Need Camera recommendations

Bob Greaves wrote on 5/13/2010, 9:23 AM
I need a new video camera. The results do not need to be cinematically stellar, but I do not want the video to be so jittery or blurred it is distracting. I will use this 1 camera for now and perhaps later add 1 or more additional identical cameras fixed at different angels.

The moments being recorded by this camera will be of me in three distinct contexts :
1) academic lectures with slides edited into a pip box, fake monitor, or whole screen, (I am a college professor.)
2) guitar instruction video will use both upper body, talking head and hand closeup angles, (I am a performing and teaching musician.)
3) brief opinion and commentary from a talking head sitting or standing before a green screen. (I am an ass who thinks he knows everything.)(please laugh.)

There will be no need for zooming. All audio will be simultaneously recorded on high quality multi-track digital divices so that audio in the camera would only be used to synchronize editing in Vegas. I would prefer a solid state wide-screen format. Video will always be shot indoors. What is most important to me is a sufficiently sharp image with smooth motion compatible with occasional chroma key editing. I do not want the lecturer to move from one side of the screen to the other leaving an extremely noticeable interlaced jag. Nor do I want the guitarist to be playing at a slower speed and yet his fingers are nothing but a blur. I want the talking head to appear to be in any environment I am clever enough to edit in. And I do not want a susequent DVD to look like old style Youtube compression. Objects within view of the camera may be in motion but the camera itself will always be fixed, never tracked or panned.

At this point in time I am still recovering from damage to my home and studio due to a flood and so I need to spend as little as possible to get adequate results.

Your recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


Byron K wrote on 5/13/2010, 12:14 PM
Maybe these threads can help.

Also, I just purchased a Kodak Playsport on sale and now carry this little cam all over with me. It normally goes for $150, does 1080p 30fps, 720p 60fps, 30fps quality and water proof up to 10ft. You can look up the tons of reviews on the web, YouTube and Vimeo has lots of demo videos.
Guy S. wrote on 5/13/2010, 12:31 PM
For the best results I recommend shooting in a high-def format. IF you are using Vegas 9d on a quad-core computer I would recommend a Sony, Canon, or Panasonic AVCHD camcorder (the Panasonic TM-700 at about $1k is getting stellar reviews).

The Canon HF-S20 is a lower-end model that would also meet your expectations and can be found for $450 - $600.

For editing AVCHD you really want (at least) a Quad-core CPU, Vegas 9.0d, and at 4GB or more of memory. If your computer isn't fast enough and you don't want to upgrade, you may want to consider a tape-based HDV camera like the Canon HV-30 (if you can still find one) or HV-40 (~$650). These cameras use MPEG2 video which requires less CPU power to edit and has much shorter render times, which will at least partially offset the time penalty of capturing from tape.

My last project used both AVCHD and HDV footage and both looked good when rendered to standard def DVD.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in camera choices, but I'd bet that virtually any current camera will exceed the expectations that you outlined IF your lighting is good. Good lighting can make an adequate camera look great, so make sure you budget for this. If you need a set of inexpensive lights, try here:

I purchased the small fluorescent softbox kit; not nearly as rugged as my Chimera but adequate if treated with TLC.

LReavis wrote on 5/14/2010, 11:39 AM
I hadn't planned on buying a new camera, but the reviews for the TM-700 pushed me over the edge. I got mine for $750 (free shipping) using Corporate Perks - a free registration if you have a business email account (Yahoo or Gmail won't work; otherwise, $20) - search for "corporate perks" on this forum for details.

Payoff? I get the best green-screen chromakey that I've ever gotten. Plus, excellent optical image stabilization, and 60 fps progressive - allowing me to downgrade with slo-mo or go to interlaced or lower resolution with as little loss of image quality as is technically feasible. Highly recommended.
Jeff9329 wrote on 5/14/2010, 12:39 PM
You need a CCD sensor based camera. This would give a far better image of finger movement on a hand closeup or similar shot by not introducing the choppiness that a CMOS sensor camera inherently produces.

The Canon XH-A1 and Panasonic HMC-150 are examples of HD cameras with a 1/3" CCD sensor. The used market has plenty of both of these. A 1/3" sensor camera is also going to work far better in available light due to increased sensitivity.

All the new and inexpensive cameras are going to be CMOS, and if you dont see a CCD & CMOS image in a manner you can make a comparison, you might be okay with CMOS. However, the CCD image is far smoother, I see it every time I edit a multicam shoot with my mix of cameras.

farss wrote on 5/14/2010, 10:26 PM
"This would give a far better image of finger movement on a hand closeup or similar shot by not introducing the choppiness that a CMOS sensor camera inherently produces"

I've shot with CMOS and CCD cameras. Never seen any difference in "choppiness" between the sensor types. If the OP wants to reduce motion blur that's purely a function of shutter speed. Of course higher shutter speeds and low frame rates make choppiness inevitable using CMOS, CCD or film.

The only way to get rid of choppiness and get a clear image is to up the frame rate. Good cameras that'll shoot 60p aren't exactly cheap but one thing not stated is budget.


Jeff9329 wrote on 5/16/2010, 6:48 AM

I shoot and edit both CCD & CMOS footage on a weekly basis in multi-cam shoots.

There is no doubt the CMOS is choppy on fast motion and choppy on some types of normal speed motion. Im sure you have heard of rolling shutter.

A great example is a rolling soccer ball. The CMOS camera just cant accurately capture the pentagons as they move on a rolling soccer ball. The result is terrible. However, if you dont see this in comparison to a CCD camera, you might think it's just the video look. It's not.

CMOS is great for pretty much everything except stuff where you are purposely trying to capture motion accurately.