Recommendations for a low cost camcorder with good stabilization - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 03-13-2013, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I'm hoping you guys can help me out. For the last year, I've been filming a video series on youtube that runs through gameplay for boardgames (thttp://www.youtube.com/rahdo in case anyone is interested). I generally film for 30 or 40 minutes straight, uninterrupted, sitting at a table, demonstrating the gameplay of a boardgame, holding the camera in one hand and manipulating the pieces with the other. No tripods, no multiple shots, just really simple and basic.

I've been using my iPhone4 to do this, and while it's been adequate, the main problem I've been having is that the video is very jerky. Most of my audience puts up with it, but I know I turn away a lot of potential subscribers because of this problem.

I could get a tripod, but I desperately want to avoid long static shots of boardgames because that makes the subject matter visually boring. I generally try to bring a lot of life and energy to my run-throughs, and a live active camera, zooming in on the detail, panning about, etc., is really crucial to me.

So after a year, I've decided to get more serious about this and want to get a decent camera to try to minimize the jerkiness and maybe improve the overall quality of the video as well, so I thought I'd come and ask for some advice. I'm hoping to pay under $300 or $400, want something that's very comfortable to hold in my hand and aim for upwards of 40 or 50 minutes straight, and makes my handheld zoomed in action as smooth as possible. I know there are a lot of cameras on the market with optical stabilization built in, but I have no idea how to go about choosing which is the best fit for me.

I should also say that currently I film in a fairly dark room, which just has a bright office lamp for light, so that's far from ideal as well. So anything that could help deal with the bright glare that creates would be great too. This is less important though, because in a few months we'll be moving into a house with a LOT of natural light, so hopefully the lighting situation will improve massively.

Only other consideration I can think of is that I'll eventually this year start doing interviews at conventions with developers, and so it would be nice to get a camera that works well for that, but I suppose mostly that simply means having a mic jack (or wireless somehow) so the ambient noise in the background won't override the interviewee.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give! smile.gif
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-13-2013, 04:54 PM
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Panasonic LX7
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-14-2013, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Would you say the stabilization in Panasonic' camcorder line are comparable to what's available with this? I'd really rather go with a camcorder for filming myself, and overall hand comfort smile.gif
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 07:33 AM
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duck, you won't get the LX7's image quality from a Panasonic camcorder until you move up to the X900, which is above your budget limit.

You may want to look at the Panasonic F150 bridge camera. It has an external mic jack for your interviews (which the LX7 lacks), and is comfortable to hold in the hand. This camera is $398 at Amazon, and can produce handheld video like this:


http://vimeo.com/58933849

http://vimeo.com/38769345


The FZ150 also does a good job indoors, but you will want to stay at the wide end of the zoom, where the lens aperture is f2.8:

http://vimeo.com/37124272

Hope this is helpful, and good luck with growing your YT channel!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

You may want to look at the Panasonic F150 bridge camera. It has an external mic jack for your interviews (which the LX7 lacks), and is comfortable to hold in the hand. This camera is $398 at Amazon, ....

Hybrid Camera Revolution

I'm amazed Amazon still has some. That's a terrific camcorder/camera for $400!
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck View Post

Hi, I'm hoping you guys can help me out. For the last year, I've been filming a video series on youtube that runs through gameplay for boardgames (thttp://www.youtube.com/rahdo in case anyone is interested). I generally film for 30 or 40 minutes straight, uninterrupted, sitting at a table, demonstrating the gameplay of a boardgame, holding the camera in one hand and manipulating the pieces with the other. No tripods, no multiple shots, just really simple and basic.

I've been using my iPhone4 to do this, and while it's been adequate, the main problem I've been having is that the video is very jerky. Most of my audience puts up with it, but I know I turn away a lot of potential subscribers because of this problem.

I could get a tripod, but I desperately want to avoid long static shots of boardgames because that makes the subject matter visually boring. I generally try to bring a lot of life and energy to my run-throughs, and a live active camera, zooming in on the detail, panning about, etc., is really crucial to me.

So after a year, I've decided to get more serious about this and want to get a decent camera to try to minimize the jerkiness and maybe improve the overall quality of the video as well, so I thought I'd come and ask for some advice. I'm hoping to pay under $300 or $400, want something that's very comfortable to hold in my hand and aim for upwards of 40 or 50 minutes straight, and makes my handheld zoomed in action as smooth as possible. I know there are a lot of cameras on the market with optical stabilization built in, but I have no idea how to go about choosing which is the best fit for me.

I should also say that currently I film in a fairly dark room, which just has a bright office lamp for light, so that's far from ideal as well. So anything that could help deal with the bright glare that creates would be great too. This is less important though, because in a few months we'll be moving into a house with a LOT of natural light, so hopefully the lighting situation will improve massively.

Only other consideration I can think of is that I'll eventually this year start doing interviews at conventions with developers, and so it would be nice to get a camera that works well for that, but I suppose mostly that simply means having a mic jack (or wireless somehow) so the ambient noise in the background won't override the interviewee.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give! smile.gif

The LX7 is a good idea, but from the looks of your videos, you won't be able to zoom one-handed as you could with a small camcorder with a zoom rocker on top. (The type of zoom lever on the LX7 requires you support the camera with your left.)

If you're saying you want to step up your videos, you may consider making them more into a production while incorporating editing software.

Additionally, you could consider filming tripod shots/different angles and close-ups of the game board and later adding quality overdubs while editing them together with the more free-form shots/without any overdubs as is your present style.

I think for those hand-held shots it would be better to get a Panasonic camcorder, like the V700 but it's out of your budget.

Here are my suggestions:

Canon VIXIA HF M500 Refurbished $279.99
http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_310714_-1

At least one SDHC memory card - Class 4 or higher:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_9/175-2323445-4435357?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=sdhc+card&sprefix=sdhc+card%2Caps%2C198&rh=n%3A172282%2Ck%3Asdhc+card

Blue 1950 Yeti USB Microphone/ refurbished $59.00 (sale ends soon) (for overdubs/narration in editing software):
http://tech.woot.com/offers/yeti-usb-microphone-6

Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 12 $34.99:
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MSPMS12000-Movie-Studio-Platinum/dp/B008MIMHDU/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1363614818&sr=1-2&keywords=vegas+platinum+12

If you're willing to spend a bit more, a decent tripod:
http://www.amazon.com/Dolica-AX620B100-62-Inch-Proline-Tripod/dp/B001D60LG8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1363615011&sr=8-4&keywords=tripod

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/175-2323445-4435357?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tripod

That Blue USB microphone won't hook up to your camcorder, it's for the overdubs. The Canon camcorder can record good audio without an external mic for the free-form shots.
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-18-2013, 08:23 AM
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I've been using Canon's for several years. I like them. Reasonably priced too.

First of all, if you correct that lighting, it will probably smooth out your videos. Low light causes slow shutter speeds. Not sure if that is allowed or not in a camcorder with a fixed frame rate. In fact, I hear jumpiness in camcorders comes from too fast shutter speeds. Anyway, I haven't experimented enough here but I think you should definitely clean up your lighting. Try not to use spot lights or get some diffusion.

Secondly, you can clean up lots of that shakiness in post. Many video editors will have tools to eliminate that. I have experimented with this on some of my mountain biking videos and I like it quite a bit. On a Canon, if your reducing camera shake from a moving camera you use the 'dynamic' mode I believe. Its software. The actually lens moving IS is for shake from zooming on a long shot.

Finally, you can get yourself some thing like so http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/745710-REG/Steadicam_SMOOTHEE_APPLIP4_Smoothee_for_iPhone_4.html. There are many variations, but it should accommodate what you are doing perfectly I think. Though I haven't used one.

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post #8 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the thoughtful replies everyone!
Quote:
I think for those hand-held shots it would be better to get a Panasonic camcorder, like the V700 but it's out of your budget

Everywhere I go I keep hearing Panasonic is the brand to go for regarding optical stabilization. If the v700 is too pricey, what would you say is the best Panny I can get for under $400 with anti-jitter in mind?

Quote:
You may want to look at the Panasonic F150 bridge camera...The FZ150 also does a good job indoors

Those look great, but as Xfws rightly guessed, I really need to stick to a one hand camcorder form factor. Here's a video of me from kickstarter update vid of mine that kind of shows my current (ridiculous) shooting circumstance (skip to 1m 20s):

.

Quote:
you may consider making them more into a production while incorporating editing software.

Yup, I definitely could, but I'm inclined not to for two reasons: 1) I think becoming more 'slick' would rob some of the spontaneity of my videos, which I really enjoy and 2) I don't have a good enough PC (i'm on a NC10 netbook) to do any sort of real HD video editing anyway.

I really enjoy doing my 'one shot' videos - a rapid fire stream of consciousness guerilla-style handheld approach is my 'thing', and I want to stick to it. Just want to smooth out the rough edges (the shakiness).

Quote:
First of all, if you correct that lighting, it will probably smooth out your videos

Yeah, I don't know much about lighting at all. In a couple of months though, we'll be moving out of the dark ancient castle like place we're in now, to a very well lit flat with sunlight streaming in all day, so hopefully that'll help in general! smile.gif

Quote:
you can clean up lots of that shakiness in post

Yup, but that again would require a PC capable of doing post. I have used youtube's stabilization option, but it produces truly awful artifacts!

Quote:
you can get yourself some thing like so http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/745710-REG/Steadicam_SMOOTHEE_APPLIP4_Smoothee_for_iPhone_4.html. There are many variations, but it should accommodate what you are doing perfectly I think. Though I haven't used one.

That looks very cool, but way to cumbersome for my shooting circumstances (as shown in the video above) smile.gif
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post #9 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck View Post

Everywhere I go I keep hearing Panasonic is the brand to go for regarding optical stabilization. If the v700 is too pricey, what would you say is the best Panny I can get for under $400 with anti-jitter in mind?

You could get a manufacturer refurbished Panasonic HDC-SD90:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Panasonic-HDC-SD90K-HD-Camcorder-Bundle-W-Carrying-Case-8GB-SD-memory-/221188998834?pt=Camcorders_Professional_Video_Cameras&hash=item337fe446b2

The model was released a couple of years back, but would still have that good stabilization: "HYBRID O.I.S."
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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How would you say the sd90 compared to the tm90?
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck View Post

How would you say the sd90 compared to the tm90?
It's the same camcorder, but the TM90 has 16gb built-in memory plus a card slot, whereas the SD90 only has a card slot.

YouTube/SD90:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=search_videos&search_query=Panasonic%20HDC-SD90%3A&search_sort=relevance&search_category=0&page=
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Hehe, I had just done a search to discover the same thing! Well, there's a TM90 on ebay for $300, so that looks like a winner then! smile.gif
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 03:52 PM
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Awesome!
They're good camcorders, they were very popular here on this board. Small and light, but not tiny.

Get manufacturer refurbished if you can.

If you want to spend more, the new V720 does streaming/$548:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=910268&Q=&is=REG&A=details
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 05:36 PM
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Sony Balanced Optical SteadyShot :


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post #15 of 16 Old 03-21-2013, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jogiba View Post

Sony Balanced Optical SteadyShot :



low cost? rolleyes.gif
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post #16 of 16 Old 03-22-2013, 06:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, that was one of the first things I saw when I did a search, but that's WAY out of my price range!

Still, the Panny can apparently produce results like this:

so I'll be pretty happy with that I think! smile.gif
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