Looking for a solid camcorder - user friendly.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by vermonter16, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. vermonter16 macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #1
    I just purchased an imac that should be arriving on Saturday in fact. I was thinking of purchasing a camcorder for my husband for Christmas but I didn't want to spend a tremendous amount of $$. I just bought him a new grill so I'm starting to run low on $$. However, I don't want a cheap piece of crap camcorder. I would like a camcorder that is easy to use with the mac and imovie. The less hassle the better. We will be using this to do very amatuer shooting and making mini movies for fun. Advice please? Help...this is something I know nothing about...and this is also our first time using a Mac.
     
  2. VanMac macrumors 6502a

    VanMac

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    #2
    Hello.

    I have a Panasonic PV GS500, and I'm very happy with it. Good lens for low light situations, and easy to use. There are some cheaper models in the same lineup. Most Panasonic, JVC, and Canon will do you pretty good.
     
  3. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #3
    Are there any camcorders that work better with mac or are they all about the same? I want my husband to be able to use this "easily" with imovie...
     
  4. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    Edinburgh, U.K.
    #4
    It would be helpful if you could suggest a rough budget, since recommendations will naturally vary depending on how much money's in the pot.

    In general terms, you'll need to decide
    1. whether you want a camcorder that records standard definition video or one which records high definition video, and
    2. whether you want a camcorder that records to tape (and uses Firewire to transfer video - current iMacs have Firewire ports) or one which records to a built-in harddrive or a memory card (in which case you can just transfer video using USB). Neither method is intrinsically "easier" than the other, and as with so much in the world of consumer video, your choice will often come down to personal preference.
    Whichever way you go on these questions, there are options which will work perfectly well with the Mac and iMovie, hence the only constraint on your options is money.

    Andrew.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    How much editing? Is this just a vacation shot where you only cut out the parts where the camera was aimed at the sky or is this more serious where you have set up shots and do multiple takes and cinematic style fast cut edits? And then what do you do with the final product. DVD? Do you need HD? How much do yu care about color and low light performance.

    Finally, what about sound. Do you need decent quality sound recording? If so the camera will need a mic input.

    No camera is truly bad, but any camera can be a pain to use if it is not matched to your needs. The better you can define those needs to better match you can find. As an example, I'd really like to find a good used but cheap Sony VX1000. It would be perfect for me because it's a sold three chip mini-DV camera but other people might prefer a palm sized camera even if the quality is far less. It's more about matching than which is "best".
     
  6. arjen92 macrumors 65816

    arjen92

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    #6
    I don't think she'll need HD, that's only if you want to see what someone, 30 feet away, was reading. And I doubt it about sound too. I don't think you're gonna buy a microphone if you have a low budget (let's say the camera is like 400 dollars, a good microphone will be like 80 dollars, that's 20%)

    But what the others said is true, good light, firewire(dv) or usb(hdd) and some brand names.

    (p.s. there are 3 types of camera's considering chips, there is ccd (which is not so good), there is 3ccd which is better and more used by professional, it can handle motion way better than the last one: cmos, which is a good chip, but not for motion (it will make things unstraight).

    (sorry for my poor english, it's not my native language)
     
  7. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #7
    Basically I want the camcorder for my husband to record mini movies... I'd probably spend up to $600 or $700 dollars. I'm getting a new imac this weekend so I want something that will work well with that...don't know if firewire is the best transferring method or not.

    I would write more but my husband just pulled into the driveway.
     
  8. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #8
    For that money, I'd suggest taking a look at the Canon HF100, a firm favourite around here. It records high definition video in the AVCHD format to memory card and uses USB to transfer video.

    If you do a search for "HF100" using the forum search function you'll find a good deal of discussion of this camcorder. Don't be too put off by the fact that most of what passes for conversation around here is the discussion of problems people have had doing one thing or another!

    Andrew.
     
  9. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #9
    Thanks Courtaj. I have actually been eyeing that camcorder. I heard my husband on the phone with his sister talking about their next "movie" and I thought....how can they continue to discuss this so seriously when the filming is absolute crap! Arrrggghhhh.... I know the last thing he is expecting is a camcorder.

    Ok - so for HD the Canon HF100. Any suggestions for "non-HD" video? Just out of curiosity.
     
  10. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Oh yeah - the camera will mainly be used outside.
     
  11. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #11
    Despite what other posters have said, when it comes to choosing from what's available in the consumer camcorder market, the only justifications for buying a standard definition camcorder would be budget, and having a computer that is too old to handle HD video. Neither of these appear to apply in your case.

    There are some good tape-based, mini-DV standard definition camcorders (such as the Canon MD235 or Panasonic GS330) for about half the price of the HF100. There are also the Canon FS100 or Samsung MX20, both of which offer good value for money and record standard definition video to memory cards.

    At this price point, the tape-based SD camcorders will produce better pictures, but the video from the HF100 is far superior - that's what you're paying for in basic terms. Your new iMac will have no problem dealing with HD video. iMovie '08, which will come already installed on your iMac as part ofiLife '08, is compatible with all of the current batch of AVCHD camcorders (there is a list of compatible camcorders here:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1014).

    Andrew.
     
  12. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #12
    Courtaj - thanks for all your help. I hate to be chinsey when it comes to my husband...I guess I would love to spend less to get SD - at the same time, it doesn't look like that is where the future of recording is going so I'm assuming HD it is. You hit the nail on the head when you said that in my price point the SD picture would be very good but the HD would be superior. Although this camera is just being used for a fun hobby - I don't want it to be out of date in a couple years time.
     
  13. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #13
    I have to admit I have not personally tried the AVCHD workflow, but I really, really like the workflow of capturing and editing from miniDV camcorders over Firewire. I don't think it can really get any easier than that.

    I would be more inclined to put money into a decent miniDV camcorder.

    Your best bet, really, would be to try to get your hands on one of each and try it out -- record some footage, connect to your computer, import the footage, edit it. See which you prefer. Perhaps a good camera store would let you try that out, or you could borrow equipment from a friend.
     
  14. Joelye macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    #14
    In my experience the Sony A1e is our most popular video camera for clients looking to achieve good quality results on a budget but with a small camera.

    The A1 from Sony currently sells at under a thousand pound in the UK so I would imagine is even better priced in your part of the world.

    If I could be so bold as to say that the quality from this camera is very impressive it is packed with pro functions like XLR inputs (professional audio) and records in HDV which is High Def and recorded onto a tape.

    For ease of use in editing you simply connect via a firewire and log the footage in via I Movie final cut etc.

    So in short if you want a camera that will perform well today is easy to use has advanced features to experiment with, gives HDV and is small then you cant go wrong the Sony A1 we supply this camera to professional production companies, wedding videographers and clients that have never used a professional video camera to capture footage and by all accounts they find it simple to use.

    One note steer clear of memory card, hard disc type cameras simply for ease of use at present, clients that rent the latest Sony and Panasonic camcorders from us do have problems with settings when recording and the editing, importing and workflow of these files, (Its just my opinion) by at least with HDV you can be sure you have captured the footage and can do what you like with it when it comes to compressing editing etc.

    Hope this helps a little here is a link to the hire Sony A1 video camera that we hire shame your not in the UK we could have lent you one :)
     
  15. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #15
    Thanks notjustjay and joelye. I will look into that particular camera and see. Since I'm really going on no experience with the use of a camcorder - ever! And unfortunately I have no friends that have a camcorder either. A guy at work just said he got a great deal on a camcorder from Best Buy - but...he paid just about $200.... I'm not looking for a kerplunker ;) and I know that I am not looking for a cheapie...now if I could get the $600 cam for $200 that might be different ;)
     
  16. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Ok - I looked up the Sony but apparently couldn't find it because all the ones I saw were waaaay expensive. I just thought of something though. Say I record in HD and put it on my computer and then burn it to a DVD - does it burn to the DVD in HD? And if it does - can I ever play that in a DVD player or will the player not read it? Hope these aren't stupid questions but it just dawned on me.
     
  17. arjen92 macrumors 65816

    arjen92

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    #17
    Well it depends. I don't know exactly what iDVD does (if it can burn hd) I believe it can (there must be someone who knows, at least DVD studio pro can, and probably toast). But you can't put a lot of content on the dvd. A Blu-ray disk is around 30 Gb, HD-DVD around 15 Gb, so that's what you need if you want to burn 1,5 hour on a dvd. And a DVD is only 4,7 Gb, so it wont contain long video's.

    Your DVD player probably wont read it. Except if it is HD dvd player (not an HD-DVD, but a DVD with HD content), they exist, but I wonder if you have one.

    I expect Blu-ray players will read and encrypt them.
     
  18. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #18
    Does this make sense to anybody? Found this from an old article.

    "The most viable method of distributing HD movies is to burn them onto Blu-ray discs. ...your best bet is to shoot in HD, edit in HD, and save it. Then export a second copy that is downconverted to standard definition. That way you can burn it to a regular DVD or put it on the web. In a few years, you can re-export the movie in its original HD."
     
  19. scottydawg macrumors 6502

    scottydawg

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    #19
    Did you know that if you buy the BluRay plug in for Toast you can burn up to 25 minutes of BluRay on a normal DVD disc with any DVD burner? I don't know about you but I don't want to watch a family movie longer then about 10 minutes so that should be plenty. Also consider the cost of media... $10 vs. about .30 cents.
     
  20. lharvest macrumors regular

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    Jun 11, 2007
    #20
    Toast can burn HD video on a standard DVD that can then be viewed in HD on a blu-ray player. You cannot watch HD on a standard DVD player regardless of what you use to burn it.

    iDVD cannot burn Hi-Def DVDs - only SD DVDs. Even if you start with HD video, iDVD will convert it to MP4 before burning.

    Even though your HD output options are limited, I would still recommend the Canon HF100. If I didn't already have a HD camcorder, this is the one I would get. AVCHD has come a long way over the last few years. Your husband will be able to import the footage into iMovie very easily and do whatever he wants with it once it is in there.

    Enjoy!
     
  21. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #21
    Ok guys....I probably should have ordered the camcorder already but I haven't. As much as I want the HF100...I'm a little concerned about the amount of space it will take up on the computer and the amount of time to transfer the movies/files, etc (he has little patience)....

    Now don't cringe or freak out...I'm leaning towards the FS100 right now just because it might be easier for my husband. It is below $300...and I figure that if he really uses it, maybe we can upgrade in a couple of years... Also - we don't have a Blu Ray DVD player and that really bugs me... What are your thoughts? I know he would love anything he got and I don't mind spending the money on the HF100 but...for the reasons stated above....what do you think? I'm probably going to have to upgrade to amazon prime to get this shipped in time for Christmas.... Fast responses would be appreciated. I don't want to make a huge mistake...
     
  22. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #22
    AVCHD video (e.g., from the HF100) doesn't take up a huge amount of hard drive space if you only archive the raw files: it's the files that iMovie makes when converting from AVCHD to AIC that take up masses of real estate, but once you've done your edit you can get rid of those.

    So it's 8GB per hour of video if you archive the raw AVCHD; 40GB to 50GB per hour of video if you archive the AIC.

    I'd go for the best camcorder you can afford. In this case, that's the HF100. The FS100 is a handy little fella, but it's going to yield pretty mediocre video. Still, if it's better than what your other half already has, no doubt he'll be happy. As you say, if he gets lots of use out of it, then you could justify spending more a few years down the road. Then again, if he doesn't like the picture quality, he may not use it much.

    The HF100, on the other hand, has a large following around here, and I have no doubt you'll / he'll be very happy with it, and there are plenty of users on these forums who will be only too happy to help out with any teething problems.

    Andrew.
     
  23. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #23
    Does the HF100 allow me to shoot in Standard Definition mode? I'm with ya on getting the better camcorder...I'm just worried that if it too much trouble my husband won't want to deal with it. We don't have a blu ray player and his sister who we usually shoot movies with doesn't have a blu ray either so nobody could watch the darn thing unless it was converted into SD....but then to save space if the raw footage had to be archived my husband would lose any editing unless he edited in both formats and recorded both to CD plus....that might be a lot of trouble for him.
     
  24. dalvin200 macrumors 68040

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    Nottingham, UK
    #24
    yep.. you can choose out of about 4-5 different quality settings... the highest mode FXP (i think its called) is the HD 1080i one which gets you 2 hours of video on a 16gb SD card...

    stepping down quality settings (ie, down to SD) will get you more video hours on the card too

    I have a HF100 and love it :) although i always shoot in highest setting and if i need to downconvert after i have edited etc..

    and it works flawlessly (?) with iMovie 08 :).. just put the sd card into a sd card reader and that's it... imovie recognises it and then you can view the clips you want to import... very simple...
     
  25. vermonter16 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 19, 2008
    #25
    So are you saying that I can for sure shoot in SD quality? I just want him to get used to it and not have to "hassle" with it until he get's proficient... I mean, we just got a brand new imac, new ipods for the first time, and now I'm going to get him a camcorder for the first time as well. He can't even use the mac yet.
     

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