Xmas 2008: Best non-pro 1080p HD Video Camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by netdog, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #1
    I hear good things about Panasonics. Have had Sony and Canon in the past. Want the camera to be easy to use with iMovie and FCE4. Great color. Sharp lens?

    I know that you guys here are the experts. There are so many camera threads, but this stuff gets dated so quickly. What are your opinions right now? I am sure that there are a number of us who will benefit from a recap of the state of the art right now as Christmas is approaching fast.
     
  2. macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #2
    Ive seen some really good videos on Youtube (HD of course) using the Canon HG10.

    It looks pretty good and you can pick it up quite cheaply now.
     
  3. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    #4
    Depends on what you're looking for. Top-of-the-line for hobbyist camcorders right now is the Canon HV30, which is a 1080p MiniDV tape-based camcorder. It's about $550 on Amazon right now. For ease of use, the Canon HF100 ($530 on Amazon) is great because it's flash-based - you just use a fast Class 6 SDHC memory card. You still have to convert the files into an editable format (unless you have a monster computer that can edit AVCHD), but this way you don't have to import the tape in realtime, you can just drag-and-drop the files over. However, the HF100 is only something like 17 MB/sec, so the picture quality isn't quite as good as the HV30. The HV30 has a few extra goodies too like a manual focus wheel. For a good inbetween camera, check out the Canon HF10 or HF11 ($630 & $850, respectively), with the HF11 being better of the two (full 24 MB/sec AVCHD).

    Since you're using iMovie and Final Cut Express, I'd recommend going with the Canon HF100. Get some memory cards (8gb or 16gb), a spare knockoff battery plus wall & car charger from eBay, a padded bag, a UV lens (lens protector), and the Voltaic HD software. VoltaicHD converts AVCHD into an editable format like ProRes and can do batch processing. This is my favorite app for working with digital video files because it's small and simple. Just convert your clips overnight when you're sleeping. It's $35 and is available here:

    http://www.shedworx.com/

    I think FCE might be able to convert the files, but it's just so much easier with that little app, it's a real lifesaver. Beyond that, you'll want some kind of stabilization. I don't know how familiar you are with camcorder equipment, but for the sake of anyone else looking for information on this topic, I'll go on :) I recommend, at minimum, a Gorillapod. A Gorillapod is a tiny, portable tripod with bendable legs that you can wrap around chairs, fenceposts, set up as a tripod, etc. I use mine nearly every time I shoot! Make sure to get the right size for whichever camera you get:

    http://www.joby.com/products/gorillapod/

    I also recommend a fluid-head tripod. These will run at least $110 for a quality one, like a Velbon DV-7000, but your footage will come out looking 1000x better than by hand. A fluid-head tripod is different from a regular tripod because it has a kind of thick liquid inside, like honey, that makes tilts and pans nice and smooth instead of j-j-jerky. I really wish someone had told me about them sooner lol.

    So that's pretty much it - a handful of accessories and a good fluid-head tripod and Gorillapod. If you want better audio, pick up a Rode VideoMic or a Zoom H2 digital microphone. It doesn't take much to get a good setup going...for about $1,000 you can have incredible audio & video quality that will blow people away. For another few hundred more, you can get a 3-piece lighting kit off eBay and a greenscreen to start having some real fun! :D
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    #5
    Forgive me, but how is using Volt*ic easier than using FCE or iMovie to do the conversion (provisional answer in the next paragraph)? For one thing, Volt*ic takes 12x the original clip length to convert (hardly the drag-n-drop method you allude to above) compared to a little over real time to about 1.5x real time using iMovie '08 or FCE4. Plus, in FCE, you can select in and out points before converting, whereas with Volt*ic (and iMovie) you're limited to importing the full clip.

    The only sense in which using Volt*ic is "easier" is that it allows you to convert stand-alone .mts files rather than requiring you to hook up the SDHC card in a card reader or mount a disk image of the archived SDHC card contents.

    Andrew.
     
  6. macrumors 601

    petvas

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    Location:
    Mannheim, Germany
    #6
    I have the Panasonic HDC-HS100 and I am very happy. It has a 60GB Hard Drive plus a slot for SDHC cards. The Panasonic camera offers many many options for manual shooting, but I have to say that the automatic mode also works very well. I use Premiere CS4 to import and edit my Videos. It is the only program that I know that uses AVCHD format natively and exports to AVCHD also. This feature is very useful for me because I can playback my videos on my PS3.
     
  7. macrumors 68000

    slipper

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
  8. macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #8
    Sorry for such a simple question, no time to search right now.

    But, does the Pan HDC-HS100 have an external mic jack an head phone jack?

    What about the Canon HF100?
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    #9
    Both do. The Canon uses a proprietary shoe (they call it a "mini advanced shoe"), the Panasonic a standard cold shoe for mounting a mic. The Panasonic also has a manual focus ring and a viewfinder - Canon can't match it there, though the Canon is said to be a bit sharper in low light.

    Andrew.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #10
    That sounds like an onboard shotgun mic plugged into the hot shoe. Am I right?

    What about a mini jack (like a headphone jack) for a Lavaliere mic or plugging into a sound board?
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Location:
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    #11
    Both camcorders mentioned above have the standard mini-jack socket.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    #12
    Archiving footage...

    One thing to take into consideration when buying a Flash or HD based camcorder is how do you store the footage before or after you edit. With MiniDV (Canon HV30) you always have the original tape to go back to, but with a HD (Canon HG10) or Flash Memory (Canon HF100) camcorder you need to plan ahead and buy some extra external Hard Drives which could fail eventually or a bunch of DVD's (4.7 GB single layer, 8.5 dual layer, 18 GB double-sided dual layer or Blu-Ray 25 GB or 50 GB DL and so on...)

    So you will incur some kind of cost beyond the original media (HG10 needs no media) if you need or want to save the raw footage.

    I prefer Canons for consumer type camcorders.
     

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