Reasonable cam for amateur film-making?

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    • #42680

      Hi, this is my first time posting; I just wanted to ask the opinions of some people with more experience than me.

      I’ve used camcorders for family movies and such for a while now, but I’m shifting to amateur film production, and I’m looking to buy a higher-quality model. Being a poor college student, πŸ™ I have to keep my budget under a grand, and I’m wondering what the best models in this price range are.

      I’ve done a bit of research of my own, and I’ve been most impressed by Panasonic’s GS400. It has a lot of useful features, but it’s not as bulky as other advanced cams; the only annoyance is how it stretches 16:9 footage in the LCD. It’s more than I can afford, however, and since it’s basically impossible to find now anyway, I’m looking for a comparable model at a lower price (without sacrificing too much). Some features I absolutely have to have, though, are the manual focus ring, video-in capability, and true widescreen. Also, more importantly, I don’t want to lose much in video quality (as this is the first priority).

      Oh, and as an aside….what’re the main advantages of larger CCDs as opposed to more CCDs? E.g., which is preferable: a 1/6" 3CCD, or a 1/3" single CCD?

      Hehe, sorry for the longish post X-D and thanks for any replies!

    • #178973

      As a general rule, the larger the CCD, the better the low-light performance.
      And, again as a general rule, 3 CCDs will give more accurate color reproduction than a single CCD. However, my first camcorder, a Canon Optura 300 which had a single CCD, had very good color. From what I’ve read, the Canon Optura line had good color for single CCD units.

      Useful features for serious amateur movie-making include: manual focus, manual exposure, zebra-stripe exposure indication, manual white balance, mic input, manual ajustment of mic levels, and headphone jack.

      The camcorder manufacturers seem to be getting away from full-featured standard-definition consumer camcorders. Canon has just introduced their HD20 HDV model, which is a hi-def unit with a lot of features for the ambitious amateur videomaker. I think it’s selling for $1100. Another option is to search eBay for a used Panasonic GS400, Sony HC1000, or Canon Optura XI. All 3 of those standard-def camcorders had the desirable features. Also, there were some less expensive Canons that at least had adjustable mic levels, like the Optura 300, 50, 60, and a few others. Of course, with eBay, it’s a bit of a gamble. Check out the sellers record to see if he has a good history of satisfied customers.

      Good luck, πŸ™‚
      Ken Hull

    • #178974

      I think the real question is what do you plan on doing with the finale output of your project?
      DVD, the web, film out…

      Sometimes [many times] people will go for a certain camera because they believe it has a feature that they must have but depending on their finale objective, they may be better off with a lower camera.

      In truth, unless you know you’re going to film out which will cost anywhere from 16 to 30k plus most of the consumer cameras on the market today will give you more than enough for the web and very images for standard dvd’s.

      Also, unless you’re going to shoot guerrilla style, low light may not be a problem in which case color correctness may be more of a need unless you’re shooting black and white… Anyway –

      1000k is not a lot of money for a camera these days so used or renting may give you more options.

      Just something to think about if you have not thought about it already….

    • #178975

      Thanks for replying, guys!

      Yeah, I think you’re right that the market is moving away from SD, toward HD. I find this unfortunate, since most people still operate and view movies in SD, and that’s not likely to change any time soon (with current prices anyway). Editing in HD would also require a major upgrade to my computer, so it’s not really an option for me. Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll check those other models out.

      DVD is going to be my primary output. But do you really think most "lower" consumer cams are capable of shooting high-quality video? I’ve used Canon Eluras mostly for school projects, and I’ve been disappointed with the picture quality (sharpness, vibrancy, etc.). I havent’ yet managed to get my hands on a GS400 πŸ˜‰ so I can’t compare it; do you think I wouldn’t actually see a significant improvement?

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