Looking for budget video camera recommendation...

Hi all,

I’m just getting into filming some art projects and hoping for some recommendations….

I’m primarily doing art sculpture time lapse videos at home, so I was looking for something with a quality picture that could record directly to my computer (and external hard drive) so I didn’t have to deal with storage & transferring to record hours of footage at a time. Since I didn’t need it to be portable, I tried the Logitech c920 webcam based off all the positive reviews… while the picture was great, I was unable to shoot videos at higher resolutions without lagging, which after further research and troubleshooting seems to come down to my PC falling below the min. requirements for HD video, which I found listed for the c920 as: i7 2.6ghz 8gb ram w/radeon or geforce graphics card. I also don’t plan on doing much editing to the videos, so I don’t necessarily want to buy a new computer at this exact moment just to be able to run a $50 webcam when it is meeting my other needs otherwise…

Any recommendations for an alternate solution for what I’m looking to accomplish? Camcorder?


Capable of HD recording

Can record directly into computer to store footage

Able to view monitor when shooting “selfie style” to ensure I’m keeping in frame

Doesn’t need to be portable

Thanks for reading and for any suggestions!

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Don't most folk use a smart phone today?

What other cameras do you have?

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Lg aristo...
1.Cam isn't anything to write home about
2.want to be able to shoot video for hours without occupying my phone, so I can still have access to use it... as a phone.
3.also don't want to deal with storage and transferring for long periods of sitting at a time and prefer to directly record into computer/external hard drive

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My bet is even the 20 buck android phones

Can beat webcams. https://youtu.be/9tOo84sxfNk?t=20 and many other example images show this should beat any webcam.

The c920 is an 1 megapixel camera and your phone is up at 13 megapixel. I never had to deal with storage as I pop in the usual 10 buck or less 32GB card for video and photo work. Transfer times are fast with USB. And none if I use Dropbox.

More than that your PC is fine. There was nothing wrong with your PC. It's just that a webcam at more than a megapixel is pushing the limits of USB 2.0.

Maybe a camcorder or DSLR is better but you may have preconceived notions that are blocking you from solving this.

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Thanks for your reply..
I have the original lg aristo, not the aristo 2 linked... Not sure how much of a difference between the two regarding the cam quality.

Forgive my ignorance, but isn't megapixels not the end all be all to determine quality of picture.. So higher mp doesn't necessarily mean higher quality?

Not to argue.. But trying to understand... The usb connection is what you're saying is causing the lag in hd video recording as opposed to what the computer spec requirements listed from the manufacturer are listed at? This was a highly recommended and rated for hd recording.. So it just seems odd that this would be a flaw everyone would be experiencing..

Despite the lag in the video, the picture quality seemed equal if not better to my aristo in some cases.. However how I set things up, etc could have played a role in potentially skewing that perception.

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I see I got that wrong.

As to the megapixels I fear this is a lesson you'll learn first hand. As to the USB you only need to do more research where folk try to use it as a camcorder and come back upset.

Try other cameras. Real ones, camcorders and other phones. Here we have a twenty dollar Android at Walmart from time to time which is a fine thing for such work. Of course you may have other ideas but here I rarely carry my Canon t6i around as my Moto G 5th gen is doing great.

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Here's CNET and cheap phones.
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Are there any specific camera specs on those phones that I can compare them to my current phone? For whatever reason I was able to get a much better looking picture right away on the c920 Webcam vs my lg aristo in the same room with good lighting.. Lg looked a bit grainy and the webcam also had a great autofocus

That link has phones into the hundreds.. I wouldn't be better off getting an camcorder at that point?

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For me, no.
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"visual clarity" or "quality"

comes from more than one place.

Megapixel count is normally a still-image resolution measurement - but if the columns and rows of pixels on an imaging sensor are multiplied, then a number results. Generally, higher megapixel count relates to higher resolution... and one assumes that higher resolution means the image is clearer.

Video resolution is measured by horizontal (row) line count of the pixels. For example, standard definition video has 480 horizontal lines... High definition video includes horizontal line counts of 720 and 1080.

Video is a data bandwidth hog. In order to fit the huge amount of data digital data requires, there are various compression methods - and rates of compression that are applied. When there is no video compression, video needs lots of bandwidth. As more compression is applied, more video data is discarded during the transmission. The codec used determines the method to decide which data is discarded. The amount of compression applied determines how much data is discarded.

When the compressed video is viewed, the media player selects the codec to be used for the playback and the video data that was discarded is recreated "best guess" rebuild. More data discarded = more challenging to reconstruct = reduced video clarity when viewed.

How might this impact your environment based on:
1) "isn't megapixels not the end all be all to determine quality of picture.." No. Resolution contributes a lot - but is not the only factor.
2) So higher mp doesn't necessarily mean higher quality". Correct. If the imaging sensor is rated ax "x" megapixels" and there is high compression applied to the saved image or video, then the image will be degraded when viewed.

It is relatively easy to capture 4k video, then replayed on a large monitor and appear as relatively poor visual quality because too much compression was was applied in the process.

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If I wanted a GoPro, then that's what I'd get.

The OP appears to want some USB camera but that's going to be a mess from what they discovered. If they can move on they can find solutions in DSLRs, camcorders, GoPro's and others. But there's some ideas they are clinging to that may hold them back.

For me, I'd use a smart phone on a tripod and maybe some apps. But I'm already there with a few too many smart phones on my office desk since we write apps.

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I recommended Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
I recommended Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Made for the individuals who request the most noteworthy principles in picture quality, the EOS 5D Mark IV's 30.4-megapixel sensor conveys pictures that are stuffed with detail, even in the most brilliant features and darkest shadows.
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Budget video camera, not a $3k beast!!

On that note, I'd love to have a 5Dm4 if it ever came down below 1k Grin

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My Canon t6i was well under 1K USD.

And it's a great camera. But with my cheap(?) Moto G 5th gen delivering solid photos and video I don't use my DSLR much today.

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In my opinion...

Spend less on the video capture device, spend more on lighting.

"Time lapse" is a way to speed the passage of time on a given subject. There are two ways to do this:

1) Take a bunch of stills at regular intervals. Using a video editor that can deal with these stills, place the still images in order on the video editor timeline. Understand frame rate in combination with the duration interval between image captures. Adjusting the amount of time the still image stays as the video along with the required playback time of the sequence... finally, render the resulting video from the video editor. Frame rate can range from 15 to 30 or more frames per second. Capture can vary... taking an image every 5 minutes, hourly, daily... it depends on the sculpture and how big the changes are from image to image.

Tip: The image capture device should stay in the same place for the duration of the project. Moving it is possible, but the image capture duration should be considered - at worst, move the image capture device very little - perhaps after about 1/3 of the time of the duration until the project is planned to be finished.

In this case, I don't know if a webcam can be optioned to capture still images at a preset interval.

2) Capture the entire project to video, import that video to a video editor with a "speed" function, increasing the playback of the segments to where ever you want it. I did a time lapse activity of an eight hour drive from Southern California to Northern California. After editing (including speed-up), the final rendered video was ~6 minutes. The camcorder was mounted to a tripod and in the fronts seat of the vehicle... The vehicle moved - the camcorder did not.

Since we don't know what the lighting environment will be during the sculpture work (outside under sunlight; inside under poor or other lighting), we don't know if additional light is needed. In theory, any entry level camcorder (I suggest Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC) will meet your HD recording and "selfie style" (flip the LCD display) technical requirements. As well, you *should* be able to connect the camcorder's video-out to a monitor - this could be a 7 inch field video monitor or a 65 inch flat panel TV. This is not possible on all entry level camcorders, so be careful. They won't record directly to a computer. They will need to be able to capture video which plugged into an external power source (the wall AC outlet) - sometimes, when the external power source connects to the camcorder's USB port for recharging the battery, the camcorder cannot record... again, be careful. Unless you buy previously owned, they will cost 4x to 7x more than your $50 budget.

For speeding up the video... Whether you do a lot or a little video editing, step 1 is to get the captured video into a video editor. Note that when the video is imported to the video editor, 60 minutes of High Definition 1080p video will consume about 44 gig of computer hard drive space. It is recommended that the video project files be on an external drive connected to the computer (for "best" response time from the computer during importing, editing and rendering).

When you decide on a device, don't buy it. Go to the manufacturer's website, download the manual and read through it. If the information you want is not in there, then ask the retailer or manufacturer. No info on a specific capability may mean that specific capability is not supported so you will need to drop the device and move to the next one. When all your requirements are confirmed, then buy it - and if the capability fails to appear, you can return it with the reason that "you said it could do ____, but it does not"...

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Camera options

The Panasonic HC-V800 has the following time lapse options :- 1sec, 10sec, 30sec, 1min, 2min.
Now I am aware that the camera is above budget but it does exactly what OP wants.

Corel's VideoStudio Pro has an animation option which allows a series of frames (default 5 frames) to be taken at preset intervals using a webcam.

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