Journalist turning videographer

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    • #42666

      I am looking for a good camera for journalists. IS there something under $1500 that has good audio feature?

    • #178949

      Here’s a few ideas:

      At $1500 there are a few options, moreso if going used is ok with you.

      Sony PD100 (around $1500). Pros: Small/lightweight, XLR input adapter included for professional mic connection, DVCAM professional media. Cons: this cam is relatively old, DVCAM media is more expensive

      Sony VX1000 (around $1300): Pros: prosumer size cam, 3 CCDs, accessible manual controls. Cons: 1/8" mini audio connection (no XLR), another relatively out-dated cam

      Canon GL2 (with Canon rebate of $250, around $1700): Pros: prosumer size cam, 3 CCDs, accessible manual controls, Manufacturer’s warranty. Cons: above your price range, 1/8" mini audio connection (no XLR), becoming out-dated.

      All of these cams are small enough for a journalist, yet offer professional level controls and performance. The good news is all of these models have been around the block, so you can get a good sense from user reviews which will work best for your needs. There’s probably some more options out there, but these are the ones on my radar. Hopefully, this will give you a starting point for doing some research.


    • #178950

      So i guess you are suggesting the prosumer type as opposed to a palm size higher end? Just trying to get a since of body type v. features? thanks for the input/

    • #178951

      These days you can get a small, palm-size camcorder at your price range or under that has manual controls for exposure and audio levels. The manual controls on these camcorders rival what the prosumer models have, but they are typically harder to access and can be cumbersome (i.e., the controls are not mechanical, but are driven by a menu system). That’s not ideal for most professional settings (especially if you need to be able to access these controls in a split second), but they certainly have the same end result if your shoots are not complicated and can be set-up in proper time.

      Here’s the latest in that department:

      Brand-spanking NEW:
      Canon HV20 ($1100): Pros: high definition (HDV), 24p recording mode, CMOS sensor (extends battery life), small/lightweight, manual controls. Cons: 1/8" mic input, most manual controls are menu driven

      Sony HDR-HC7 ($1400): Pros: high definition (HDV), CMOS sensor (extends battery life), small/lightweight, manual controls. Cons: 1/8" mic input, most manual controls are menu driven

      Both of these cams can shot in standard def, too, and are tape based. I think for journalism, tape is a good, cost efficient way to do work that allows you to keep your original footage. There might be some benefits in going in a data (non-tape) route if speed is your main priority. However, the video quality at this level will suffer.

      The two biggest factors in choosing a camcorder for journalism may be the environment you’ll be shooting in and where you plan to deliver your footage (edited or raw). If you’re covering news/events with a photo-journalism style, a palm-size might slow you down when you’re trying to expose an improvised shot (e.g. covering violence in Iraq). But, if you’re mostly covering something that allows more freedom in time and shot composition (e.g., interviews, stand-ups, etc.) it can be done with these palm-size cams very nicely.

      Furthermore, you should consider how you’ll be delivering what you shoot. If you plan on delivering your footage to broadcast, consider a high-def camcorder. For the short-term it might not be necessary, but in the long run you’ll need to have footage in HD. At this point, broadcaster who accept HD footage have their own terms which often times is not compatible with the HDV format. There are workarounds for some of the stations, but results may vary. That’s something worth researching as well if you’re planning on delivering via broadcast.

    • #178952

      You have given me a lot tot think about and certainly I thing the turn around time is a key. I have hear of some using a still cameras video feature but that to me has a short life and poor quality. Thanks again.

    • #178953

      I think Ill join this post because no one is answering my post, but basically I am doing the same thing. Photojournalist for 20 of my shooting years, and now wanting to add video.
      Im looking at a couple of cams on B&H. The shoulder carry Panasonic AG-DVC7 looks good and is in my price range, but the cons are a huge camera is intrusive and intimidating for candid filming. Heck my D2x with a medium zoom puts people on guard so sometimes I grab a point and shoot or my D40x just so I look like a tourist.
      The GL2 looks great, but it is $1000 higher than the budget. (yes the rebate will make it $1700 while I wait but the 2 months + to get the rebate that is my money tied up)
      So How about this Canon HV20 ? I dont think Vegas 7 will work with the codec for the HDV (will it?) and will my old Pentium 4 with 3 gig ram render it? Or make a standard DVD with it? . Sorry I have no idea on these things. But you say the HV20 will shoot in standard definition mode? I really do need something ALLOT better than my Canon VR500. It is not sharp, goes out of focus on manual focus, and yes it is a $250 camera so what did I expect.
      Anyway your help is much appreciated. I need to get something soon, so give me your best shot.

    • #178954

      Sorry for the double post, but something mmontgomery said got my curiosity up.
      You say: a palm-size might slow you down when you’re trying to expose an improvised shot (e.g. covering violence in Iraq). And that is almost exactly what I need to do — minus the Iraq I was thinking just the opposite, that a smaller cam would be easier to handle in candid situations. I need to shoot fast, grab the action before everyone points at me and becomes un-natural. A good example is my faces of Bali

      So can you explain why you think a palm would not be good to use in this situation? Am I thinking the wrong way?
      Thanks so much.

    • #178955

      Good considerations Hank,
      I can’t hand hold a palm cam worth dog do do.
      I would love to see some of your lipstick cam work though…. this is a VERRY small island here. πŸ˜›

    • #178956

      Sorry for the slow response. Speaking of which, the issue with smaller or "palm size" camcorders is that there manual controls are typically buried in the menu or are not as tactile as their professional counterparts. Furthermore, when it comes to exposure there are several major controls (I’m sure you know this, but for the sake of the forum), shutter speed, iris, gain. In the smallest of camcorder you generally can’t modify each of these controls independent of one another. So you may have to use the same knob or dial to not only focus, but set your iris. That could slow you down. But, I want to be careful not to run you away from these small camcorders, because with a good (very well practiced) shooter I think your response time in impromptu situations could be close to that of an experienced shooter with a professional camera. Also, the auto modes are not too bad. Just be careful to note whether a camcorder in auto mode will automatically adjust gain. That could be the biggest killer in quality.

      And, you point about flying under the radar with smaller cameras is incredibly valuable. The documentary filmmaker, James Longely, used a DVX100A to film "Iraq in Fragments." (Side note. Our Jennifer O’Rourke met up with him and we’ve got an interview on our YouTube channel here: ) He specifically chose this camera because it met his goal of achieving a decent image quality, yet it was small enough to not draw too much attention to himself. I don’t consider the Panasonic DVX100A to necessarily be a "palm size" but it certainly is smaller than most cameras you used to shoot a documentary that would be print to film. With that said, consider your delivery method, too. If you shooting for the big screen consider something prosumer (at least). Or if you intend to video blog, expectations here a much lower, and you could get away with almost anything, including a lipstick cam.


    • #178957

      Thanks Mark,
      Nice interview. Probably shot with a nice cam too X-D
      Im glad I joined the forum, all the advise here has been quite illuminating.
      I looked at the DVX100B (the A no longer made) and at $2600 it looks like a great camera.
      I wish I had the answer to Marks questions. As a freelance still shooter I shoot on speculation gut and where my heart takes me. Knowing of no other roads Ill probably travel the same road with video. Ive got it narrowed down to about 4. The GL2, the 2 Panasonics and the Canon palm HV20 Mark spoke of. One consideration not mentioned here is how an individual shoots. Im alone, obviously Ill continue to shoot stills so my baggage with 3 camera bodies. Lenses and now a video cam is extensive. When I shot video in Bali I alternated days one still shoot and one vid. For some things like cremations and dances I put the cam on a tripod, the Zoom by the stage and shot stills with the D2x. Its kinda like being a one man band. You impress people by how much you can do, but the music suffers. Someday maybe Ill have a crew and others to help, but today all I have is a dream. πŸ˜€

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