Recommendations for a quality HD video camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macuser453787, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. macuser453787 macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    Hello all! So I've been wanting to get into the wonderful world of videography for some time now, and I'd like some recommendations for a good quality HD (1080) video camera. Please keep in mind I'm new to this, so any input that I can understand, being a newbie to the field, is welcome.

    I've been doing a little researching, and I see what I believe are a few basic features that are important -- aside from the very basic necessities like being able to capture high quality footage, for example:

    -- Manual focus capability

    -- DOF adjustment

    -- Auxiliary mic connectivity

    My intended use is for shooting a wide variety of footage, so ideally the camera should work well in a variety of conditions (but underwater isn't important as I don't plan on doing that sort of footage).

    I have a budget in the sense that I'd like a great starter camera and I'd like to keep the cost down as much as possible, so it would be great to get something for not more than around $500-$700, however I recognize that even with the desired features noted above that my expectations may not be realistic within that price range...?

    That being said, I did come across the Canon VIXIA HF G20 and it seems to be about what I'm looking for, although it's quite a bit more than what I initially hoped to spend (though I do like that it has the option to shoot 24fps). Anyway, I thought I'd come here to the pros to ask for your recommendations and input.

    So, what are my options?
  2. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I own the G10 and it's nice, I would recommend it. I'm not sure if the G20/G25 has a better sensor but the lens does look a little nicer and it costs $1,200 for the G25. If you wonder what the G10 is capable of check out my video shot on the G10. The only downside is it doesn't have XLR inputs. The XA10 does but I would strongly recommend against it for the price. The G10 can use nice mics that have the smaller 3.5mm connector though.
  3. ChrisA, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I've got a Canon Vixia. I like it for some kinds of work. But there is NO REASON to get anything other than the base model the R400 that sells for $265. You will not notice any difference in the results The R400 has optical image stabilization.

    Why not shoot with a DSLR? Buy a Nikon D3300 setup for $600. The video quality and amount of control you have is much better then any of the Canon Vixia. You can't even compare them

    You asked about DOF control (did you means "f-stop"?) the tiny sensor of the Canon does not offer much control. Just about EVERYTHING will be in focus but the Nikon allows some control but the get that effect where the DOF is very narrow, a "selective focus" effect you will need the SLR and you will need a faster lens like the 50mm f/1.8

    But what are you shooting. Each camera has advantages.

    Advice: Save you money for audio recording equipment. Audio i really, really hard to get "right" the video part is actually easy, But sound recording has a steep learning curve the the gear gets expensive.

    If you are going to get an SLR for video, look at Nikon. The reason is all this vary good manual focus lenses that you can get for good prices. The build quality of these is outstanding, solid metal and glass.

    You WILL need a tripod. Hand holding a video camera is a "special effect" that should be used sparingly and then ONLY if it helps to tell the story.

    About that Youtube footage: It looks god but notice EVERYING is in focus, the entire band and the wall in back. nothing wrong with this, it looks good but this what you get with a small sensor camcorder. It's a law of physics
  4. macuser453787, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014

    macuser453787 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    Hmm, DSLR you say? Okay I'll look at Nikon.

    Well, I guess I did mean f-stop, if that relates to adjusting DOF (and it sounds like it does, based on what you said). Thanks so much for your help. :)

    I'm envisioning a wide variety of shots, not one thing in particular. I want be able to submit high quality video clips to stock footage websites. That's for starters, anyway. :)

    Yep had definitely planned on getting a tripod. :)
  5. ColdCase, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    You can make some excellent looking and creative HD video with inexpensive things like a iPhone and some planning. It just gets easier with more capable equipment and better editing software. Look at some of the stuff Apple has demonstrated.

    For the types of stuff you say to want to play with, you need to go to a more pro camera. The camera referenced is a nice one, plenty of capability for the price... but you are going to need more than a 10x zoom often, but wide angle sometimes... in other words, more than one lens. There is also light consideration, both low and high along with lens aberrations... things like dynamic range. Then there is all that bulk to carry around.. and what if you also want to take a decent photo...

    I've gone through few camcorders and DSLRs, only ones I could easily afford at the time. DSLRs were typically slow to focus, or noisy. Camcorders are bulky. I recently moved on to a Canon 70D and have come to appreciate all its capability. I hear Nikon makes a good DSLR video camera, but I have some $$ invested in Cannon lenses and the Canon 70D is certainly no slouch. I love the way you can select a person and the focus tracks that person regardless of movement or zoom... and you can focus from one object/person to another with a touch on the touch screen. The STM lenses are dead silent and fast focusing (I like the 18-135mm STM for 90% of what I shoot, but a 55-250mm STM is better hiking and for wildlife you can't get close to). Built in audio does surprising well, but a separate mic is needed for outdoor work. It makes it easy to record very good video. If you just want to do video, however, look at the Blackmagic Design offerings. One thing a camcorder has the DSLRs lack so far is the power zoom. Is so much easier to zoom smoothly with a power zoom. The 70D includes wifi so you can control and take pictures from a smart phone or iPad... cant do video wirelessly however... buts its great for remotely taking rapid fire shots of wildlife.

    Its not simple to determine what you need and and the features that help you the most for the kind of video you want to shoot, so you can then spend your $$ wisely.

    So my advice is get the best stuff you can easily afford, with the capability you think you need... and then use it often to learn what works what doesn't, what is important and not so important to you. If you are serious, you will find features are lacking pretty soon and will help you define what you really need for enjoying the world of videography.... and be ready to select your second camera.
  6. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    Controlling DOF isn't just about the F stop. If you turn up the F stop (to allow more light in,) you need to control shutter speed and gain/ISO for a properly exposed image. You might need an HD Filter.

    What do you plan on shooting? A DSLR is great but you it might not be the right tool for the job.
  7. macuser453787 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    Thanks for all the feedback and comments! I will digest this and do some more research to find a good starting point for me. In the meantime, please feel free to leave more feedback, comments, pointers, etc. I appreciate it. :)


    Thanks for your help with that. As for what I will be shooting, I don't have any one specific thing or area in mind. It could be anything from a closeup of a subject to a panoramic landscape. So I'm looking at a broad range of possibilities.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Being "rady" for any assignment is expensive. You best bet at this point is to NOT over spend, buy something that is capable but not budget busting then go out and shoot a LOT of footage and see where you run into limitations.

    Avoid the very common beginner mistake that is to think you are buying your LAST camera, as if you will never buy another one and have to be stuck with it for the rest of you life. No. You are buying the FIRST camera.

    About DOF. It is a function of lens focal length, f-stop setting and camera to subject distance and subject to background distance. All of those are interrelated but in real-life the cameras with larger sensors can shoot with a smaller DOF. But at the same time those cameras are less portable. The $265 Canon VIXIA will get you started and leave some budget for audio gear.
  9. macuser453787 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    Good advice, and I thank you for your help. I definitely don't see this as my last camera purchase, but as my first.

    I was actually giving the D3300 a serious look since you also recommended that model, and from what I've researched so far it seems to be very capable while not being overly expensive. It also has the added bonus of being a really solid camera for stills, should I desire to use it for such. :)

    My concern -- and please feel free to correct me on this if you believe that it's warranted -- is that if I go too low on the price point for my starter camera then I may start losing some important features, which could in turn potentially hinder the ability to work around limitations that I discover during my footage shooting/learning process. Conversely, it seems that if I go to a little bit of a higher price point then that could give me some room to grow into greater capabilities and functions afforded by a larger feature set.

    For example, I like the fact that the D3300 can use different lenses, and has a stereo mic jack for audio and the ability to do some white balance adjustments, as well as different focus modes, etc. These and other things seem to be absent from so many of the camcorders I looked at for around the same price point as the R400 (though I see after reading the R400's specs that some of those features aren't necessarily absent from that model in particular).

    I find myself leaning in the direction of the D3300, however I am definitely open to going in another direction if a case can be made for the R400 being the better choice (or another model for that matter). Keep in mind that I'm not AS focused on the ability to buy audio gear initially (though I definitely recognize the importance of audio).

    So I ask you, since you recommend both models: If it were you, knowing what you know now and with your level of experience (not from the place of just starting out like myself), and you COULD get either model, having compared their available features and considering which one ultimately offers the best overall capability, would you buy the D3300 or the R400 (or some other model)? And why?
  10. macuser453787 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    I re-read your original post and forgot that you posted this. ^^^^
    So, never mind my question about D3300 vs. R400. You already answered it. :)

    Any other suggestions, comments, or recommendations are welcome.
  11. ChrisA, Jun 23, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes I wrote that but I alo said I owned a Canon Vixia. The Vixia is great for some things.

    1) A simple instructional video where you have the camera on a tripod and indoors where you can add as much light as you like. These small camcorders make very excellent quality videos if the light is very strong AND even (low ratio lighting) Buy some video lights and stands and maybe a large reflector or two.

    2) the vixi a fits in a small space, even a large pocket and has VERY good optical image stabilization. You can take it place you can't take the SLR.

    3) the SLR is not going to have good stabilization, you really do need a tripod

    In any case you are going to need audio equipment, save a few hundred dollars for that. Over time you spend more on audio and lighting then for the camera.

    Viewers who watch your work will put up with poor video, compression artifacts and even some bad lighting but poor audio, not. Even using an old standard definition camas looks OK. But using an on-camera microphone is the quickest way to make your work seem amateurish.

    It's true, our eyes will over look all kinds of problems. This is why cartoons "work". If the drawing is even lose to human looking we accept it. Flicker in old silent movies was OK. But if anything is wrong with the sound track your ears pick it up. Keep your eye open for used audio gear.
  12. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    Check out the new Panasonic fz1000k

    I've been using the GH3 for a long time and been very happy with it. Add a nice shotgun mic and you are good to go.

    As you grow, you will discover what else you need. For what you are doing a basic sun gun might work rather than a full lighting setup. You might need more audio inputs and need an external mixer/recorder. You might want to add a lav mic.

    All that is easily possible with the GH3 and the new camera is even better. With the included lens the fz1000 is a steal. Forget about the 4k settings that you don't really need at your level, its a solid camera and will give you a lot of flexibility learn and progress.
  13. musique macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    audio too

    It sounds like you’ve received a lot of great ideas and you may have already made you purchase. One thing that was stated several times here was to allocate funds for audio gear.

    If you intend to shoot narrative videos (i.e., those with a story where actors speak) you may be disappointed with the sound achieved with a camera-mounted microphone. It’s the go-to option with run-and-gun videographers and newspeople on a budget.

    But if you do something where you want to capture dialog (and they say that "audio is 50% of video") you need to get your microphone close (18-24 inches) to the speaker’s mouth. In most film work this often involves a microphone mounted on a boom, hidden in clothing or somewhere on the set.

    Probably too grandiose for a videographer just starting out, but it’s something to keep in mind – especially if you’re dissatisfied after a while with your audio results.

    Good luck.
  14. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
  15. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    I had a Vixia HF S100 back in my college days. it was an excellent camera. I think the G20 is a great choice. It's a bit more advanced, but you're basically getting their entry-level pro camera in a consumer-friendly body and price.

    I think that if you're serious about doing video you'll appreciate the more advanced features over time; in the meantime you can set and ignore a lot of them.
  16. macuser453787 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 19, 2012
    Galatians 3:13-14
    Apologies folks I have been preoccupied doing a lot of research and making purchase decisions. Ordered a D5300 & extra lenses + Davis & Sanford tripod + Sennheiser MKE 600 mic + several other essentials and accessories. Very excited!!! Receiving a shipment tomorrow and then some other stuff on Friday (Varizoom StealthyPro stabilizer and this).

    Sooooooo looking forward to using all this great new gear! Thanks so much to all of you for your help and input. :)

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