Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Over the past twelve months Iíve been running a one-man film company in Brighton, England called NP Video www.npvideo.co.uk At present I have a Panasonic NV-GS120EB, one of the first consumer camcorders to incorporate 3 CCDís and a Rode Stereo Videomic external microphone. While the resulting footage and sound are quite good, they fall short on the following:
1) The Panasonicís auto gain control (AGC) cannot be changed to manual and there are no other means of reducing gain input. The Rode mic can handle sound pressure up to 130db, far higher than the Panasonicís AGC can cope with. This means that even moderately loud audio distorts occasionally, even with the micís 10db cut switched on.
2) Lens size and closeness to the stage means I have to attach a wide angle lens if I want an overview shot which means I then have problems zooming and focusing. It isnít possible to move further back sometimes without the view been obscured or sound smothered by audience noise. Do larger camcorders with bigger lenses capture more of a scene or is lens size irrelevant?
3) The Rode mic does not zoom and hasnít got a Ďshotguní pick up pattern. Sounds are captured uniformly from the front, sides and some rear noise, rather than focusing on primary sound from vocals and instruments. The mic also appears not to pick up the highest frequencies as well as other parts of the audio spectrum, making recorded audio sound slightly dulled. Outside recordings sound good though slightly strange as if theyíve been recorded inside a vast hall. Stereo separation is a bit muddy though each instrument is clear and distinct.
4) Hot shoe versus cold shoe pros and cons e.g. the internal zoom function doesnít work on external microphones although apparently it does if the microphone / camcorder have compatible hot shoe fittings? Also, which camcorders / mics are compatible and if not can they be fitted with an adapter? I am completely confused by this subject.
5) 3 CCDís capture excellent footage outside during daylight hours. Unfortunately they are smaller than the ones found in single CCD camcorders so footage can be under exposed in low light, which is the usual lighting for gigs. The scope for manual adjustment of light entering the iris seems a bit limited on the GS-120. Do I have to buy a camcorder with three large CCDís (probably costing megabucks) to get better exposed footage in low light?
6) Spotlighting on the main vocalist / performer is often too bright resulting in over exposure particularly on their face. Is it best to try and combat this at the time with balance adjustments or is there an effect within an editing program like Pinnacle Studio which can adjust this portion of the scene without affecting colour and exposure of the other parts? Iíve tried both with varying degrees of success.
I am planning to buy another camcorder and a stereo zoom mic to complement my existing setup. The new camcorder would be the main recording one with primary sound input while I film close-ups and cutaways with the old GS-120. Iíve read good reviews about the Panasonic PV Ė GS400 but then found web articles saying a fair few have noise issues relating to misaligned components. My budget is £400 - £700 for the camcorder and around £200 for the microphone. Iím going to New York in March and want to take advantage of the exchange rate but I am concerned about customs charges and knowing for sure that the camcorder I buy can record in PAL not just NTSC.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
PS The kit has to go on my back and on a bicycle (which is a racer so no panniers or baskets etc) so any recommendations on purpose designed rucksacks and tripod holders would be great. I know it sounds weird but the bicycle is honestly one of the best ways of getting round Brighton.