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Question

Panasonic HCV700M or Canon Vixia range - Indoors interview

I haven't bought a camcorder since 2001 so this is a bit of a challenge! I have also checked forum responses for several hours and have narrowed down a few choices but wondered if anybody could offer more guidance.

I need a camcorder to record student therapy sessions. I will need a wide angle lens to capture both counselor and client. I will only be using this for work inside an office, so the two priorities are it must perform well in low light and have a very good audio. It must also have a good enough visual quality to pick up facial expressions. I would predominantly be using this to record sessions which can last up to an hour or more each (up to 6 hours during the day). As its for indoors use I would probably keep it plugged in whilst recording to mitigate battery running out, so the camera would need to let me record whilst plugged in. I would then need to upload it easily to laptop to either email the file or burn easily to a disc. Internal storage may be useful but again not a priority.

Based on the above, I am not sure if I am looking at camcorders which are too expensive for what I hope use them for and wonder if somebody can advise, particularly if anybody feels I should be looking at something more basic. I am willing to spend up to $500, but as this will be an investment for long term use I would be willing to spend a little more.

After searching this forum, I started looking at looking at the Canon Vixia range in particular the Canon VIXIA HF R400 HD or the Panasonic HCV700M 3D Full HD 28mm Wide Angle SD Camcorder with 16GB Internal Memory due to its wide angle. I saw on this forum concerns re the AVCHD and the computer power this takes to transfer, so I may want to avoid this is possible, and go for MP4 or other files.

So basically something with no bells and whistles, just good clear video quality, low light capability, excellent audio and wide angle for two people seated across from each other. I do have an SHURE PG 42 mike but unfortunately its USB so I don't think I can use this with a camcorder, if however there is a camcorder which allows me to attach a USB mike that would be great. Alternatively a mike adaptor capability would be useful in-case I need to enhance the audio.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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All Answers

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Answer
Panasonic V700

In reply to: Panasonic HCV700M or Canon Vixia range - Indoors interview

I'll put the case for the Panasonic HC-V700 (the M refers to internal memory) It will take up to 64Gb SDXC cards and give 8 hours recording at the highest 50i quality. It performs well in low light conditions (I recorded a Halloween train ride at 8.00 at night plus some indoor shots using available light) Reasonable wide angle performance. IMO the SD card route is the easier one as you can just unplug the card and put it into the PC card reader. I recommend you use the supplied software HDWriter to download the card. The 700 has a mic input socket so you can locate a mic near the interviewees. You will need a mic with a 3.5mm stereo plug. A USB mic would be no good.
With the current range of video editors, you do not need a mic plugged into the camera - just an audio recorder. An example of this would be a Zoom H2.
I know from experience that the HC-V700 will do the job as I have recorded a lot of footage indoors using just ambient light. You don't need the M version as the SD card system works well. (you could afford a card per student!)

I cannot comment on the Canon. I do have a Canon HV20 DV camcorder (vintage 2005) and this performs well also.

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Reply to: Panasonic HCV700M or Canon Vixia range - Indoors

In reply to: Panasonic V700

Thank you so much for your reply, that's great. Good to know about the internal memory and the possibility of giving this a miss and only using the SD cards. My only concern was the ease with which the files can be downloaded to the PC and emailed or burned to disc but if as you say it comes with software already, then hopefully this should be ok. I have an HP windows 7 Pavillion G7-1305dx so its not an ancient laptop and should handle any processing.Thanks also for the tip re the audio recorder. I will check to see how the camera's mike performs first and then maybe look at adding additional mikes if its not sufficient. If the quality is good then that's great, I just wanted to check I didn't end up purchasing a model which was too advanced or overpriced for the simple point and shoot that I will ultimately be using it for. Thank you again for your reply.

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Interview recording

In reply to: Reply to: Panasonic HCV700M or Canon Vixia range - Indoors

I was involved in a project to interview sixth form students wanting to go to Oxford or Cambridge. We recorded the interview and then discussed the results with the students. We used a VHS recorder (it was a while ago!) connected to the camera and eventually gave the tapes to the students. It had the advantage that the finished recording was directly available.
If you wanted to record direct to disk, the HC-V700 comes with an AV lead which you could plug directly into a DVD recorder. It is an instant result and may not be what you want but it is an option available to you.
If you do go for a mic, first you want stereo and a longish lead 15' to 20'. (don't go for wireless mics - the cheaper ones work but are prone to interference) I use a Yoga EM-268 Electret condenser mic (it needs a battery) which I find works well.

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