what prosumer camcorder should I get as a student? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys, I am a film student looking to purchase my first HD prosumer camcorder. I guess my general question is, can anyone recommend a good one that fits my needs? Specifically, I am looking for:

-HD (1080i or p)
-under $1500
-Not overly complicated (I don't need a gimpy point and shoot, I do want options)
-preferably built-in hard drive or SDHC card slot

I have been looking at the Sony HXR-MC50U which seems like a decent, affordable option. I know it does not offer a ton of options and everything is through a touch screen, but the price is nice and it seems as if the shooting quality is great, at least for a first camera. However, I am also seeing people say "this is by no means meant to be your main camcorder" which is just throwing me off completely.

This will probably be the only camcorder I will own for a while, so I want it to be a versatile and good-quality one. I will most likely be using it with Adobe CS4 (premier, after effects, etc) which I already own.

Any and all opinions/recommendations are welcome! Thanks.
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post #2 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseface View Post

Hi guys, I am a film student looking to purchase my first HD prosumer camcorder. I guess my general question is, can anyone recommend a good one that fits my needs? Specifically, I am looking for:

-HD (1080i or p)
-under $1500
-Not overly complicated (I don't need a gimpy point and shoot, I do want options)
-preferably built-in hard drive or SDHC card slot

Any and all opinions/recommendations are welcome! Thanks.


Canon HF G10 costs under $1,500 and has amazing low light capabilities.
I was at Plimouth Plantation going in and out of the houses from bright daylight to almost dark and it worked great.
You can really grow with the HF G10 it has enough manual controls to suit anyone.

The Panasonic TM900 is also a great camera but it really needs a lot of light to take great video.
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post #3 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 08:35 AM
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In the left column it says this is your first post. Welcome. I am a relatively new member and enjoy this forum a lot.

I too am a film student, but I'm not going to a school. I'm learning with two very smart granddaughters. We are a video team and having a lot of fun. I'm also a gadget/tool junkie. They are not. In less than a year I've bought two 1080p camcorders. One cost $750 and the other $320.

I'm half way through the excellent book "How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck" by Steve Stockman. My first opinion/recommendation is that you read it too. It taught me to be less concerned about the features of the camera and more concerned about my imagination, planning and management.

The Sony HXR-MC50U you are looking at is essentially a HDR-CX550V with a mic and big lens hood attached. If you are asking "Is it cool enough?", the answer is that it absolutely is.

If you are asking "Can I take quality video for less money?", the answer is also yes. The reason is that AVCHD and 1080p have leveled the playing field. Both my cameras put our choice of AVCHD or 1080p video on an SD card. I can play that card directly in several devices.

In fact, my video team has been taking better shots this month with the cheaper camera. I think it is because when we point it at people they are less intimidated by it than the bigger camera. If you are shooting humans with that big lens hood and mic, you are going to have to study the art of calming people down.

So my second opinion/recommendation is to suggest you respond with a little more detail about what your needs are. If I recommend a camera that would do 95% of what you are looking at for half the money, would you be interested? You might not look as "professional" without the mic and square lens hood, but you would have more money left in your wallet. I don't think there is a current camera model on the market now that won't do HD on an SD card! Or, do you want more features, knobs and buttons? For example, there is a new Sony camcorder coming where you can change lenses.

Where is the film school?
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post #4 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 08:35 AM
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Ask yourself what options are on the "pro-sumer" level that you absolutely NEED.. if you write a list of must haves and they don't include the features, don't spend the money.. there are a TON of options out there (including refurbish directly from the manufacturers for 50%+ less than retail)

Remember that $1,500 should also have room to grow for lenses, filters, memory cards, software, tripods, monopods, etc... the list goes on.. make sure you know what you NEED and add those costs FIRST. Then see what you have to work with.. the bottom line is you might be able to purchase something that is capable for 1/3rd of $1,500 minus accessories and consider the next level of advancements in the next two to three years down the road. Right now there is an incredible sweet spot for any HD camcorders. Don't just buy the "latest and greatest"

I'm not knocking the Canon suggestion (it's a REALLY nice camcorder) because I own one, not that model, but I feel I got an incredible deal on my purchase and in two years I could consider using this one as a backup and buying another one that could be a year or two behind the current tech for 1/3rd the price.

Just ask yourself, does the cost of current tech warrant the price and what are those features for that cost? Are they necessary? We always tend to want the more but sometimes it's just not the best decision.

Good luck and let us know what your must haves are and people can hopefully give you fair advice and constructive criticism between models etc...
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post #5 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Cebu View Post

....The Panasonic TM900 is also a great camera but it really needs a lot of light to take great video.

At least a couple of candles need to be lit. Better is to turn on a room light. (I'm grinning here!)
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post #6 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

At least a couple of candles need to be lit. Better is to turn on a room light. (I'm grinning here!)

I am guessing Steve likes a high gamma setting so shadow details are brighter. In that case you would see more low level noise and grain in the image with the TM900 over his G10. Even the images he has posted taken with the TM900 looked good to me and he was unhappy with it. Everybody has different thresholds of noise.
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post #7 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

I am guessing Steve likes a high gamma setting so shadow details are brighter. In that case you would see more low level noise and grain in the image with the TM900 over his G10. Even the images he has posted taken with the TM900 looked good to me and he was unhappy with it. Everybody has different thresholds of noise.

I obviously don't know the man and probably will never meet him. But, I couldn't resist teasing a little about that low light stuff he seems to love. I'm retired and wear glasses so I don't wander around in the dark much. I can do fine with a lesser camera.

Bill
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post #8 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

At least a couple of candles need to be lit. Better is to turn on a room light. (I'm grinning here!)


You need more than a coupe of candles, otherwise I would have kept mine.
The issue I have is that even with room lights on it still wants more light. Other than that it's a great camcorder.
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post #9 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

I am guessing Steve likes a high gamma setting so shadow details are brighter. In that case you would see more low level noise and grain in the image with the TM900 over his G10. Even the images he has posted taken with the TM900 looked good to me and he was unhappy with it. Everybody has different thresholds of noise.


No I don't use a high Gamma setting, But I do want to see on the video exactly what I am seeing with my own eyes. Sure it's really nice that you can make it brighter sometimes, but I want total accuracy with my video, colors, sharpness, etc...
There is no way the TM900 as good as it is can do low light like the HF G10. The TM900 does better bright light video however.
I can't stand noise in a video, it makes it unwatchable after it reaches a certain threshold.
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post #10 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

I obviously don't know the man and probably will never meet him. But, I couldn't resist teasing a little about that low light stuff he seems to love. I'm retired and wear glasses so I don't wander around in the dark much. I can do fine with a lesser camera.

Bill


That's because you are in the NorthWest and everything is brighter up there Bill.
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post #11 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 11:41 AM
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That's because you are in the NorthWest and everything is brighter up there Bill.

I thought it rained up there!
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post #12 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 11:51 AM
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Ok here is a video i took at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth Massachusetts.
I went into a house from it being super bright and sunny outside to dark even to my eyes inside. The only light was from a tiny window with the sun outside.
My shutter speed was set waaaaay too high as I screwed up and forgot to reset it. I think it was actually at 1/250 from what I had been using for my wifes exercises where we need a high speed shutter.
This is super low ambient light. I could have improved the video considerably if I had corrected the shutter speed.
So for me this video is too noisy, but it was my fault, not the cameras. IMO the TM900 could not have done anywhere near this level in this situation.

See for yourself. Watch it in 1080p. It's like looking through a screen door. Oh and yes, I know I am panning too fast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2YPfJmUDts
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post #13 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cebu View Post

Ok here is a video i took at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth Massachusetts.
I went into a house from it being super bright and sunny outside to dark even to my eyes inside. The only light was from a tiny window with the sun outside.
My shutter speed was set waaaaay too high as I screwed up and forgot to reset it. I think it was actually at 1/250 from what I had been using for my wifes exercises where we need a high speed shutter.
This is super low ambient light. I could have improved the video considerably if I had corrected the shutter speed.
So for me this video is too noisy, but it was my fault, not the cameras. IMO the TM900 could not have done anywhere near this level in this situation.

See for yourself. Watch it in 1080p. It's like looking through a screen door. Oh and yes, I know I am panning too fast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2YPfJmUDts

Yeah probably 1/60 would have been suffice and what was your AGC limit set to? Also who cares about how fast you were panning.. lol... this isn't some epic mountain vista scene.

Looks good and with some tweaking it could have been a lot better.. as you had explained.. that's the only pain in the butt about Manual settings, but you almost always get a better shot.. I wonder how AUTO would have handled that.. you should try sometime.. I'm always playing around with my hf s200..
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post #14 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by vdoggie View Post

Yeah probably 1/60 would have been suffice and what was your AGC limit set to? Also who cares about how fast you were panning.. lol... this isn't some epic mountain vista scene.

Looks good and with some tweaking it could have been a lot better.. as you had explained.. that's the only pain in the butt about Manual settings, but you almost always get a better shot.. I wonder how AUTO would have handled that.. you should try sometime.. I'm always playing around with my hf s200..


Auto doesn't work for me at all. It's far too limiting, plus you have to use dynamic stabilization, ugh!
I tried auto a bunch of times but I did have my gain set a bit too high. These are user errors not the camcorders. I normally use 1/60 shutter except for my wifes exercise videos. We need at least 1/250 or it blurs too much for some shots.
panning speed is important, but that was one tiny room and more people were coming in so I just did it quickly.
I used my wife's white purse to set the WB manually and it worked quite well.
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post #15 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cebu View Post

Auto doesn't work for me at all. It's far too limiting, plus you have to use dynamic stabilization, ugh!
I tried auto a bunch of times but I did have my gain set a bit too high. These are user errors not the camcorders. I normally use 1/60 shutter except for my wifes exercise videos. We need at least 1/250 or it blurs too much for some shots.
panning speed is important, but that was one tiny room and more people were coming in so I just did it quickly.
I used my wife's white purse to set the WB manually and it worked quite well.

Interesting.. what stabilization do you normally have it set to?
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post #16 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 03:55 PM
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That's because you are in the NorthWest and everything is brighter up there Bill.

It was until today. Now it will be dark and rainy for 6 months. Time to test my low light capabilities.
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post #17 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by vdoggie View Post

Interesting.. what stabilization do you normally have it set to?


Standard, if you move it up to Dynamic or use Auto mode (which by default uses dynamic stabilization) you can get a funhouse mirror effect on the sides of the picture. Using Standard mode all but eliminates this problem.

I have used Powered IS for shots where I need to be very steady and it works pretty well and no funhouse mirror effect but then again I'm not moving with it in that mode.
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post #18 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

It was until today. Now it will be dark and rainy for 6 months. Time to test my low light capabilities.


We actually had some sun here today!
This year we've seen so many toadstools everywhere as it's been so blasted wet.
Long winter coming....
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post #19 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 06:40 PM
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So, what camcorder is the OP (chaseface) going to buy?
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post #20 of 20 Old 10-11-2011, 07:58 PM
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So, what camcorder is the OP (chaseface) going to buy?

no idea, he hasn't responded and probably wondering why is post got derailed but we see how many of these per week? even I had some questions but it was more about low light.. searching the history is also helpful.
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