HD cam recommendation under $400 or so for martial arts classes & tourneys - AVS Forum
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, folks. I'd like some HD camcorder recommendations in cameras under $400 (preferably; I can go a bit higher in price). I will use the camera most heavily to shoot video in my martial arts classes,and some at tournaments and demonstrations off site.

My needs:

1. It will be mostly hand held (no tripod use). So, maybe good image stabilization.

2. Obviously, some action will be fast, whatever those needs mean.

3. Videographers (me/instructors) will sometimes be shooting while moving/walking around. Again, not sure what that means for needs.

4. I'll be zooming to get in and out on action and faces.

5. Lighting is not great, but OK; overhead florescent tubes.

6. Battery life! (or affordable second batteries). The Canon Vixia models seemed good, but get horrible battery life reviews.

7. I prefer flash memory, and just external SD cards are fine with me; I don't see the need for internal memory, but that would be OK. Memory format might be the lowest priority compared to other factors, though.

8. I like the notion of standard video formats (e.g. MP4), but as long as I can transfer it to get it into my windows laptop for uploading to the web or otherwise editing, I guess anything can be fine.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:49 PM
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Welcome to AVS Forum. If you going to be moving around as your recording video I would suggest looking at Sony models. They have the best image stabilization while moving in consumer camcorders.

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Old 05-25-2012, 09:12 PM
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I saw a promo of martial arts school shot with a DSLR. Way cool, even with practical light only.
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Correia View Post

.....I'd like some HD camcorder recommendations in cameras under $400...

Your list of needs matches two well liked Sony cameras. The "old" HX9V that you may still be able to find, or theri replacements the HX30V and HX20V that are priced a little higher but have a few more features and a couple upgrades.

The don't look like traditional camcorders. Instead they are in the current group of multi tasking "hybrids". An instructor that is focused on students will probably take advantage of automatic point and shoot features, as well as good image stabilization. This group of cameras do that well.

For reference, you may want to read an article posted today at c/net News: Sony HX9V vs HX30V

If you search YouTube for HX9V you'll find a large number of sample videos and "tests" demonstrating the quality of the video.

Sony also provides capable software to take care of your 8th requirement.

Bill
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Old 05-26-2012, 05:07 PM
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Chris - The HX9V is a great hybrid still/video camera for the price, but for your needs I'd recommend the new Panasonic HC-V500 - marked down from $499 to $385 right now at Amazon. Its new Hybrid O.I.S. will keep your shots steady, it has the equivalent of 52X zoom, it has a built in LED lamp to help with low light situations and it comes with HD Writer AE 4.0 (Windows only) software for editing, archiving and sharing your footage. With a $27 4000mAh Wasabi battery, you should have all the battery life you need.

Cheers,

Bill
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:43 AM
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For the sake of discussion, I'm going to suggest why I disagree with Bill (brunerww). My reasons are from personal experience. For over a year I have had a Panasonic camcorder similar in size and shape to the HC-V500 and an HX9V. Both were purchased after reading a lot on this forum and other research. Recently I bought a Panasonic FZ150 "super zoom" for my wife. That was also influenced by discussion on this forum, including opinions from Bill.

First is the question of video quality. Of course there have to be technical differences and skilled or trained pros or prosumers can analyze that. My experience is a little different. Any time I show a 1080p or other AVCHD quality video to anyone on a large flat screen TV they comment with phrases like, "that picture really looks good". (No, they don't always say the video is good!) So, my suggestion is the viewing quality (sometimes called "picture quality) will be very good with any of the cameras considered.

Does Chris need 52x zoom? Not unless the class size, or tournament venue is the size of a football stadium and he is shooting from the cheap seats. Does he need a video light? Not unless martial arts classes are conducted during power outages! Does he need O.I.S (optical image stabilization)? Of course, and these cameras all have that. Both the V500 and the HX30V (or related HX20V) have "improved" O.I.S. Which one is better. Only someone who owns both and tests them will know. The truth is that hand held video shot with minimum zoom will always look more stable.

Chis, as a martial arts instructor, wants to take video while he is working. He is busy teaching! He will get more useful video from a camera that is handy for "grab and go" or "run and gun" shooting.

If I am in the mood to be a "videographer", want to concentrate on it and block out all other distractions I pick my Panasonic conventional camcorder (like the V500). I keep my hand in the strap and often have it on a monopod. Sometimes I use a tripod. I'm "geared up". Because of the shape or "form factor" as a conventional camcorder, it is sometime hard to set it down in a safe secure place. You need a table!

If I am in the mood to join an activity with family or friends and don't want shooting video to be my sole purpose or obsession, I grab my small (and very cabable) Sony HX9V. The very capable camcorder is in my pocket! If there is a potential shot, I pull it out and push the on button and then the shoot button. I could do that with the larger Panasonic too. But, if I'm not already holding on to it, I have to get it out of a case that has to be strapped to my belt or slung over my shoulder. Can the smaller camera by put on a tripod and used like the bigger one? Of course.

To summarize, if Chris intends to make shooting video is primary mission at a tournament or in a class he should get something like Bill (brunerww) suggests. If Chris wants to have video shooting as an accessory or enhancement to his primary focus of teaching, he might do better with a camcorder like one of the Sony's I suggested. The differences are not about the technical features, but the convenience for the mission of the day.

Bill
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Old 05-27-2012, 09:25 AM
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They also need to record for more than half an hour at a time in some cases so be careful with slr cameras that double as video cameras.
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

They also need to record for more than half an hour at a time in some cases so be careful with slr cameras that double as video cameras.

Interesting short article about that here: Dpreview News It is about taxes! I thought it was technical.
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Old 05-27-2012, 07:10 PM
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I am going to have to respectfully disagree with my friend Bill - Chris asked for image stabilization, zoom, low light capability, and battery life (among other things) emphasizing the importance of battery life.

As fabulous as the images from the HX9V are, and as handy as it is to shoot with, it has a standard consumer 1100mah battery and is unlikely to last as long as the HC-V500 with the 4000mah extended capacity battery. Yes, he can swap batteries out, but for someone who wants to shoot all day without worrying about power, this is at least as important as camera ergonomics.

Cheers,

Bill
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

I am going to have to respectfully disagree with my friend Bill - Chris asked for image stabilization, zoom, low light capability, and battery life (among other things) emphasizing the importance of battery life.

As fabulous as the images from the HX9V are, and as handy as it is to shoot with, it has a standard consumer 1100mah battery and is unlikely to last as long as the HC-V500 with the 4000mah extended capacity battery. Yes, he can swap batteries out, but for someone who wants to shoot all day without worrying about power, this is at least as important as camera ergonomics.

Cheers,

Bill

Chris wrote, "Battery life! (or affordable second batteries)....". That suggests he is not planning on long continuous shooting. He also wrote, "Lighting is not great, but OK; overhead florescent tubes." That's a long ways from "low light". He included, " I'll be zooming to get in and out on action and faces." That's not 52x zooming on eyelashes.

I'll suggest we are both right. Any $400 camera that shoots AVCHD will work in a gymnasium. I go to one frequently to watch and record my granddaughters. What I see is many parents doing the same. And, it seems convenience (having a small camera handy) counts as much or more than zoom, low light or 4000mah!

My read is that he wants video taken while he and his instructors are busy instructing. After he frequently tells a students to hold his camera while he demonstrates a technique, he may tend to leave the camera in the office too often because it is awkward to have with him. The pocketable camera may tend to be with him more frequently.

Chris has not responded with any requests, questions or suggestions, so none of this discussion is important anyway!

Bill
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:13 AM
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The Sony has slow start up times. Plus I tend to shoot quick scenes and quick on/offs. My Panny TM90 fits easily in my pocket and the 28mm lens is awesome. Granted the Sony is better in low light but I have only had a problem in the very lowest average lumen scenes. At night in a city with a few bright street lights the panny is still very good. I just love the small size and easy to shoot with one hand too!
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Old 05-28-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

The Sony has slow start up times.

True for the now outdated HX9V. The HX20V and similar HX30V replacements are supposed to be faster. There is an HX10V for 2012, but Sony (stupidly) left out the 1080p part! With the HX9V, you can leave the mode dial on "movie" and the time from pushing the button to recording video is significantly improved.

From reading your posts, as well as many others, the TM90 may well be one of the "sweet spots" in camcorder history. There are hints that the replacements for the TM90 and TM900 are slightly less than they should be.
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