General discussion

Camcorder record abilities

We are looking for a camera for a local singing group. Our budget is $500 or less. We need the ability to record up to 1.5 hours continuously (not segmented). It needs to have good audio recording quality. It needs to record in a format that easily converts to a DVD. What do you recommend? Thanks in advance.

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Long recording times

First you will need a SDXC card which has much larger boundaries than the SDHC card - 64 to 128 Gb.
Then you will need a camcorder with an external mic socket (or an independent recorder)
Finally you will need a decent mic, possibly a super cardioid electret condenser.

My setup (as an example) is a Panasonic HC-V800 HD camera and various electret condenser mics, in particular a super cardioid mic for recording at a distance.
But for your example I would use my Tascam DR-60D MkII linear PCM recorder with two Berhinger C-2 condenser mics located close to the choir. The DR-60D has a feed directly into the camcorder to sync the audio track
Then I would use my video editor (Corel VideoStudio) to sync the audio with the video, render the file and burn a DVD directly.

Camcorder in-built mics are OK provided the camera is close to the choir and the room is "sound dead" i.e. no reverb or external noises. For a clean recording you need to consider how you can record the sound without outside interference. (possibly more important than the video) Many people do use an independent audio recorder and then sync the video with the audio later.

Panasonic camcorders have an additional benefit, they are recharged and can be run from a 5V USB source. (any 5V USB source, mains, car, battery) For long recordings I use a "Power Bank" sold to recharge mobile phones etc. My 20,000mAh AUKEY power bank will run the HC-V800 and the DR-60D together for 6-7 hours.

Post was last edited on September 1, 2019 8:39 AM PDT

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Long recording times

Thanks for all the great information. So your saying the SDXC makes the difference of how long the segments are? I need to record the entire show, about 1.5 hours continuously.

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SDHC cards are formatted to FAT32 giving a max file size of 4Gb
SDXC cards are formatted to exFAT giving a virtually unlimited file size.
When recording with FAT32 formatting, the files will stop and restart after 4Gb is recorded giving you files with boundaries, exFAT should give one file for a long recording.
The show will record on both formats depending on the SD card size and the camera's recording mode i.e. high quality giving a shorter recordable time or lower quality giving a longer recordable time. (see the user manual for your choice of camera)
Example:- The HC-V800 at 1080/50p (highest quality) will record for 5hr 20min on a 64Gb card.

Post was last edited on September 2, 2019 9:25 AM PDT

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HC vs XC

I understand and thanks. Can you recommend a camera with the ability to connect an external microphone?

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High end consumer cams

I can only speak for the Panasonic range as I have little experience of Sony and Canon these days.
To keep the price within budget (from UK Amazon) I will stick to HD cams. The HC-V770 at £335 or the HC-V800 at £399 (my camera so my choice) Both will come with battery and charger but no SD card. Both have an external mic socket.
But if you want to feed the camera with a line out from a sound desk you may need an attenuator to reduce the line signal to mic level. I use a SESCOM attenuator cable.

Most cameras from other suppliers in this price range should have the same external mic socket.

For mics, I think you will need electret condenser mics with their own battery supply. Cameras at this level do not normally have "Phantom Power" to drive condenser mics through XLR connectors.

An alternative, as said above, would be a stand alone audio recorder.

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HC-V800 External Microphone

I see several packages that include an external mic but the comments say the camera does NOT have an external mic input. Can you verify?

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Oh Yes it does

The mic input is on the RHS of the camera on the lens mount at the front behind a small flap.

The "headphone out" for monitoring is just above the charger socket behind the same door. This is a design change from the earlier Panasonic cams which had the mic socket behind the LCD screen.
There is a small voltage at the mic socket >2V which is enough to run a tie clip mic. In Manual mode a Low Cut filter is made available to reduce rumble and low frequencies.

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