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Thread: camcorder purchase advice. Where can I try a camera out?

  1. #1

    Default camcorder purchase advice. Where can I try a camera out?

    Hello,
    I wonder if anyone can help me out - I'm looking to set up a camera rig with a decent prosumer HD camera. My budget is about 2000 - 2500 for camera plus another 500 for peripherals (mic, tripod case etc). I'm not precious about this division of resources, its just a ball park. I have experience but its going back a few years and its all DV so HD is new to me, including the different compression types. I'm buying this for a theatre company myself and my girlfriend are starting. Therefore it will mostly be used to film workshops and live productions, with probably wedding gigs on the side to make money, live music concerts, budget music videos and experimental 'pretty' footage for arty installations. Good low light performance is essential, as is a pro form factor, 1080p recording, xlr inputs with auto sound levels options as I'll mostly be shooting on my own. I'll be editing in either final cut studio (or occasionally premiere pro cos i'm quicker on it) on a decent macbook pro. I have a longer term plan to buy a desktop just for editing so provided the MBP can handle the data for now I can work with it and catch up later with a better system. I understand there are workflow issues with this.
    Any camera advice up to here would be really helpful. I'd love someone to just recommend a camera but I understand its down to taste and various other things
    There are a few cameras in this range and the panasonic hmc150 seems to do a lot for the price when compared to apparently equivalent sony and canon models (I've looked at millions, someone more learned than I could elucidate this comparison). But I have used z1s and xl1s' and understand the form and menus of these manafacturers better than panasonic. Without hiring any or all cameras in the 2 grand range, is there anywhere its possible to get your hands a few, even for ten minutes? There don't seem to be any outlets near manchester but I can't believe the only way to have a go is to hire or purchase straight away having never properly checked out a full HD work flow. It is well too big an investment to just point and choose I think.
    What would anyone else in my position do? I'm a little stuck which is a drag as i've got the money but feel paralysed by indecision.
    Thanks in advance for any tips or direction

  2. #2

    Default

    I've been in your position and know it's difficult to say which one will give you the most bang for your buck. When your spending a lot of dosh like that you might be better off going to a video trade show or one of the better video cameras. You don't have to buy from them but you will get good advice from them. The other thing you need to brace your self for is upping your budget. For example 500 for everything else is not enough. 500 on the tripod head alone would be about right. [IMG]file:///C:/Users/Dave/AppData/Local/Temp/DefaultEmoticons/Emoticon1.gif[/IMG] Don't make the mistake of buying a compromise item, only to realise it is to much of a compromise after a few months and then wish you'd gone for the more expensive one.

    I can't recommend a particular camera to you as I'm not an expert. BUT don't dismiss the new bread of cameras with interchangeable lens that are starting to come out. Like the Panasonic AG AF101 but also give yourself a budget for the lens. The final piece of advice is to not short buy on the sound recording side of things. Remember this is an audio visual media not just a visual media.

    This is just my humble opinion so take it or leave it as you wish.

    Good luck.

  3. #3

    Default Tripod and whatnot

    Cheers for getting back to us blue. As I say, the division of cash is not set in stone, and I would be prepared to stretch (though 500 for a tripod head seems a real push. I can't suppose I couldn't make do with something more modest). The trade fair seems like a good idea but I think i'd almost take the inferior expert knowledge of someone in a shop for their impartiality. Anyway, I'll look into some exhibitions. That af101 looks sweet, and my temptation is to keep pushing my budget as I'm on a borrow anyway but I have to set some guidelines. It is 250% of my intended budget. This has changeable lenses Sony Handycam NEX VG10E Camcorder - 1080i - 14.6 MP - 11 x optical zoom - Black
    but apparently the sound is bobbins and I'm too green on lenses to see how realistically I could keep acquiring them, or how many I'd need. I fancied a DSLR but this inflexibility put me off (along with bad sound), where a video camera can switch between different types of shooting. I'm waffling. I appreciate your advice. Guess I just have to keep at it...

  4. #4

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    I you decide on a camera without XLR inputs I would recommend a separate recording device like the Zoom H4n. As a compromise budget tripod I found the Velbon DV-7000 to be good for it's price but you get what you pay for with a tripod. This would leave you money for a nice shot gun mic.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
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    I can second Midnight's thumbs up for the Velbon DV-7000 - it's surprisingly good for the money but do not betempted to go for the DV6000 (which is what I bought). The head with that is notorious for seizing up (as mine did) after a while and there's no fix. I've long since upgraded to the Manfrotto 501-HDV head, though the 503 (at roughly double the price) is superior. Midnight's got one of those and is generally pleased with it. But we really get into the law of diminishing returns.

    The Panasonic HMC150 (or 151 in the UK) would be my camera of choice if I could afford it, but it rather eats up the whole of your budget. Being current, you're not likely to get a 2nd user one either.

    As regards the XLR input, if your camera only has 3.5mm jack, you can but a Beachtek or Juiced Link pre-amp, which will enable you to take 2 or 4 XLR mic and mix them into two channels to 3.5mm jack. My research suggested the Juiced Links are better, being powered preamps, but even the most basic (2 channels, no phantom) are a smidgin under 200 and rare second hand on eBay (I eventually got one for 100). Add to that the additional set-up, another link in your sound chain, another battery to keep checking etc and oncamera XLRs soon seem sensible - even though they ad what appears to be a disproportionate amount to the cost.

    The neat thing about the H4n, is (I believe I'm correct in saying - Midnight please confirm) you can record from the built in mics at the same time as one or two plugged in mics. So, get your ambient sound from the built in mics, directional sound from a shotgun and clean sound from a lav all in one hit.
    Tim

  6. #6

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    The neat thing about the H4n, is (I believe I'm correct in saying - Midnight please confirm) you can record from the built in mics at the same time as one or two plugged in mics. So, get your ambient sound from the built in mics, directional sound from a shotgun and clean sound from a lav all in one hit.
    That's right it has different recording modes, so you can record up to 4 separate tracks at the same time two channels for the internal stereo mics and two channels for the two external mics.

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