Recommendations on sub $500 HD Cam

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by clindner, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. clindner macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    I hate to post another "which camera is best" thread, but I was hoping some folks who are using camcorders around the sub $500 price range could provide some feedback on their choices, and how things are going using iMovie 09 for editing.

    I will be using it for filming youth football games, and doing quick post processing to generate DVDs for the coaching staff. I've been using a Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1 for several years, and it does the job, but I'm looking for something a bit better. I will probably still use the Sanyo for some isolation shots on players to mix in with the basic play by play footage.

    My biggest beef with the Sanyo has been my workflow. Maybe there was a better way, but I was sticking the SD card into my Mac and copying the files onto the hard drive. This took about 30-45 minutes. Then I would import into iMovie, which took another 30-45 minutes. Should I import directly off of the SD card and save time?

    Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts along these lines with your camera, I would love to hear them!
  2. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    I can't recomend a sub $500 HD cam but I can just give you an idea of a work flow.
    Unless I have the time in between sessions I use the Archive in iMovie to store my video, which helps save space, directly from my SDHC cards, so it only takes me about 10-12mins. to transfer my video (about 14.7GB) to my drive and then later I can import the video into iMovie which will take time. I do it this way because I need my cards, camera and MBP during the events so for me this is easy. I don't import twice per se, just once. It is still compressed and then I import it into iMovie once I'm done for the day. Hope that made sense for you.
    I keep all my video on one drive and the final video on another and then backup everything over night to keep things safe(r) than some other methods a few versions of iMovie ago.
    I just got FCE and haven't found a similar way to do the above method without iMovie, so until then this is my work flow and it saved me when my internal drive died back in May and 300GB of footage was gone but not lost thank goodness to backing up on multiple drives FWIW ;)

    Good luck on finding a HD cam for your needs.
  3. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    For around $500 you can get yourself one of the Canon VIXIA cameras. Some might require you stretching your budget by another $100 or so. I haven't kept up with the 2010 Canon product releases, so I can't really comment on which ones are the best for that money. But there are plenty of good review sites out there for information.

    I have a Canon VIXIA HG20, which is a hard drive model from a little while ago. I got it because it got great reviews and I found it on sale for a great price. Not sure I love the extra bulk of the hard drive on the side, but I must say that the picture quality is superb. In general, the Canon VIXIAs get great reviews.

    As for workflow, importing takes time, plain and simple. When you import into iMovie it has to transcode to AIC. Then, if you are following a proper backup plan, you need to also use the "Archive" function to make a copy of the mts folder onto a separate hard drive. Either that or remove and store the SD card somewhere, which gets really pricey. So whether you archive and then import or import and then archive, it's going to take some time.
  4. clindner thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    Thanks for the input. I guess most folks here are using more expensive cameras?

    I have been looking at the VIXIA cameras. Not sure if I want to spend $350 on the lower end models and then not be happy versus spending $600+ and potentially being happier.

    I don't do a lot of video work, given the time involved, so I don't know that I would get my money's worth out of the more expensive camera. I've been doing more video recording with my phone, uploaded to facebook, than I've done with the 'real' video camera over the past year!
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    I'd say that you should think hard about what type of shooting you want to do before you drop the cash. If you are mainly interested in shooting quick little clips of fun stuff for sharing with friends and family, then getting a full-on consumer or pro-sumer camcorder is probably going to be overkill. In that case, get yourself something like the Kodak Zi8 or a Flip.

    If you are interested in something a little more serious, or you want optical zoom, image stabilization, and better image quality, then of course getting a more expensive camera will be the better choice.

    As I mentioned in my previous post, I have the Canon HG20. Since then, however, I've purchased a Kodak Playsport (the waterproof version of the Zi8) and upgraded from an iPhone 3g (no video) to the iPhone 4. Now, I never carry the HG20 around. Yes, it does take better video than the Playsport and it has nice reach with its optical zoom. But I am much more interested in still photography, augmented with the occasional short clip of video. I don't want to carry my dSLR and a camcorder around with me. I am blown away by how good small flip-cams and smartphones have gotten in the last year or two, and now I solely use either the Kodak or my iPhone for video. I spend a lot of time in, on, and around the water, and I love the quality and waterproofness of the Playsport.

    So, think about what and how you want to shoot and make your choice from there.
  6. clindner thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    Yeah, I mentioned in my first post that I would be using it to shoot football games. For that, I have to have at least a 5x optical zoom, and 10x is really what I need to get by. The Sanyo HD1 has that, and it still works OK, I shot some of a scrimmage with it last night.

    I had initially thought that iMovie wasn't going to need to transcode the source footage possibly on another camera like it does on the MP4 files my current camera makes.

    Video is just way too time consuming! :D
  7. SumDumGuy macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2002
    Love my Canon VIXIA HF100. It plays nice with Final Cut Pro too!
  8. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    OP- I have a Canon HF100 that I have barely used, I’ll sell it to you for $500 if you are interested.
  9. clindner thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    I'm not a huge fan of buying electronics without being able to return it if there's a problem, but thanks!

    That does seem like a good option though. For the HF100, are there any problems with the video quality when shooting with the optical image stabilization on?
  10. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    so the camera isn't the problem?

    so what I am reading here is that your camera isn't the problem, it's your import and processing?

    First off, WHAT are you using for a memory card, computer and software?
    I'm thinking that if you upgrade your memory card and use different software, you might be better off than spenindg 500 on the camera. Maybe a faster card reader wouldn't hurt either. I find with my Zoom H2, that if I upload the data through the device it is PAINFULLY slow, but it's zippy in an external card reader.

  11. jrcsh6 macrumors 6502


    Jul 1, 2008
    i don't know if you already got it but i just got a hf200 refurb from canon for 350$ i felt that was a pretty good deal based on ebays auctions of recent

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