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help in choosing the correct equipment

There are many people who are looking for a camcorder that will aid in our training. We participate in a sport called dog agility. It is very helpful to see a recording of our performance so that we can better train for future performances. In this sport which is done in a outdoor or indoor area measuring 100 feet by 100 feet. The human and dog run, the handler directing the dog over an obstacle course.
Ideally it would be great to set up the camcorder on a tripod for recording the performance. I have experienced people holding the camcorder and using the zoom in/out feature but when this is done often either the handler or the dog are in the picture and consequently you miss part of the performance. I suspect a wide angle lens is needed to get all the performance. Please note that there are occassions when you can recorder at a higher elevation but not always.
If you have recommendations for a camcorder that can do this, I would appreciate knowing which one(s).

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In reply to: help in choosing the correct equipment

I doubt it since the beauty of the result is in the eye of the beholder. That is we could have a field of view of said course but seeing such an expanse on your average screen could be annoying as you try to pick out what is on the small screen.

Try sharing what cameras you use now and consider a jump to newer HD camcorders as the bump in resolution may be needed here.

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I have taped Canine Agility...

In reply to: help in choosing the correct equipment

If you leave the camcorder on a tripod and have a static shot of the entire run, the shot is so wide to hold the whole run, when the dog and handler are on the side opposite the camera, they will appear very small in the screen. Also, you will lose the handler and the dog behind certain large obstacles. The same can happen if you have one person with the camcorder, using the zoom, standing in one place.

When you watch the agility shows on TV, they are typically covered by more than one camera. Up to 4 or 5 with perhaps one on a camera crane to get the "altitude" shots looking down on the course. They don't move (don't want to distract the dog) - and the camera signal is sent to a central location and managed by someone in a "booth" using a video switcher to change cameras. The video feed is then send from the switcher to whatever storage - tape, hard drive, whatever. Video switchers can be expensive... but there may be a way to meet your requirements...

If what you want to do is for training, then the quality can be a little less than perfect...

May I suggest something different than a camcorder? You did not state a budget, so here goes...

A multi-camera DVR as used with some security surveillance systems with a couple of security cams might provide you what you need.

One of these:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node3?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
One or two of these:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node2?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
Four of these:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node2?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
mounted to four of these:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node3?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
Or you can mount one of the cameras to the top of the A-frame ladder or on a really tall pole pointer down...

You will also want one of these:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node2?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
I have one - I like it because it has AV-in capabilities... so you connect the Video out from the DVR to the AV-in of this portable DVD player and monitor what the DVR is recording. I use my portable DVD player as a monitor connected to my camcorder for others to see what I see if the shoot requires... It is only an 8.5" screen, but it is a lot cheaper than a regular flat panel TV;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node3?cat=-41298&pType=pDisplay
because it does not have a tuner.

I guess it depends on your budget... but if you can afford this, then you get 4 different cameras recording simultaneously from different places on the course.

Yes, the video can be transfered from the DVR to a computer for editing. Yes, that video can be full screen (rather than 4 different panes) on a single monitor.

No, I have not used this for canine agility - Yes, I use a similar security system but with these cameras:;jsessionid=hBjKALs5titDeIpGX1Nz2g**.node3?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG
which provide better video quality than the cameras I suggested for your set up, above...

And if you want to have fun, you could also put one of the infrared cams in the dark "tunnel". That infrared capability gives the camera "night vision".

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HD (High Def) Video does well with Distant objects outside

In reply to: help in choosing the correct equipment

I think this application really calls for HD (High Definition) video. The more money you spend the better. A consumer HD camera might work well since your scene sounds well lit, but a professional (prosumer) model will give better results especially under low indoor lighting conditions.

NOTE: Most HDD is hard disc drive not High Definition video. Most HD cameras are MiniDV tape based. You can get professional tapes that last about 80 minutes each.

If you can step up to a Prosumer camera (about $3,500) you could get HD "broadcast" quality that will really bring out the details. This is extremely helpful when looking at "wide" shots of distant objects. A prosumer camera with a large glass lens will also help tremendously when shooting inside arenas. This is a matter a physics. You need a larger lens to gather enough light (just like your eye pupil opens in the dark). There is no way a tiny (read compact consumer) lens camera can get enough light to maintain color and distant detail unless the scene is very will lit.

Multiple camera setups would be very helpful but expensive, time consuming (setup teardown), and require editing. However, that is just how the pros do it for a reason. Great results!

Either way....a wide shot High Definition camera should capture all the action without loosing all the dog sized details IF THE ARENA IS WELL LIT. Later, when you blow up the image on a large HD TV you will find a LOT more details.

I would make sure that wherever I purchased whatever camera (especially consumer cameras), that they will accept a return it if it can not gather enough light. I messed up this way when I mail ordered in a camera that was still not up to stuff. The next purchase I started with a $1500 camera but then exchanged it on Sony's HVR-V1U (a prosumer $3500 camera). Fortunately, I was working with a professional video supplier who had a more powerful (larger lens) camera available for exchanging "up".

I never found smaller cameras that could capture the necessary detail from a distance under natural indoor lighting.

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