What should I look for in a new HD camcorder. I see a lot of cameras are a lot more sophisticated than my last camera. I'd like to stay under $1000. 60i? 24p? 16 gb? Which features matter most? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks,
I'm by no means a pro but these specs really narrowed the field down when I was looking for a couple video cameras in that price range:
-very good low light performance.
-manual controls over aperture, shutter and focus.
-Good DOF. f stop ranges are getting better on cameras now days to allow for nicer dof shots.
As far as video cams, I ended up going w/ 2 Sanyo Xati FH1A cams (discontinued) and the Panasonic TM700 3 CCD (now TM900).
I'm now looking for a DSLR type cam and these specs have narrowed the field down to about 6-7 cameras.
The TM700 does have manual control but the aperture auto adjusts to shutter speeds even after the aperture's been manually set, so not truly manual. I found this out afterwards but still can get some nice footage. Not sure if the TM900 (which I believe is in your price range) has this issue. I have not been researching video cams for a while.
I'd recommend something w/ a view finder. I've recently come to use this a lot on the TM700 in bright situations where the screen would get washed out by the sunlight and I would loose the subject in the sun shining on the screen and basically rendered the screen useless.
I'm sure others on this forum can chime in and have better, more professional specs to consider.
Depends on your intended use. Camcorders work well for events because the motorized zoom control lets you zoom in/out smoothly while recording. Camcorders are also great for point-n-shoot recording.
If you don't do a lot of zooming while recording then forget camcorders and get a DSLR. I moved from a $4k Sony camcorder to the Panasonic GH1 and GH2 and the quality went through the roof. And I recently recommended a Sony A35 DSLR to a co-worker and he absolutely loves it; I had a chance to play with it for a day and was Very Impressed.
You can purchase a Sony or Panasonic for less than $1k and use whatever lenses you want. For point-n-shoot recording you'll want to purchase a kit lens. For more creative work you can buy additional lenses to fit your application.
I've purchased vintage Minolta and Nikon lenses for my Panasonic and use them with $35 lens adapters. Put a vintage Nikon 105mm portrait lens on your camera and something magical happens, you'll see a result you just can't get with a camcorder.
If recording good audio is important to you then look for an external microphone input. If the camera doesn't have one you can use a Zoom recorder ($100) to record audio but it's obviously not as convenient.
Storage capacity: I prefer cameras that uses SD cards and I can purchase whatever capacity I need. A 16GB SanDisk card sells for ~$20.
Recording Format: I shoot at 720 60p, but that's just me. For my purposes 720p looks great and is easy to edit. When I render the project I choose 24p as the output and am happy with the result. Others here have used the different formats much more extensively than me and have written some excellent posts - I would search for them.
I have the older Canon HFS100 and love it. In sunlight, you can hardly tell its picture from broadcast, even after editing and release on Blu-ray. This G10 ups the HFS100's performance in every way: 1/3" sensor, external audio in, excellent lens, reliable auto focus, 2 SD slots in addition to internal 32GB memory, aux manual focus ring, color eyepiece plus flip out LCD screen, excellent low light performance, fabulous picture.
If I hadn't just dropped a small fortune into a Nikon D800 setup, I'd get this camera.
DSLR systems are more like working with an Arriflex 16mm or 35mm motion picture camera. Excellent output, but slow to setup and use, heavy, clumsy, shallow depth of field (the reason you want it of course, unless you're trying to track your puppy running around the house), needs an external monitor, chews through batteries. I've even pulled out my 23-year old Minolta Autometer IV incident light meter to get the exposure right. What's old is new again.
When you are running and gunning and just want excellent HD video and not the "film" look, a Canon or Panasonic or Sony camcorder is hard to beat in terms of convenience, long life for the batteries, light weight, seriously flexible lens,
Only real problem comes when you need to get professional audio into a consumer camcorder. You need a Beachtek audio adapter then, to convert professional low impedance, balanced audio into the camera's unbalanced high impedance mic level stereo mini. But that's true for the Nikon/Canon/Panasonic/Sony DSLR across the line too.
DSLRs are really the only way to go IF you can plan your shots and know what the talent is going to do OR if you plan to build some support gear.
But let's say you are doing documentaries - you go out and buy a 600D and a 50mm thinking this is all you need. Within the first 10 minute you realize that you don't have auto focus. Mention it anywhere and people will tell you "if you want auto focus you're in the wrong forum". So you try to manually focus - but it's hard because sometimes you're shooting at F2 you have to have really good hand key coordination. When it's really bright outside you can barely see on the screen and to get proper DOV you need ND filters. So you buy a follow focus system. And a shoulder rig. And a matte box. And an EVF or loupe. And more batteries and another lens. Your subjects are running around - pan around too quick and everything turns to jello. If you want to zoom while recording- better have another 'stop' of hand-eye-coordination. And another hand.
Having said that - you can't beat the price/picture quality ratio of a DSLR. And with all the lens options and rig options - it is super flexible. You have all the artistic freedom that you want. But make sure you know what you are getting into. You're in for the long haul.
If you are 1) a one man crew on 2) a tight budget working in 3) a dynamic environment that you don't control - I would not go the DSLR route.
But if you want to try to get the 'film' look, you want upgrade options and can control the environment (eg what people do & where they go, lightning setup, sliding rigs, cranes) and want really good picture quality - go the DSLR route.
<<But let's say you are doing documentaries - you go out and buy a 600D and a 50mm thinking this is all you need.>>
If you want run and gun autofocus, buy the Panasonic or Sony Alpha series DSLRs. I use the GH1 and GH2 exactly like I used to use our Sony Handycam camcorders, except it's smaller, I can change lenses, and the quality is MUCH better.
You all are super! I knew I could not go wrong with the right forum. Vixia looks good on YouTube. So do the Sonys. Any more help is welcomed. I'm sure there are many that read these responses and want to know more. Great weekend to everybody. Lets get back to work.
All the above is excellent advice. I have a TM900 and love it. Suits my style of photography perfectly (run and gun, trips, family occasions etc). I'm not a sophisticated tech-head, but the vision turns out fantastic.
BTW I'm in PAL-land and shoot in 50P.
Gives you food for thought anyway :)
As Jay mentioned, this is a very good camera considering the size and very good video quality (up to 1080p 60fps) and decent low light performance for the price BUT if you do consider this cam it has a problem w/ focus drift when it's in manual focus or focus lock.
I've lost a few videos as a result of this.
Here's a time lapse of this flaw and there's no fix from Sanyo. The drifting starts about 20 seconds into the video.
As I mentioned above I still have my FH1A and really like it, but I need to be vigilant and double check the focus setting when I leave the cam to shoot for long periods which can be a pita and easily forgotten when there are other things going on at a gig. (;