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I'm a movie critic, not a camcorder expert!

by MovieCriticNextDoor / October 5, 2010 8:28 AM PDT

As you can see, I'm the Movie Critic Next Door. Hello. *waves* I'm in the midst of the long, slow process of building a better net presence for myself, and I keep getting the same advice -- that I should post videos of my reviews on places like YouTube.

But I know almost nothing about camcorders, and the amount of different features out there is nothing but confusing to me. Basically, all I'll be doing is recording myself at my desk, so I'll have control over light levels, and I'm guessing I won't need an external microphone since the sound will be pretty constant as far as volume and distance. I want good picture quality as well, but except for minor editing (I have a musical sting I'll want to add in, for instance) I don't really need a lot of complicated features. Frankly, I'll be lucky if I can figure out how to add in the music. Heh.

Would something like a Kodak Zi8 work for this? I'd prefer to spend somewhere between $100 - $200, and that seems to be about the best one in that sort of price range; but I could really use a more informed opinion or three. Does anyone know of any other models that I should look at?

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Since you can
by boya84 / October 6, 2010 3:20 AM PDT

control the light and the distance of the camcorder (hence its built-in mics), you should be fine with whatever you choose. The closer you get the mic(s) to your mouth, the better your audio will be. An external clip-on mic (lavaliere) or shotgun mic will likely be a lot better than using the internal mics. As far as I know, in the price range, the Zi8 is the only one with a mic jack - but it does not have manual audio control.

Whether "minor" editing (or not) , the video still needs to be usable by the computer and the video editor you plan to use. We currently have no visibility to either in your environment.

Be sure to use the white balance capability. A "worklight" from the hardware store may be a worthwhile investment to ensure good, full, bright, lighting.

For a few more $ and a bit of patience, look at the Zoom Q3 HD.

Kodak consumer video products (and the Q3 HD) record to QuickTime MOV files. Can your video editor deal with them? If not, transcoders (like MPEG StreamClip among many others) can be used... or a different device needs to be identified.

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A video editor
by MovieCriticNextDoor / October 9, 2010 2:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Since you can

Well, currently all I have is QuickTime, and I've never actually used that for anything other than playback. The info I found on the Zi8 makes it seem like an editing program is included, though perhaps they mean QuickTime by that, if that's what it's designed to record to.

My computer runs Vista and has 2 gig of RAM, if that's of any help.

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QuickTime is a "Player" only,
by boya84 / October 9, 2010 2:12 PM PDT
In reply to: A video editor

not an editor. MOV files are QuickTime "native" for playback, but for Windows apps the MOV files would normally need to be transcoded to something MovieMaker (bundled with Windows XP - SP2 or newer) can deal with - typically WMV files.

MPEG StreamClip ( www.squaredfive.com ) is one transcoder I like - there are a bazillion of them out there.

There is no consumer camcorder or camera with a useful video editor included in the box, so don't worry about that. Best to pretend there is nothing but the camera/camcorder, cables, battery and manual. Even the packaging has more value than the "apps" included with the camera.

If you are working with standard definition video, 2 gig is plenty. For high definition video editing, 4 gig is preferred. Under certain conditions, using certain video editing applications, 4 gig is minimum.

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Zi8 maybe.
by johnnybigfish / October 9, 2010 11:48 AM PDT

I have a Zi8. keep in mind, its just a small pocket type HD camcorder.should be able to get one for 125 bux now, maybe less. I recently purchased a different HD camcorder. Reason being....with the Zi8, if you want to see HD quality, you MUST keep it zoomed out for best results and, a tripod is a must! otherwise, just the tiniest vibration will make your end results very dissappointing. on another note...I have another Pocket HD camcorder...I gave it to my nabors..I dont miss it.

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I agree. Given the described
by boya84 / October 9, 2010 2:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Zi8 maybe.

environment MovieCriticNextDoor shared, mounting a pocket cam to a tripod and positioned no more than about 2.5 feet to 3 feet away, no zoom would be required and the built-in mics *should* be close enough for acceptable audio capture.

johnnybigfish, just so you know (and thank you for pointing this out), the reason the video on the Zi8 is not so good when fully zoomed in on a subject is because the Zi8 has no optical zoom - only digital zoom (and only 4x digital zoom). Digital zoom should be disabled when the camera/camcorder box is opened - this is for ANY camcorder/camera. Digital zoom should not be used.

As well, most pocket cams have no image stabilization capability. Many "real" camcorders do (usually electronic image stabilization - as the camcorders get more expensive, they may gain optical image stabilization).

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Optical VS Digital
by johnnybigfish / October 9, 2010 10:17 PM PDT

Movie Critic...I'll elaborate on my decision to purchase another camcorder as Boya84 mentioned Optical issues.
At first, you'll open up your pocket HD camcorder, whichever one you settle for, you'll use it, and then you'll say,"Hey, this is coool!"...As time passes, and you watch a few playbacks on your TV, you'll notice shakinesss, slow focuses, and other little quips.Oh yeh, your friends will say "Oooo" and "Awwwwwe", But you'll notice things..Things you cant fix.
I mentioned that I bought a camcorder recently...What I was searching mostly for in my decision of which one I would purhase was OPTICAL Stability and OPTICAL zoom. Theres a mess of satisfactory HDcamcorders out there right now and they will only get better and cheaper with time. After buying digital cameras and flip type HD camcorders for the "Short cut" to making HD footage, and always being dissappointed, I collected a bit of cash and purchased a Panasonic HDC-SD60. I'm not a pro shooter, Im just The guy shooting the fishing, or my yard, or the dogs...you know, just regular junk! And, whatever I shoot will blow me away when its viewed on my BIG tv! If you can, study the real camcorders and make a decision.The camcorders will cost more but I promise, you WILL be happier in the long run!and remember...."OPTICAL!"
when it comes to zoom and stabilization, DUMP digital and KEEP Optical!
your friend,
john

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