Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Consumer Camcorders › What do look for in a camera?
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April 16, 2008 at 5:50 PM #45177AnonymousInactive
There is a lot of talk about what produces the best picture- CCD or CMOS. Which codec is best for editting. It’s hard for me to believe that there such debate when you would think that the video industry would narrow down the options to nothing but the best if for no other reason then they want you to experience the best from their products. I’m not as concern about the picture look as long as it is consistant unlike my old camera that floats between blue and red tones. Nor do I worry about the compression since what I do will probably never reach the big silver screen. I have had the privilage of opperating $40,000 cameras and have to admit that one can get spoiled when there are features, tools and function on a camera that are missed on these little consumer cams.
Do you find yourself searching through specs sheet trying to read past all the BS to get to what is really important. I hate that the specs doen’t tell you that the cassette loads from the bottom. I wanta consumer grade camera forunder $1000 thathas everythingI expect. Here’s what I expect:
zoom control.It needs to go in and out with extreme speed and I want it to make it crawl so slow that the viewer doesn’t even realize it. This is hard when the little consumer cams don’t allow for manual zoom. The Canon HG10 has a great rocker like zoom instead of this one touch finger action that I’ve seen on so many other cameras. Infact, I dare to say that the HG10 is better then the GL.
Focus. I would like to have control of the manual focus but that is not been offered in the consumer world that isworth anything. I use my SteadyCamJr with the zoom all the way wide so focusing isn’t something that I have to think about. However, locking down the focus to keep it from racking in and out with out your permision is a must.
External Microphone jack.This is a must. I have a $140 wireless from B&H that I use continuesly. I use it enough that I really should consider investing in a better wireless mic system. But,that’s for another post.
Headphone jack. It must have a headphone option for reasons that it must have a microphone. Enough said.
Firewire. Now I have only used firewire and don’t know what USB offers. I read and hear that firewire is the way to go but I haven’t seen that being offered on very many camcorders. So what’s the deal? Hopefully my opening statement will assure me that USB is an exceptable connection or why would that be offered over firewire?
3 chip. It is clear that three chip is better. However, the average viewer is more forgiving than the critics of film and video that are here. In either case, 3 chips have been found in some consumer cameras so I know that it exists.
My little Digital8 TRV 103 has it all including lanc. There’s only two things that I wish it did. I wished it would allow anolog to pass through and convert to Digital streight to the harddrive. And, I wish it still worked. It’s 10 years old and I haven’t found a good replacement with out going backwards on the features. There wasa replacement that had it allnot too longago. I should have gotten it at Costco but I didn’t get it because I was hoping to get an HD version. I don’t remember the exact model. I know it was a Panasonic PV-GS.Since thenthe PV-GS has upgraded (if you call it that) with out those features.
What do you look for in a Camera?
April 16, 2008 at 10:37 PM #188041RobParticipant
When I read this I was under the impression you were asking for suggestions of camcorders priced under $1000 with those features you wrote about. I often thought to myself, “That’s going to be hard to find in a camcorder priced under $1000.” In my experience, a camera priced at under $1000 dollars is aimed toward average consumers, and average consumers aren’t concerned about those feature. If they did have those features, they probably wouldn’t know how to use them either. You’ll probably find headphone jacks, 3CCDs, and firewire on all consumer camcorders. External Mic Jack? It won’t be XLR. And I don’t think USB carries video, at least, I’ve never heard of it. Firewire is a common for digital video. Higher end cameras may have HD/SD-SDI or HDMI.
Then I got to the last line of your post: “What do you look for in a camera?”This is how I go about it:
First, I have to decided what my wants are. Then I look at what I actually NEED to produce the videos I create. I want a higher end Sony XDCam HD camera, but I really don’t need that. While I am capable of creating many type of videos, I specialize in the documentary style. I wouldn’t say the high end XDCam HD cameras are over-kill for what I do, but I’m only 21, don’t run a business, or make any steady income. A Sony EX1 or possibly the new EX3 would be fine for what I do, and from what I’ve heard, they create images that are hard to distinguish from the other higher end XDCam HD cameras.
Once I narrow down my list of possibly cameras, I look at what they record to. I really don’t want something that records to tape. It’s slow and drop-out is SO freakin annoying. So if the camera records to a card or a hard drive, I’m interested. I like the JVC GY-HD250U and the Canon XH-A1 and probably would have gotten one of the two already if they recorded to a card or a hard drive; however, I think it was just announced at NAB that they are going to make a hard drive for this camera.
Next I look at the codec and sensor resolution. HDV is alright, but it doesn’t record native 1920X1080 like the Sony EX1. HDV records 1440X1080. The Panasonic HVX doesn’t even record native 1920X1080. This is another reason why I love the Sony EX1. HDV is also highly compressed.
I also look to see if it has XLR connections. And I look for cameras that have a lot of manual options. Those are a must for me.
Those are some of the major things I look at.
I also look at picky details that don’t really make a big difference to me. For Example, the JVC camera I mentioned above has interchangeable lenses, however, I don’t really NEED that. And I could always purchase a 35mm lens adapter, such as the Letus35, SGPro, or Redrock M2 for a camera that doesn’t have interchangeable lenses. I like my camera to have a large LCD screen. It’s nice if it has a shotgun microphone mount too. If a camera allows for a lot of options for custom presets, thats nice too, but it’s not major. As long as it shoots a very clean picture, I can do color grading in post if I have to.
Another thing I look at is how well will this camera help me pick up chicks. If i walkin around the city just carrying my camera, do hot girls start following me around? When they drive by, do they turn and stare at me only to drive into a light pole? Hahaha…I’m just kidding. I hope my response was helpful.
May 2, 2008 at 7:21 AM #188042AnonymousInactive
I actually have a wall paper on my computer screen of the EX1 just so thatI can keep my focus on what my future camera is. Think of it as some kind of visual reminder that is taught by the likes of Anthony Robbins. I want so badly to reach out and just get the EX1. Really, there has never been a time when you can buy a professional grade camera (not a prosumer)for less then a good used car. For now, I will have to settle for a consumer camera; a camera that I can afford as a hobbiest. I’m looking for a camera that has those features that I have listed because I have seen each one of them in a camera that is less then $1000 just not all of them in one camera. If I want one with ext. mic options find but now it doesn’t have manual focus or it may have good zoom control but it lacks firewire. I see robgrauert, that you are no help because you have only the high dollar camera. Yes, I was kind of hoping that someone would read my post and say “hey, what this guy ThomW needs is….” There are new models coming out all the time and each has little but differing designs. However, they never seem to get better just different. It’s like arguing with the icecream shop owner. I can have choclate sauce, carmel, strawberries, bananas with wipecreambut no cherry on top nor canI get a different flavor other than vanilla. If you ask for a different flavor then youhave tosay good-by to all the toppings. I don’t know it’s just frustrating when the only reason for a new model is for marketing purposeswhen last years model will work just fine. How long has the PD-170 been around? And, it’s still being sold for a hefty price for an outdated camera. But, that’s because it works and it is a good piece of equipment.
May 3, 2008 at 6:35 PM #188043AnonymousInactive
I actually have a wall paper on my computer screen of the EX1 just so that I can keep my focus on what my future camera is. Think of it as some kind of visual reminder that is taught by the likes of Anthony Robbins. I want so badly to reach out and just get the EX1. Really, there has never been a time when you can buy a professional grade camera (not a prosumer) for less then a good used car. For now, I will have to settle for a consumer camera; a camera that I can afford as a hobbiest. I’m looking for a camera that has those features that I have listed because I have seen each one of them in a camera that is less then $1000 just not all of them in one camera.
That sort of visualization helps a lot of people to get to their goals; best of luck to you.
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