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Thread: Cam for documentaries, possibly moving footage also.

  1. #1

    Smile Cam for documentaries, possibly moving footage also.

    Hey, first thread here, so hi.

    I'm looking for a pretty budget camcorder. I want to shoot high quality, semi-professional footage.
    My main requirements are:

    *External mic input(s)
    *Easy to transfer to a PC and edit. (I'll be using Sony vegas 7, as I got it on the cheap.)
    *Ability to take stills would be nice, but not a necessity.
    *Either high res LD, or HD. Unsure what I need there, so please educate me.

    Finally, my budget... well. About 200-300.

    I just need a few models to shortlist, as I'm bogged dowm by all the choice.

    Thanks, Louis.

  2. #2


    you can forget HD at that price point. You are pretty much solidly into consumer standard definition camcorders there, so the other thing that might be a big ask at that level is a mic input.

    I've just looked around, and a Canon MD215 has a mic input and is around 200. It's a mini DV cam and for standard def footage I still reckon tape is the way to go. Full non-compressed video, easy to capture and edit on your PC. There is no headphone socket which is kinda expected at that price, but it means that even if you have a nice external mic, audio is a bit of guesswork.

    A Panasonic NV-GS200 is around 300 on ebay which is a 3CDD Mini DV cam with a pretty good spec and a nice Leica lens, Mic in, Headphone out. I seem to remember when it was a current panasonic model it got quite good reviews in the video mags.

    But stuff of this level although pretty good, is not semi-pro level stuff, those sort of cams are the likes of the Canon XL2s and a long way out of your budget. That said a good consumer DV cam in the right hands can pull off amazing things.

  3. #3


    Okay, I think I could stretch to 300 for the NV-GS200 at a massive push, but would take about 7 weeks, by which time the auction has ended, and they're selling at around 500 elsewhere..

    What's the general consensus for mini DV's? Something akin to the Samsung VP-D381?

  4. #4


    both the cams I highlighted are mini DV. I am sure others will agree that for standard definition mini DV tape is the best quality (certainly better than memory card or hard drive cams)

    That samsung cam has no microphone input or headphone output. But for the price is probably quite reasonable

  5. #5


    Well, I guess I'm looking at the MD215, at aroung 160. I understand this has a mic in, but does it have a headphone out?

    Also, with mini DV, can you re-wind and playback on the camcorder? Does this vary model to model? And I understand uploading to a PC must be done in real time?

    Many thanks,


  6. Default

    Not trying to but in, but almost all mini dv camcorders allow you to rewind and playback the tape on the camcorder (Edit: just googled the model to confirm and it does). Like you said, uploading must be done in real time. The model does not have a headphone out (according to canon's website). Also, this model doesn't allow you to manually control audio levels.

  7. #7


    Ok, thanks. The inability to control audio is no biggy, as I can master it on my PC.

    Thanks, will keep you posted on progress.


    Also, for street interviews, and general audio, what kind of mic(s) would you recommend? I see that this camcorder won't have any kind of support rack, so portability/handsfree will play a role.

  8. #8


    Hey, bump to question on mics in previous post.

    Also, re-thinking choice in cam. I can probably stretch my budget a little, at the very, very most 300. Willing to go used, if anyone knows a guy...

    I think it'd be better to pay a bit more now, than have to upgrade, a few months down the line, so yeah, something with mic in, headphone out, decent quality, if possible one of those supports, (shoehorn? I don't know..)

    Much thankage,


  9. #9


    Sorry for the now tripple post, but would something like a refurbed Canon HV30 be good?

    Seeing them for about 270 on ebay, but obv with days to go..

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by superslash1994 View Post
    Sorry for the now tripple post, but would something like a refurbed Canon HV30 be good?

    Seeing them for about 270 on ebay, but obv with days to go..

    I use an HV30 and love it. (Apart from the manual focus wheel, which isn't as nice as a ring), but on the whole it ticks all the boxes for me. You can get some really nice footage from it. There is a whole filmmaking subculture growing up around the web using that cam...

    And you should see some of the pimped up HV30s there are out there, with 35mm adapters, follow focus, external mics, monitor, all on a pro rail system. (See attached file - No that's not mine!)

    Need a really good computer to edit Hi def footage.

    What sort of guarantee are they offering on those refurbed cams?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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