Need camera advice for home video

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by js81, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #1
    Hey all!

    I am NOT a pro videographer, nor at this point in life do I want/need to be. However, I have a beautiful new baby girl at home and I want to be able to take decent video of her. We had a Kodak PlaySport camera that died. It was OK video-wise (to us). I tried replacing it with no less than two other Kodak models and frankly, both of them sucked. Badly.

    Here's my dilemma - I don't really want to buy another pocket camcorder. Currently, we've resorted to shooting video of our baby with our iPhones (both 3GS's) or our ancient Kodak point and shoot camera. I'm looking for a camera that shoots better video than either of these (not hard, lol) and costs less than $200 (or so). I have a dSLR (Sony Alpha a290), but it doesn't do video.

    Here are my thoughts:
    1) Buy a decent camcorder. I don't particularly care about zoom length or whiz-bang features; I just want good quality HD (720p is fine) video and clear audio.
    2) Buy a higher-end point and shoot camera OR a Micro 4/3 camera that shoots video. This would serve the dual purpose of replacing the ancient p&s we have. I had looked at the Olympus E-PL1 (cheap on eBay, $199 w/kit lens) or other similar options.
    3) Screw it all and buy a cheap Mini DV camcorder on eBay. I had one that was acceptable, but I was too cheap to buy a battery for my old camcorder and sold it. That was when the PlaySport was working.

    Help! I understand the concepts of good video, but I'm totally lacking in the hardware-knowledge department! Please assist! :D Thanks!
     
  2. daybreak macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    #2
    I think you answered your questions regards, "WHAT". You need to look at the long term of your dilemma.
    Set yourself a budget and take yourself to a camcorder store. Then you will know what you like.
    At present what you have is not meeting your criteria.
    It is no good recommending items when you are undecided.
     
  3. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #3
    Maybe I should've included the fact that we live in a little Podunk town - no options to look in-store other than Walmart (and I tend to avoid that place like the plague, lol).

    I know exactly what I want - I just don't know what has what I want. Less than $200; good quality HD video; and clear, decent audio. Good low-light performance would be a plus.

    I'm strongly leaning toward the $199 Olympus E-PL1 I'm seeing on eBay with the 14-42mm lens... At least it could be a dual-purpose device then.
     
  4. Menneisyys2, Sep 27, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012

    Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #4
    I'm not sure it's the best solution for filming little kids, particularly not indoors. Why?

    1, CDAF speed - isn't very fast, not even compared to later Oly cameras (for example, the OMD-5), let alone even entry-level Full HD camcorders.

    2, depth of field - while the kit lens is pretty slow (it starts at 3.5), the (comparatively) large sensor will mean focus problems will be much more visible than with, say, a 1/3" (meaning many-many times smaller sensor) camcorder. (And the latter, in addition, generally focus far faster than the E-PL1.)

    Generally, large-sensor, previous-generation (meaning comparatively slow CDAF speed absolutely not being able to track moving targets) CDAF cameras aren't the best when shooting quickly moving targets like kids. They're more of artistic tools.
    If you need quick focus tracking but still a large sensor, you'll need to go PDAF - for example, Sony's SLT cameras or the Nikon Series 1. None of them are in your price target, tho - albeit the Nikon 1's price has been recently slashed.

    IMHO, in your case, a used but quality camcorder would be a better choice unless you plan to purchase, say, the superbright, albeit not very wide Pana 20/1.7 for around $300-400 - or the bright AND ultrawide (24mm equiv) Oly 12/2.0 for around $800. With the latter, you'll have less focus problems because of the wide FoV. It's just the price that is outrageous.

    Alternatively, if you really want something (comparatively) large-sensored (in this case, also m43), you could look at the Pana GH1 - now with the announcement of the GH3, you could get it with the 14-42 or, if you're lucky, the 14-45 for $300 (heck, when the GH2 was released, it was already on sale for around $600 in the same kitlens config). It produces way-way better video (particularly with Vasily's hack), is far more versatile (has 1080p24, shoots better stills, has an EVF, has a mike input etc.) and has far faster CDAF than the E-PL1 - and accepts the above-listed, quality, bright lens well-suited for indoor shooting.
     
  5. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #5
    Thank you for your awesome reply! I had wanted to find a micro 4/3 camera with a pancake prime lens (like the Olympus 12mm, but yikes!), but I was amazed at the prices of those lenses! I didn't pay even close to those prices for my nifty 50 prime for my Alpha! :eek: I figured I'd want a faster lens for sure, but the time being I need something that works now.

    She's just a newborn now, but she'll be running around and moving very soon, no doubt. In my budget, it sounds like I may be best suited to just find a non-bargain basement model from a reputable company (Canon, Sony, etc.). I hadn't realized the relationship between sensor size and noticeable focus issues (at least on these cheaper cameras, though it makes perfect sense now that you mention it, lol) - I had assumed that, much like still cameras, larger sensor would (TYPICALLY!) mean better IQ... and I hadn't given thought to how that greater level of detail would show the bad, too.

    That being said, in the lower end cameras, do you have a brand suggestion? I've seen lots of Canons get good reviews, but most are out of my price range. I saw the Sony HDR-CX130 on CNet as a suggested budget model; but my question is will its video quality be any better than a pocket camcorder like the Kodak PlaySport that I used to have? If not, I don't see any reason to pick it over a pocket cam...

    EDIT: On second thought, I see that the HDR-CX130 has a 1/4" sensor and a listed resolution of 1.49 megapixels - how do you get 1080p video from 1.49 megapixels?? Even my rudimentary math skills say that you need 2.07 for a 1920x1080 resolution. Is the cam's 1080p an interpolated resolution?
     
  6. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #6
    Interesting - the specs at http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/canon-vixia-hf-g10/4507-6500_7-34468436.html say it's 3 Mpixel.

    BTW, for dedicated camcorders, the closer the pixel number to 2 Mpixel, the better. Then, one pixel on the sensor will belong to one pixel in the output video and, assuming the H.264 codec and the lens are not very bad, this will result in much better results than those of most high-Megapixel cameras. Why? Because, on the latter, it'd require massive oversampling (basically, averaging the signal of every single pixel) to avoid aliasing and bad low-light performance. However, very few current high-Megapixel cameras are able to do so - prolly it's only the Nokia 808 cameraphone that does this properly, using the entire sensor area. The others? For example, the Canon P&S cameras are all suffering from very bad aliasing in video mode - check out for example the G1X video at http://s3.amazonaws.com/movies.dpreview.com/canon_g1x/MVI_0578.MOV (linked from http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1x/9 ) - it's REALLY bad.

    This is why the prosumer, high-quality line of Canon camcorders are all 2 Mpixel ones - for example, the Canon Vixia HF G10. It has no aliasing and has wonderful low-light performance.
     
  7. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #7
    I got my numbers from CNet, too. :)

    http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/sony-handycam-hdr-cx130/4505-6500_7-34463639-2.html

    Anywho, thanks for the 2 megapixels advice - I'll be sure to look for that! I've already written off the idea of a MFT camera, so I'm looking now at dedicated camcorders. Will I notice a good difference between, say, the Sony I mentioned or a pocket camcorder, like a Flip or PlaySport?

    BTW, here are the ONLY THREE "real" camcorders my local Walmart (only place to shop here in Podunk) have in stock (that I can see and touch):

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-DCR-SX45-L/15833736

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Samsung-HMX-F80/20525030

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-DCR-SX85-S/15833740

    Any glaring differences between the three? Would you recommend any of them?

    EDIT: I see that both of the Sony's are standard definition - should I care? Is HD really gonna be up-to-snuff on any of these cheap camcorders? I'm close to just buying another MiniDV... :)
     
  8. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #8
    Frankly, I don't quite know these models (neither do I have used Flip) - I'm more into high-end prosumer camcorders (and everything still shooting). Have you checked out http://camcorderinfo.com/ for reviews?

    Some budget-priced HD cameras, interestingly, produce pretty decent results and truly hi-res images. For example, the HDR-CX150 and HDR-CX160 (which are also pretty cheap) aren't bad and deliver at least twice the true resolution of an SD camera (see the resolution figures for the two cameras at http://www.camcorderinfo.com/conten...amcorder-Review/Sony-HDR-CX150-Comparison.htm ). That is, I'd say it's worth getting the HD camera, particularly if it has a 2 Mpixel sensor meaning not-that-bad low light performance. (Generally, hi-Mpixel sensors suffer from bad low light performance because of the lack of oversampling. This is why a low-Mp camcorder will, at least theoretically, deliver better low-light performance.)
     
  9. js81 thread starter macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    KY
    #9
    I hadn't, actually - thanks for the link! The CX150 is on eBay for $259 with a year warranty... pretty close. Now to clear out some old electronics stuff and make up the difference. Thanks!
     

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