Camcorders forum


Best camcorder for slow motion playback

by abandj / April 16, 2011 5:51 AM PDT

I want to purchase a video camera to film baseball players while batting and pitching Then want to plug it into a computer and play it back in slow motion to analyze their swings/pitching. Ease of use is a plus! I've been reading a lot on line and am getting more confused rather than less. The last discussion that I can find on this topic is more than a year old. The cameras that I keep hearing mentioned are the Panasonic tm 700, the Canon Vixia HF M31 and the Kodak Playsport. I'm a techno newbie so "plain English" would be much appreciated!! Thanks much for any help/feedback/suggestions!!

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All Answers

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I am fairly certain
by boya84 / April 25, 2011 3:44 PM PDT

all the camcorders you listed capture at NTSC standard 30 frames per second (actually 29.97, but everyone calls it 30 fps). Swing analysis and other fast action to be slowed to useful rates generally requires something with lots faster fps capability. When played back at normal speed, the images *should* be clearer.

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by abandj / April 26, 2011 11:42 AM PDT
In reply to: I am fairly certain

Thanks for the great info. I'm glad I hadn't purchased a camera before I got your post! In looking at the Casio cameras, will they give me 60 fps? The Photron, etc. are way more extensive/expensive than what I need at this point. Do you have a consumer camcorder that will give me at least 60 fps?

Thanks again! Any further suggestions are welcomed!!

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Casio FPS
by TaggerFox / April 26, 2011 4:48 PM PDT
In reply to: Casio?

@abandj. I have been doing some looking into cameras capable of recording at mid to high fps for sports analysis as well. I have a limited budget and so the Casio kept coming up as my best option. I was actually taking a final look around tonight before I bought one and i thought I'd share some quick stats with you. Both of these Casio's sell for around $300.

It can record 120fps at 640x480, 240fps at 448x336, and 420 fps at 224x168. It will go to higher fps but the quality will be to low for what you're interested in. Here's a youtube video shot using this camera. It will also shoot still pictures in burst mode at 40 shots a second. Not sure of their quality though.

Although this is the later model it no longer has the 120fps at 640x480 resolution. You can record at 120 fps but the starting resolution for high speed is 432x320. That goes for everything up to 240 fps. It follows the FH100 series progression after that. This model also features rapid shot still images. Here's some video shot by the ZR100 While it doesn't state the resolution I believe from the quality that it's 120fps.

A couple of things to keep in mind. As long as you're shooting outdoors I believe that this is an excellent option for a budget slow motion camera. When recording at high speeds more light is required and so indoor shots would be lower quality. Especially at the higher fps settings. You said that you wanted to use it for baseball so you should be fine.

Hope that helps!

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Some more stats
by TaggerFox / April 26, 2011 4:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Casio FPS

Quick note: The ZR100 is capable of higher resolution at standard frame rates: 1080 vs 720. It also has more zoom and takes slightly better still photos. I'm torn between the two because my interest is primarily in the high speed shooting.

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inexpensive slow motion
by jon toman / September 6, 2011 3:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Casio?

I've actually used the Canon Powershot for the last 5 yrs to analyze my discus throwers and it only cost around 100 bucks with case, batteries and charger. It has simple slowmo (variable fps) and stop action playback modes and you could probably pickup a refurbished one for around 50-60 dollars now. There are many models by now and its been a winner for Canon.
I bought mine on bay, factory refurbished for 110.00 and it's WONDERFUL. It also just plugs into your TV and you can control via the camera with ease. I was blown away when I took the kids into a classroom that had a big flatscreen TV and just plugged it in! WOW!! I have the model Powershot A-540 but there are MANY models but all should have the same functions but check. I'm hoping that Canon makes a Tablet with a camera and slowmo so I can show the kids while on the field. Happy

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Slow-motion issue with camcorder . . .
by Springtex / April 27, 2011 5:37 AM PDT
In reply to: I am fairly certain

I had the same issue as the original poster. I have a Panasonic HDC-SD60 hi-def camcorder. It takes beautiful hi-def video that plays back in hi-def on a big screen TV, but I can't find a way to slow-mo the shots of my golf swing. All I can do is take a series of still-shot captures and arrange them in sequence. That's not bad for my purposes, but I thought I was getting something capable of reproduction in slow-motion.

If you could boil down your comments to simple terms, are you just saying that playback in slo-mo involves more than just slowing down the frame rate? Why is having that capability too demanding to put into a consumer-level device? Does it double or triple the complexity of the required design of something? Thanks,

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Slow Motion
by TaggerFox / April 27, 2011 6:40 AM PDT

In order to achieve true slowmotion your camcorder must be able to record at better than 30 fps. If I record at 30 fps and slow it down to 1/4 time playback I am now playing it back at 7.5 fps which will appear jerky and blurred. For motion to appear smooth it needs to be played back at 24 or 30 fps. If I record at 120 fps and slow it down to 1/4 time I am now playing it back at 30 fps which will appear smooth and flowing. So unless your camcorder is capable of recording at higher fps you can't produce true slowmotion. In my search for camcorders I found a few that would record at 60 fps and some that did higher but only for short periods of time (a few seconds).

The issues with recording at high fps is the shutter is operating at a faster rate and so there is less time for light to be taken in. The faster the fps the more light needed for a quality picture. As far as why they can't put that option in a consumer level device I have no idea. I can purchase the Casio Exilim EX-FH100 brand new for $220 on amazon and it records better slow motion than most $800 digital camcorders. The Casio is a camera not a camcorder! Now a dedicated camcorder will deliver a better HD video than the Casio but I don't understand why they can't incorporate decent slowmotion into these devices when a consumer level point and shoot camera already has!

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Slow-motion issue with camcorder . . .
by Springtex / April 27, 2011 9:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Slow Motion

Thanks for that insight--very helpful. But, well . . . hold everything. My Panasonic HDC-SD60 camcorder is rated at least 60 fps, I thought, and I also thought that was making frames that are 1920X1080. Now I go in and look at "properties" on a video clip and find that the stated frame rate is only 30fps, but at 1920X1080 resolution. Perhaps--I'm not sure--I can set the camcorder to take a lower resolution and get a higher frame rate?

BUT HERE'S WHAT I ALSO DISCOVERED: This is more important--for my own purposes. I CAN get frame-by-frame playback on the computer by starting a clip, then clicking the "pause" button, then manually clicking the !!> button each time I want to advance a frame. This gives me super-slo-mo with stop action at every advance--excellent for golf swing study. I counted the frames advanced from the instant the takeaway started (as best I could tell) to the point where the swing was finished (swinging the driver), and it was about 60 frames, + or - one or two. Then I put the stopwatch to the swing in real time, and it was between 1.9 and 2.2 seconds, on about three timing tries--only an approximation--but it does fit right in with the specs of 30 fps, given my 60 frame count.

So I am suddenly converted from <disappointed> to <<very happy>> camper/golfer. With the Panasonic HDC camcorder, I got the high resolution I wanted, plus I can get the stop-action and frame-by-frame look at the action with the supplied software. No, it's not exactly a slo-mo playback, but slo-mo by itself is no big benefit--without stop action--anyway.

Now what bothers me is that I went out and spent $100 on some Corel VideoStudio ProX4 software, thinking that would let me play back in slo-mo. No good. And yes, my PC system does exceed the requirements stated by Corel for their software to function. It was choppy just playing my AVCHD video, whereas the supplied software from Panasonic plays that back flawlessly and beautifully, even at full screen size and even when copied to a disk and played back on a Bluray or ordinary DVD player on the big-screen TV. I have tested it both ways. I have now uninstalled the Corel software and put it all back in the box. Do you think I'll be able to return it for a refund? The retailer where I got it says no returns on software if the box is opened.

Another observation: The Panasonic software has a button for "high speed burst" playback of a sequence of still shots. I have yet to be able to make this work. It tells me I haven't selected a series of stills to play. But I don't seem to know how to do such a "selection". I have a file with 18 stills and I hit "select all" and they all light up blue. Yet it tells me I haven't selected a sequence of stills. Go figure. Maybe I have to get them all down into the "edit" tray? And what would the "high speed burst" do, were I able to make it run? If I can't regulate the speed and effectively make that my slo-mo function, it may be of no use anyway.

I know there is always a learning curve to climb on software, but it sure looks like we're doomed to pay big $$ for just the opportunity to get on the ladder. And to find that there's nothing good at the top. What's to be learned from that--to only buy software on a 30-day trial basis--then let it expire if it doesn't suit you?

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TaggerFox makes some good comments
by boya84 / April 27, 2011 9:13 AM PDT

regarding frame rate and its association with slow motion playback and shutter speed.

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Slow motion issue with camcorder . . .
by Springtex / April 27, 2011 10:05 AM PDT

Very helpful explanation, boya84. Thanks very much. Looks like your post went up as I was preparing my last post in response to TF, mine at 4:30 pm. If you'll take a look at that, you'll see where I stand now.

Why did I think I was buying something capable of slo-mo? Well, if I didn't read something that explicitly said that, I guess I inferred it from all the other stuff I read--and I did read a lot. Intuitively, it seems like playing back in slo-mo ought to be easier on the hardware and software than normal playback--just change the timer setting for going to the next frame to something slower and you've got it--that's what my intuition says, anyway. But maybe that, without a lot more, is just a recipe for choppiness, now that I read your very helpful comments.

I should note that the particular video I'm referring to in all this was taken at night, though under excellent lighting conditions, and it is very good video. The issue isn't the quality of the video I'm dealing with--just the playback speed. You can see the environment and exact location at this link:
No, that's not me anywhere in THAT video. I took my video at a different time, using my own camcorder, at night.

Do I infer correctly from your comments that I might expect a higher frame rate from my Panasonic if I'm shooting in full daylight conditions? I may come back at you with another question or two after i have thought about this further. Thanks again.

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panasonic sdr t70k
by clf2427 / October 17, 2011 5:48 AM PDT
In reply to: I am fairly certain

what about the panasonic sdr t70k? anyone know the fps? I didnt see it....I wonder why this is such an issue,I grew up a kid in the 80s and my dad always filmed my games and we watched in slo mo way back it seems like its getting harder to do but tech is so much better..also this cam doesnt come with a remote control?

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Technical specs usually have us looking in the manual
by boya84 / October 17, 2011 9:44 AM PDT
In reply to: panasonic sdr t70k
Though in this case not very clearly... For frames per second, see page 116 - "Signal System" says "EIA standard 525 lines, 60 fields NTSC standard." 60 interlaced fields translates to 30 frames per second (actually, 29.97 fps per NTSC standard - but everyone refers to it as 30 fps). The 525 lines refers to the horizontal line count as the SDR series are all standard definition video resolution.
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Correction... Slow motion playback
by boya84 / October 17, 2011 3:04 PM PDT

starts on page 62. Apologies for the typo.

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by clf2427 / October 18, 2011 11:38 AM PDT

thanks so much. Do you recommend a different camera for my application (sons sports and swing analysis) in SD format? This one does most of what i want and the frame by frame break down is better than my sony mini dv camera i have now although it does have a slow motion button to view action in motion. This one doesnt appear to have any.

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Clarification on acronyms...
by boya84 / October 18, 2011 12:23 PM PDT
In reply to: ty

"SD" as in "Standard definition video" or "Secure Digital" flash memory card media storage?

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by clf2427 / October 19, 2011 8:58 AM PDT

I meant Standard def.
My minidv is a sony dcr-hc36 i think...last number hard to tell if its a 0,6 or 8....
It does have a remote and good slow motion playback but it does not allow you to go frame by frame like this panasonic does which I hate.
As for burning, I just want to be able to burn when my stick is full enough to burn to a dvd to store. I record all my sons games so would be nice to have a season or 4-5 games on one dvd. I just need to know when I need to stop on my 8gb sd card to know that i have a full dvd worth of material and what type of dvd media to buy to burn, I dont guess I have ever burned a dvd. The panny did come with software I assume makes the process fairly easy..and yes I want the dvd to be able to play in regular dvd players.
thanks again for the help

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Great - more info...
by boya84 / October 19, 2011 10:05 AM PDT
In reply to: sd
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The next option...
by boya84 / October 19, 2011 10:11 AM PDT
In reply to: sd

If you don't care to edit, you could invest in a stand-alone DVD burner. Sony and Canon make them. Basically, attach the camcorder to the DVD recorder. Usually USB or AV-out for flash memory (or hard disc drive) camcorders; AV-out for miniDV tape camcorders.

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by clf2427 / October 19, 2011 12:07 PM PDT
In reply to: The next option...

thanks again for the help. I had found that vrb speed playback menu when using the camera itself but no on the remote which i usually use when giving lessons to kids. I didnt see a way to do the frame by frame with just the remote?
I am not worried about converting the mini dv tapes to dvd, I stored all the tapes i have games on and it would be too time consuming to convert..but on a go forward basis, with the new camera, I want the easiest way to get my recordings burned to a dvd...i dont want to have to go through multiple steps to decode the original files and i do have some experience with handbreak...I figured instead of buying a stand alone dvd burner made for the camera the process had to be the same for my computer based dvd burned...good lord..and this is why i did not go the hd camera route because I do not have blu ray burner but I guess I would be in the same boat in that the camera companies make a stand alone burned to just hook the camera up to? If so maybe I should look into that and return this camera and just do it all at once?
I have delayed getting a new camera for two years now and finally just bought the panny on a whim..I like the 70+ optical zoom on it as for sports and hunting that will come in I am confused on what to do, take this one back and get the hd or stay as is....either way sounds like i need to get a stand alone burner, either blu ray or regular.

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Uh... OK...
by boya84 / October 19, 2011 1:58 PM PDT
In reply to: wow

Couple of points, I guess...

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by clf2427 / October 20, 2011 12:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Uh... OK...

ok so if I were to buy a hd camera I could still burn the video to SD which would be playable on a regular DVD. Is this capable with buying the dvd burner connected straight to the camera? I really dont need to edit anything, just need to get the game film off the memory stick and onto a dvd for replay...and i will save the files on my external hard drive.

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It depends on the
by boya84 / October 21, 2011 1:43 AM PDT
In reply to: ty

DVD burner you get. If you can connect the camcorder's AV cables to the DVD burner for the purpose of burning the video to a blank DVD, then the camcorder is sending analog/composite video to the DVD burner that will be standard definition video. Before buying, read the specs - better yet, read the DVD burner manual (sometimes within in a "companion camcorder" manual).

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inexpensive slowmo II
by jon toman / September 6, 2011 3:55 AM PDT

I've also used VLC media player (download for free) to slow videos down if your analyzing at your computer.
but read my inexpensive slowmo reply for another option. (9/6/11) at 10am.

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