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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:25 PM   #1
danielwerner
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What camcorder should I buy?

Hi,

I'm thinking of buying a camcorder and can't for the life of me understand which one to get.

Criterias:

1. It needs to work with iMovie '11, flawlessly. I mean, I don't want to spend my time converting every file, and I don't want endless importing times, and I definately don't want laggy or CPU-heavy editing. I don't understand which file format it should support, some say AVCHD and some say H.264, but what I understand those are the same since AVCHD is encoded in H.264. Wtf.

2. Not cost more than 500 dollars, preferably not more than 350.

3. Be able to record 1080p (I will mostly use it for Youtube, but I still want it to be somewhat future proof).

4. Be good, nice reviews and so forth.

What I've managed to find is that I need the camcorder to be able to record in h.264 formats. I've previously recorded via my iPhone 5 and my HD webcam (via Quicktime) so both of them export in h.264, right?

The problem is that all product specifications say that AVCHD and h.264 are the same thing. How do I find a reasonably priced camcorder which records and exports in this format? I just want to eject the SDHC-card, insert it in the mac, and just edit away in imovie with ease.

Anyone with personal experience of what works? Thanks alot!

Last edited by danielwerner; Nov 29, 2012 at 02:40 PM.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
Hi,

I'm thinking of buying a camcorder and can't for the life of me understand which one to get.

Criterias:

1. It needs to work with iMovie '11, flawlessly. I mean, I don't want to spend my time converting every file, and I don't want endless importing times, and I definately don't want laggy or CPU-heavy editing. I don't understand which file format it should support, some say AVCHD and some say H.264, but what I understand those are the same since AVCHD is encoded in H.264. Wtf.

2. Not cost more than 500 dollars, preferably not more than 350.

3. Be good, nice reviews and so forth.

Anyone with personal experience of what works? Thanks alot!
What would be the purpose of the camcorder? That would help us help you
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:39 PM   #3
danielwerner
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What would be the prupose of the camcorder? That would help us help you
Mostly Youtube really, but in a semi-professional way. I'm recording humor videos with pretty heavy editing and good quality.

Oh, and I forgot. It needs to be able to record 1080p. I know, it's Youtube, but I want it a bit futureproof.

----------

What I've managed to find is that I need the camcorder to be able to record in h.264 formats. I've previously recorded via my iPhone 5 and my HD webcam (via Quicktime) so both of them export in h.264, right?

The problem is that all product specifications say that AVCHD and h.264 are the same thing. How do I find a reasonably priced camcorder which records and exports in this format? I just want to eject the SDHC-card, insert it in the mac, and just edit away in imovie with ease.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:40 PM   #4
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Mostly Youtube really, but in a semi-professional way. I'm recording humor videos with pretty heavy editing and good quality.

Oh, and I forgot. It needs to be able to record 1080p. I know, it's Youtube, but I want it a bit futureproof.
The VIXIA HF R32 is not too bad for the price, I would still suggest you save money and buy a DSLR like a D5100 to have all the flexibility.

The VIXIA does AVCHD - 1920 x 1080 - 24Mbps
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:44 PM   #5
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The VIXIA HF R32 is not too bad for the price, I would still suggest you save money and buy a DSLR like a D5100 to have all the flexibility.

The VIXIA does AVCHD - 1920 x 1080 - 24Mbps
But the AVCHD format, does that work well with iMovie? Some say yes, some say no, and other say yes after a lengthy conversion.

Personally I'm looking at the Sony HDR-CX250. That records in AVCHD though, so therefore I'm a bit worried.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
But the AVCHD format, does that work well with iMovie? Some say yes, some say no, and other say yes after a lengthy conversion.

Personally I'm looking at the Sony HDR-CX250. That records in AVCHD though, so therefore I'm a bit worried.
I don't know about the Sony but I know the Canon AVHD works perfectly with iMovie, the only problem is that the battery kinda sucks.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:00 PM   #7
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AVChd is much better for editing then H.264.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
But the AVCHD format, does that work well with iMovie? Some say yes, some say no, and other say yes after a lengthy conversion.

Personally I'm looking at the Sony HDR-CX250. That records in AVCHD though, so therefore I'm a bit worried.
I have three comments for you:

1. You need to know that a video consists of a codec and a container. The codec is the way it is compressed, and H.264 is the most common compression format around right now. AVCHD does encode in H.264, and .mp4 files will most likely also contain this. So, AVCHD and H.264 are kind of the same. AVCHD is a container, and it is always filled with H.264 data. It is (that's the downside) not easily playable and kind of a weird container format and consists of a folder structure instead of just one file. But it does (that's the upside) support a lot of metadata that other containers don't, like framewise timecode.

2. iMovie does not support editing in a so-called "interframe" codec. It will convert any footage on import that isn't already encoded in a "ProRes" codec. There are very few camcorders that record in ProRes, and none of them are in your price range that I know of. So, you will either have to live with converting on import and getting big files on your editing hard drive, or you will have to get another editing software. Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X will both edit interframe codecs natively and import AVCHD or .mp4 files very quickly and without re-encoding if you want them to. Sorry, but here what you want doesn't exist.

3. I second the Canon camcorder out of the cheaper models. In mid-range, they do get a lot of competition, but in the very cheap segment, they are pretty strong. I have a VIXIA R26 for behind the scenes and trips and with enough light it's very watchable. I wouldn't go DSLR if it's mostly for youtube. DSLRs are great to get an amazing look for short films and are awesome in low light, but they have crappy sound (so you would have to add something external) and have to be handled (focus) by someone all the time. For vlogs and point-and-shoot style, they are not the best choice.

Just my two cents.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:04 PM   #9
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3. I second the Canon camcorder out of the cheaper models. In mid-range, they do get a lot of competition, but in the very cheap segment, they are pretty strong. I have a VIXIA R26 for behind the scenes and trips and with enough light it's very watchable. I wouldn't go DSLR if it's mostly for youtube. DSLRs are great to get an amazing look for short films and are awesome in low light, but they have crappy sound (so you would have to add something external) and have to be handled (focus) by someone all the time. For vlogs and point-and-shoot style, they are not the best choice.
Oh shoot, how stupid of me, I completly forgot about sound recording lol
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by floh View Post
I have three comments for you:

1. You need to know that a video consists of a codec and a container. The codec is the way it is compressed, and H.264 is the most common compression format around right now. AVCHD does encode in H.264, and .mp4 files will most likely also contain this. So, AVCHD and H.264 are kind of the same. AVCHD is a container, and it is always filled with H.264 data. It is (that's the downside) not easily playable and kind of a weird container format and consists of a folder structure instead of just one file. But it does (that's the upside) support a lot of metadata that other containers don't, like framewise timecode.

2. iMovie does not support editing in a so-called "interframe" codec. It will convert any footage on import that isn't already encoded in a "ProRes" codec. There are very few camcorders that record in ProRes, and none of them are in your price range that I know of. So, you will either have to live with converting on import and getting big files on your editing hard drive, or you will have to get another editing software. Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X will both edit interframe codecs natively and import AVCHD or .mp4 files very quickly and without re-encoding if you want them to. Sorry, but here what you want doesn't exist.

3. I second the Canon camcorder out of the cheaper models. In mid-range, they do get a lot of competition, but in the very cheap segment, they are pretty strong. I have a VIXIA R26 for behind the scenes and trips and with enough light it's very watchable. I wouldn't go DSLR if it's mostly for youtube. DSLRs are great to get an amazing look for short films and are awesome in low light, but they have crappy sound (so you would have to add something external) and have to be handled (focus) by someone all the time. For vlogs and point-and-shoot style, they are not the best choice.

Just my two cents.
Thanks for your answers! Some more questions though.

1. I can probably live with conversion times in iMovie, depending on how long they will be. Do you have any idea of how long a conversion for... say... a 20 minute video will be? So far I've only tested imovie with quicktime and iphone movies and that will take about 5 minutes.

2. DSLR, is that what the Sony camera is? Would the Vixia (or Legria as it's called in Europe) R36 be a better choice for me? It has received worse reviews and seems worse on the specs, so I would very much like more info please.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:18 PM   #11
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Thanks for your answers! Some more questions though.

1. I can probably live with conversion times in iMovie, depending on how long they will be. Do you have any idea of how long a conversion for... say... a 20 minute video will be? So far I've only tested imovie with quicktime and iphone movies and that will take about 5 minutes.

2. DSLR, is that what the Sony camera is? Would the Vixia (or Legria as it's called in Europe) R36 be a better choice for me? It has received worse reviews and seems worse on the specs, so I would very much like more info please.
1. Conversion time really depends on your workstation

2. The worse point of the R36 is battery life. I don't know much about the Sony one. My suggestion would be to go on youtube and search for sample videos for each cameras and judge with your eyes.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:20 PM   #12
danielwerner
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1. Conversion time really depends on your workstation

2. The worse point of the R36 is battery life. I don't know much about the Sony one. My suggestion would be to go on youtube and search for sample videos for each cameras and judge with your eyes.
I have an rMBP with 2,3 ghz and 8gb ram. And on youtube both of them sounds and looks fine, haha. So I'm still stuck with my decisionmaking.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:23 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
1. I can probably live with conversion times in iMovie, depending on how long they will be. Do you have any idea of how long a conversion for... say... a 20 minute video will be? So far I've only tested imovie with quicktime and iphone movies and that will take about 5 minutes.
The conversion will be almost identical. Telling you times would be silly since it highly depends on the processor you are using. But the iPhone movies are also encoded in H.264 and at the same resolution. And even though they are at lower bitrates, it will take about the same amount of time for any camera you're looking into. A quarter of the playtime sounds reasonable, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
2. DSLR, is that what the Sony camera is? Would the Vixia (or Legria as it's called in Europe) R36 be a better choice for me? It has received worse reviews and seems worse on the specs, so I would very much like more info please.
No, a DSLR is a mirror camera, originally meant for still images. Like the "Canon 600D" or the "Panasonic GH2". The Sony you picked and the Legria R36 are very similar, and it is probably a matter of taste which one you like better. I haven't worked with any of those two models, so I am hesitant to give a recommendation. Me saying that Canon has the advantage in cheaper models is just a personal view I had when trying some out about a year ago.

You are also German, right? Then slashcam has a very nice tool to compare HD camcorders in terms of features and tests. But I would probably recommend you to order both camcorder, try them out and return the one you don't like. That's very common and will give you the best feeling afterwards.

Good luck!
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:25 PM   #14
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I think the key question here is to do your research. You have a balance of what you want to spent. If you go on Apple site they have all the specification of what each software can do.
Regards camera search the manufacture in your price range and see what they have. Sony,Panasonic,etc they all do good camcorders.
Then when you have made up your mind what camera you would want to buy. Ask if this would be o.k. Even then Apple can tell you if that camera is o.k for iMovie software.
You get good feedbacks at present but in the end of the day is best to know exactly what camera you can afford.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:28 PM   #15
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The worse point of the R36 is battery life.
Oh yes, that is very true. With my R26 (the even cheaper model), there is only one type of battery to put in (nothing bigger is possible) and it will last for a good hour, which is very short. When I record with it, I do it standing on a tripod and plugged into a wall outlet, or it's just a behind the scenes camera and I can quickly exchange batteries without waiting.

I have to add that the batteries (well, cheap copies that work just as well) are available for about 10 euros for two batteries. But having to change them sucks if you want this as your primary camera and not have it plugged in.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:31 PM   #16
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The conversion will be almost identical. Telling you times would be silly since it highly depends on the processor you are using. But the iPhone movies are also encoded in H.264 and at the same resolution. And even though they are at lower bitrates, it will take about the same amount of time for any camera you're looking into. A quarter of the playtime sounds reasonable, yes.
Great! So the choppy/laggy editing (slow browsing through clips, high CPU, etc), that would probably just be when editing in the native format, right? If I record a 20 minute movie, import it in iMovie with automatic conversion for about 5 minutes, then it will be just as fast as the iPhone clips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by floh View Post
No, a DSLR is a mirror camera, originally meant for still images. Like the "Canon 600D" or the "Panasonic GH2". The Sony you picked and the Legria R36 are very similar, and it is probably a matter of taste which one you like better. I haven't worked with any of those two models, so I am hesitant to give a recommendation. Me saying that Canon has the advantage in cheaper models is just a personal view I had when trying some out about a year ago.

You are also German, right? Then slashcam has a very nice tool to compare HD camcorders in terms of features and tests. But I would probably recommend you to order both camcorder, try them out and return the one you don't like. That's very common and will give you the best feeling afterwards.

Good luck!
Ah, I see, that sounds good. I think I'm still gonna go for the Sony one though. I know Canon make great things, but the r36 (which is the most common and reasonably priced one here) has received pretty bad reviews. And a ~30min-1h battery, that's just unacceptable.

Nope, from Sweden (my last name can be misleading). But I'm gonna check out the site anyway, looks informational.

Thanks!
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:39 PM   #17
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Great! So the choppy/laggy editing (slow browsing through clips, high CPU, etc), that would probably just be when editing in the native format, right? If I record a 20 minute movie, import it in iMovie with automatic conversion for about 5 minutes, then it will be just as fast as the iPhone clips?
Exactly! Couldn't have put it better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danielwerner View Post
Ah, I see, that sounds good. I think I'm still gonna go for the Sony one though.
Yeah, I just checked the review site. Sadly, they haven't reviewed the Sony yet, they just have the data sheet, but is has some big advantages in addition to the battery. Plugin for external mic and a better wide angle are the most important ones. Yep, go with the Sony, it looks good. Especially since the video samples you saw seemed fine to you anyways.

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Nope, from Sweden (my last name can be misleading).
Yeah, you had me tricked. But I actually like Sweden much better than Germany, so I envy you.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 03:51 PM   #18
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Yeah, you had me tricked. But I actually like Sweden much better than Germany, so I envy you.
Haha, you're welcome to move here.

Anyway, I ordered the Sony one now. If I feel terrible about it I can always send it back, I don't know about the rest of europe but in Sweden we always have 14 days right to send stuff back if it's bought on the internet.

Thanks for all your great tips. If anyone has concrete info or experience with the Sony HDR-CX250, you're welcome to let me know.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 07:53 PM   #19
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Go on the Sony web site. They have wonderful reviews and for computer software. That is how i bought my sony to go with iMovie and FCP-7 and X
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