Video Cameras forum

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Recommendations for specific features

by dpicella / March 26, 2011 10:22 AM PDT

I need a camcorder and I have some specific requirements. What camcorder would be the best for the following:

1. Must have audio input. I am going to film my kids football games next season. I want to purchase and connect my own HQ directional mic. I don't want to hear the other parents screaming on the sidelines.

2. Need motion stabilization especially for zooming in.

3. Would be great if I could double the camera as a web cam instead of using a USB standard web cam. This would require live USB streaming.

4. Digital only - no tape.

5. Back lit for dark shots.

6. Do not need HD !!

FYI I also use Windows 7 primarially, but sometimes I use Mac and even Linux. If it works well on Windows 7 that is good enough for me.

Thanks!!!! I am very confused and don't want to purcahse something that does not meet my needs.

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Start by setting a budget... but in order...
by boya84 / March 26, 2011 1:37 PM PDT

1) Is the mic, attached to the camcorder, in the stands with you? If so, you will hear the parents you don't want to hear. Shotgun mics are designed to pick up audio and are very directional - to a point. The *best* ones will have mic elements on the side of the mic to reject audio that comes in laterally, but even then they are only made to work about 5-6 feet away from the desired audio source. An alternative might be a parabolic mic, but good ones are large and cumbersome. Another alternative is to have the mic on a boom on the field. That is basically those only way to get rid of the audio from the stands. In addition to the audio input, you might want to consider manual audio control, too. Pocket cams (no manual audio control) include some of the Kodaks (like the Zi8 - I understand that's been around and may be replaced); Zoom Q3 (has manual audio control), Alesis Video Track (has manual audio control). Then the step up to entry-level... like the Canon FS flash memory and ZR960 miniDV tape.

2) Use a monopod or tripod.

3) As far as I know, does not exist. For streaming, that is now in the firewire miniDV tape cams. The USB drivers that allowed for USB streaming stopped being supported by the manufacturers and Microsoft a few years ago.

4) The "DV" in miniDV = Digital video. The digital information recorded to miniDV tape is just as digital as the information on flash memory or hard disc drive or DVD. The difference is merely the format of the video. It happens that the DV format on tape is less compressed (hence best available video quality). Do not compare this to analog tapes like VHS-C, VHS, Hi8, etc. digital tape and analog tape are VERY different. This requirement needs to be modified.

5) "Back lit"? Lighting is required for back-lit shots - or the camcorder's iris needs to be open a lot wider to accommodate the low light in the foreground. If you need low-light capabilities, then you need a camcorder with LARGE lenses and LARGE imaging chip. A consumer cam with a lens with less than 58mm filter diameter will likely have an imaging chip around 1/6" - to 1/4". This is not enough to handle good low light - or allow "good back-lit" video recording. The Canon GL2 and Sony HDR-FX7 have large enough lenses and imaging chips. The previously mentioned pocket cams and low-end consumer cams have lens filter diameter less than 37mm.

6) Fair enough, not may standard def-only units out there... there are a few. Some can do both standard def and high def.

The operating system does not deal with the video directly. The video editor or media player do. Flash memory seems to be where you think you want to be. Check the Canon FS300. It won't have all you want at the low end. At the high end of consumer cams, the Canon HF S series or Sony HDR-CX500 series look like they might fit. They can do both standard def and high def.

High compression and fast action do not get along. You would be better off with a Canon HV40 or Sony HDR-HC9. Both are low compression DV (and HDV) but use miniDV tape. But that's your decision.

Assuming you go down the flash memory path, what are your plans for "archiving" (not "back-up", that is short term) the video so it can be available in 10 or 20 years? At least with inexpensive miniDV tape, the tape is the archive... And since the pros use digital tape today, I know there will be some method to get the video from the tape. If the plan is to use a computer hard drive, be prepared to investigate RAID1 type NAS units - and hope the hard drive technology in 20 years is the same as today (think about where hard drives were 10 or 20 years ago...).

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Camcorder Recomendations
by dpicella / March 27, 2011 12:08 AM PDT

Thanks for the great answer! I really appreciate the comprehensive answer! I will look into some of those recommendations.

I have a better understanding of the camera stuff. About archives. You are right. However, I do work with Servers and I do have a couple of RAID systems where I store my data (I run servers with lots of drive space). Actually, I've got a drawer full of 12 hard drives from years past some of them are IDE!! I hate storing tape too. It can be hard to find stuff on massive hard drive space when your data and your pics and stuff is mixed in.

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