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April 12, 2013 at 3:32 PM #56242
So I am looking for a camcorder to make youtube videos, small fun mocumentaries and just general filming. I am looking to spend under 1000 dollars, but like any reasonable human being, I want to get the most for my money. Obviously, of most importance to me is video quality. I am not trying to enter into film festivals or anything, but I would like a camera with nice options that will allow me to grow. The must haves are: external microphone jack, external headphone jack, sd card slot, HD 1080p, video output format compatible with standard video editing software, decent optical zoom, high bit rate, good image stabilization, good low lux filming. I am completely green when it comes to filming, so if there is something that you think is important to add to the must have features, please chime in. I just want a camera capable of shooting great quality video, with the options that are important, and that is not going to be constantly needing repair. Please don’t give any high horse answers like “Go to film school.” Thanks!!
April 12, 2013 at 5:06 PM #206936
Hi obeythefro – welcome to the world of digital filmmaking. I would add one more item to your list of essentials – a viewfinder. Lower-end cameras lack this feature, which makes it difficult to shoot outdoors, because the LCD is washed out in bright sunlight.
That said, with a $1000 budget and your list of requirements, I would get a used Sony VG20 body for $899 from Samy's via eBay with a manufacturer's warranty and a 30 day free return. It has everything on your list except the optical zoom, but the beauty of interchangeable lens cameras is that you can buy one later.
To start off, I would add a $100 Sigma 19mm to the camera body. With the VG20 and the Sigma, you will have a great large-sensor camera/lens combination to build on.
Here is what the VG20 can do:
If you prefer to stick with small sensor camcorders with a non-interchangeable power zoom lenses, your best option below $1000 is the Panasonic X900. It has all the features on your list.
Here is what this camera can do:
I hope this is helpful,
April 13, 2013 at 2:29 AM #206942
Hi Eric – the focus ring, manual zoom, and Sony's OSS optical image stabilization system (Sony NEX lenses only) would all be on your lenses, not the camera body.
Even if you bought the new Sony 18-200 power zoom, the VG20 has no zoom rocker and would not be able to take advantage of the power zoom feature. That said, with the 19mm Sigma lens, you'd be wide enough not to need OSS.
Sony designed the VG20 to compete with interchangeable lens still cameras from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic that people were using to shoot movies. These cameras didn't have power zoom lenses, so the VG20 didn't have one. But videographers clamored for a power zoom, so Sony gave them one.
Both of these were shot with the VG30:
Please watch this at 1080p:
Again, hope this is helpful,
April 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM #206946
That will depend on what you're shooting. If you're shooting narrative videos, with the shots all planned out, you won't need a power zoom. You won't see many lenses with power zooms on Hollywood sets. If this describes the type of filmmaking you'll be doing, get the VG20.
Where you will see power zoom lenses is on TV news cameras. If you're shooting news, documentaries, reality or anything else where you may not be able to set the camera up and frame the shot in advance – a power zoom can be very useful. If this sounds more like what you'll be doing, and if you can afford the VG30, I suggest you get it, plus one or two inexpensive lenses like the SLR Magic 28mm or 35mm – or the Sigma 19mm or 30mm – and save up for the Sony 18-200 power zoom.
Good luck with your decision!
April 12, 2013 at 10:34 PM #206939
April 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM #206944
Thank you for being so informative and patient with a newbie like me! How important would you say the power zoom is? Is that the only difference between the cameras? I am willing to spend a little extra if it means that I end up with a camera that will provide ample room for growth. Should I purchase the VG20, and then when I need the extra features, sell it and upgrade? In what situations would the power zoom be a useful option? Is it likely that I would really need it, or can I accomplish similar results with the manual zoom/focus?
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