Camcorder Advice for Genealogy

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    • #74866

      I’m looking to purchase a camcorder for genealogy use. I’ll be recording primarily interviews but will also shoot interior and exterior scenes to compliment the interview.

      My budget is $600.00 but could stretch it to a $1,000. 00. Also, what would I be looking at if I wanted to monitor the recording on my laptop during the interview?


    • #210091

      Frank, I'm not sure what models of current cameras you need but you do want one with a mic input and mic levels. You'd want a lav, preferably directional. If you have decided on software, load it up on your laptop and go camera shopping. You'll probably do the monitoring in 'capture' mode of the software.  Your camera will also need some control over the exposure for indoor shots, especially if your interviewee sits by the window. Bring a large reflector too. Auto white balance isn't always the best for window shots so some control over that would be good. 

      Good luck! 

    • #210092

      Hi Frank – you can get results like this:





      from the Panasonic G6, which is on sale for less than $600 with the kit lens as of this post.


      It's not in a camcorder-style body, but its larger sensor will give you a lot more control over your depth of field than a camcorder.  Notice the "out of focus" backgrounds in the video above?  That is called "shallow depth of field".  This is a look that is extremely difficult to get from a small sensor camcorder.


      That said, if you really want a small sensor camcorder, the best value for money in your price range is the $730 (as of this post) Panasonic HC-X920.  Here is what this camera can do in an interview setting (please watch at the highest resolution you can):





      Personally, I prefer the large sensor "look" from the G6.


      I hope this is helpful and good luck with your project!



      Hybrid Camera Revolution




    • #210094
      BruceMol and Bill have some good suggestions.
      I recommend you check out some of the articles on how to purchase what you need.  For instance, if you choose solid state (tapeless) you probably won't have much recording time, with your price point. 
      I would also recommend borrowing a few different types of cameras/camcorders and using them for experimenting with how you intend to use your purchase.  There is no substitute for experience.  Hopefully you'll discover things you absolutely need and some that you want. 
      One last note:  For interviews, you may want to investigate three point lighting.
      Good Luck!!!


    • #210116


           I agree with Bill, that a larger sensor camera will give you a better image.  The G6 may be built like a still camera, but it's specifications make it optimal for recording video footage, and it fits in your price range.  That being said, I agree with Bruce in that you will want to invest in a lav mic for good audio during your interviews.  And I agree with those who mentioned lighting.  For interviews, you might want to consider 3-point lighting.  So for best results, you're going to want to invest a little money into more than just your camera.

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