Camcorders forum

Question

Advice for new Mac friendly HD camcorder.

by BoAlexander / November 13, 2012 1:35 AM PST

I need a new video camera. Been recording on 8mm digital, and sometimes iPhone3 and now a tiny bit of HD using an iPhone5. But it is time for me to step up to real HD recording. My immediate purpose is to record my son's upcoming h.s. basketball season, but I'll use it for a lot of other general use when the iPhone for quick snippets isn't enough.

I've read most of the recent Q&A here, and will look at the Canon HF M series. I see some around $250 (32x optical), and others around $500 (10x optical?). But even still, want to post my specific questions here to see if that helps narrow it down with those here who have a lot of experience. I'd rather spend $250 than $500, but I don't want to pick Canon model XXX if it turns out that model YYY would have made a big difference in some quality or ease of use requirement I wanted! So here goes:

- Mac friendly (I do most of my work in iMovie, iDVD, may move up to Final Cut soon) - I believe my current iMac has a Firewire 800 connector
- Cost is important, but I'll move up where necessary to meet specific requirements
- Image quality for sporting events (speed?)
- Stabilization (I'm not sure this is important)
- Audio - not that important to me, I commonly add other audio on top when I edit my movies
- Low light (some gyms are not well lit)
- Ease/speed of transfer/import to Mac (iMovie, Final Cut)

Other questions:
- Zoom. I've always tried to get the most optical zoom I could afford. But I see some cheaper Canons have 32x optical, and the higher ones have 10x optical. What is up with that? Is there a reason why a more expensive camcorder might have lower optical?

- Archive plan. I am tired of storing and re-importing my 8mm tapes, so I was planning on getting a humongous external HDD to keep the imported/transcoded video easily available. But even that is vulnerable to failure, so maybe I should keep tape/memory card archiving as part of my work flow plan? Any advice here is welcome. (I will edit/toss most of the games, just keeping hightlights I am interested in, but even my archive of old family tapes./movies is growing, I know I need some type of long-lasting plan)

- Memory card size
For HD recordings - what capacity do I need? For example, for an hour? Should I buy a camera with bigger storage? Or plan on swapping our cards during long events (all my cameras had tapes up till this purchase, so I don't know).

Other devices?

- iPad3(retina/hd)? I know this seems odd, and I expect the tiny camera to compare poorly with a real camcorder. But I've been intrigued watching a few parents record games on their new iPads. They seem to get a decent shot of all the action, though it does look cumbersome holding an iPad for a whole game. I have not gotten a chance to handle the resulting recording to see what the quality really is, but, any comments on trying this route instead of a camcorder? I could buy one device (iPad), and record AND play with it? Don't laugh or yell for this silly question, I am curious whether iPad recording can be viable for anything.

- Go Pro - seems interesting, but with no zoom, I'm wondering if this could be a viable option or not for indoor sporting events (from a bystander). I'm guessing not, but thought I'd ask.

Thanks,
Bo

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All Answers

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Answer
Read this link.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 13, 2012 1:56 AM PST
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Thanks - I have, but will review.
by BoAlexander / November 13, 2012 3:10 AM PST
In reply to: Read this link.

I kindof knew that, but thought there could be some cameras that simply better supported formats that Mac accepted. As I indicated, I currently use iMovie, and think I will upgrade to Final Cut ($300 level) at some point. So if there are some cameras those work with better than others, I would lean towards them.

Thanks!
Bo

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I wish that was true.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 13, 2012 3:22 AM PST

In all cases it continues to be a software and process flow issue. I can use almost any of today's camcorders IF my apps support the encoding.
Bob

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Answer
my two cents...
by boya84 / November 13, 2012 10:43 PM PST

If you get a current consumer-grade flash memory camcorder - like those in the Canon HF M series, Firewire is irrelevant. Firewire is used only with miniDV tape based camcorders.

I have a 5 year old iMac running OSX (10.5.8) and FinalCut Express 4. I have successfully connected, imported and edited video from the Canon HF S100. When in Final Cut, under File, select Log and Capture. The camcorder needs to be in Play/PC mode.

I would not use a camcorder that captures high compression video for fast action - but that is just me. The only currently available low compression consumer-grade option that I know of is the Canon HV40 (miniDV tape based, requires the firewire port on your Mac).

Humans were not meant to be rock-steady. Use some sort of external stabilizer. Tripods are common. Helmet mount or shoulder mount are possible.

Camcorders with small lenses and imaging chip cannot behave well under low light. Large lenses and large imaging chips are required if video lighting is not possible.

If the built-in zoom is not enough, a "tele lens" can be added IF the camcorder has mounting threads. The "lens filter diameter" specification tells you if the threads are there.

A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device is another storage method. basically an array of hard drives. At the low end, 2 drives are mirrored - they have the same information (you only need to get the data onto on - software takes care of the copying. This is "RAID1". Chances that both drives will fail at the same time are slim. When one fails, replace it (hot-swap). The software copies the data from the good drive to the replacement.

Read through one or two of the camcorder/camera manuals. In there you will find a table that has the memory card size, various video quality selections and the amount of memory consumed. Always capture in highest quality.

There are adapters to mount an iPad to a tripod.

See the comment on lens diameter and imaging chip size regarding lighting condition video capture behavior. ANY video capture device can capture decent video if the lighting is adequate.

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