Best camcorder with super-fast focus, low light $1000-$1500?

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    • #85842

      Hi everyone! I'm new here. I'm happy to have found this forum. I have been asking for advice at the wrong place and finally found a video making forum.


      I've been searching for a good camcorder $1000-$1500.  I am a newbie so I prefer fool proof. I need a super-fast auto focus and good in low light. I don't need 4K right now but would prefer superb quality like the GH4. 


      I was looking at the CX900B but it had super slow auto focus. I am looking at the Canon G20 and G30 but it doesn't seem all that impressive. I would prefer compact too since I would be using it on the tabletop and small tripods along with large tripods.


      I tried Sony A6000 but battery life is so bad as I learned it's not for video making.


      Can someone please guide me? I would be using it for table top recording, close ups as well as shooting moving objects that are moving towards the camera and slight zooming in (not too far). 


      Thanks so much!

    • #212515

      What do you actually want to do with it? Auto focus speed is not the be all and end all for many things. Autofocus can be a total pain for some things, but these small format cameras tend to have good depth of field too, so focus speed might be less important than WHEN they decide to focus. Lots need to go out of focus to go back into focus, and you need to try them to see if your shooting style will make autofocus work properly. One of these style cameras I have had for years is quite slow on focusing and very often it doesn't even try to adjust it until something suddenly moves in the frame, which works pretty well when I stick it on a short stand and leave it wide. Zoomed right in, autofocus can't cope with fast moving things at all, and it wrecks the pictures. My main cameras don't even have autofocus, so personally, I need a big ring to turn because I can do it better myself. Go to a shop and try them out and see which one works best!

    • #212521

      As paulears suggests the best thing to do is go to a shop and test out the various models to see which one best suits your needs.  Just out of curiosity would you consider as DSLR?  The Canon 70D is on sale (B&H Photo) until July 4th and is reported to have a quick autofocus.  The price will vary depending on the lens you choose but it can be had for under $1500 while on sale.  Maybe someone who has used one can respond about autofocus speed or recommend something better. 

    • #212526

      Hi, I have a lot of projects I'm working on that require constant back and forth on the camera and I felt frustrated with my cheap Canon HF R500. I did go out and try AX33. I really felt the auto-focus was good enough for me. So anything similar or better works. I didn't enjoy it's lowlight performance that much. I also felt the lens is not wide enough for me when filming in confined spaces.


      I don't want a DSLR because of the low battery. I need at least 1-1.5 hour minimum of recording time.


      There's not many stores in my area and the one I went to were no help at all and we don't have a proper camcorder store here except for Best Buy which don't help at all.

    • #212527

      There is a wide angle conversion lens available for the Sony FDR-AX33 which claims to broaden the angle of view by 37%  – Raynox – DCR-732 Wide Angle Conversion Lens (0.7x) and I'm sure there are others available.  The Sony FDR-AX33 and the Pansonic HC-VX870 and HC-VX970 all have the same sensor size so I'm not sure there is going to be a lot of difference between those three as far as low-light performance goes but I could be wrong.  Manual adjustments of shutter speed and aperature are useful in low-light situations provided they are available on the camcorder. 

      Comparison of those three (spec wise) which are pretty close in price:

      Of course none of the specs state the autofocus performance. 

    • #212533

      I have a Canon t2i and a Canon 70D.  The auto focus and low light performance are very good on the 70D but it will only collect 30 minutes in one shot.  The t2i has magic lantern firmware (free) on it so it auto restarts after the file limit is done.  The folks at Magic Lantern are working on a version for the 70D.


      I have a dual battery base for each of these that gives me about 1 3/4 hours of operation on each.


      I also have a Canon HF-M300 and have worked with the HF-G10.  Neither of these has as good color or sensitivity but the auto focus is great and with a large battery I get over 4 hours on a 32GB chip.

    • #212536

      Thanks so much for your replies.

      The AX100 here is $2260. I paid $1130 for the AX33. So it's almost double the price :(. Not sure why there's a huge price difference but is it really worth paying over $2000 for this camera? I am happy with the auto focus speed on the AX33 but isn't there a camera that performs better in low light and has better color?

    • #212537

      Also how would you guys say the 

      Canon VIXIA HF G20 or G30 compares to these cameras?

    • #212772

      By all means get the Canon HF G30. I have had this camera for 2 years now and have BEAT it HARD. Rocks, dust, mud, water, rain, drops, hits, in low light its phenominal. I can not stress how good this camera actually is. You won’t be disappointed.

    • #213303
      Stefan I.

      I’d recommend a Canon DSLR camera for shooting in low-light environment and a great auto-focus. On the other hand many people prefer camcorder instead of DLSR. If you’re new to this, maybe this guide could help you understand the differences and make the right choice:

    • #212531

       I did go out and try AX33. I really felt the auto-focus was good enough for me. So anything similar or better works. I didn't enjoy it's lowlight performance that much


      Hi Yyz109 – if you can stretch your budget by $98, you might want to consider the AX33's big brother, the $1598 AX100, instead.  Its much larger 1" sensor gives it better low light performance than the AX33.


      Here is what this camera can do (from Johnnie Behiri at Cinema 5D):





      Here is Johnnie's review of the camera with its new 100mbps firmware upgrade:


      This is the best prosumer camcorder on the market below $1700 right now.


      Hope this is helpful and good luck with your upgrade!



      Hybrid Camera Revolution

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