Camcorder Advise (bought one sending it back! help)

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by hcuar, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. hcuar macrumors 65816

    hcuar

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #1
    I made the mistake of purchasing a Panasonic 1 CCD camcorder (PV-GS35)... Well, surprise, surprise... the low light operation is terrible. So... I wasn't pleased with the interface, or the Panasonics love for Macs. I'm interested in using iMovie HD. My question is what would you guys recommend in a 3 CCD camcorder. It seems like miniDV is the way to go (perhaps not). I'm lost. :rolleyes: :(

    I'm looking for something that will perform great in low light, a great interface, and plays well with my Macs, plus perform well outdoors. Any suggestions?

    edit: yes I know about http://www.camcorderinfo.com/ that's what I've been using, but it doesn't give a "Mac users" opinion. (Which I tend to value over our PeeCee user counterparts.)
     
  2. mpw Guest

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    #2
    Dirty boy!:D
     
  3. bootedbear macrumors 6502

    bootedbear

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #3
    I don't have any recommendations for specific 3CCD cams, but without miniDV any camera is useless. Particularly avoid any that write to compresses format (such as MPEG
     
  4. bootedbear macrumors 6502

    bootedbear

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #4
    I don't have any recommendations for specific 3CCD cams, but without miniDV any camera is useless. Particularly avoid any that write to compressed formats (such as MPEG2).
     
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #5
    To the OP:
    Pixel size is one of the main determining factors of low light performance. Lens quality and how good the circuitry in the camera are a couple of others. The number of CCDs (1 vs 3) doesn't factor into low light performance. The smaller the pixels the less light sensitive they are thus the worse the low light performance. In fact, the HD cameras that are coming out (like the Sony Z1U or FX1) actually have worse low light performance than their MiniDV counter parts. Why? Because both cameras use the same size CCDs (1/3") but the HD cameras have to cram more pixels into the same size chip. That means smaller pixels and poorer low light performance.

    DV is a very compressed format. It's just not as compressed as DVD quality MPEG-2.


    Lethal
     
  6. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #6
    There's a French site, Magazine Video, which gives quite nice little movies from various cameras under different conditions.

    I recently bought a Sony HC90, partly because it was the largest single CCD I could get at a decent price (in the US, I believe it's dearer than the equivalent Canons and 3CCDs Panasonic whereas in the UK, it was less which threw a lot of the value comments on US reviews out). I think the GS-65 has 3 1/6" CCDs. If you're going to record in lowlight often, you might want to look at a camera which has a 1/4 to 1/3 CCD.

    I'm surprised by its quality in lowlight - it's not perfect by any stretch but I took it to a street party (with just low level streetlights and many trees) and it stayed focused pretty well and you can make out the colours of the costumes.
     
  7. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2003
    Location:
    NJ USA
    #7
    None of the consumer cams do well in low light. Canon's low end cams like the ZRs and Eluras were historically terrible in low light. The new Opturas have pretty big CCDs (1/2.8") so they *should* do better but they didn't get great reviews at camcorderinfo.

    I have the Panny GS400 and I love it. Never had a problem with it in iMovie. It is probably the top consumer cam out there. Tons of manual control, manual focus ring, 3 1/4.7" CCDs, real 16:9 mode, and a frame mode with CinemaGamma. This cam is about $1200 on the street--if you can find one. There may be an update to this at CES in Jan. The Panny GS250 gets good reviews too. GS250 has only 1/6" CCDs and not as good 16:9. Check out http://www.pana3ccduser.com for reviews and info.

    Sony's do well in low light. Not sure about the new models.

    And yes, if you want to edit on your Mac stick with MiniDV. Don't get a DVD-based camcorder.
     
  8. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #8
    The Sony VX2100 is the best low-light performing consumer camcorder on the market today.





    Here's to the Crazy Ones [​IMG]
     
  9. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #9
    The difference between a single CCD and 3 CCDs is simple:

    ONE CCD for RGB

    or

    ONE CCD for Red
    ONE CCD for Blue
    ONE CCD for Green


    Makes colors brighter, more natural, better highlights and "image quality".

    but as someone noted, low light is not for video.

    if you ever watch home videos of nightime stuff black looks like crap, its all grainy.

    if there is ever a medium to NOT use in low light it is digital video. Video artifacts love to hide in the dark.

    If you are going for a "video" effect, go for it. But for those who want to use digital video because its a good alternative to film, you have to light the scenes like you would for film.

    The brighter a scene, the more detail you can see. Which LATER in post production you can darken and do whatever to, but beleive me when I say DONT SHOOT IN LOW LIGHT EVER EVER EVER, u will not like the results no matter what you do. The auto focus becomes pointless and you either have to stick to manual (meaning a prosumer camcorder usually) or have nice blurry grainy video.

    Digital video is NOT meant to do low light and keep quality.
     
  10. Sharewaredemon macrumors 68000

    Sharewaredemon

    Joined:
    May 31, 2004
    Location:
    Cape Breton Island
    #10
    I second that.

    And if you're loaded, get a Panasonic DVX100b.
     
  11. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2003
    Location:
    NJ USA
    #11
    VX2100 has 3 1/3" CCDs and does a great job in low light. But it is not a consumer cam. It is a prosumer model.

    We don't know the OP's budget but he/she first purchased a low-end Panasonic 1CCD cam so I doubt they can afford the VX2100.
     
  12. hcuar thread starter macrumors 65816

    hcuar

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #12
    Well... I ended up buying the Panasonic GS150... It's a 3 CCD cam which according to camcorderinfo.com provided decent low light support. I considered one of the new JVC cams that have automatic gain control to compensate for low light. However, the Panasonic's image quality seemed to review better than the JVC cam. It was 200 bucks cheaper than the GS250. It has 800K gross pixels (that’s 400K effective for video and 530K for still images) per CCD.

    I'll let you guys know how it works on Saturday. It should work similar to the GS400 with the DV-Firewire cable that I purchased from Apple. :D I just purchased the Fujifilm Finepix S9000, so I wanted a reasonably priced camcorder (less than 600 bucks).
     
  13. Balin64 macrumors 6502a

    Balin64

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    In a Mauve Dream
    #13
    The Canon GL2

    I highly recommend the Canon GL2: great perdormer, decent price; the pixel shift in the green CCD adds sharpness and over-all image quality: it is small enough to hand hold, and has tons of features: I especially love the ability to shoot at 16:9 with frame mode (un-interlaced video). Very good image quality.

    I would second the post above: always shoot with enough light!
     
  14. hcuar thread starter macrumors 65816

    hcuar

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas
    #14
    Nice camera... Of course the lowest price available is around 2k. :eek:
     
  15. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #15
    Glad to see no one agreed, or disagreed with my claim that shooting in "low light" is not what DV is for. And unless you MUST, to shoot in normal to bright conditions and fix it to dark in post.

    Video grain isnt like film grain, it looks like total crap.
     
  16. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #16
    No one will agree or disagree. Saying you shouldn't shoot in low light is the same as saying you shouldn't shoot while submersed in water. They're both bad for DV. :p



    Here's to the Crazy Ones [​IMG]
     
  17. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #17
    well said.
     
  18. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #18
    Not disagreeing in general but of course, this does depend on what you're shooting and why you're shooting it. If you're filming a family vacation to bring back memories for those on it, then you want to capture the moments regardless of whether you're on the beach in glorious sunshine or walking through a dimly lit monastery.

    I went to the SF Halloween street party and while I did try to stand and shoot under street lights or at bright shop fronts, in order to get some of the costumes I wanted to remember, I had to use what light was available. Some of it is more usable than others but it's a home video for my family and if it's not perfectly lit all the way through, they're probably not really going to care.
     

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