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Thread: What Camera? Product Video Etc

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    Hi Andy,
    I will join in this chat as - nearly always - I will agree with all that Tim advises. I have looked at some of the videos within your link supplied and the ones with Charlie talking direct to camera are quite good (could be better as Tim says) but the others with no sound at all are just not on. A little bit of appropriate music plus some suitable voice-overs – added in post production of course, would make a 100% improvement.

    On the subject of camera hardware I have sometimes felt that the DSLRs are mainly still cameras with video possibilities. They improve with each generation of course. As I got older I found that my main quite large semi-pro camcorder was getting too much for many of my jobs, so I bought the Panasonic X920. This has been suggested to you by Tim. I have been more than pleased with the picture results and it has full manual controls etc. However I frequently use its auto setting and been very pleased with the results. On a slightly different angle, when I want to be inconspicuous out and about, I use the X920 as it's quite small, but when I want to appear ‘professional’ I use my big camera that has on many occasions gained me entry where the typical amateur Joe is kept out.

    Overall, I too would suggest that for your needs a good camcorder will do all you require.

    All the best. Wynn.
    Last edited by Wynn Stedders; 11-09-2017 at 10:10 AM.

  2. Default

    All great advice so far.

    I wanted to add a camera recommendation.

    For sure camcorders are far easier to use. The issue is quality vs DSLR, but a camcorder with a 16mm chip (also called 1” type) will give great quality, beyond your typical camcorder look.

    I personally went with the Panasonic FZ2500 for ease of use. The body is like a DSLR, but the features are like a camcorder. Integrated lens means no fiddling with lenses, everything is easy to use and designed for video. Great-looking 4K. Records to SD cards. It is just all around easy and cheap (for the quality and features) to get going and use.

    You can set it to auto and get great video from day 1, and you can spend 50 hours learning it and get even greater video migrating to manual features over time.

    I recommend a bundle with a 128GB class 10 SD card (the 4K eats up the memory fast). This is the kit I bought:
    http://amzn.to/2zHkmZ3

    If you need to go cheaper, the Panasonic G7 is a very close cousin to the GH4.

    If you need to go even cheaper, high-end Canon Vixia camcorders can be had used for a fraction of their original price and are a joy to use. I bought a Vixia HF s20 for $250 a couple years back and it is a trusty workhorse. Video quality is not in the realm of DSLR, but still much better than a smartphone.


    If you need a mic, this guy gets the job done every time:
    http://amzn.to/2hXnbee

    Construction feels kind-of cheap but it hasn’t failed me yet. I have 2 of these.

    And as mentioned, the lighting is more than half of the video’s ‘feel’. I would look into a CFL lightbox kit. They can be very cheap and the light quality is great. No less than 400w (equiv) per box. And it doesn’t hurt to have a spare (I had one fail on me during a shoot.)

  3. Default

    To Wynn and Jo and all other replies so far - Thank you so much ! all great advice and support , making the fog of buying this equipment much much clearer!

    I am sure to be spending a lot of time here in the future I think as I go down the line next year to start to producing some quality video.

    In the meantime, I will look at all the products here recommended to me in detail, so I might be pinging back some more questions....

    I am also looking at doubling the RAM in my PC from 8gb to 16gb to handle larger files.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kubrick View Post
    Assuming I had the budget, what does this camera (below) do differently? I am assuming this camera would require some serious additional computer hardware / technical know-how ?

    Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro
    Short answer - Lots.
    Slightly longer answer - Lots including plenty I wouldn't begin to understand

    But some of the key factors:
    Interchangeable lenses. A good image starts with a good piece of glass. The lenses on "our" sorts of cameras are bound to be a compromise - not as clear and not as true (free from distortion in shape and colour) as professional models. Professional lenses tend to capture more light, enabling you to shoot at lower light levels.
    High dynamic range. The difference between the brightest parts of the picture which are clearly defined and the darkest parts of the image which are clearly defined. The human eye is great at distinguishing items at both ends of the brighness scale. Camera sensors tend to be more of a compromise the cheaper they are.
    Shooting in RAW. My camera and yours will make a compromise when creating images - some of the detail has to be thrown away otherwise it would not have the time and/or capacity to write it to the media. Even with cameras that throw away much of the detail, the results can be excellent - the difference is in the ability to tweak the result in post.
    SDI - so you can connect this and other cameras to a broadcast desk for live mixing.
    Those would be my key points, others may have different views.
    Would I like one - you bet!
    Would I be able to shoot with it .... maybe ... one day
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    For sure camcorders are far easier to use. The issue is quality vs DSLR,
    I'm not sure I agree. They can look (very) different, but I don't think it's and issue of quality - as in good versus bad, it's more a case that camcorders often look more "video" whereas the holy grail of many film makers is the "film look" which is better served by DSLRs (and in particular shallow depth of field achieved by a combination of larger sensors and being able to chose the right lens. DSLR shooters often prefer a "softer" look as well as that is considered by many to be more "filmic".
    For product videos, however, a video look is often preferable. I carries with it more of an honesty - everything is in focus, it doesn't look like it's been mucked around with in post.

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    You can set it to auto and get great video from day 1, and you can spend 50 hours learning it and get even greater video migrating to manual features over time.
    A good plus point (can do similar with the better Panasonics, Canons etc mentioned elsewhere). One thing to watch out for - most of these have their manual settings hidden away in menus which doesn't exactly encourage one to master manual.

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    If you need to go even cheaper, high-end Canon Vixia camcorders can be had used for a fraction of their original price and are a joy to use. I bought a Vixia HF s20 for $250 a couple years back and it is a trusty workhorse. Video quality is not in the realm of DSLR, but still much better than a smartphone.
    Great advice. Definitely look at 2nd user camcorders. Last years model can be a real bargain. Come to think of it, of the three camcorders I've owned, only the first was new, the others were "one generation" out of date second hand and cost me less than half what they were replaced with.
    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    If you need a mic, this guy gets the job done every time:
    http://amzn.to/2hXnbee
    And the most important thing is to get your mic as close to the source as possible, so, unless you're filming right in the face of your subject, get the thing off the camera
    Tim

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    Re:Mic
    I realized I recommended a shotgun mic, but in terms of getting started with audio, a lavalier is probably the easiest thing to capture good quality under most scenarios. It is well worth it to keep both types around.


    Tim,

    I feel that for me, the issue with camcorders in terms of quality is the sensor size. At the end of the day, I like very much what my Vixia is doing in most recording scenarios, but what holds it back is the sensor size which means poor low-light quality and an overall less defined image in anything less than perfect lighting. The next level up of camcorders can have bigger sensors (1"-type or even 4/3) and then the difference is less noticeable.

    In some cases I still prefer the footage from the Vixia over the FZ2500, particularly in situations where the lighting is odd, and when I'm filming something that's far away from the frame at 1080. The Vixia usually does an impression job sorting out the exposure and the people at a distance somehow looked better defined than the equivalent on the FZ2500. The FZ2500 far outshines the Vixia when shooting 4K (the Vixia can't, and the FZ2500 really deliver quality footage), which makes a huge difference when shooting in a controlled setting.

    Having said all of that, my opinion is that if you can get your hands on a large-ish sensor camcorder, than that's probably the best bet for easy video. The thing is that most camcorders with a good-size sensor will be more expensive than entry level DSLR-type cameras. When you compare cost to quality, for less than $1500 you could be on a used Sony A7-like shooting full frame with prime lenses and making cinema-quality footage. It won't be quite as easy to use, but it is worth fiddling for the end result.

    However, camcorders just work. I personally went with the FZ2500 because of the way the features are designed very much like a camcorder (while retaining plenty of DSLR-like manual control at will.) When I started shooting with the Vixia a while back I realized just how important it is to be on equipment that wants to do a good job and feels reliable. My Canon DSLR's feel like they don't want to shoot video and are constantly letting me down (missed focus, turns itself off after 12mins, etc). While the 1080 out of my Canon 60D can be brilliant under the right lighting, the 4K out of the FZ2500 is easier to get, is near perfect when filming in a controlled environment (and subjects that are close to the camera), and it feels much more like a camcorder than the DSLRs ever want to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    Re:Mic
    I realized I recommended a shotgun mic, but in terms of getting started with audio, a lavalier is probably the easiest thing to capture good quality under most scenarios. It is well worth it to keep both types around.
    Indeed, even a cheap (like £20) lav is likely to give better sound (for interview) than a camera mounted shotgun, but a shotgun off the camera and just out of frame will give a good sound too.
    Tim

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Indeed, even a cheap (like £20) lav is likely to give better sound (for interview) than a camera mounted shotgun, but a shotgun off the camera and just out of frame will give a good sound too.
    I realize that recommending a shotgun mic has to go with a recommendation on how to use it. A shotgun mic has to be within 3-4 feet to be effective. Any more than 5-6 feet at most and you are back to audio problems in most scenarios.

    My issues with lavs is that they are in the shot, you have to tether talent to your recording setup, and if the talent moves they can cause scratching noises and volume variances. An easy solution would be to use wireless lavs partially hidden beneath clothing, pro talent that know how to use the lavs, and extra crew to help keep things organized. That's why I like shotgun mics.

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