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Thread: Video camera advice

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    Video camera advice

    Hello,

    Need some advice regards a video camera purchase. Now, before we go any further I need to profess I know very little about this market, coming from a large knowledge of DSLR's I presume Canon, Sony etc are pretty big players?

    Target is: the best camera under £500

    What do you advise we look at? It is for mainly indoor filming of Swimmers (being used by professional Swimming coaches) where light is not fantastic. Do we go for a 'HD' camera which I so frequently see advertised.

    Purposes of the output will be to create DVD's and also video we can stream via the Internet.

    Any advice would be great,

    Tom
    tom@meangasoline.co.uk | RIP Zoltan

    Canon 350d | 50 F/1.8 Mk II | 70-200 F/4 L | 1Gb Sandisk Ultra III

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    Re: Video camera advice

    Certainly going HD seems to be the way forward, although SD camcorders might be easier to work with if you only ever plan to use SD footage. Unless the HD camcorder has the option to record in SD as well, you'd have to take the time to convert the HD footage to SD for a standard DVD. HD editing normally requires a reasonably powerful computer, especially if using the newer AVCHD format (flash, HDD, etc) rather than the tape-based HDV format. Canon, Sony, Panasonic and JVC are all well known for HD camcorders. Most of the big brands seem to be £500+ for HD I think. If you shop around, you might find the Panasonic HD camcorders within budget though. Sanyo is a cheaper option, but think their HD1000 only records at US frame-rates so might need an extra converting step to UK frame-rates in some situations.

    Low-light performance is often meant to be related to the size of the sensor used, just like with digital cameras. So bigger sensor should mean better low light performance. For that reason some don't recommend Panasonic because they use smaller 1/6" 3CCD sensors. Although not always that simple, as supposedly while Canon have reduced the sensor size on their new flash-based AVCHD models (1/2.7" to 1/3.2") and upped the resolution, the image processing and bit-rate have been tweaked to compensate.

    Also being able to record in a progressive frame rate (ie 25p instead of 50i) is meant to help increase light senstivity and reduce noise.

    Some of the camcorders will have a built-in light, but not sure how effective they are. But you can get external lights to put on the camcorder using the accessory shoe or tripod mount. For example the Sima SL-20LX LED camcorder light (Sima suggest 15'-25' effective range) is around £30.

    Max shutter speed is quite important if trying to capture fast movement without too much blurring, although low light will probably be better off with a slower shutter speed. Not sure with other sports, but golf instructors tend to look for at least 1/1500th to 1/2000th (quicker is better). So the golf club isn't too blurry during frame-by-frame analysis.
    Last edited by Nitestorm; 23-04-2008 at 07:40 PM.

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    Re: Video camera advice

    This is great, some real food for thought. Thanks.

    Tom
    tom@meangasoline.co.uk | RIP Zoltan

    Canon 350d | 50 F/1.8 Mk II | 70-200 F/4 L | 1Gb Sandisk Ultra III

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    Re: Video camera advice

    If you could stretch your budget slightly, there is the new Canon HF100 camcorder. Play.com have it for around £569.99 inc free delivery, but you can use Quidco and promotional codes to bring that down to around £520. Low light performance is supposed to be ok, although the more expensive Sony HDR-SR12 is meant to offer slightly more detail in low light (but at the cost of more noise).

    Being flash-based AVCHD would mean you'd need to pay for an SDHC memory card as well though. Also Canon have unfortunately used a mini hot shoe on it, so until there are adaptors for it you cannot use non-Canon accessories like that Sima LED light. A possible (but bulky) workaround is you can get attachments that secure into the tripod mount and provide a standard accessory shoe to use. You can read a review of the HF10 (HF100 is exactly the same minus the 16GB internal flash memory storage):

    Canon Vixia HF10 Camcorder Review - Canon Flash Memory

    Canon also do an SD version of them, the FS100 and FS11 (internal 16GB flash). The FS100 you can get for around £250.

    Amazon list the Panasonic HDC-SD9 for £461.68 (Amazon marketplace is slightly cheaper, but would need to check those retailers are selling the PAL model not the cheaper American/Japan NTSC model that might require converting the footage to UK frame-rates). Again, being flash-based AVCHD would mean buying an SDHC memory card. Here is the review:

    Panasonic HDC-SD9 Camcorder Review - Panasonic Flash Memory Camcorders
    Last edited by Nitestorm; 24-04-2008 at 11:12 AM.

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    Re: Video camera advice

    AVCHD is NOT something you'd want to edit; certainly not this year or even the next. It be way too processor intensive. It's not designed as an edit source but for presentation only.

    a lotta considerations:
    1) do you want to archive the raw footage? If so, anything on card/HDD is not going to help - tape is definitely the cheapest and easiest

    2) do you plan to edit the footage or just put it online in its virgin state? As before, AVCHD is not something you'd want to edit, and if your camera stores footage on either dvd or HDD, the compression is something fierce, so that by the time you have rendered your edit, the quality is waaaaaay down.

    3) HD or SD: well, seeing as you're going to be shooting in less-than-ideal conditions, no matter what you shoot with is not going to look fantastic. I assume you're more concerned about content anyway, rather than producing something that looks beautiful, in which case there's no need to go the HD route (unless other convincing arguments can be found). The web doesn't need or care about HD, so is only the DVD side which will sway you in a particular direction.
    After all, who of your projected audience has HD? Does your current editing setup cater for HD?

    my 2c would be for a second hand Sony VX2000/2100 or PD150/170.

    why?

    robust workhorses, the best cameras out there in low light for the price, and wouldn't need the lights. Can pick them up cheap nowadays.

    Any camera light you have would only be effective for 10 ft at most, so would be waste at poolside. Would want 1000W lights to do it justice.

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