Camcorder or DSLR for my specific needs. Recommendations please?

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums Cameras and Camcorders Consumer Camcorders Camcorder or DSLR for my specific needs. Recommendations please?

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    • #85206

      Hello, everyone. 


      I'm new to this site and am not sure if I posted to the right section. I'm sort of new to video making but I wanted to know of those of you more experienced could help guide me. 


      What I am looking to do is making videos where I am one of the subjects and there won't be anyone behind the camera focusing. So I will need a camera with a view finder that I can turn around and see  myself. Or if I can hook up the camera to my televsion that will be fine too as I can take footage and see everything on a larger screen. 


      I am torn behind getting a nice DSLR camera or a camcorder. I currently purchased a Canon Vixia HF G20 but I am going to return it and if I stick with a camcorder I am going to get the G30 or the XA20. So this gives you an idea of my budget.


      What I am looking for.


      1) A possible hand held remote to help me focus and zoom in and out.


      2) If I get a DSLR will I only be able to put twenty minutes worth of video footage on a memory card? I will more than likely be filming one to three hours of footage that I will eventually edit later to make short films. Can a DSLR do all of this or is my best bet a camcorder?


      Also, since I mentioned what type of camcorder I am thinking of getting I am open to suggestions for a camera around the $1200 mark. I don't like the quality of the Canon Vixia HF G20. But from videos I see on youtube it looks like the XA20 makes muchy nicer looking videos.





    • #211955

      Hi Adrien,

           I would recommend getting a Panasonic GH3.  For all intents and purposes, it's a DSLR, although in reality, it is mirrorless.  You can get one off of B&H for less than $900, or you can probably shop around to get one for even less.  If you don't mind used, you can probably get one for a steal from e-bay.  Just be sure and get a lens for it as well, which you can get a Lumix G Vario 14-42mm lens for about $165 on B&H.  This camera will give you better looking footage than your typical camcorder, and it is not limited to the 20-minute video clip that most DSLRs are limited to.  You'll also find that with a micro 4/3 mount, it can be very versitile when you want to mount other type of lenses, as your skill and needs improve in the future.  In most cases, you'll only need an adaptor to mount other types of lenses.

    • #211960
      Dan Boon

      What specifically don't you like about the G20 footage?


      I wouldn't have thought there would be much difference between those camcorders. Maybe it is technique or post production that is making the XA20 look better?


      As far as focus goes, when i'm filming myself I always go for a camcorder over my slr. Primarily because i don't have to worry about focus (though this does depend on what  you are filming/composition). Something with a larger depth of field is always going to be easier to keep in focus.

    • #211970

      Hi Adrien – there are advantages and disadvantages of both camcorders and DSLRs.


      The advantages of fixed lens camcorders are:
      – they can record for hours continuously (DSLRs in this price range can't)
      – they have viewfinders you can use while you're recording video (DSLR viewfinders are blocked by the mirror when shooting video)
      – they have built in power zoom lenses with silent motors (there are no power zoom lenses for DSLRs in your price range)
      – they have fast, accurate autofocus and silent autofocus motors (many DSLR autofocus motors are slow and barely usable)
      – in this price range, camcorders have headphone jacks and most DSLRs do not (you would need to spend $1800 to get a headphone jack on a Canon DSLR, for example)
      The advantages of DSLRs are:

      – large sensor makes it easier to get "cinematic" shallow depth of field than with a small sensor camcorder


      – interchangeable lenses allow for more creative flexibility


      – body plus lens, they can be less expensive than prosumer camcorders

      Fortunately, you don't really have to choose.  There is a camera in your price range that combines the advantages of the camcorder and the DSLR – the $898 Panasonic GH3 ($760 on eBay, ).
      This camera has a large sensor and interchangeable lenses like a DSLR – but it can also record continuously for hours, has a viewfinder you can use while you're recording video, is compatible with affordable and silent power zoom lenses (like this one for less than $300) – plus it has a built-in headphone jack.
      You can flip this camera's LCD screen forward so you can see yourself while you're recording and you can control it via wi-fi to start recording and focus the image.
      Here are a few examples of the image quality this camera can produce:
      In Camera Slow Motion
      Music Video
      It's a great still camera too:
      I own this camera and it really is the best of both worlds.
      Hope this is helpful and good luck with your decision!


    • #212084

      Wow, guys. Thanks for these great suggestions. I am going to look into the Panasonic GH3. 



    • #212085

      Hello, again.


      So I've been researching the Panasonic GH3 and it looks pretty good. I do have a question for those of you in the know. Is it possible to, instead of using the viewfinder to watch yoursel being recorded, hook up the camera to a television monitor to see a larger image of what is being recorded? For example, the Canon Vixia HF G20 and 30 comes with an HDMI A to C connector so that you can watch what  you're filming live on a television screen. 


      Since it is hard to see a three inch screen from several feet a way, a television monitor connection would really help since it is larger. 



    • #212086

      Great question, Adrien. In video production, it's kind of the norm, if you have the resources, to hook up some sort of monitor to your camera to more easily be able to see what is being shot. It is no different with the GH3. It has an HDMI out that will allow you to hook up a monitor, or TV if you so choose. If you have something like that available to you, I would highly recommend it. 

    • #212087

      Thank you, mcrockett!!

    • #212089

      Maybe consider a proper, but used camcorder – plenty available at good prices as people upgrade (ha ha) to 4K or mega big sensor sizes. These all have outputs for monitors, have decent audio capabiities – most DSLRs are dreadful for audio, and even more bargains if you go for a tape based one, but use the firewire out to go to an external recorder or even a laptop. 


      In the list of pros/cons, for me, now I wear glasses all the time is the fact that on a DSLR, I cannot focus close enough on the LCD to be able to see it properly! Your idea for remote focus will work on a few of these older cams, of the more prosumer kind, but proper cameras don't even have autofocus!

    • #212514

      This is perfect advice and just what I was looking for as well.

      I have one question,


      How fast is the auto focus on the gh3? I am looking for one with the fastest auto focus. Thank you so much

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