Camcorder Suggestions for Amateur filmers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-19-2012, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,

First post here.. Let me start with that I took a few cinematography classes a few years back and I fancied it quite a bit so I am not a complete noob... BUT! The last camcorders I used were all Hi-8 and Mini-DV recorders w/ 1394 so I won't be familiar with all of the new terminology..

I need a camcorder that is good in low light settings (think of the inside of a pub/restaurant at any time, day or night) and can shoot HD (1080p) footage. We plan to shoot for several hours at a time (possibly continuously) and because these will be interviews we need quality sound. For this reason I don't know what would work best.. do people still use the long mic-booms or are wireless mics good now-a-days? Give me all my mic options here.

Our budget... I want to go with as cheap as possible without compromising too much quality so give me all the options here as well. I am shooting for $1200 max. I don't have any equipment so I need it all. Bag, lenses (if required), battery (if it doesn't come with one), etc.

Thank you everyone for your help.
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-19-2012, 09:40 PM
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I am not going t be original: the Canon XA10.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-19-2012, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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While I appreciate the suggestion is there anything you recommend around my stated price range or a link to a distributor that can offer me a lower price than the 1700-2000 I am finding it for online? While I am sure I would love the camera I don't think it will return the love to my pocket book at the moment.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 03:21 PM
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Hi bsow - in your price range (camcorder only) I would get the $1100 Sony NEX-VG20 body and a $100 used manual focus low light lens like this $94 SLR Magic 28mm f2.8. Here are a couple of sample videos with this lens and the VG20's predecessor camera, the VG10:

http://vimeo.com/25116898
http://vimeo.com/25172619

If you need autofocus, you might want to try to come up with an extra $80 for a $180 used Sigma 30mm f2.8 from Amazon Warehouse Deals.

If your budget has to cover the camera, lenses, wireless mic, tripod, etc. - then I would recommend a $675 Panasonic X900 camcorder, a $110 AVTP Professional fluid head tripod, a $553 used Sennheiser G3 wireless mic, and a $174 used Tascam DR-40 recorder. This should handle your interviews and give you clean image and sound. If your bar interiors are too dark, though, you may have to spring for some lights.

The X900 is the best value for money prosumer camcorder on the market, in my view. I have its predecessor camera, the TM900, and it is terrific. Here are a couple of examples of what the X900 can do:
http://vimeo.com/44890811
http://vimeo.com/41644852

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh wow, that is extremely helpful. The shots for both looks great and I am impressed with the X900 (and my pocket book is also impressed) A few queries:

Does the X900 have auto focus or would I purchase a lens to achieve this? Would it be the same lens you recommended for the NEX-VG20 if any?

The Sennheiser G3 wireless mic looks like it only comes with 1 microphone and a reviewer mentioned that it has a "cardiod picup pattern" and must be pointing directly at the speaker for optimal clarity. If so must I purchase another mic to be used with the system or the accessory mentioned in the review? Am I reading too much into the picture?

Last one: I used to use "soft lighting" to brighten up shots and we would use (don't laugh) a halogen light stand like you find in a garage w/ white bedroom sheets to produce a soft glow. What would be best to use if light is needed and what would you recommend?

Thank you for your help.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

If your budget has to cover the camera, lenses, wireless mic, tripod, etc. - then I would recommend a $675 Panasonic X900 camcorder

Just like last year, looks like the prices are starting to fall. Last December the TM900 could be had for $599.
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescreenofwin View Post

Oh wow, that is extremely helpful. The shots for both looks great and I am impressed with the X900 (and my pocket book is also impressed) A few queries:
Does the X900 have auto focus or would I purchase a lens to achieve this? Would it be the same lens you recommended for the NEX-VG20 if any?
The Sennheiser G3 wireless mic looks like it only comes with 1 microphone and a reviewer mentioned that it has a "cardiod picup pattern" and must be pointing directly at the speaker for optimal clarity. If so must I purchase another mic to be used with the system or the accessory mentioned in the review? Am I reading too much into the picture?
Last one: I used to use "soft lighting" to brighten up shots and we would use (don't laugh) a halogen light stand like you find in a garage w/ white bedroom sheets to produce a soft glow. What would be best to use if light is needed and what would you recommend?
Thank you for your help.

Glad it was helpful! The X900 is a "fixed lens" consumer camcorder with a built-in lens. Less flexibility, but lower cost. It has very accurate autofocus and a 12x optical power zoom.

My thinking on the used Sennheiser wireless lavalier is that you would clip it to the interview subject - keeping the mic out of the picture - recording to one of the Tascam DR-40's channels while using the built in mics on the Tascam to record the interviewer's questions to a separate channel.

Yes, the Sennheiser is expensive, but you don't want to spend any less than that on a wireless mic. See this video from Dave Dugdale at learningdslrvideo.com.

If you prefer an omni mic that your interviewer can hold - or you want to mount a cardioid boom mic on the camera, I recommend the $223 switchable omni/cardioid Azden SGM-2X instead of the Sennheiser lav.

For lighting, I use inexpensive fluorescent soft boxes. Nobody really uses halogens any more - those things are hot and dangerous smile.gif

Don't forget to get a memory card for your camcorder - you don't need tapes anymore, but you'll need something to record on.

Good luck - and please post your videos after you get your camera - it would be great to see your results!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
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An excellent response once again! Thank you for your help Bruner--I believe you have set me on the correct path. Not only that but you have educated me enough that I believe my future self can ask more well formulated questions than "make the sound go there please, how do?" LOL.

We are a few months off from the first production but I will be sure to update you when we do smile.gif Of course I will probably be bugging you with more questions as they pop-up so I'm sure you'll hear from much earlier. Cheers!
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-20-2012, 11:05 PM
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The X900 does not have XLR inputs and its 24p is recorded with pulldown.
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

The X900 does not have XLR inputs..

That's why I recommended the used Tascam DR-40. He can use its XLR inputs for high quality mics and sync his sound in post, or, if he wants a quality soundtrack laid down on his camera, he can link the recorder's output to the X900 with a $27 Sescom cable. That's what I do. Cheaper than buying an $800 (or even a $300) proprietary XLR adapter box from Sony or Panasonic smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

...and its 24p is recorded with pulldown.

Since the advent of 60p (and 30p HBR on the GH2), I don't shoot 24p any more - except on the GH1, where I am forced to smile.gif

Cheers,

Bill
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post #11 of 13 Old 03-01-2013, 12:42 PM
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I have the X900 and am looking at the Tascam DR100. Does the same Sescom cable work with the x900. They only list DSLR models in the Specs. I do have the D7000, but video/audio would be on the x900/Dr100 combo.
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post #12 of 13 Old 03-01-2013, 01:05 PM
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Yes, it's the same idea: from a line output on the recorder to a high impedence mic input on the camera. You can also manually control the audio levels on the X900, which you should do (no agc).
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post #13 of 13 Old 03-01-2013, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkane007 View Post

I have the X900 and am looking at the Tascam DR100. Does the same Sescom cable work with the x900. They only list DSLR models in the Specs. I do have the D7000, but video/audio would be on the x900/Dr100 combo.

The idea is to use the camcorder and Tascam audio recorder as separate, unconnected devices recording the same thing - then later sync the audio in post; the Tascam with the camcorder audio in video editing software, then mute the camcorder audio/just use the Tascam audio with the original video together for the final rendered file:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sync+audio+with+video&oq=sync+audio+w&gs_l=youtube.1.0.0j0i5l6.3205.5632.0.7707.12.10.0.2.2.0.87.759.10.10.0...0.0...1ac.1.HcwReKISkNk
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