Used prosumer or high-end consumer camcorder? What suits “studio” shooting best? Or do i just need a better “studio”?
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April 1, 2013 at 4:32 PM #55846
Here's my problem forumers.
I run a small business selling small machines. Now, I live in Australia – a big place – and the gear isn''t valuable enough to set up "distributors" in every state.
Yet – customers do like to see the units in action and frequently request demonstrations. So I offer a compromise. The customer sends me their samples and I take a video showing my little machines working on their actual products. Their samples are returned to them and I email them a link to an (unlisted) YouTube video.
This approach has enabled me to sell a few machines that I otherwise would not have – simply because the customer can actually see the unit working on their own product.
I have a simple setup with a white backdrop and a couple of lights. I use my smartphone to shoot the video and use Windows Movie Maker to edit the movie (but have access to and know how to use Premiere CS5). The process is pretty quick and easy.
Recently I decided to take the plunge and buy a camcorder, since the phone does lack somewhat, especially in the "closeup" stakes and low-light performance. I purchased and tried a low-end JVC HD Everio GZ-E205 and also a Sony CX-190 . However – I was disappointed in the end result, even after a few hours of experimentation with the various manual settings. No better than what I can achieve on the phone camera, really. I found the video was not as sharp as I had hoped and lacked "saturation"..
I then began to go in circles. Do I upgrade my smartphone (I have an old SG2)? Do I buy a used prosumer like the Canon XH or XL, since my budget does not extend to a new one? Do I go for a "top-end" consumer like the G10? Do I avoid the need for a more expensive camera by improving the lighting with a series of some of those multi-LED lights? A DSLR is not an option, I prefer something dedicated to video.
I have spent the whole weekend bouncing from model to model, from forum to review, and am no closer to a solution. My concern with a Prosumer is the use of tapes and the size of the units (plus the inherint risks in buying something used). My concern with a good consumer version is that they won't be that much better than the 2 I have tried so far, in spite of the 2 or 3 times price difference.
I reckon my budget is about AUD $500-700, maybe (but not ideally) a bit more. I need to shoot at both a short distance for an overview, and also very close-up. I want something convenient and easy, compact, fast to setup and fast to download and import to the computer.
Some experienced opinions would be welcome.
April 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM #206773
Hi sKraeL, thank you for the thorough description of the challenge. You have discovered the camcorder manufacturers' little secret – smartphones produce better video than entry-level camcorders! My guess is that this will eventually kill low-end camcorder sales.
I recommend you stay away from tape if you want something "easy, compact…and fast to download and import…"
Modern cameras record to SD cards – pull the card out of the camera and insert it in your computer – very simple.
You shouldn't have to upgrade your "studio" to get the results you want. With a budget of AUD $500 to $700, I would take a serious look at the Panasonic FZ200 bridge camera, the best video-capable camera in its class.
It may not look like a traditional camcorder, but here is what this camera can do:
Closeup (and slow motion):
Low light documentary indoors (shot in 3 hours – this camera is very easy to use):
- You can get one new on eBay AU for AUD $462.60.
Hope this is helpful,
April 1, 2013 at 10:45 PM #206775
Thanks, Bill. Just the sort of insight I was looking for.
I'm sure camcorders have their place still, although clearly that place is shrinking along with IMHO the point-and-shoot cameras.
What concerns me about a SLR or DSLR is the focusing speed. I briefly tested my Canon 60D with it's Tamron zoom lens and was not impressed by the struggle to auto-focus in low-light. Perhaps results would have been different with the standard Canon lens. I don't plan to use my own personal DSLR for work either – I don't want to drag it around between home and work and lose or damage it.
I will have a good look over the Lumix and have a look at those videos tonight.
I do like the appeal of having a good quality still camera also. I usually take some closeup shots of my print results and feature them at the end of the video and so having a decent camera on hand for that would be nice.
April 1, 2013 at 10:54 PM #206776
Hmmm. A quick look at the ebay listing show it is a "US" model. Should I be worried about PAL/NTSC (IIRC we are on PAL video here in Oz) considering I am looking at it specifically for video?
April 2, 2013 at 2:52 AM #206777
Looks like I should be wary of the Ebay offerings. Grey imports and no guarantee they are PAL since brick and mortar stores mention PAL models specifically.
Why a hybrid over a top end G10?
I could stretch the budget if it offered a significant advantage, although the SLR seems to tick many boxes.
April 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM #206804RobParticipant
I just registrated myself to be able to give my opinion on this topic.
Panasonic you can go for , but the fs200 with his 28mm F2.8 is not the best for your small studio.
As you need wider (for your overview shots)
and brighter there is for you a real winner available from Panasonic as well.
The killer-camera 4you2 : ……….. Panasonic Lumix LX7
Super macro, 100f/s slomo (Pal), 24-90 mm F1.4-F2.3 , 1080/50p AVCHD / 1080/25p Mp4.
fast AF etc. etc.
Yes, i have myself this little baby and therefore recommend this one 100%. 2you2.
The results you'll get will be better then you first thought would be possible. 🙂
Please put some trust in me and just go for it, your films will sell a lot of machines 4you.
PS. My stuff: 🙂
Filming gear :
Canon Legria HF 100
Canon Legria HF 200
Panasonic Lumix LX7
Fuji S5 Pro
April 3, 2013 at 9:32 PM #206807David ForresterMember
Having been in your shoes, here is the bottom line from my experience of a Canon 5D Mk2, Sony7 Z5 (tape-3 chip, 20x zoom) and Sony FS100 – S35 sensor.
The very best image by far is the Sony FS100. Clean, clear, gorgeous results. Easily take night shots, great latitude, no grain, needs good optics. Can be expensive – $5000 + optics – and they better be good optics!
The pro Z5 has auto or manual everything – great run and gun. 20X zoom, decent image, poor low light compared to the FS100. Compact – does OK in good lighting. Tape based.
Canon 5D. Stills with motion, but not nearly as clean as the FS100. Has a great shallow depth of field – artsy camera. Of course, takes superb stills!
Smart phones – don't even go there.
If you want quality, you will have to bite the bullet – there is no getting out of it. Don't cheap out. The FS100 is mind blowing for what it can do. I have tried the so called economical route and unless you get a great deal used, cameras will give to you what you pay for – it simply costs money to make a great image. CHEAP, FAST, QUALITY. Pick any 2 at the expense of the third.
April 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM #206816
Hi sKreaL – I apologize for pointing you in the direction of NTSC cameras. You are correct to want a PAL camera in case you'd like to output your kids sports videos to the TV. Sadly, it is a challenge to find a local PAL FZ200 – but some of the HK sellers on eBay have very high positive feedback. I am in the States, but have had good luck ordering from them.
And another PAL unit for AUD$553 with a 14 day return.
The LX7 is a fine camera, but you're right about the limited zoom range.
Again, hope this is helpful!
April 4, 2013 at 11:48 PM #206829RobParticipant
Hi2all once more,
F2.8 versus F1.4 :
It's a huge difference, with video 4sure, as you have to work with 1/25 second with the Panasonics.
Be happy with that, many older camera's work with 1/50 Pal or 1/60 Ntsc as minimum shutterspeed. (= costing right away 1/2 the light what's available)
I will try to give a nice example:
We take a lamp from 200 Watt and film with (imagine with all camera's at once) a scene.
All films looks nice.
We take now a lamp from 100 Watt and film again.
The older camera-film start to look a little muddy, colours not so nice anymore.( and grainy)
The pano's still look nice. 🙂
So forget 1/50 and 1/60.
Now F2.8 – F2.0 – F1.4 difference equals 100W – 50W – 25W.
Hmmmm, it looks like the LX7 let 4x more light in then the LZ200 !
You can compensate when you change the ISO in the F2.8 camera.
LX7 lets say film on 800ISO, means the LZ200 must use ISO3200.
The FZ200 film start to look a little muddy, colours not so nice anymore. (and grainy)
The LX7 still look nice. 🙂
So, (at a given ISO) a F1.4 lens let 4x more light in then a F2.8 ?
With your lighting setup in your studio i know what i would use.
For filming outside your boys please forget the LX7, it have no viewfinder and in bright daylight you
see nothing !!! on your LCD !!!!
Here the FZ200 is a clear winner.
What do do ?….. hhmmm,…….. BUY BOTH !!
Have a nice day,
April 5, 2013 at 2:47 AM #206831
sKraeL – in my view, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Here is a video similar to yours, shot with the FZ200 (please watch at 1080p):
The translation of the Russian is:
How-to origami "tulip", video instructions: How to fold Origami "Tulip flower" – Video Instruction. Also video test. Test mode Full HD video camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200. Demonstration and shooting Andrew Turtsevich.
I don't know what Andrew's lighting setup is, but f2.8 is plenty fast enough for anything but a cave 🙂
I would get the FZ200.
Cheers and good luck!
April 29, 2013 at 1:51 AM #207147
Well, I finally made a decision.
For me, it ended up being the LX7, after long and hard consideration and investigation.
I chose it for a few reasons.
Firstly, I was impressed by it's low-light performance. This video (a direct comparison between the 2, shot under identical conditions) helped, showing (IMHO) a better, deeper colour reproduction. Less work in post for me.
Secondly, it's size and seemingly rugged design. I went and got my hands on each. The FZ200 was a quality device, but I found it a bit "plasticky" whereas the LX7 was a sturdy, robust feeling unit. It's compact size compared the the DSLR'esque FZ200 meant flexibility if I needed to take it somewhere – since I already have a DSLR (EOS60D plus 18-270 lens).
Finally, price. I considered both units from local "bricks and mortar" stores. I would have purchased one from here (at $550 and $670 respectively) because no "grey import" units had the ability to return to a local supplier. For the $150 or so difference it didn;t seem worth it. Then I stumbled across one from a company called Kogan (http://www.kogan.com/au/buy/panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx7-black-digital-camera/) whohad them listed for $309!!. I just couldn't pass it up. It came from HK, arrived within a week or so and I *think* it is an NTSC model ("for US only") but having done a bit of research this shouldn't be a massive issue for me (apparently only if you happen to want to connect it to a TV directly).
Main drawbacks compared to the FZ200? Well – "no" zoom for one. This mean I had no close-in zoom option if I wanted to take the camera and use it at kids school events etc. Secondly, no viewfinder, although these are available as "add-ons" if I wanted one. Thirdly, no external microphone, a pain if I wanted to start taking video more seriously. Lastly, No flip out screen, which can be useful.
Still, I am very happy with it so far. Time will tell if it ends up taking better video than the cheaper camcorders (I'm sure it will).
A big thanks to all in this thread who took the time to help with their advice.
April 4, 2013 at 4:46 AM #206813
I think you understand quite well.
I do like the idea of a wider overview shot and better low light.
But that wonderful long zoom is so tempting for me to take for kids sport videos also although it is supposed to only be for work!
I guess I have to decide on priorities.
April 4, 2013 at 4:50 AM #206814
I just can’t justify that cost. If I were a pro and doing it for a living?… yes. But for someone amateur after the next significant upgrade from a phone camera … no.
April 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM #206820David ForresterMember
What do you mean by justify? Haven't the money? – OK, fair enough. Thinking of value for the quality and trying to quantitate it – that is false economy. IF you want good images, there is a threshold between poor, good, great, best. These dedicated video cameras give you superb audio and XLR inputs and without good audio, you only have half the story. Simply put, you need to have great audio. DSLR's don't work – period. You have to get an accessory mic, or an adapter to get XLR's mics into it. Been there, can't skip out on this one.
The only other next best solution from what I have heard is the Panasonic GH2 or 3 that has had rave reviews and can compete close to the others. Haven't tried it, but there is lots to make you eyes open up. And it is cheaper – about $1,000 range. But then you need the optics. So add another $1000 for a decent lens or 2.
As I said: CHEAP, FAST, QUALITY. Pick any 2 at the expense of the 3rd.
April 4, 2013 at 10:56 PM #206826
Thanks again for your help, Bill.
I don't mind paying a little bit extra to purchase from a local bricks-and-mortar store. I'd pay it as "insurance" to avoid headaches! I've managed to locate both cameras in my area, just a matter of being prepared to pay the price.
It really seems that I can't go wrong with either the FZ200 or the LX7 for my needs.
The real question becomes what do I sacrifice? The awesome zoom of the FZ200 trades off against the wider angle and better low-light performance of the LX7.
So I'd have to say by the sounds of it, the LX7 is a better fit for my current need, but the FZ200 will let me use the camera outside of work to video the kids at sports or school events.
So – work or play?
I guess it depends on how MUCH improvement there is between a F1.4 and a F2.8. I have to try to grasp the concept of what Rob said above, that of the wider angle. I do know I sometimes being able to capture a slightly larger scene would prove useful.
The Sony CX-190 I tried had a F/1.8-3.2 but took horrible video – even more horrible zoomed. So obviously lens aperture is NOT the be-all-and-end-all of performance under "low-light" conditions.
Frankly, I don't even know if my (euphamistically termed "studio") setup really qualifies as "low-light" since it is pretty well lit.
Let me direct you to a sample demonstration video and maybe someone could suggest whether the LX7 is needed or FZ200 may serve.
Here is the video I ended up taking with the JVC:
The above was edited in Premiere to lighten further and re-coloured from the greyish washed-out first edit. I really don't want to spend so much time in "post" to make up for poor original footage.
So, will a FZ200 do a (much) better job than the example above?
April 4, 2013 at 11:24 PM #206827
I have the money, David – but in business you have to be able to justify an investment. You have to be able take say, $2000 and decide what split of that budget will improve your business the most.
For me, I'd spend $2K on a camera for about $500-$700 and a compact vertical milling machine plus tooling for $1000 – leaving me $300 or thereabouts to spend on purchasing a domain and a years worth of hosting on a new website for a different product (which may or may not "take off").
But I hear what you are saying.
Last year my wife and I decided to invest in a Canon EOS 60D, which – including a Tamron zoom lens, cost us about $1400. We just wanted to be able to better capture the kids moments and BOY was I not disappointed!
You can REALLY see the difference between it and the little Ixus we were using – there was just no comparison – they were worlds apart and I have taken some absolutely gorgeous shots.
Funnily, I felt the need to "live up to" the quality of the camera and have spent a lot of time watching videos, and reading online photography tutorials just to improve my technique to best take advantage of the machine.
So now I am the "go to" guy in the family who gets invited to events with the "… and don't forget your camera" stipulation added to the end of the invitation.
I just don't know if it is justified to take the step right now. A more natural progression would seem to be phone camera > hybrid slr > prosumer/pro camera.
April 5, 2013 at 12:37 AM #206830
Oh boy Rob. Great info Thank you!
Most of my “kids” scenarios will be for videos indoors like if they are on stage or on the mat at judo or something.
I can live with awful screens outdoors and if it is really that bad I can. get an electronic reminder like
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