HD Cam Selection Help

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    • #45794

      Hi Folks:

      As I am completely new to video production and editing, and would like to start out in the right direction, it would be very helpful to have some input on selecting my first camera.

      My hobby is exploring old hard rock mines up in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. I have always taken photos of the expeditions, but have only recently started taking rudimentary video using the movie function of my digital camera (Sony DSC-W230). I take the photos and video to not only document what I find, but to also allow other people who cannot otherwise hike to see what is out there.

      Here are some tidbits of info about what I know and think I know about the type of camera I would like and environment it will be used:

      – This will be my first video camera, so simple is better. But as I start to play around and learn more adjustability would be nice.

      – HD would be preferable.

      – I already have Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.0 Platinum.

      – The hikes run anywhere from a couple of hours to well over 12, so the ability to switch batteries is a must.

      – The environment can be brutal (heat, cold, moisture), but of course the camera will be protected as much as possible.

      – The equipment will get jostled while hiking, but usually stationary when filming. It will be kept in a Pelican waterproof case when not in use.

      – Filming conditions will be everything from pitch-dark mines to bright sunshine and everything in-between.

      – Dont know if is matters, but my current computer has USB-2 and an HDMI port.

      – Would prefer a headset port to monitor audio levels and the ability to use an external microphone but an unlimited budget I do not have. (-:

      – Finally, the fact that my gear takes a beating is first and foremost on my mind. So, in regards to storage, and if I did not know any better, I would probably shy away from hard-drive based units??? But what do I know? I DO know however, that the ability to switch out the media, or augment on-board storage would be a plus.

      So, thats where I am at. It would be wonderful to get some direction on this so I dont make a mistake on my first camera purchase. I am not looking for anything fancy or pro, jus something I can cut my teeth on and still end up with good looking shots.

      Take care, and thanks!



    • #189666

      Hi Mark,

      I’m using a Sony Handycam for my ventures. I find it simple to use. While it doesn’t have all the extras that you talking about like a headset port or the external microphone it would probably be completly adequate for what your looking for… I think. Take a look at Sony’s Hi Def Handycam. Relatively inexpensive, simple to use and from what it sounds the biggest bonus is its size. Compact sounds like it would be important. I can’t imagine carrying all that extra gear.

    • #189667


      ‘Crashcam’s’ are exactly what you’re looking for right now. Cheap little HD cameras like the Flip or Aiptek line you can get at B&H. Because they’re small, they’ll be much easier to waterproof (sandwich bags and rubberbands), carry around and if they go down just buy another.

      Since you’re also dealing with the video learning curve, simple cameras will make things easier. As you gain experience shooting and learning how do edit your footage, time will reveal the limitations of your cameras and you’ll be properly prepared to upgrade at that time. Concerning your audio learn to deal with your in camera sound first. After a shoot or two, you’ll start to see where you need additional audio gear to get good sound. Right now shooting is going to kick your butt as is.

    • #189668

      Having spent many years hiking in the Cascades, the only thing of value I can tell you is that you are going to get this camera wet without being extremely careful, and even then the humidity will get to it. When it’s pouring down rain, and you have five miles to hike out, everything gets wet, regardless of Gortex…the Pelican is a good idea.But the moment you take it out, it’s likely to steam up.

      So I agree, depending on your results you want, start cheap, end up retiring it when you reach the next level, and by then, you will have learned more about what you need, and what works.I think it would be useful to understand what your budget is. That makes a big difference.

    • #189669

      Hi folks thanks for all the input!

      After much deliberation, and really sitting down to figure out how I am going to use a camera, I have decided to possibly purchase two cameras one better one now, and then taking the advice from the comments above, a utility one of the Flip or Aiptek variety specifically for hiking when the season really cranks up in the spring.

      That being said – on nice dry summer days it is possible I may take the better camera up in the mountains on hikes anyways.

      One thing that spurned this on was the fact my wife has decided to buy me a nicer unit for x-mass! Im not sure where the $$$ is coming from (maybe I dont want to know lol), but it is a nice gesture on her part. Maybe she needs some nice videos of our granddaughter perhaps? Either way I am not complaining! (-:

      Regardless, this has sent me on yet another quest to find a nicer, primary camera, and it seems to be leading me towards the Sony XR520V. It appears to have everything I need:

      – Built in storage augmentable with flash cards

      – Good lens with 12x zoom

      – HDMI and MPEG-2 Outputs

      – HD

      – AVCHD

      – Headphone and External Mic Jacks (albeit no audio controls really)

      Ok now, completely admitting I am a newbie to this. would this camera be too much? Seeing that I already have Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum, would this camera work well with that package? (I read in someones post that they had issues with AVCHD and this software).

      Finally, knowing how I plan to use the nicer camera, would there be a better model or manufacture of camera in the +/- $1200 range that would serve my needs better or that I should have a look at? Is there something I am overlooking?

      Again, any input would be greatly appreciated!

      Mark (-:


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