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Professional camcorder for YouTube?

by Fazzmole / September 28, 2009 6:02 PM PDT

Professional vs YouTube, bit of a stretch. I have looked at the XH-A1 but that is way too bulky for my needs. The A1 is nice and small but the write ups and low light blow it out. The Flip is attractive but I don't see how that will let me do anything but really basic editing plus it has very limited scope, e.g. zooming and there is no remote. The viewers I want will be on the web via the blog or YouTube so that makes life easier. So my shopping list is:

- HD (Cos that is what YouTube says, feel free to discuss!)
- A very small & discrete footprint
- Able to handle an external mic (not critical)
- Good directional sound pick up
- Good lux values
- An internal disc would be neat but cards are fine
- Remote control

Target filming types:

- Interview type situations, waist to shoulder or full height
- Buildings (hence zoom and low light)

There are just so many cameras about it is a tough choice but I always reckon experience is the best judge, so over to you.




HD

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Definitions, first.
by boya84 / September 29, 2009 5:57 AM PDT

In my opinion, a "professional camcorder" is one that has:
=> lenses larger than 60mm diameter (filter size).
=> imaging chip(s) larger than 1/4".
=> XLR audio-in connectors.

When you see the camcorders that have these items, all the other prograde stuff is pretty much "included"... granular manual audio gain control, separate rings around the lens barrel for manual zoom and manual focus, several other manual controls on the outside of the camcorder. Storage media that saves to DV/HDV format - or less compression. The Canon XHA1 (and XLH series), Sony HVR-Z5U (and Z7U), Panasonic AG-HVX200 are in this category for high definition. The Standard def Canon XL2 and Panasonic AG-DVX100 are here, too. WHile the Sony HVR-A1U is in the Sony HVR pro line up and it does have XLR audio-in connectors and a 1/3" CMOS chip (and can also deal with DVCAM video format), it has only a 37mm diameter lens and is essentially a "sibling" to the consumer-grade HDR-HC1 from a few years ago.

Given the teeny lenses and imaging chips on the pocket cams, I think it is a bit of a stretch to consider them in the same breath as a XHA1 or similar pro-grade rig. If you think the A1 is "blown out" because of the reports on low light issues, there's no way the Flip should even get any time from you. Once the video is in the computer and the editor can deal with it, video editing is video editing. Your comment that the Flip is limited to "really basic editing" does not make sense to me.

This could easily turn into a thesis... so, the short version:

Canon HV30 (though low light is as "good" as the A1's). This is solidly in the consumer-grade environment.

In the "prosumer" environment, the Canon GL2 (standard def) and Sony HDR-FX7 (high def). They have good sized lenses and imaging chips - and use 1/8" (3.5mm) audio in jacks rather than XLR audio connectors. These are in the XHA1 size category.

Internal hard drive based camcorders that record to DV/HDV do not exist. There are a few flash memory camcorders - Panasonic HVX200, Sony HVR-Z7U, JVC GY-HM100. They are all in the size category of the XHA1.

So... what is your budget? How about we understand if you want to spend more or less than $1,000... or more or less that $2,000... The low light performance requirement = large lenses and large imaging chips...

Does the "remote control" requirement mean wired or wireless?

MiniDV tape means the computer doing the editing should have a firewire port. Flash memory uses USB to copy the video to the computer - but a more robust computing environment than miniDV tape... In either case, the software included in the box with the camcorder is useless, so software that can deal with HDV (or AVCHD/MTS) will be needed and more discussion regarding YOUR computing environment is needed.

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Professional camcorder for YouTube?
by Fazzmole / September 29, 2009 6:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Definitions, first.

You have a complete grasp of the marsh I have wandered into. Budget wise I 1m in the $1-$2k league. What I don't want to do is part with the cash for something that will quickly be trashed or overkill. When it came to the Flip it looked like I could do what I wanted to do but it implied, going on the write ups, that limited editing was available. What is good is the size but I will soon waery of it that much I do know.

Forget labelling, I am not going to produce long films or anything like that, we are talking 5 to 10 minute chunkettes. There are two targets:
1) Interview type shots with limited movement and minimal editing for web use, blogs and YouTube. Hence the need for decent sound.
2) Architecture, bits of building & travelogues
I travel light and the last thing I want to do is be a 'target' if you know what I mean.

I am well aware of the chip and sensor types together with the transfer mechanisms. At this moment in time I am in an XP environment wiith a choice of equipment running Ulead Video Studio 11 which is okayish. I do have the Adobe product but for the length of stuff I do it really isn't necessary (yet). If things move then I will invest in a Mac and First Cut but right now that is over yonder but still the size issue will bug me. Point a small camera at someone and they will smile and be amiable, pull out a biggie and they will freeze.

This is important to me and I do want to make the right choice. The XHA1 is a bit pieece of kit and awesome and I do like the A1 a lot plus it will pack okay.

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whether long films or short chunkettes
by boya84 / September 29, 2009 9:49 AM PDT

does not change the visual quality requirements... All camcorders can provide "acceptable" video when the camcorder is used within its capabilities. Lower end camcorders (and pocket cams) have a rather limited capability window when compared to the prosumer and pro gear.

No one wants to "spend too much", but in order to be prepared for the "worst case scenario", we need to understand how much to afford - and within that, we will find how bad of a scenario we can get through. This is not limited to camcorders... same thing happens with disaster preparedness, or deciding which vehicle to buy - we get what we can afford...

Now that we have a budget, lets see what fits (the XHA1 does not)... and has a mic jack and manual audio control (I added this - I *think* it is important for your stated uses - just because a camcorder has a mic jack does not mean it has manual audio control) and is a smaller hand-held like the A1 (or smaller).

Consumer grade:
Canon HF S series flash memory camcorders.
Sony HDR-CX500 series flash memory camcorders.
Canon HV40 miniDV tape based.

There's no internal hard disc drive camcorder I would recommend because of known issues with vibration and high altitude. DVD based camcorders should just be avoided.

I use a Sony HDR-HC1 - and the "low light" does not seem *that* bad... Granted, my HDR-FX1 is a lot better, but it is also a lot more camera (and you don't want one this size). If you want good low-light behavior, you need big lenses and big imaging chips. The Canon HF S series has (for consumer grade cams) pretty big of both - just too bad they (as do all consumer grade flash memory and HDD cams in the same "class") record to AVCHD/MTS files...

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Looks like the Canon HF S
by Fazzmole / September 29, 2009 6:08 PM PDT

I had noticed the HF range in passing but took no special note. Having revisted the range the HF S looks like a good option which I can couple with a hot shoe mic. Yup, I do know it won't be as flexible as pro type stuff but for my purposes it looks about right.

My current version of VideoStudio should handle the AVCHD okay. If there are any particular issues that you feel I should note in this respect please let me know (being totally unwashed in respect of HD).

So, it's a big thank you for the pointer.

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