Help me buy the right semi-pro camcorder

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    • #46194

      Looking for
      a camcorder and really need some help. My old Canon XM2 (GL2) is just not doing
      the job anymore, and I am tired of tapes and standard res. Not to mention it’s
      starting to look antique, so it’s not really giving me that professional confidence
      boost when I pull it out.

      What I am
      looking for is something like this:

      – Full HD

      – Midsize
      with handle. Need a pro look for my business so a small one, won’t do the job.

      – Record to
      SD card and/or internal memory (flash or HD)

      – Decent
      wide angle (or a cam to which a good wide-adapter can be bought at a reasonable

      – Decent
      battery time.

      – Heavy
      enough for steady handling, light enough to be able to shoot using the handle
      for some time.

      – Good low
      light quality as I will be shooting lots inside and not always with optimal

      – Generally
      speaking, image quality more important than audio quality.

      – Maximum
      price: Around 4,500 USD / 2.800 GBP

      These are
      the cams I have been looking at:

      – Sony

      – Canon

      – Panasonic

      – Sony

      The Sony
      HXR-NX70 gets great lowlight reviews, but it’s expensive and I don’t know if I
      would be paying for lots of stuff I will never need (like the jungle-thing,
      waterproof, dustproof etc)

      The Canon
      XF100 also at the very top of my budget, but seems like an overall great

      Panasonic is affordable and I think would certainly do the job had I always a
      perfect light set-up, but I am worried that the lense is small and that it does
      a bad job in less than great light. I am tempted by an offer right now of 2040
      GBP for the camera + XLR-adapter + iPad.

      The Sony
      NEX-VG2, i Just saw this, looks different and interesting, but can’t compare
      the lense really, so am fairly clueless.

      Any cams I
      have left out?

      And which of these would you suggest and why?

      (Note: Could not find a general camcorder forum, only brand specific ones. Please feel free to move this thread to any correct forum I might have missed.)

    • #190705

      Check out Canon SX 40 HS which has better video than almost all DSLR or prosumer camcorders exceeding most of your dream list. 24-800 smooth wide angle 35x zoom. Best steady shot available. Accessory hot shoe mount excellent stereo recording & outstanding still camera function. Price is the kicker at less than 500 & the last years SX 30 available less than 400. Best value & performance in the prosumer level!!

    • #190706

      If you want the best image quality and a more professional look (shallow depth of field) then the Sony VG20 is a great video camera. The nice park about that camera is that because it accepts interchangeable lenses (native Sony e-mount but easily adaptable to pretty much every other lens mount with an adapter) you have more options than a fixed lens camcorder does.

    • #190707

      `Check out the Canon Legria HF G10 (type name in europe) it’s the same as XA10 or XF100 on the inside (lens, chip etc) and I did buy it last week for 1175,-

      I love the thing very very mucho, it’s great.

    • #190708

      Guys, thanks for reading and replying, but no offense, not sure you read my post there. Not looking for a DSLR, not looking for a small palm cam. As I said the XA10 is too small for instance.

      I want a camcorder that is at least the size as my old XM2/GL2. Size does mean a lot to me, both in terms of image and actual handling of the thing.

      Would appreciate any feedback on which of the cams on my shortlist would live up to my criteria. And if I have left any out.

    • #190709

      Well, if size is an issue, you could always stick it on rails and add a external monitor and abigger dead cat on your mic. I rolled up pair of socks in your front pocket could help too.

      Thats not entirely said tounge in cheek. One area of design in the “Prosumer” class of camera that companies compete against is a smaller size with an ergonomic form factor. That is somewhat working against you in the “Size” area but there are a lot of add on’s to go with that are not only size/tech enhancing but extremely functional.

      With smaller sizes, cameras get harder to steady. Rails, shoulder mount rig’s and such are beyond functional, almost an absolute must for small cameras and they also add a touch of (this guy is serious).

      External monitors are the same for small cameras. I have and use a VG10 a lot. Using a camera with such a range of depth of field (depending on lens) will eat your lunch maintaining focus on such a small flip out screen when in run and gun situations. I have a Sony 5″ external monitor I use with it and it is the bomb. I get much better footage and peaking makes focusing on the fly easy, not to mention does add a bit to the look.

      Mic’s and audio equipment is the same and opens a whole world to function and “Size”.

      Don’t think I’m scoffing over your “Size” requirement. I’ve seen the look on clients faces when I pull out a “B” cam or POV cam’s first during set up. Its kind of like going to a mechanic, he pops the hood and first thing he does is pull out a pair of vise grips. So I understand there is some merit to that requirement but in the “Prosumer” catagory I don’t think you are going to find an answer to your satisfaction anymore with a decrease in size being a part of the product race between manufactures.

      However, as I said earlier you can enhance look while enhancing performance and customising the whole set up to your needs. Thats another plus with add-on’s.

      I still have my Gl2, several small cams like HV40’s and the VG10 and an EX1. I actually shoot more with the VG10 right now. Its a tad smaller than my GL2 but with all the add-ons, its a pretty good sized rig. I scale down and remove some for “Run and Gun” shooting but when at an event I’ve got all the bells and whistles. I can customise to any situation with that rig.

      To get all the bells and whistles wrapped up in a camera, its going to take you up and out of the “Prosumer” class. Staying in the prosumer class and adding just what you need can take you in the same direction as far as look while keeping function the top priority.

      Your look may influence people in getting some gig’s but in the end its the quality of footage that your reputation will be built on. I’d keep the later as the number one priority and cheat like hell on the other…the rational for a rolled up pair of socks. πŸ™‚

    • #190710

      CKI, check out the Panasonic AG-HMC150, I think it may be what you are looking for. It does very well in low light, has a fantastic image and you can get a battery that lasts for 3 hours. B & H photo has kits with camera bag, extended battery, shotgun mic for about a $1,000 under your budget. It also has 1/3 CCD sensors so you will not have to worry about someone taking pictures and the flash messing with the image like a CMOS does. Here is a link to the kit that I got and I truly love the camera.

    • #190711

      Charles, the HMC150 would probably do wonders to my low light worries, the problem is I am in Denmark, Europe, so am not blessed with U.S prices, nor do I have the chance to pass by New York and B&H in the near future. And I haven’t seen it priced within my budget here in Europe. May look around a bit more or have to stretch that budget.

      About the size discussion that has evolved, all the camcorders I mentioned are the right size, and there are many more of similar size that I have left out, so I honestly don’t get the point. Also, it’s more about handling than image. I shoot using the handle and would not be comfortable panning around a tiny lightweight cam.

    • #190712

      I am rather fond of my Sony AX2000. SD cards, good low light. dual XLR inputs. Lots of adjustability.

    • #190713

      sony nx5 has been a great unit for me. I have 2 now. love the features and the quality is A-1. I have used most of the cams on your list, I primarily do weddings and I need controls on the cam not in a menu. good luck in your search.


    • #190714

      We are using the XF100 and love them.

    • #190715

      I had done extensive research similar to what you’re doing right now and Idecided onthe Sony NX5U to replace my venerable XL-1.

      It meets all of your criteria plus has a few added bells and whistles.

      Like you,Iconsidered the reaction a client has when they see your gear.Clientsdrooled overmy big XL-1 while the little (high end consumer) Canon Vixia HF-S200 sitting next to it kicked it in the chips -picture-wise at least.

      While I will honestly admit to being one of those Canon snobs – I actually made the Sony my first choice not because of size butdue to it having three chips over the single chipin the Canon xf100. I find a lot of professional jobs adhere to theold three chip requirement and choosing a single chip no matter how good might have lost me work.

      The Sony also has an HD-SDI output which increases the variety of jobs you might have access to such as live events. (Itcan also do 4:2:2 through the SDI.)

      And of course I must admit the picture on the NX5U is really top notch. Better maybe, I think, than the xf100.

      I ultimately couldn’t afford the NX5U and so I can’t tell you how it might have worked out for me with a lot of professional work.

      But I am confident it would have been worth every penny spent on it.

      Good luck with your choice. I hope the info on the NX5U is helpful in your decision making process.

    • #190716

      Because of my special requirements, Ihave recently bought and am now using, a ‘Panasonic’HDC-SD900. I have to carry all of my gear over long distances at times and I certainly have no objection to this camcorder’s high level of portability. Apart from the fact that we all have lists of ‘would-like-to-haves’, I find this camcorder to be almostideal for my purposes and I have a growing catalogue of video-clips, to prove the point. In fact, I chose this model for its excellent manual-focussing, amongst its other features.

      Only one ‘gripe’. Since I occasionally carry my camcorder, on its tripod, over my shoulder while walking between locations which are not too far apart, why, Oh why,did the designers not put a positive ‘lock’ on the pull-out screen? For safety, I always place a rubber-band around the rear of my camcorder when I have finished shooting, just in case the damned thing accidentally ‘catches’ on something between shots and is wrenched-off, or damaged.

      And, CKI don’t be carried away by ‘bigness’, or what looks ‘professional’.Quite a number of years ago, a professional photographerwhom I knew of, was invited to a school’s 100th-year Anniversary. You know the thing, the requirement to take, probably, hundreds of ‘class-of-xx-year’ and similar photographs over a long weekend.He took along a large and impressive looking ‘plate’ camera and retired under the black hood at intervals to ‘do-the-business’. All went well, until someone began poking around his camera to get a better look at some item of detail and found that the plate-camera didn’t seem to have a ‘normal’ lens. And so, he ‘dug’ some-more and found, to his great surprise, that nestled snugly inside the camera, mounted on its own little bracket, was a second camera, a Leica M3, in fact. The ‘exposure’ of this seeming scam, produced consternation, and a bit of fancy-footing in the excuses department, but all was OK, once the school committee accepted his explanation that the results would be of the highest order, which apparently, on the release of the ‘proofs’, they turned out to be.

    • #190717

       I realize you want to go tapeless, but I really love my Sony HDR FX1000s.  The image quality is fantastic, it probably fits the bill in the size/weight department, batterey life is good and it performs well in low light.  One potential downside:  no XLR input.  The money you’d save going with miniDV, you could afford more accessories… 

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