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Best Camera choice for amateur filmmaker

OldBullLee's picture
Last seen: 4 years 3 months ago
Joined: 01/03/2010 - 10:27pm

I recently decided that as long as I spend so many hours on my couch watching movies, I should get up and try making some. I'm a sophmore in High School, so my budget is pretty low. I'm looking for a solid camera for 500, at most 600 dollars, so any advice on that would be awesome

Here's the thing though, there's so many different formats and choices like - mp4 or avi - HDD or miniDV - that i'm completely overwhelmed! If someone could outline or suggest a camera and why, thatd be awesome. I want the footage to be able to be edited, and though i know nothing about editing or software i'm willing to study hard to learn so editing difficulty is not an issue. I'm looking for video quality, and editing capabilities first and foremost.


hmueller's picture
Last seen: 6 months 4 days ago
Joined: 07/03/2009 - 6:12pm

Making your movies is certainly more exciting than spending hours on the couch!

I would like to suggest a dual approach:
1) Don't spend your all your money on the camcorder at this point. Get experience first. I would suggest getting the Canon ZR960. It is a miniDV camcorder which will allow you to easily upload and edit your video on MovieMaker (PC) or iMovie on Apple. The ZR960 also allows you to use an external microphone, one of the few at that price that do.

2) Spend $20 and buy "The Little Digital Video Book"

This will give you an excellent start, and leave some money for pizza while you are out shooting video - also very important.
Heidi


OldBullLee's picture
Last seen: 4 years 3 months ago
Joined: 01/03/2010 - 10:27pm

haha thanks for the advice, but I'm trying to look for something that could give me a more professional look. I know hd is harder to edit, but im a hard worker and a quick learner. I also heard miniDV tapes are kind of becoming a thing of the past while flash and HDD is the new thing. AVCHD format or something like that?


film814's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: 02/04/2008 - 12:33pm

With reference to a "professional" look, it totally depends on what you wnat to be shooting. If you want to get the look of a feature film, everything in your budget is likely to fall short. However, for shooting commercials, music videos, stage productions, documentaries, etc.,both Standard Definition and High Definition can look professional. It also doesn't matter whether you shoot MiniDV, AVCHD, or HDD. Each have their benefits and detriments.

Also, isn't harder to edit per se. It simply requires more computing power. You need to determine what you will want to be shooting first. If you're just getting into video production, there is not real need to shoot HD. Standard definition will be cheaper, easier on your editing computer, and easier to share with other people. (MiniDV is not really a thing of the past. It is still considered by many to be the most stable and reliable shooting medium for independent filmmakers.)

To summarize, my advice would be to go with a small Standard Definition MiniDV camcorder, and just start shooting. While books can be helpful, the best teacher is experience. So just start shooting and editing and shooting and editing. You will see your own progress very quickly.

Jeremy


composite1's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

OBL,

The point of what the others are describing to you is the skills acquired using the equipment you choose will be where your 'professional look' will come from. I've used consumer grade cameras for professional projects and only an expert could tell I didn't use a high-end camera. I am able to do that because I have mastered the basic of shooting. Focus, exposure, composition, framing and camera movements are the basic skills any shooter must acquire to create good looking images suitable for editing. Your camera is merely a tool and all of the filmmakers whose films you've watched from your couch have mastered these skills... no exceptions.

Save your money and get something cheap that will allow you to inexpensively learn how all of this stuff works without a great deal of hassle. You say you want HD, why? Are you planning to sell your videos to the Discovery Channel? If not, Standard Def DV is just fine. You can learn to shoot, edit and then post your videos on the 'Tube, Vimeo and other sites. HD is just a selling point. If you aren't using it professionally, you don't really need it. HD TV's can play DV footage with no prob. Just shoot your videos in wide format and the TV will do the rest. If it looks like crap, that's more than likely you haven't mastered those skills I mentioned.

On top of shooting, there's editing and that's a whole other monster to deal with. Even with editing, the same rules apply, when you're learning keep it simple and keep it cheap. Nobody's going to sweat you because you don't have a 'pro look' when you're learning. You get a professional look when you've gained professional skills. No exceptions.

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


b-radcole's picture
Last seen: 1 year 5 months ago
Joined: 10/26/2012 - 5:33am

You seem extremely knowledgeable on this topic. I am looking for a camera for my husband who is interested in getting into film making. He has no real experience and would like to learn from the basics. I would like to purchase a camera for him, and I am looking for something cheap. Something that he can BEGIN with and grow from there. I would also need a suggestion for editing software as wel? I have absolutely no idea where to begin...

 

Thanks


trobi19's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/05/2010 - 11:18pm

I am also an amateur filmmaker with lots of dedication to my work.

I need some advice when it comes to my current equipment. The only things I have are my

laptop with Pinnacle Studio 12 ultimate, and an 8mm analog Canon camcorder. Im currently in college, and can't affort any new equipment at the moment. I always have trouble capturing my video, dropping frames, etc.

My question is can I still create great looking videos with what I have? Or is it time for upgrades?


composite1's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator

Trobi,

An 8mm huh? Yeah, you can still get some good looking video far as your shots go. The rules I mentioned in my previous post still apply. However, far as 'eyecandy' shots go a newer cam DV or HDV will beat out analog 8mm. Still though, as I said the rules still apply. You'll have to have a handle on shootin' with ol' paint before you should seriously think about upgrading. Particularly when your broke.

After I left the production house I used to work for all I had was a consumer Hi8 camera. But, I learned how to best light scenes for it get the best possible focus and toughest of all was learning to accept its limitations. Try that after working with high-end broadcast video and film cameras! I ended up getting some lens adapters for it and other accessories and was able to turn out some pretty good stuff despite it not being a pro cam.

These days with the quality of many of the consumer cams under $1k, with some skills you can shoot some amazing looking stuff. Now concerning your dropping frames, that's always been a problem with 8mm and Hi8 analog converting to digital. You might want to look into a firewire based analog to digital converter. I always keep one around for when I dig up old analog footage or a client wants some footage converted.

Normally I would say upgrade, but if you're broke.... However, there are some workable consumer rigs for under $400 in HD that might work for you. Just remember; the cheaper the cam, the less controls you'll have and the more limitations you'll have. Your footage will look better than the 8mm, but if you don't shoot it well it's going to suck no matter what you shoot it with.

Here's a link with some HD cam's under $300. Be advised, though the cam's are cheap, they all use the AVCHD codec. You'll need a system and software to deal with it. If you dig around, there are still some inexpensive DV and HDV tape based cam's that will work just fine for what you're trying to do for now.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Camcorders/ci/1871/N/4294548093

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc. www.dreadedenterprises.com


vjfronk's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 hours ago
Joined: 04/19/2013 - 11:03pm

composit 1 is right,do not let your gear stop you from pulling off a great pice. it is now 2013 and  hd is more excessable and user friendly.the cannon line of  vixia cameras have FANTASTIC picture quality and they are not exspensive.event though they are small they have fiew to no moveing parts so they are dourable enough.if all you have is digital 8,mini digital  be sure to get 2 things right.your lighting and your auido. there are plenty of books around to read for this information.you can get a cheep audio bord for around $100  or a rolls mx 56c mini a/v mixer is $70 and they are verry good and compact. but make sure your camera has a mic in put and head phone input.my old high 8 has those features.