is that you can get old ANALOG 8mm recordings to play on it and send them directly with the built in FIREWIRE to your computer. I like the 8mm format because it is very inexpensive.

          The only thing that has given me trouble, with this camera, over the past 6 years, is one of the batteries. (I'm guessing that I used up the re-charges? because the LCD light flashes endlessly when this battery is in the camera.)

          Other than that, the camera works great.

          Since I only paid $800 for it new, you may find a few of these very cheap on Ebay.

          I'm hoping that my next camera will be the Sony HD !!!

          Dan

          http://musicinit.com/pvideos.html
          http://musicinit.com/fastfingers.php An Experiment in 80's Technology
          http://teachmedrums.com/simplemachinesforum/ MACHINE DRUMMERS FORUM AND CHAT
          http://youtube.com/techristian My YOUTUBE channel
          Music videos at http://musicinit.com/video.php

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          • #6
            Originally posted by techristian
            The only thing that has given me trouble, with this camera, over the past 6 years, is one of the batteries. (I'm guessing that I used up the re-charges? because the LCD light flashes endlessly when this battery is in the camera.)


            Dan,

            Is that a NiCad battery? NiCads are infamous for building up a "memory" over time. You have to totally drain them before every recharge in order to minimize the problem. That's why everyone's gone to the Lithium-ion batteries now instead. They're less susceptible to memory build-up. There's no 'set amount' of charges in a battery, the cells simply build up memory or weaken as time goes by.

            For a replacement, try

            At Batt or E-batts.

            ~Blackbelt

            Comment


            • #7
              After alot of research the Panasonic cosumer level GS series works best for me. I got the GS 31. I tried several DV cameras and the thing that stuck out to me was the user controls were laid out very well where you can almost operate it with one hand. The second thing I observed was the focus and zoom was very responsive. Low light conditions were better than others. I looked at Sony, Samsung, Hitachi, and Cannon. I used to own a 8mm Cannon it worked great. I just didnt like their DV cameras. You know the best thing is to go down and try it for your self and make the determination. Unless you really need it I wouldn't get into HD. The cost to make it work is not worth it right now. The pluses of DV good quality picture, lightweight compact package, and fast to tranfer digital video.

              The good thing about DV is you can save it to the VCR, Set top DVDR recorder or go through 1394 firewire port on your PC. The differences:
              VCR=Analog only no edit save to VHS.
              DVDR= Digital no edit or limited edit save to DVDR.
              PC= Requires 1394 firewire can edit save to DVDR
              There is nothing wrong with any of these method you just need to consider what is right for you. If you just want to dump the video to DVD you can get a set top DVDR recorder and that will acomplish this. If you want to edit video then PC is the way to go.

              PC video editing is NOT for everyone. Reason why I say to TRY it is the editing process can be time consuming to some. The positive aspect is you end up with a more profesional video of only what you want to save. After you get the camera you might want to try download the video to a PC. You can usually pick up a demo non linear video editing program online that will help you to see how editing works. Mind you you need a descent PC(1.5ghz+ typically). Requirements vary from program to program. I recommend sticking with the consumer level editing programs as the learning curve isn't as steep.

              FYI I edit my video with Sony Vegas Movie Studio+DVD Platinum. I have tried several programs and this worked for me and didn't crash my computer. It has everthing you need to get your video onto DVD. I use a Pioneer DVDR drive in my PC to record my video. I use Verbatim DVD-R media has best reliability and compatibility.

              I mostly learned about it talkig to other people who have experience in DV and researched the web. Just google "NLE" or "digital video editing" and there is a ton of sites with info.

              I don't mean to scare you away. The DV is the way to go. I found the editing really fun and easier than what we were doing before. Old method was to stop and start the camcoder and VCR while trying mix background music and record this to VHS. It turned out OK but it was definitly a crude way of doing it.
              Hope this helps you and good luck dude :thu:

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Blackbelt1
                Paully,

                I make my living as a network television director/technical director. You mention your budget is $800 which pretty much limits you to a single chip camera; Craig is correct - in that price range MiniDV is the way to go and chances are the camera you buy will have both firewire and analog outputs.

                What is the purpose of the end product? Are you shooting for personal archival, or do you have commercial aspirations for your footage? Also, what is the nature of the NASCAR event in June that you're attending? (I've written several books on NASCAR racing and attended many events on media credentials for TV/publishing purposes).

                ~Blackbelt

                Hey Blackbelt,

                do you have any recommendations in the 2k - 3k range?

                I've been looking at the Sony PD-170, but it seems a little long in the tooth and in need of a refresh (PD-190?)

                The Panasonic AG-DVC30 looks pretty spiffy, but I don't much about it. From a distance, though, it looks pretty cool. (lighter than the 170, I believe and a bigger zoom).

                I don't think I'm interested in the DVX-100b because I hear it's complicated to use and I'm something of a dullard.

                The Canon stuff doesn't float my boat. No real reason, just not into it.

                I know that Sony has been coming out with a series of HD models, and at this time, I'm not really interested in HD unless the camcorder also happens to be the sweet spot for SD which is how I'd probably use it for the next couple of years.

                Anyway, if you have any suggestions, thoughts, feedback, for a handy camcorder in this range, I'd truly appreciate it.

                TIA

                and

                PLB

                Comment


                • #9
                  Let me echo two other recommendations:

                  IEEE 1394 port - essential for computer editing
                  Sony Vegas family - great software
                  _____________________________________________
                  There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brittanylips

                    Hey Blackbelt,

                    do you have any recommendations in the 2k - 3k range?


                    I bought a Canon XL1-s about 5 years ago, for the purposes of shooting small local projects to fill in the gaps when I'm not traveling. I can also use it to screw around with some film-making ideas when I have time. I built a PC with 300 gigs of harddrive space and a couple of large studio monitors to edit with, and I'm using Adobe Premier Pro, After FX, and Boris Red. It's suitable for corporate videos, training materials, and local television commercials. I've made some elements to use in NFL broadcasts with it as well, and burned them to a DVD to take to the TV truck with me. I've used the Canon to shoot a few concerts here and there too...NO, I DON'T DO WEDDINGS.

                    Ultimately you'll have to decide what features speak to you. I looked at Sonys, JVC's, Panasonics, and the Canon stuff. My reasons for going with the XL1-s were that it has interchangeable lenses, has optical stabilization versus digital, a 16:1 optical lens versus the 10:1 or 12:1 lenses others had, and the overall color reproduction outperformed the competition in my price range.

                    Since then, Sony has released the PD170 and the VX2100 while Canon has the GL2 and XL2 out. And then there's the Panasonic HD stuff.

                    If I were buying today I would personally demo each camera and base my results on ergonomics (I need a camera on my shoulder, I can't stand skimpy "palm" cameras) and comfort, picture quality, ease of use, and the upgrade path. For my purposes if I were buying in today's market I would consider HD to be a "must have" whereas you may never need it. Firewire is a given, as are some analog outputs. Audio is another factor. I'd like a camera with XLR inputs (my Canon has them, but I had to buy a shoulder adapter to get that feature) and also consider them to be a "must have." I don't personally need a pop-out LCD screen - those do nothing for me. HTH

                    Regards,

                    ~Blackbelt

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I second the Optura 50, it was the lowest priced camcorder I found with audio controls.

                      Pretty good for a starter camera.

                      I have the Final Cut Pro Suite, but i also use the iLife apps for quick and dirty work.

                      G-Dub
                      www.studiog-fx.com
                      15 inch Quad-core i7, Macbook Pro,
                      OSX 10.8.2, LPX, Logic 9.1.8, Apollo Duo

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        :wave: Thanks for the info, guys. Two problems.

                        1) You all know what you're talking about and have great suggestions. I'm an idiot that knows nothing beyond charging the battery, sticking a video tape in and pressing 'go'. Man, things have changed.

                        2) I'd love to go 'brick and mortar' shopping, but the only place around here is Circuit City, and they only listed one camcorder on their site (plus too many 'sales-dudes').

                        Blackbelt: Just personal stuff. I'm going to a Winston Cup race at Dover International Speedway on 6/4 and again in September. It would be nice to have something that has enough memory to shoot for an hour without installing new memory chips, etc. That's why I'm leaning toward a DVD or tape-based unit. Problem is, I don't even know what kind of tapes these things use. Digital would be super if I can get enough memory into it to shoot for a while. I have a Canon Powershot still camera, and love it.. with the exception of the flash. Great resolution and color. I'm comfy with the Canon brand.

                        Craig: What is miniDV tape, and does it look like it may be around in the future?

                        Jollibug: The Canon Optura 50 looks sweet, and may be the frontrunner at this point. If it's easy to use, takes tape, and can be dumped to standard VCR video tape, that's all I need. My old Hitachi had a 12:1 lens. I don't know the default close-up ratio for the Canon, but I'd probably go for a more powerful closeup lens if it's not at least 12:1. Is that available? Any additional info would be much appreciated. I'm going to try to find the Optura locally and look it over. B-H is apparenty right in NYC, so that's a quick hop.

                        Computer editing isn't really 'in the mix' at this point, although I've got enough computer related crap to be able to jump right in on either platform. If anyone knows why the Optura wouldn't be a nice choice, PLEASE dial in!!

                        Again, thanks for all the help.

                        Paul
                        <div class="signaturecontainer">WADAYAKNOW.. For the first time in my life, I'm wrong again !<br />
                        </div>

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Blackbelt1
                          If I were buying today I would personally demo each camera and base my results on ergonomics (I need a camera on my shoulder, I can't stand skimpy "palm" cameras) and comfort, picture quality, ease of use, and the upgrade path. For my purposes if I were buying in today's market I would consider HD to be a "must have" whereas you may never need it. Firewire is a given, as are some analog outputs. Audio is another factor. I'd like a camera with XLR inputs (my Canon has them, but I had to buy a shoulder adapter to get that feature) and also consider them to be a "must have." I don't personally need a pop-out LCD screen - those do nothing for me. HTH

                          Regards,

                          ~Blackbelt

                          Thanks.

                          I hear you on the ergonomics and know I should make a trip to a decent store and feel these things out.

                          As far as HD, I have nothing against it as a feature, but because of the storage required to edit it, and the fact that world is still fairly SD, I think I'll be sticking with SD for the next 2-ish years. However, maybe a good HD camcorder will give me what I want in SD plus future proofing.

                          XLRs would be nice too.

                          Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

                          -plb

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paully
                            What is miniDV tape, and does it look like it may be around in the future?



                            Computer editing isn't really 'in the mix' at this point, although I've got enough computer related crap to be able to jump right in on either platform. If anyone knows why the Optura wouldn't be a nice choice, PLEASE dial in!!


                            MiniDV tape has been around for a while now and is readily available. You can buy it at Radio Shack, Sams Club, some Wal-Marts, etc. It's just a tad smaller than an 8mm tape...about the size of DAT tape. It's a digital medium, so you're basically recording 1's and 0's on the tape. For what you're after, the MiniDV format sounds like the ticket.

                            Regarding editing, there is a free video editor built into Windows XP. It's nothing fancy but it will give you some basic cuts and effects, and let you post the final directly to a web service, a CD, or your hard drive. It's found in the Accessories section, and it's called Windows Movie Maker. Your MiniDV camcorder, a firewire port and cable, and Windows Movie Maker are about all you need for basic editing and production.

                            ~Blackbelt

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Blackbelt1

                              ... Your MiniDV camcorder, a firewire port and cable, and Windows Movie Maker are about all you need for basic editing and production...

                              ~Blackbelt

                              Hey Blackbelt,

                              LOL!! Funny you mention that. I have XP Home Version, and the box has tons of USB jacks, but to save a little $$ I bought it without the 1EEE port. I don't do music on it, so who knew. :cry:
                              I do have a well-appointed Mac w/firewire for music, so that's probably where any editing would be done.

                              I'm definately (mabee) going to go with Canon and the tape format, but have already raised the bar to the Optura 500. It has the capability to do time code and a couple of other features. Thanks for the heads-up.

                              Paul
                              <div class="signaturecontainer">WADAYAKNOW.. For the first time in my life, I'm wrong again !<br />
                              </div>

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