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Thread: What camera ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries

    Default What camera ?

    So you want to buy a camera ?

    We have never had it so good! Have we?

    One of the most common questions on this forum is what to buy, and in some ways we are lucky, there is so much to choose from, but unfortunately the hype, blather and bare faced bullshit has multiplied ever faster than the choices available—it’s a minefield and knowing who or what to take as Gospel, obvious it aint. My own opinionated blather follows.

    First piece of advice—Don’t buy a camera. Are you really sure you want / need that bauble of consumer fetishism or is that 600 quid miracle destined to do little more than film every thing you do for a week only to join your George Foreman Grill and foot spa in the back of a cupboard?

    Second pearl of wisdom—Don’t get a new camera, seek out people who ignored the advice given above. My last purchase was a ‘pro’ JVC ( 7000 new) with 100 hours on the drum ( think car odometer, typical service interval 1500 hours) and the geezer only used it on full auto, to you John—1400 .

    Third oubliette of truth—REAL cameras use tapes. We are talking cameras that cost less than 4000 new. And here is how…
    DVD—Data more compressed, poor shock protection, sometimes fiddly to edit, media fragile.
    Hard Drive cameras— Data even more compressed, dam fussy to edit, drives get full and breaks easy.
    Sd card cameras— Often just toys, data even more compressed.

    Tape is an ultra reliable mature format that just didn't need replacing, all these formats are just daft marketing hype. And as for instant capture? More marketing twaddle innit… you have to watch the dam footage a plethora of times edit it—doh!

    Third catchy catechism—Don’t be a pixel whore. Lord Litchfield ( a dead photographer the queen liked) held that you only needed a 2 megapixel camera to take good still pictures, so long as the glass was good. You may want a camera with lots of daft stickers on ( 1080p, HDV, vibrovision, superluxobigcokocam ) but what you really need is a good lens and that will always cost.

    Pixels matter jack shit below two grand so don't count them, kick the sticker habit and a dazzling vista of great used deals come your way as mooks with cash and a sticker obsession unload their DV gear for the latest acronym. Do yourself a favour—get a decent used XL1 or PD170, it’ll spank the pants of most sub 1000 new hdv cameras in most filming situations, except still life.

    Fourth tragic truism— Lower zoom is BETTER. Long zooms are all but unusable without a very good tripod and good for nothing except looking a naked girls (or boys) through bathroom windows. A 20 times zoom is daft on a consumer camera and a lens that is less ambitious will produce a better picture.

    Fifth ranting reality— Specs are irrelevant, ignore them. I am constantly amazed that people buy cameras without trying them out. Would you buy a car without driving it? Course not. How a camera feels is the important thing, not the Mhz of it’s injector manifold. And if some one tells you something about a certain camera the chances are they are wrong unless they own it.
    Last edited by Mark W; 07-07-2008 at 04:39 PM.

  2. Default

    True words of wisdom there Mark, I just had a read before NOT buying a camcorder... Time for more research!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Western Europe


    Mark you should post that info on every section of the forum so no one is in any doubt about what is going on with all the hype. My own personal gripe is ads you see in Sunday supplement mags that advertise 'Amazing Deals on Digital Camcorders... for 99!', (plastic toy gimmick with an SD card) talk about a con and these shopping tv channels are doing the same thing month after month.

    Also there are two certain websites selling camcorders with 'High Definition', in reality they are again gimmicks with a 4 or 5 megapixel digital camera (that must be the high resolution they are referring to) as it isn't high resolution on the video end. The final point is anyone considering buying either a new or second hand camcorder from America, yeah sure the price difference is very tempting but unless you are going to America to see the camcorder, maybe shoot some video with it and make sure it is also working 100% then forget about it.

    Also there is the little matter of it being NTSC, smaller tv screen size, you could probably get the voltage and current sorted but don't count on it, one mistake here and it's goodbye camcorder and your eyebrows. Then the piece de resistance, the grand prix etc is that American warranties don't work in Europe.

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