Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Consumer Camcorders › Advice sought for upgrading my camcorder
June 25, 2015 at 4:26 AM #85820
Firstly, I know that requests like these are always subjective, but I am at a crossroads and am not sure what to do next…. I've tried to give you a full picture of how I use my footage, which maybe is fairly long, but I hate reading posts when people ask questions but don't give a full idea of their dilema.
I have a macbook pro with retina screen and edit using FCP X, and am fairly secure in how I edit my footage up to now. The decision I'm stuck on all rely on my choice of camcorder.
I have two main uses –
the first is for filming therapy sessions in my work for evidence and professional developement (ie changing how I work with a client). This is simply a case of setting up a camcorder on a tripod and recording the sessions. A decent auto mode (or a self set-up proegramme to correct colour balance etc.) takes care of this. So, my needs for this are covered by most camcorders.
the second is where I have developed more as an amateur and I now film lots of trips with my young family and then edit them into short movies that then make video diaries of the year for us all to keep and reflect on. I use green screens for video messages and like to think that I am more than just a point and shoot person. However, I have limited knowledge of really using colour/white balance settings on the camcorder I have as it is limited itself. I just use my instincts to adjust the recordings in FCP, but this obviously can add noise.
I have looked at many various camcorders and am thinking of future-proofing my recordings with a 4K camcorder, but as I don't have a 4K tv (and probably won't for a few years) the only way to view these for now is with the macbook. I know that I can edit and zoom in on 4K to give a better resolution in 1080HD when compared to zooming in on 1080 footage, but as I've become more adept at filming, I find that I need to alter the zoom less and less in FCP – I have (usually) used the zoom on the camcorder to get the right shot in the first place.
I have been given a grant from a charity for a new camcorder of £450 (about $700) to upgrade as my current model (JVC Everio 300HD) has a poorly internal memory and the quality isn't exactly what I desire. I'm happy to add to this amount to get the right camcorder. I'm looking at 4k camcorders – Panasonic WX-970 or VX-870 and Sony AX33, or to stay with HD and get the Panasonic x920 or V770, Canon G25 or Sony 670.
If I was to get the WX-970, x920 or G25 I am aware that maybe this could initially be too much camera for me, but I learn quickly and watch lots of online training clips, just starting to learn more about setting up for white balance etc. which I feel is the very minimum if I am to get such camcorders. Do you think that maybe I'm stretching myself too much getting such a high-spec machine compared to where I'm coming from?
I like the look of the V770 as this seems to match my requirements for now, but the lack of flash for pictures (rarely taken but always nice to have that feature when you need to take a photo and don't want to stop filming to grab my stills camera). How much more quality of recording do I get from the WX-970, X920 or G25? I don't do much low-light recording which is one of the areas that seemingly the more expensive cameras are better with. Also, if I purchase this, would I then be wishing I'd gone for a 4K camcorder in years to come? My feeling is that, if it's filmed and edited well, these would stand up ok on a 4K tv in years to come. There'd be a difference but as we head further into the 4K age, the price and quality of such camcorders would be more accesible. I'd prefer to pay to get a better 1080 camcorder than an early and cheap 4K one that really isn't as good, the price tag is simply because you're paying for 4K, but a poor version of it in comparison to the $1500+ 4K camcorders. I hope that this makes sense!
Also, when it comes to editing family footage, I often combine it with other peoples footage from iPhones, camcorders and stills to get multi-cam views/different perspectives. If I have 4K, would the change in quality from various streams make it a little confusing to watch?
I have looked at a bridge or DSLR camera that can also film, but many of these seem unable to record for long periods at a time, and as my therapy sessions can last for 45 minutes, these seem to discount themselves.
I'd really appreciate your views and advice. Thanks for your time in reading such a long post!
June 26, 2015 at 2:54 PM #212502Mike WilhelmKeymaster
You can safely get get the WX-970, x920 or G25 at your skill level. You're stil in consumer camera terriroty and these should all be pretty easy to use.
With regard to 4K vs 1080, I'd pull the trigger on 4K. Imagine you're in 2004 asking yourself if you should get the SD or HD camcorder. Looking back, you'd tell yourself to go HD right? Footage shot in SD is essentially worthless today! (OK, not worthless, but pretty undesirable). However, footage shot in HD, even in 2004 on early HD models, woud still look decent today.
June 26, 2015 at 4:12 PM #212506
Thanks Mike. Someone has said to look at Bridge and DSLR's though such as the FZ1000 as I can record for longer than 29 minutes at a time – the camera will continue from one recording into a second recording automatically for another 29 minutes, and I then join the two in FCP. I'm sceptical as to whether this is the truth though.
From some further research the Panasonic wx970 and 870 are basically the same except for the second built-in camera in the 970 (which I think is a bit of a gimmick IMHO) and therefore the 870 is the better/cheaper option. I am definitely heading towards the 4K option as you said that it's future proofing the footage for when the kids are older.
Does anyone out there have any definite negatives/advantages for the AX33 or WX870? There's about £150 ($280) difference on Amazon taking into account summer cashback offers (870 being cheaper). From the youtube reviews, both have failings but I live out of town and getting hands on in a shop is hard at the moment. I will definitely be doing so, but if the FZ1000 can do more than 29 mins at a time then this seems to be a better option than either camcorder…
June 30, 2015 at 10:17 PM #212522VideoGeekMember
According to the specs for the FZ1000, from the Panasonic site, these are the recording times:
Continuous rcordable time (motion pictures)
AVCHD Approx. 130 min (FHD/60p), Approx. 135 min (FHD/60i)
MP4 Approx. 110 min (4K/30p), Approx. 130 min (FHD/60p)
Actual recordable time (motion pictures)
AVCHD Approx. 65 min. (FHD/60p), Approx. 70 min. (FHD/60i)
MP4 Approx. 55 min. (4K/30p), Approx. 65 min. (FHD/60p)
July 5, 2015 at 4:12 PM #212541
I've contacted Panasonic and the fz1000 needs manually touch for taking a further video after 29 mins and 59 seconds. If a camera takes a single video for longer 30 minutes or longer, it is classed as a camcorder and therefore there is a higher tax bracket to pay, so this is why bridge cameras restrict their recording to 29 mins and 59 secs. I have been offered an 'old' camcorder that is SD and records on minidvds, and I could use these for the therapy sessions that are 30 minutes plus, opening the door for the FZ1000 if it is as good as every review seems to say. Yes, it it is primarily a camera and camcorder second, but the ability to take 4k and high quality photos of the children at the same time is seemingly something that would let the vx870 or ax33 down.
I'm keen to future proof the video of my children growing up but the ax33 and vx870 both seemingly have serious downfalls as they are entry level 4k. The vx870 needs some altering from the preset to correct the colours and there isn't a proper focus ring, but is considerably cheaper than the ax33. Bearing in mind that I will have to purchase futher hard drives and higher rate SD cards for the footage, the price is significant for me.
I could save on both storage and camcorder by going for something that isn't 4k, but this seems like I'm 'treading water'. I'm trying the fz1000 and the vx870 on Tuesday, so hoping that this will clear some of the muddiness in my brain!
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