Camcorder suggestion for Wakeboard boat tower - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-28-2013, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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I am looking for suggestions for a new camcorder to mount on our wakeboard boat’s tower for filming the kids at about 50’ to 80’ away on a moving boat.

Last year I bought a Hero2, which does not work for this purpose due to the fish eye lens. This year we will mount the Hero2 directly to the wakeboards and I want a better camera (lens) with optical zoom for mounting on the top of the tower.

The camera will be:
  • used in Full Sun
  • Want HD (1920x1080) ability
  • Waterproof is NOT required but nice
  • A remote screen and controls would be nice, wired or smartphone/iPad WiFi (though not required)
  • Sub $900 price – but if we don’t need to spend that much
  • Used outdoors, outdoors, outdoors
  • Rechargeable batteries, we have 12V dc on the boat
  • NO fisheye lens
  • Videos will just be for the kids to watch on our PCs
  • I assume most cameras have a “Steady Shot” feature, but will be required
  • Not tied to any one brand
  • Must have some kind of mount available (the bottom tripod mount screw mount is fine)
  • We are NOT professionals! Though most of the kids attend a “New Tech High School” and use the Adobe products

Thanks for any help, Eric
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Nobody on AVS has any suggestions???
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 08:39 AM
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Nearly every camera discussed on this forum will do the job. They all have stabilization, automatic focus and automatic exposure.

Remote control may be the most difficult. I am aware of only one that came with a remote, the TM900. But, it was infra red and might not work in bright sun very well. The current version may have the remote, I'm not sure. The current version is the X900 You can read about it here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1400074/the-official-panasonic-hc-x900m-owners-thread . It is currently being replaced by the X920.

If you can figure out how to do without the remote, look at the Sony HX20V or the Panasonic LX-7. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1447996/the-panasonic-lx7-as-a-video-camera-thread No, they don't look like camcorders but are! I'm too old to water ski anymore, but I have no doubt I would get good results with the HX20V as long as I mounted it where the record button is reachable.

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-HX20V-Digital-3-0-inch/dp/B006K551WQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362156065&sr=1-1&keywords=hx20v

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-LX7K-Digital-Intelligent-3-0-inch/dp/B008MB719C/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362156145&sr=1-1&keywords=lx7

The two challenges I see are aiming and vibration.

Aiming: I don't know how high the tower is. Some camcorders and cameras have an articulated LCD monitor, like the 9x0 series above. If you go to that link you can see reference to the 7x0 series that have the same type monitor. The idea is you point the monitor down. It is commonly done at crowded outdoor events. The shooter holds the camera above his head to get over the crowd. Sometimes you see them using a monopod or tripod held above them. I think what I would do, is use a ball head or miniature ball head between the tower and camera to get it pointed right. I think I would try to mount it on the tower above a seat or something so you can reach it. If you don't know it, the thread size is the common hardware store 1/4 x 20. There are also a variety of camera clamps with the screw built in. If it were me, I would mount it low enough on the tower for accessibility, but high enough to be dry.

Vibration: Image stabilization is very good at reducing human induced movement. That is a lot different than boat and engine vibration transmitted through hard mounting on a tower. It may work fine. And, it may work well with it turned off. Because of their light weight, the HX20 and LX-7 may be less vibration prone than heavier cameras. The best results may come from having the (required) observer hand holding the camera. The observer's arm will make a great vibration dampener.

If hand holding becomes the choice, the amazing Sony GW77 is ideal because it is waterproof and takes exceptionally good video. There is a thread here dedicated to that camera.

To summarize, I would try it with the cheaper of the HX20V or LX7, depending on promotions and pricing. Wait to buy it from a reputable source until the weather is good enough to test it. If it does not work to your satisfaction, use the 30 day policy and trade for a GW77. Read here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1419847/sony-hdr-gw77-waterproof-dustproof-shockproof-small-hd-camcorder

The easy way for batteries is to buy extras and charge them at home. You can get 12 volt chargers fairly easily if that seems more convenient.

Bill
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I had seen some of the new "WiFi" connected camcorders and had assumed (hoped) that they had remote displays and controls.

It seems with the very little research that I have done, the WiFi is mostly for file transfers?? If that is the case, I really don't need WiFi as long as it has a removable SD card.

The mounting and aiming is easily done as long as there is some kind of tri-pod mount on the bottom of the camera, as we have clamp on mounts for the tower.
  • Can most of the camcorders have rubber hoods and/or polarizing lens attached?

That would be a nice thing to have as we will be out in full sun most of the time.

Thanks again, Eric.
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I can pick up one of these VIXIA HF M50 8GB HD Flash Memory Camcorder for $399

Is this a good choice?

Eric.
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricU View Post

I can pick up one of these VIXIA HF M50 8GB HD Flash Memory Camcorder for $399

Is this a good choice?

Eric.

The Canons are good camcorders. I would think the Sony GW77 would be better, because it's waterproof. The problem with both of those is they only have 10X optical zoom. If you're saying your subjects will be 50 to 80 feet away, you will get into "digital zoom", beyond the optical zoom and the quality will degrade.

The Panasonic FZ200 would be well suited for that because of the distance; it has a 24x optical zoom. There's also very good image stabilization to go along with it and shoots in 60p (60 progressive frames per second) - which is more suited to capture sports, versus the Canon's 30p. FZ200 also takes 12MP stills.
http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-FZ200-Digital-Camera-Optical/dp/B008MB6ZX0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362191043&sr=8-1&keywords=fz200

The FZ200 is technically not a camcorder, but can operate like one.

You can check out this thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1457248/panasonic-fz200-thread
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 06:39 PM
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Zoom may not be needed here. A decent water skier cuts across the wake repeatedly. If the camera is tower mounted it will need to be set wide enough to cover both sides of the wake. If the camera is hand held, then zooming will make more sense.
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post #8 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricU View Post

I can pick up one of these VIXIA HF M50 8GB HD Flash Memory Camcorder for $399

Is this a good choice?

Eric.

It should work.
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post #9 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Zoom may not be needed here. A decent water skier cuts across the wake repeatedly. If the camera is tower mounted it will need to be set wide enough to cover both sides of the wake. If the camera is hand held, then zooming will make more sense.

OP said "about 50’ to 80’ away".
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricU View Post

I had seen some of the new "WiFi" connected camcorders and had assumed (hoped) that they had remote displays and controls.

It seems with the very little research that I have done, the WiFi is mostly for file transfers?? If that is the case, I really don't need WiFi as long as it has a removable SD card.

The mounting and aiming is easily done as long as there is some kind of tri-pod mount on the bottom of the camera, as we have clamp on mounts for the tower.
  • Can most of the camcorders have rubber hoods and/or polarizing lens attached?

That would be a nice thing to have as we will be out in full sun most of the time.

Thanks again, Eric.

Look for cameras with threads on the lens for filters. Then it is easy to attach a hood. However, the effectiveness may be minimal. If the skier is truly back lit, the hood does nothing. A hood will not change bad light. Water ski conditions are typically bad for light. Rarely does high sun angles produce great picture or video quality.

Bill
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-01-2013, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Look for cameras with threads on the lens for filters. Then it is easy to attach a hood. However, the effectiveness may be minimal. If the skier is truly back lit, the hood does nothing. A hood will not change bad light. Water ski conditions are typically bad for light. Rarely does high sun angles produce great picture or video quality.

Bill

If possible, I would like to be able to attach a hood and a lens as we will board from sunrise to sunset coming into dock under lights many times.

The 50' to 80' distance from the tower rope mount is pretty common amoung the different riders.
  • Should I be looking for more optical zoom?


I have a Cannon T3i, but for some reason I just dont want to mount it on the tower. It somehow seems more fragile than a dedicated camcorder.

Eric.
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-02-2013, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricU View Post

If possible, I would like to be able to attach a hood and a lens as we will board from sunrise to sunset coming into dock under lights many times.

The 50' to 80' distance from the tower rope mount is pretty common amoung the different riders.
  • Should I be looking for more optical zoom?

I have a Cannon T3i, but for some reason I just dont want to mount it on the tower. It somehow seems more fragile than a dedicated camcorder.

Eric.

Eric,

More optical zoom than which? Are you trying to get close ups of facial expressions or capture the action of the boarder crossing the wake?

You seem to be focused on "camcorder" rather than "device that records quality video". Therefore, you should buy a http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-X900MK-Camcorder-Internal-HC-X900M/dp/B0072B5E2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362237673&sr=1-1&keywords=x900.

It comes with a lens hood, remote and a power cord that can {optionally) be plugged into a small inverter. It has all the zoom you could use. It is well regarded and is on sale for a very good price because its replacement has been announced.

For camcorder reference, Panasonic has a website. http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/cameras-and-camcorders-camcorders . You can look up the filter diameter and shop for hoods.

Sony has a similar site. http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&identifier=S_Video_Camcorders

Canon probably does too.

Lens hoods look cool, but are problematic with camcorders that feature a lot of zoom. What works for telephoto settings will not work for wide settings.

The X900 is a camcorder that has amazing capabilities. If you can't get good video with it, nothing will.

Good luck!

Bill
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-03-2013, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Eric,

More optical zoom than which? Are you trying to get close ups of facial expressions or capture the action of the boarder crossing the wake?

You seem to be focused on "camcorder" rather than "device that records quality video". Therefore, you should buy a http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-X900MK-Camcorder-Internal-HC-X900M/dp/B0072B5E2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362237673&sr=1-1&keywords=x900.

My question about optical zoom was in response to the statement "The Canons are good camcorders. I would think the Sony GW77 would be better, because it's waterproof. The problem with both of those is they only have 10X optical zoom. If you're saying your subjects will be 50 to 80 feet away, you will get into "digital zoom", beyond the optical zoom and the quality will degrade."

Before I read that comment, I was pretty set on the Sony GW77, I have about $500 of BB bucks and they carry it.

I am not really tied to a true camcorder, it just seems to me they would be more rugged than mounting my DSLR on the tower (pure conjecture as I have nothing to base that idea on) and after using the Hero2 last year, I definately need more of a lens for the shots from the boat. The new small digital cameras with interchangable lens seem like they would also work, but I don't know anything about their video capture ability.

Not trying to get facial expressions, just capture the rider's stance, approach, landings and general overall mechanics. I am designing and prototyping a mount that will follow the rider.

Quote:
The X900 is a camcorder that has amazing capabilities. If you can't get good video with it, nothing will.

Good luck!

Bill

Thanks for the help, I will try to check out the Panasonic X900 or its replacement.

Eric.
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-27-2013, 03:47 PM
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not sure if this is too late, but watch out for rolling shutter problems.

see link here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSWDP1Tsj1Y

essentially, you need to get a CCD sensor camera, if you are tower mounting, or you will get terrible vibration on the picture. It's to do with the way the shutter scans the image, and the vibrations of the boat.

good luck with it, anyway. I have a trakker mount and it's great - just don't zoom in too far - a bit wider is more satisfying i think, if you are leaving it unattended for a while.
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-14-2013, 09:02 PM
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Wow that video is impressive - any f/u on this topic? I'm looking for camera to mount to tower for wakeboard recording as well.

Good, cheap, easy - pick any two.
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post #16 of 16 Old 06-15-2013, 09:30 PM
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Here is some footy I took on a jetboat ride on the upper Shotover River NZ using the Canon EOSM + 22mm F2 kit lens and a Dicapac waterproof cover, auto focus, aperture, shutter - the WB was locked to 5800K and exposure to -1EV.

http://arcoonastudios.zenfolio.com/p897346936/h5c3ad6f6#h5c3ad6f6
http://arcoonastudios.zenfolio.com/p897346936/h5c3bbaf2#h5c3bbaf2
http://arcoonastudios.zenfolio.com/p897346936/h5b2a3098#h5b2a3098

Notice the lack of rolling shutter - there isn't any !

The EOSM has exactly the same video image quality as your Canon T3i, and the footage will cut well together with the T3i footy.

The EOSM can be remotely controlled via USB cable on a laptop using the supplied canon utility. Or you can start/stop the video with a $10 remote on ebay.

Dicapac http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/610181-REG/DiCAPac_WP610_WP610_Waterproof_Underwater_Case.html

However, I shoot a lot of water sports from the river bank, and generally use a circular polarizer (CPL). The CPL will help cut the reflected glare greatly - especially when shooting into the late afternoon sun. I also recommend shooting @ -1EV to reduce the chance of over exposure (you can lift this in post if required). Lens hoods will help, but the glare reflected of the water is the killer - a CPL will help a lot here.

Also pay attention to shutter speed to avoid flicker. In full auto mode in daylight, you camera will increase shutter speed to control exposure, eg to 500th sec @ midday - this will cause terrible flicker in the video.
The optimum shutter is 60thsec for 30fps (50th for 25fps) but increase this for sharp fast action sports to 100thsec max (30fps). However, if you plan to super slow-mo the footy in post, higher shutter speeds work better for this.
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