Camcorder advice

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by klnmesmalz, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. klnmesmalz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #1
    I'm looking to buy a digital camcorder as a gift for someone who uses Mac and is well-versed in Final Cut and other movie/sound programs (since I don't even know what they all are, clearly I am not so skilled). He's more into the sound side of things, so I definitely want a cam that can accommodate those needs. He's by no means a professional and I don't have a lot of money to spend, but I would at least like to get a good quality cam. I've gathered that Canons are poor in low-light settings and that I should be getting something with a jack for an external mic, but other than that, I'm a bit lost. Any suggestions?
     
  2. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

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    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #2
    www.camcorderinfo.com is your best bet.

    I was initially intrigued by the JVC Everio series because of its recording to internal HDD instead of tape, but it's MPEG-2 quality (like DVD camcorders), not DV quality. That's a strike against it in my book.

    If your friend is going to shoot from a tripod, avoid any models which have a bottom-loading tape mechanism. Very much a pain to have to change tapes with these on a tripod... Also need a LANC input if going to use a remote zoom control, like a Varizoom.

    Sorry can't be more specific. What's your budget? Luckily, things will tend to go on sale as we near the holidays.
     
  3. klnmesmalz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 4, 2005
    #3
    I'd like to try to keep it under 400. I'm pretty sure I want the camcorder to use MiniDV, as I've read that's particularly suited for use with a computer. I also read that Sony and Panasonic are the best brands, but I have no firsthand experience to make such a judgment. Doing more research today, I'm now getting concerned that I won't be able to get something with a mic jack within my budget. Is that going to be an issue, or will I still be able to get decent sound quality without an external mic?
     
  4. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #4
    Ebay is good if you want to go cheap, but it comes with it's own risks. You can get this for $429. Canon Elura 70.
     
  5. wattage macrumors 6502

    wattage

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #5
    I would suggest making the best decision you can, and from a business that has a nice return policy as well as a good selection. That way your friend could return it or even add money to it and get one just like they want.
     
  6. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    Apr 30, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    It looks like your budget is a little too low for a camcorder that would provide more than average quality - but you may find great deals within that budget whenever there's a big sale (like Thanksgiving in the US). Have a look at the Panasonic 3 chip camcorders (the lowest one I know of is 'GS 150') and the Sony TRV series (these are single chip models). As you said, the Canon models have very poor low light performance (but this may also apply to most camcorders in your budget). Talking about low light performance - look at the 'lux rating' - the lower, the better.

    You will have to compromise on certain things, and as 2jaded2care pointed out, check www.camcorderinfo.com. Other sites to check are:
    www.dvspot.com
    www.cnet.com (check the tech gadgets reviews section)
     
  7. Zeke macrumors 6502

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    Oct 5, 2002
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    Greenville, SC
    #7
    Don't buy JVC...horrible warranty and they tend to die easily. Mine died two months out of warranty and had only been used very rarely. Apparently it was a very common problem for them and has been discussed extensively on forums.
     
  8. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

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    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #8
    Camcorder Thoughts...

    I'm very happy with my Canon Optura-20. It's a couple of years old but I use it a lot -- both as a video camera and as a 1.3-MP digital still camera. It has the "bottom-load" tape mechanism, and while I agree that it prevents a tape being changed while on the tripod -- big deal, I've only used ONE tape since day one. I've never changed it! The idea is, you shoot your video (up to an hour, which is tons) and then you copy it onto your hard drive and archive it from there. Rewind the tape and use it again and again. And in real life, very little video shooting is done in true low-light situations. Any camcorder with a lense the size of a quarter will do poorly at night. That's why pro cameras have huge 5" lenses -- to let in as much light as possible. My Canon makes great video in 99% of the lighting conditions I've shot under. The only thing about my Canon that I'd change would be the motor whine getting into the microphone. When there's no ambient sound, you'll be able to hear the whirring of the tape transport motor. Annoying.

    Basically all $400-$500 DV camcorders are the same these days. The one thing I'd insist on would be Pass-Thru A->D Conversion. This lets you plug an analog video source (VHS tape) into the camera and the camera will convert it to digital video and output it thru FireWire. Very handy!
     
  9. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #9
    Good points.

    I was in need of a "budget camcorder" back in January. I was shooting a friends wedding at the last minute. I needed a mic jack so I did my research and found a Sony model HC-30 in my price randge (about the same as yours) that had a mic jack and would do the A/V pass through. I bought it the night befor the wedding at Best Buy and took it home to play and get familiar with the controls.

    One problem (for me anyway). It had a mic jack, but no headphone jack. Since I would be using a wireless mic on the groom I needed a way to be able to monitor the audio. I was furious with Sony for this. How could they do such a stupid thing.

    I ended up using the A/V out to feed into my old digital8 (that wouldn't record anymore) and plugged the headphones into it. This setup also gave me a little larger remote monitor than the HC-30's built in LCD.

    I was able to trade it in later in the week for a TVR22 for the same price. (The TVR22 is an older model but had the headphone jack.)

    I liked the size and functions of the HC-30. The touch screen controls are really cool.

    Any way. Good luck.
     
  10. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

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    Mar 3, 2004
    Location:
    Canada's South Coast
    #10
    Great job of "thinking on your feet" there! The main thing that sold me on the Optura-20 was the pivoting 3.5" LCD screen. I think manufacturers intentionally leave some of these "obvious" features off their consumer camcorders, so buyers will take a closer look at their semi-pro models. Reminds me of the time I was invited to a wedding... I took my camcorder/tripod along just for fun. The couple hired a "professional" videographer who showed-up with this crazy broadcast-spec camera (no tripod!) but it was pretty clear he didn't know how to use it. So I rolled tape on the whole thing just in case. Sure enough the "pro" footage sucked and his white balance was off and everything else that could go wrong. Meanwhile I had my version dubbed onto my Mac and edited with titles on iMovie in the lull between the wedding and the reception. I was able to present the families with DVD's that night at the reception! Just proves that spending big bucks on equipment does not equal good video!
     
  11. 2jaded2care macrumors 6502

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    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #11
    You might want to look at the camcorderinfo.com review of the Panasonic PV-GS65. Has mic input and headset jack, top loading, and 3 CCD. Over $400 by a bit (look at the price comparisons), but not much in some instances. Of course the online retailers usually get you with some inflated shipping prices, but usually it's still worth it.

    Only complaint about this line of Panasonics is the small LCDs and they seem to solarize (if that's the right term) easily. IOW, the viewing angle of the LCD is pretty shallow, seems to go dark with off-angle viewing a bit earlier than some other brands. It's annoying but manageable, at least to me. Lots of people are fans of the previous model, the PV-GS120. Have used these at work myself. Don't think this one has a LANC, though; the GS120 doesn't. (You can't have everything in this price range.)

    Have no idea if this model has analog/FW passthrough. Never had to use it.

    I've seen some complaints about Abe's, but never ordered from them myself. I have ordered a few camcorders from Buydig, no problems for me.

    Good luck
     
  12. opusthe2nd macrumors 6502

    opusthe2nd

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    Sep 5, 2005
    #12
    I have this camera and have not one complaint about it.
     
  13. jaysmith macrumors regular

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    Aug 13, 2005
    #13
    I've had a few years experience in filmmaking and editing, and i've owned a few 3 chips (vx1000, and now a vx2000). I've also owned an optura 20 that I got for 320usd, and it is the closest i've seen to 3-chip colours in a 1-chip camera. It also has full manual controls, and a huge lcd. I would take this over any new consumer camera, which are often waaay overpriced and have useless features, such as dvd or hdd recording. don't buy into this. Buy uised, because if he doesn't like it he can sell it later for around the same price.
     
  14. klnmesmalz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 4, 2005
    #14
    Thanks, everyone, for the input! I've got a lot of good advice that I can use.
     
  15. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

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    Mar 3, 2005
    #15
    I also have a Canon Optura 20 and I love mine as well. It's a good camera and I got it brand new for $300 shipped. Being a broadcasting major I'd only recommend a Canon or Sony low end camcorder. Personally, I like Canon's better because they seem to be compatible with everything and you pay more for the name with a Sony. I also have a canon a510 digital camera and that's great too.:D
     
  16. illegalprelude macrumors 68000

    illegalprelude

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    Mar 10, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    #16
    I really am not in the mood for details but I can tell you, from my personal experience, I like the Sony's the best. Dosent matter if its the consumer Mini DV or Professional (although not all of them offer 24p but no biggie) Second, I would Canon and then Panasonic. Personally, I dont like the JVC or Samsung or anybody else 1 bit.
     
  17. poolin1243 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Kansas City,MO/Milwaukee, WI
    #17
    sony has the best optics...but canons price points are great though!!!!
     

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