Video Camera Purchase Help

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by SusieN56, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. SusieN56 macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2007
    I have a 9 month old Macbook Air and a 7 year old Sony video camera.

    Need to replace the camera, but I do not have a local apple store like I did when I first purchased a Mac.

    The camera is used mostly to tape competitive and training runs with my dogs - we compete in agility. Sometimes outside, but also inside with sometimes bad lighting.

    I used to edit my Sony videos in Sony Movie Studio and got fairly proficient. But really I just want to edit out the extraneous footage and add a title with the date and location - and music if it is appropriate.

    So, since the Macbook will be used for editing, I am looking for recommendations of user friendly video cameras that don't require much explanation for use - since we hand our cameras off to other people to tape us. And, software recommendations as well.

  2. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Check out the Canon VIXIA HF-S20. It's a very high quality consumer grade camera that has fantastic sound capture (Dolby Digital Stereo Creator) and great 1920x1080 HD video. It's around $700 but for what you do it'll probably be your last purchase. It's very easy to use with a touch screen interface and works with all NLE's as far as I know.
  3. CaptainChunk, Sep 30, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011

    CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    With a MacBook Air, you will be limited to using video cameras with USB interfaces (no FireWire ports). But practically all AVCHD cameras transfer footage over USB.

    You can edit footage from any AVCHD camera using iMovie (comes free with your Mac). iMovie is generally sufficient if your needs are basic. There's Final Cut Pro X for $300 if you grow more advanced in your needs.

    The camera Zwhaler is suggesting is a very nice consumer camera. Canon usually sits at the top of my list in that price range.

    Also, a couple things to consider:

    1. AVCHD is a very CPU-intensive codec. When you import footage from such a camera using iMovie, it will transcode it from its native format to an edit-friendly format called AIC. Because MacBook Airs generally use slower CPUs than MacBook Pros, this process may take a while.

    2. When iMovie transcodes the footage to AIC, the files sizes will become significantly larger. For this reason, I strongly suggest purchasing an external hard drive to keep your iMovie Event folders (this is where imported footage goes) in. Besides, it's not totally advisable to use your primary hard drive for media files anyway (for performance reasons).
  4. SusieN56 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2007
    I do have several external hard drives, so that is not an issue. Thanks for the reminder about the available ports, I had forgotten about that.

    The videos are usually fairly short - a minute or two at most, so if I keep up with it on a regular basis, the import times shouldn't be to bad.
  5. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    1 minute? Then you should do fine. AIC is about 70GB/hour.
  6. nightwolf macrumors member


    Oct 4, 2005
    Ontario, CANADA

    If you are on a low budget... get a canon sx230. Or Nikon d5100 / canon t31. They take awesome video. All u need is a card reader and it will load automatically. I use nikon d5100 and panasonic hvx 200 both for broadcast.
  7. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm not really sure if I'd recommend a DSLR in this situation, where the OP's primary use would be family video.
  8. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I'd recommend the new Canon CmosPro sensor cameras, as they're best for low light. HFM40, HFM41 are $650- $750 depending on if you need an optical viewfinder or not. They're optimized for video, not still shots.
  9. julesw, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

    julesw macrumors member


    May 22, 2010

    For you key is how the camera handles.

    If you are filming dogs and therefore action you need a good zoom,
    and the ability to control focus (override the auto ) and exposure smoothly
    without messing up.

    On paper the cameras look similar but I recommend going into
    a big store and try several, actually zoom in and pan and focus (manual or auto) as if you were filming an event.

    That's when you get a feel for it.

    I'd recommend going for a camcorder in the $600 - $900 + range. EDIT: Canon Vixia's always seem to get good reviews but I don't own one.
  10. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    Pst: The Vixias are from Canon ;)

    ...but yes, they are great cameras (own the HV30)
  11. SusieN56 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2007
    I went to my local Best Buy to see what was available. Dang I hate when I know more than the salesperson - which in this case wasn't much for either of us!

    So, then I came home and pulled out the old camera - which BTW still works beautifully. It is a Sony DCR-TRV33 that records to Mini DV tapes. I was going to just throw up my hands, continue to use the old camera and just edit on my PC. But - throwing another wrench in the works - my newest Dell desktop does not have a firewire port, so I cannot transfer to it either.

    So, I now have a perfectly functioning camera, and no way to get the files onto anything.
  12. madaspy macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    Hey, I know you said you will continue to use your current camera, but if you were to get something a bit more up to date, what would your budget be?

    Also have you ever thought about getting a point and shoot that shoots 720p or something like that?
  13. SusieN56 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2007
    Under 400 if I bought new.

    I went to the OTHER best buy in town, no apple store, but two best buys. Found a guy in the camera department that actually had some idea of what I was talking about. I ended up buying a dazzle, which allowed me to get the footage onto the desktop and able to edit. By the time I rendered the video and uploaded it, the quality wasn't as crisp as I wanted (I need to play with file sizes), but I think I can work with this until I figure something else out.
  14. madaspy, Oct 13, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011

    madaspy macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    BTW i know about the dazzzle, and we used to use stuff like that back in the day to capture old analog vhs tapes. I am supprised that your bustbuy had one of those lying around. Did a little bit of research about camera, and i wont lie i typically don't know much about video cameras in that price range. But I do know about DSLR's and I found the Panasonic DMC-FZ47K which happens to be a photo camera with manual control with its own built in lens with a 24x zoom much like what you would be used to on a video camera. It records to SD card and has good image quality. Seems to be a decent deal at around 350 or so.

    Ill post some links at the end.

    As far as software. You might want to stick with imovie. It gets the job done and it should have come with your mac.

    I should note, You will want to check out your workflow because alot of camera shoot avchd and you may need to transcode the footage to get it to function with imovie, but this is much like the whole capturing though firewire with your current camera and your pc.

    Here is a link to a review with a good amount of video attatched to it.

    Also while youre there you may want to check out some of the other cameras they have reviewed.

    Hopefully this points you in the right direction.

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