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Need Help Deciding on What to Buy

GerikBensing's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 4:34am

I am a complete newbie to the world of video making, but I want to get my hands dirty. I'm looking to buy a camcorder under $1,000 that will meet my needs.

Basically, I'd buy a cheap video camera and just start making movies - but I can't see the point. I might make this amazing video which will be totally worthless because of the poor video quality. So, that's what I'm going for. I want really good video quality, but I don't need all sorts of extra features.

What I'm leaning towards right now is the Canon Vixia HF10, from the reviews I've read it's pretty solid. It can record in high-definition and seems pretty simple to use. The bad manual focus seems like a big downfall though, but the fact that it uses flash memory (from what little I know) seems to be pretty nice.

Can you all try and give me a direction in what I should go with? I know nothing about camcorders, so keep the terminology simple if you could.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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Hey Gerik,

Current issue of MacWorld says the HF10 "shoots stellar high def, works smoothly with Mac computers, and includes microphone jack and accessory shoe." Says the cons are: "clumsy to handle, still image colors not that great, and battery life leaves something to be desired." Estimated price is $800. It has a 16GB & SD card slot. HOWEVER, it produces AVCHD and I'm not so sure that is an acceptable tradeoff for someone wanting to shoot professionally in case he gets something GREAT.

MacWorld gives it a 3.5 mice rating which, I guess is OK.

My recommendation, based on a LOT of input received from a LOT of guys in the business on other venues and close acquaintences, is the Canon HV30. Shoots HDV, uses MiniDV tape and sells for about the same price. Guys I know are using it for a second or third backup, and/or HDV feeder unit to their editing systems.

Though more and more cameras are going to some sort of static memory device, I still think MiniDV is a better deal when going the low $ route, and considering the quality boost of HDV vs the compression given AVCHD.

I am going with these, although in SD we've been using Canon XL1 and GL2 cameras, and the HV30 will effectively be a "step backward" in one sense. But, with the proper accessories - BeachTek audio adapter, a portable bracing system, shotgun mic and LitePanels system, I think it is a possibility, especially considering the HDV acquisition.

The HV30 also got a four mice rating.



glasseye's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 09/15/2008 - 12:12pm

My thoughts are go for a "Standard" Mini DV...Sony VX2000 is what I have used for years..I believe the new model is VX2100?. I have used the Canon GL1/GL2 which is a standard for Semi Pro. They cost a little more than consumer but they have better quality and live longer.

Harry


glasseye's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 09/15/2008 - 12:12pm

Sorry, just saw the under 1000. Try for used..I picked up a used DVCAM for 750.00 works perfect. needed a little TLC



shippocaio's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: 06/12/2008 - 7:24pm

Hey, AVCHD is no problem. I use a Canon Camera that records in AVCHD and i can edit using Sony Vegas Pro 8 with no problems at all.

I recomment Conon HV 20/30


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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No, AVCHD is not necessarily a "problem" (well, it is for SOME systems) but it is more highly compressed than HDV. Ironically, the Canon HV20 and HV30 that you recommend both provide the lesser compressed format, thus a higher quality acquisition resource. It all boils down to purpose and market. And, of course, the eye of the beholder.


chrisColorado's picture
Last seen: 1 day 2 hours ago
Joined: 04/03/2008 - 10:48pm

I've alwayshated tape and liked Flash media. I'd take the Canon HF10 if I had the money.

For good video quality that records to Flash, Gerik, check out the Pansonic AG-HSC1U. It is said to have great video quality and is advertised with the big pro cameras in some places. The audio control is not that great and there's no headphone jack, also around $2,000. This is probably the closest you'll get.

I'd still take the Canon HF10, like I said.


GerikBensing's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 4:34am

I'm going to be using pretty typical editing software, likely something like Sony Vegas. What I'm starting to be a little worried about is mostly the possible difficulty I may run into trying to work with the AVCHD format, because all I've heard is that it can be hard to work with. Will the AVCHD format be difficult to "convert" to be able to be easily edited with Sony Vegas (if that makes sense). I don't really understand what they are talking about when reviewers say it can be hard to work with.

Also, again with limited understanding - is it worth going with the Flash format rather than a hard disk (mini DV or whatever you all were discussing)? I mean, with the cost of additional cards / disks, what is a rough estimate of what you'd pay for each?

I'm really quite niave when it comes to all this, and I'm not really picky about what to get. I simply want something that can record a high quality video, is fairly easy to work with, and lets me get my media on the computer without too much trouble. And of course, under $1000.

**And an additionaly note - a camcorder that is pretty friendly to working with focus, I think I'd like being able to really exploit focus. That was one thing that made me a little afraid of going with the Vixia HF10, its manual focus wasn't that great (according to the reviews).

I know I'm asking a lot, but I am greatful for the time you all are putting into this for me.


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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Gerik, if you can somehow get ahold of a November 2008 issue of MacWorld, beginning on page 34 is a pretty decent general review of several models of "tapeless" HD units, as well as a sidebar focusing on the one I personally recommend - Canon HV30.

I am a Macintosh/Final Cut Pro person, so I am not familiar with the Sony Vegas format/platform/system combination and cannot intelligently address any issues that might exist there. However, I do know that in conversing with local fellow video producers, and in discussions and posts on such forums as www.videouniversity.com and www.wedvidpro.com, that the general concern among professionals (self-professed and otherwise) is that AVCHD does come with its own set of headaches and problems, AND foremost in these discussions/debates/arguments is that it is a more higly compressed variety of the HD family, thus does not generate as high a quality of acquisition material as going HD.

On that basis, and from my ongoing research for cameras that will move me into the HD environment, I have devoured all I can find regarding entry level HD cams and the benefits and/or tradeoffs. The winning camera remains the HV30 and I am targeting two of them along with the necessary accessories to make them functionable for me in my wedding and event business.

At present I use two Canon XL1 (I purchased them thinking, like many others, that I'd want or need to take advantage of interchangeable lenses - but have not had the need, nor desire to spend the huge extra money on lenses that would do anything for me beyond what I get from the original and main lens). I also have a fixed lens Canon GL2. These have served me well for many years in the SD. Environment.

Sure, I'd LOVE to have the resources to consider and purchase (probably) something Canon's top 3 line of 3-chip HD cams, or mostly what has caught my eye has been the Panasonic (I think) the model number is HV200X - anyway, the P2Card camera that started the solid state recording surge for that company.

Regarding the reviews on tapless high def in MacWorld, you might find something on www.macworld.com I don't know for sure, but maybe. Keep in mind that MiniDV tape remains universal and available in plentiful supply. There are some limitations in solid state recording that may haunt you while acqusition and stability in the MiniDV digital tape is generally well accepted. It will eventually lose sway to solid state/tapless formats, but do research the tradeoffs, what USERS have to say, as well as what the big boys in these various camera houses say (keep in mind there's a LOT of hype in manufacturer info pieces regarding their, and their competitors, models).


GerikBensing's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 4:34am

"it [AVCHD format] is a more highly compressed variety of the HD family, thus does not generate as high a quality of acquisition material as going HD."

Does this mean that the quality of the video won't be as good as the quality of say, the HV30, because of the higher compression, or do you mean something else entirely?


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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It is my understanding that AVCHD is a more highly compressed variety of the HD family and thus a camera that acquires ONLY AVCHD footage CANNOT provide the same overall quality as a camera such as the HV30 that DOES acquire HDV footage.

From what I've read and been told, while AVCHD is acceptable at many levels of production it would NOT be acceptable for production work where HDV is desired.

But, Gerik, as with Colorado and shippo, AVCHD is good enough for them, and might be good enough for your purposes. It just seems to me that if I'm going to spend the same amount of dollars I'd rather invest in a true HD format as opposed to a lesser accepted consumer format.

If memory card storage is preferred over tape, IMHO I'd just have to find a way to afford one of the higher professional or prosumer cameras that offers me that option in HD acquisition.

For someone starting out now, or ready to replace their SD acquisition tools, I can't see spending more than $1k for SD when HD can be had for the same price, offering a forward moving format over one that will see its general demise before your HD purchase loses its usefulness.


GerikBensing's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 4:34am

What does SD and HD refer to, I thought I understood it, but you lost me there.

I don't really think MiniDV's will be annoying to work with, that's all I've ever used so it wouldn't be anything worse than what I'm used to. Nor am I worried about the video quality between the HV30 or HF10, just the compression and how that will translate with being able to be worked with on my PC.

Getting close now, I think. As of right now it seems to be down to the HF10 or HV30. If anyone else has a suggestion for a camera that, in your opinion, is better (for around the same price, of course!), please offer your advice.

Thanks!


NewBirthProductions's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 8:07pm

I still think the JVC HD7 is the best thing going for under $1000. It's HD and is the only 3 CCD that I know of for less then $1000


birdcat's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am
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Here is a sample of my SR11 (AVCHD) output - Untreated (no color correction or other manipulation of any kind) - Just a single overhead fixture for available room lighting.

http://vimeo.com/1134615

Rendered directly from the MTS file in Vegas Pro 8.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


EarlC's picture
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Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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When I refer to SD/HD, I am referring to"Standard Definition" and "High Definition." Sorry for the confusion. As I have said before, visually AVCHD might look fine, and might also certainly do what you want, but for many professional applications it is way more compressed than HDV.

With the last several comparisons and reviews I have read regarding the sub-$1k price HD/AVCHD cams, none has ranked overall higher or better than the HV30 - based on whatever comparisons those generating the reviews have made. That, and what I read and hear from people in the industry using this model, is a pretty strong endorsement IMHO.



EarlC's picture
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Huh? "Invert" the image in post? Due to what, an upside down camera? What makes a DOF (depth of field?) kit so righteously important to the equation? The HV30 is the new model, replacing the HV20, and allegedly an improvement.


birdcat's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am
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Huh? "Invert" the image in post? Due to what, an upside down camera? What makes a DOF (depth of field?) kit so righteously important to the equation?

All the 35mm lens kits I have seen have the "inverted image" problem due to the physics of how 35mm film cameras work - The image captured on the film is inverted (same as your retina - except your brain flips the image). The pentaprism in an SLR does the flip for you.

Depth of field can be a very desired effect - If you are looking for a "film look". It can help the flow of the story (like when the focus shifts from a person in the foreground to one further away) and make for very dramatic looking footage. Most folks want a broader depth of field for casual footage so more of the frame's elements are in focus (why some even shooting with film use smaller apertures).

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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The "huh" was based on why somebody would WANT to deal with these issues, or a DOF kit with such a camera not lack of understanding of the technology. The HV30 obviously isn't intended for major film/video or indie production where these, and other production elements exist and are important to the outcome of the project or story.

But for weddings and events, even some basic documentary/commerical work requiring high definition acqusition, the HV30 could provide a starting point for a "complete newbie" entering the ring.

Gerik says: "...but I want to get my hands dirty. I'm looking to buy a camcorder under $1,000 that will meet my needs. ("meet my needs" - key words here.)

"Basically, I'd buy a CHEAP (but he wants it to come in UNDER $1K) video camera and just start making movies - but I can't see the point. I might make this amazing video which will be totally worthless because of the poor video quality. So, that's what I'm going for. I want really good video quality, but I don't need all sorts of extra features." (Again, key words are, "I want really good video quality, but I don't need all sorts of extra features.")


birdcat's picture
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Sorry - I misunderstood the "Due to what, an upside down camera?".

Also, I think there is a void in that price range - IMHO I think there should be a high quality but low frills offering - It would be enticing to someone like myself.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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I hear you, Bruce? is it? Just cannot adjust to calling you "birdcat" or "bird." Sorry. I can understand the misunderstanding. Was simply trying to be "cute" about the inverted image thing. My partner tells me my humor, and the vast majority of my puns, are more difficult to follow than Robin Williams on high speed playback. The problems I have to deal with from those beneath my level of enlightenment.

That was another attempt at humor. You may laugh.

I totally agre with you about the void in cameras. I am sure it is due to the big boys wanting there to be a significant gap between consumer and professional offerings. Too many, I am sure, are upsetting them already by purchasing compromises in the "prosumer" category.

Regards...


shippocaio's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: 06/12/2008 - 7:24pm

Yeah...i Just wanted to givu you a straigh answer:

Sony Vegas Pro 8 Has no problems AT ALL when it comes to work with AVCHD files. It edits smoothly and easily as any other format. I don't know if others version ( besides Studium Platinum and Pro 8 ) can handle ACVHD, but i use pro 8 and i dont have a single problem when working with my Canon HR10 (Yes! A DVD Camcorder!).

Hope have Helped,

Caio


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
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It is NOT so much the editing, as it is the extreme compression of the format, if you WANT a better quality (true) high definition resource. Sure, some formats are great to edit on some format, but not others. It do depend on your platform & software.


birdcat's picture
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Hi Earl -

Yes - It's Bruce (although I'll answer to almost anything, including "Hey You").

I understand the humor now (yes I did laugh upon command).

I still have and use an old Canon F1 and related accessories - That is the kind of camera I would want in a digital video model for around $1500 - Solidly built, three CMOS (they're cheaper than CCD but just about as good IMHO), no lens (you get that separately and having interchangeable lenses is a must for me when I move up to a pro or prosumer model), mic input, headphone jack, flash recording (SXS, P2 or other), choice of recording formats (1080p, 1080i, SD, more if possible), variable frame rate, ability to add on things (like HDD) so if you want certain features, you could add them on at additional cost.

If you take a lot of the other "frills" away I think this could be done.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


GerikBensing's picture
Last seen: 5 years 9 months ago
Joined: 10/24/2008 - 4:34am

Thank you all for your help. I ended up deciding upon the HF10. It's now about $625, and you can't really beat it for that price. I hope it lives up to it's reviews, I'm sure it will.