720p digital camcorder with a viewfinder; Is there such a thing? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 04-09-2013, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Newbe here,

I was just wondering if anyone would know of a digital camcorder or camera / video that shoots 720p and has a viewfinder. Perhaps an older camera that shoots digital instead of tape. I realize I'm going backwards but, that's what I think I want. I own a Panasonic sdr-h80 so anything would be an improvement in picture quality over that. I've been following your forums on panny tm700 thru x920 models. I love most of the pictures I've seen on youtube taken with these camcorders. However I'm more than a little scared about buying a $1,000 camera & not being able to edit to DVD or even upload from the camera. I do not own a $3,000 PC & from the post I've read, sounds like mine would be wishful thinking. Perhaps it's the AVCHD formatt or MPEG-4 that would give me trouble. I know my software is capable of MPEG-2. Not sure about the AVCHD?

Also must mention one of the best videos was shot with a TM700 uploaded in 720p.

http://vimeo.com/15495926

I realize good contrast & color have more to do with a good picture than does having so many billion pixels anyway. This guys video had everything; good composition, lighting, color & contrast, detail. And the scenery wasn't half bad!

Thank Ahead for a response!

I might not understand tech talk so try to use s:Dmall words.
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post #2 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 10:02 AM
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Welcome to the forum!

That video is indeed well done, although I think it would be more watchable if the clips were a little shorter and the panning a little slower. It was shot two years ago, and a few things have changed would make it easier for you to do the same type of thing.

The shooter in that video didn't wiggle, used a monopod (according to the notes), looked for good light, created good composition, minimized panning, used morning or afternoon light as much as possible, rarely used zoom during a clip, made sure the zoom was slow when it was used and ignored audio by replacing it with music. It is a video style I like to think of as a "slide show with motion in the slides". It was not the camera that did that, it was the shooter.

If you really need a viewfinder, your choice is very limited. You should hard at the x920. If you don't need a viewfinder, the 720 Panasonic will match the footage in that video. In fact, there are even cheaper cameras discussed here that will match that vimeo clip.

Your concern about computer power and 720p are less critical than you might think. The notes provided by the videographer suggests the editing was done in high end software. That may have been necessary two years ago. Panasonic camcorders come with unique software called HDWriter that performs well on almost any PC because it does not try to do a lot of processor intensive rendering. I'm not sure, but I think the latest version has the ability to add a music track too. I saw no editing in that video that could not be done in HDWriter on almost any PC because there is no evidence of complex transitions or applied effects. The only exceptions were the title screens.

I have used an older version of HDWriter on a mid grade 4 year old laptop and it worked well. I upgraded to a newer laptop to make Premier Elements run faster, but it ran well enough on the older laptop too. The newest version of Premier Elements does not issues with AVCHD, nor does the consumer version of Sony Vegas. In fact, I think all common third party (under $100) editing software has been upgraded for AVCHD in the last year or so. You don't need those if you don't need tricky transitions, fancy titles, slow motion or intensive color or exposure correction.

Another reason you don't need to be concerned with 720p is that Vimeo, and YouTube, have changed a lot in two years too. It was more critical 2 years ago that you get the video files "tuned" to host standards before uploading. Now you can upload about anything from AVCHD camcorders and the host processors will make it right. Vimeo has added very good options for including a music track before or after uploading. YouTube even offers stabilization processing!

Good luck with this. The current crop of video capable cameras is truly amazing, at least to me. I hope you see a way to upgrade yours.

Bill
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post #3 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Also must mention one of the best videos was shot with a TM700 uploaded in 720p.
That was uploaded in 1080p two years ago but Vimeo only shows it today in 720p like all basic members after the first week.
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post #4 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jogiba View Post

That was uploaded in 1080p two years ago but Vimeo only shows it today in 720p like all basic members after the first week.

I know Vimeo does that now, but I'm not sure it was that way two years ago. Time flies, but 1080p60/50 could be a pain then.

That video has a lot of 2 year old comments. In answers to questions the videographer wrote:

"I didn´t use any filter or additional light. Only monopod and Gorillapod. There is no need to use denoising filter. H.264 codec itself is good enough for little noise reduction in video like this. I use just Loseless H.264 export from Premiere and then x264 compression with resize to 720p (LSFMod)."

And:

"For loseless H.264 install ffdshow 64bit and during installation select ffdshow VfW. Ffdshow will appear in "Format" menu. I use loseless encoding for futher processing such as sharpening and resize to 720p. I do this in Ripbot264, it´s a software, that can work with Avisynth scripts. LSFMod is sharpening script that can also resize (Spline, Lanczos4 - resize algorithms). Check forum.doom9.org for more info.

forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=127611
forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=142706

Levels and other corrections were done in Premiere.

Video was sized to 720p, because 1080p was too big for upload. Original is 50fps, Vimeo converted it to 24p."

I have no idea what "ffdshow" is or was. It certainly seems easier now that AVCHD 2.0 is alive, well and supported in software.

Bill
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post #5 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 11:51 AM
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I guess I was thinking of other TM700 1080p uploads from 2010 like the 1080p60 I did that were available for download in native mts 1080p60 files during the first week but 720p after that.




1080p version on youtube:

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post #6 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 12:00 PM
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Vimeo rules as I understand them:

1. Regular (free) members - only in the first week after posting is the original available for downloading, then it reverts to the Vimeo converted video for downloading (720P at best).

2. Plus (annual fee) members, the original is always available for downloading. AND you have the option of streaming the video in 1080p, as opposed to the standard streaming spec of 720p (if your original was 1080, of course). Vimeo always converts the uploaded original for streaming, and has no trouble converting AVCHD 108060p videos.
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post #7 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jogiba View Post

I guess I was thinking of other TM700 1080p uploads from 2010 like the 1080p60 I did that were available for download in native mts 1080p60 files during the first week but 720p after that.

Watching the Alps video and reading about the processing was interesting. It didn't seem that there should have been so much work, but that was two years ago.
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post #8 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much Bill for your response!

I agree with you on your opinion on the video. I would have at times prefered a slower pan. Thrown out the walking footage & a few other clips, added dissolve transitions, etc. Great video all in all.

About the viewfinder; Gotta have it! Now a days I shoot 95% footage outdoors. I like to record hiking & mountain climbing, some wildlife. I would have an awesome collection of recorded hikes mountain climbing, some wildlife, including grizzly bears if I would have owned a decent camera at the time. Now I view my DVD's as a pile of junk. About the view finder, well you know about the glare problem. And these days well, My arms became too short a long time ago. Need reading glasses for everything. So with LCD it's glasses on, glasses off & so it goes. I imagine I'd be doing all of the manual adjustment thru the viewfinder if I bought the x920.

And now my own personal gripe on that subject. It's a love hate relationship with the new computer age! (Love the digital editing & HD images but, hate many other things.)

1st the LCD screen; now a days no more viewfinder or else open up the wallet! What was it maybe 5 or 10 years ago they took away our viewfinder & gave us the LCD screen.
And I hate having to go thru the LCD menu to make any adjustments on a cheaper camera! Supply & damand; You get way more bang for your buck on a stupid cell phone than many a less popular gadget. Sorry about that! I'll stop for now. But, sometimes I do miss the good old days!

A lot of my frustration comes from not being able to figure out new technology. Hinse the love/ hate. Love photography artistic side of the new. I'm just wondering if learning the PC part that I will need & hate will be worth the headache. For me sometimes feels like torture! Do you or anyone have any suggestions for someone who is computer challenged but, desperately wants to use the new technology for artistic sake? I am willing to try & go for the headache! Digital Video for Dummies, etc? Or something else?
Example: When you & Jogiba started talking about all that I didn't understand any of it. That's why I question if I should be buying a $1,000 video camera because I'd like to have a viewfinder, more manual control over the camera, and ultimately better image quality on a DVD or someday on bluray. All to pacify my artistic need. Remember, computer & technology challenged!

Wanted to say I have a Toshiba laptop i5cpu, m480 @ 2.67 GHz, 4.0 of ram, Window 7 I think my graphic card is rated at 5.3 if it's gaming graphic performance rating that is more important than desktop performance for Windows Aero. Not enough ram?

Will this work if 1) I don't mind waiting long periods while the PC is doing it's thing. 2) I dump the video onto an eternal hard drive or DVD when I'm done & clean it off the PC for the next go around. 3) Forget about doing any dissolve type transitions, which does bum me out a lot. Oh well.

If you haven't figured it out by now I have to do all of this on a budget. I figure 1st the camera $$ . I'll have to be content to buying/ saving footage on my SD cards & watching on TV before I upgrade my PC.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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post #9 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 09:33 PM
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Get a used Panasonic HMC40 (~$1200) or JVC HM100 (about the same price, XDCAM EX or FCP-friendly Quicktime, but crappy image stabilizer).
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post #10 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 10:06 PM
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"A lot of my frustration comes from not being able to figure out new technology. Hinse the love/ hate. Love photography artistic side of the new. I'm just wondering if learning the PC part that I will need & hate will be worth the headache. For me sometimes feels like torture! Do you or anyone have any suggestions for someone who is computer challenged but, desperately wants to use the new technology for artistic sake? I am willing to try & go for the headache! Digital Video for Dummies, etc? Or something else?"

It used to be that you could read a book or take a class. Now there is a new way that works better, at least for me, because I can see software work as it's explained to me. The leader in this field seems to be lynda.com where there are around 900 courses. You pay them $25 a month for full access to everything. So, for a single months fee, you can take a couple courses.

Because it is a fun way for me to learn, it is not torture.

My favorite video editing software (as all that read here know) is Premier Elements 11. Regular price is about $85. Sony has one called Vegas that many like. There are about 2 dozen more on the market.

Besides doing everything I can think of, I like Premier Elements because I found an efficient way to learn it at Lynda.com. The instructor for that course is Steve Grisetti who has a website and writes books. He has a free 8 part overview of Premier Elements. His $25 course at Lynda.com is far more thorough.

Look on the lower left of this page for the free 8 part overview: http://muvipix.com/pe11.php

Look here for the more thorough paid course: http://www.lynda.com/Premiere-Elements-tutorials/Up-Running-Premiere-Elements-11/109763-2.html Some of the chapters are listed in a blue text. They are free so you can try before you buy.

Bill

(No, I have not financial interest in anything I've mentioned.)
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post #11 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 10:08 PM
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"Wanted to say I have a Toshiba laptop i5cpu, m480 @ 2.67 GHz, 4.0 of ram, Window 7 I think my graphic card is rated at 5.3 if it's gaming graphic performance rating that is more important than desktop performance for Windows Aero. Not enough ram?"

I have one like that. I put more RAM in it to make things work better and it did. I did buy a more powerful laptop to make things go faster and I used the excuse that Windows 7 was going away and I should buy while I had the chance.
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post #12 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 10:14 PM
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"If you haven't figured it out by now I have to do all of this on a budget. I figure 1st the camera $$ . "

Consider looking at a Panasonic FZ200. It may not look like a camcorder, but functions like one. It is about $500 and has a viewfinder. There is a thread here with plenty of examples as well as other review sites.

It uses the same AVCHD high quality formats that the $1000 cameras have.

Bill
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post #13 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 10:22 PM
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"Example: When you & Jogiba started talking about all that I didn't understand any of it."

Sorry about that. The "code" was about lines on the screen and frames per second.

The cameras have settings in fairly plain english that relate to very high, high, medium and low quality settings. I set the camera, copy the files to my computer, load the files into my editing software and it figures it out for me.

The reason Jogiba and I were trading notes is because the person that shot your example video had chosen to do some extra steps that may have been necessary two years ago. The are not as important know because some software capabilities have caught up with some Sony and Panasonic formats.

Bill
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post #14 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks once again! You've given me more hope!
Yes I will research all of the advice given. I forgot to say I have done video editing before. Edited with Roxio creator 2010. I found it okay to work with. Stupid style menus so I'd change that to my own photo & add different music. I'd put titles, transitions, mix of music & talking, tweak colors & stuff like that.That is the pile of DVDs I called junk. They are of all great memories so I really shouldn't call them junk. Just wish they had been made into a better quality for viewing. For the most part I enjoyed the process; Very time consuming although I don't see anyway around that if a person wants to be creative.

So I'm saying I can & will take the time to read an owners manual for a camera. And if editing hasn't change that much I can do stuff like drag & drop, tweak, timelines, story lines, & audio. But, ask me about conversions, bits rates, or resize algorithms & forget it. Holy Smokes would I be screwed!

Thanks Bill and to all!
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post #15 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahern View Post

Also must mention one of the best videos was shot with a TM700 uploaded in 720p.
http://vimeo.com/15495926
Now look at this https://vimeo.com/41210085
See how much brighter, sharper the footage is and how much livelier the colors are? That's why I got rid of my TM900 and bought an Olympus OMD-EM5. It has a built in viewfinder and rock steady 5 axis image stabilization (although it appears the shooter in the vimeo video I just linked to has Parkinsons disease). Another bonus is you don't have to put up with the AVCHD complications because the OMD records movies as .mov files.

I've owned three late model Panasonics that everyone here said should be great because they had state of the art "specs" (an SD90 and TM900 camcorder and a LX7 camera). But they all deliver less sharp video than my OMD and the colors are dull or unlifelike and the mts files were huge and hard to work with.

If you don't want to spend $1100 for an OMD, the Olympus E-PL5 is $550 and delivers the same video quality as the OMD except that it does have as good image stabilization http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Interchangeable-Digital-Camera-14-42mm/dp/B0096WDMGC and no built in viewfinder. If you want an attachable viewfinder with the E-PL5 it is available for $158 more http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-VF-3-Electronic-Viewfinder-Silver/dp/B005FQSXFI/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1365753759&sr=1-1&keywords=VF-3
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post #16 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by SD90 View Post

Now look at this https://vimeo.com/41210085
See how much brighter, sharper the footage is and how much livelier the colors are? ......
I was there when they built that thing and still live nearby. I've never seen it that bright in real life. Normally, it is grey and wet!

I'm glad you finally found a camera that produces video with punchy color! How long have you had it?

Bill
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post #17 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 07:19 AM
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.... Another bonus is you don't have to put up with the AVCHD complications because the OMD records movies as .mov files.
What computer and software are you using that is troublesome with AVCHD?
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post #18 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD90 View Post

Now look at this https://vimeo.com/41210085
See how much brighter, sharper the footage is and how much livelier the colors are? ......
I was there when they built that thing and still live nearby. I've never seen it that bright in real life. Normally, it is grey and wet! I'm glad you finally found a camera that produces video with punchy color!
The TM900 has sharpness, color, exposure and white balance adjustments in additional to setting custom white balance.
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post #19 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 05:14 PM
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Hi Stando,
regarding $$ - well I'd like to point out that you don't have to spend them for useless crap from M$ which needs lot of RAM just for OS itself. I'm using 'old' MacBook from 2009 ( C2Duo @2.13, 6GB RAM...) - yes, it's dinosaur! It cost me ~$1200 (jo v Praze vyprodej 2010 za 24000,- CZK). It comes with iMovie (basic, but very powerful tool - incl. in every Mac).

However it worked well for all these years & true is I've just switch to new Air ~$1500 (30200,- CZK , 8GB, i5 @ 1.8 z Datartu) because of speed starts to be pain. Sure think I'd buy iMac or MB Pro, however you know how is it in our country with $$.
I used to shoot family/friends (mainly celebrations, daily life) still with SD700.

I am not sure as I'm not using it, but I'd bet that s/n from Win versions of Vegas/Premiere/others will work also on Mac versions.

regarding your videos
well, they're ok, every work could be criticized, but are you professional? or you're creating because it's fun?

for me are transitions missing & I think they'd move your movies much further. I like your exposure - is almost 100% (I watched more your videos), only in few parts looks too dark otherwise well balanced - but hey, many ppl will tell: "that's intentional!" smile.gif

It's not a dogma, just story/opinions from another person....

Good luck! / Tak hodně štěstí!!
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post #20 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ungermann View Post

The TM900 has sharpness, color, exposure and white balance adjustments in additional to setting custom white balance.
Here's a brief 720p Olympus OMD landscape video sample I shot today with the camera's cheap 14-42mm kit lens and uploaded to Vimeo using the simple Applie iMovie '11 program that runs well even on my old 2007 model iMac computer that has only 2 GB of RAM r: https://vimeo.com/63940488 I've never seen a Panasonic TM700/TM900 or X900 720p video sample that could match it in terms of image brightness, clarity, lively colors or in refined audio quality.

And remember it would be even 50% clearer and richer looking if I had configured it to play back on Vimeo at 1080p
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post #21 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Bill said, " I've never seen it that bright in real life. Normally, it is grey and wet!"

It was that was the one sunny day out of the year in Seattle! What I didn't know was that Seattle had earthquake " (although it appears the shooter in the vimeo video I just linked to has Parkinsons disease)."." I got a laugh out of that! A Very short clip. Must have needed to run for cover.

Yes, I liked the color & detail in the OMD Olympus. However I'd like a light camera for hiking. I got spoiled with the big zoom on my Panasonic sdr-h80. Yes, I've experienced my share of earthquakes free hand filming wildlife. Still it would be tuff for me to go backward to the Olympus E-PL5. It was set up with a wide zoom to 45 or 50mm. I think it was a interchangable lens so I suppose I could buy the body & a different lens. Obviously I'm okay with a set lens if like the panny tm700 thru x920 models and for that reason I really liked the Panasonic FZ200 Bill suggested. I downloaded the manual to study it's operation. At 1st glance I'd have to say I'd perfer operating the camcorders, zoom, manual focus, etc. I'll check out more close & the Panasonic FZ200 forums.
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It was that one sunny day ...I'm dyslexic
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post #23 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, I do like your colors SD90...And there was no tweaking them? I will admit that quite a few of the Pan cams do look a little washed out. And in a Sony/ Pan faceoff the Sony's colors were richer. So you do have a point.

Dummy question. Does the Olympus except any 4/3 lens?
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post #24 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahern View Post

Does the Olympus except any 4/3 lens?
Yes, any Olympus Pen or OMD camera will accept 4/3rd lenses's if you buy and use this $160.00 adapter: http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-V3230500W000-MMF-3-Micro-Adapter/dp/B0074WDG1C
Used adapters are commonly available for less money on ebay.com and in the For Sale section of this website: http://www.mu-43.com/ However, focusing speed is considerably reduced when using an adapted lens.

No I did not tweak the colors or audio of my OMD video sample except for adjusting the white balance a little in the cooler colors direction.
The Olympus Pen and OMD cameras are considered "micro 4/3rds" cameras.
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post #25 of 26 Old 04-26-2013, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

"If you haven't figured it out by now I have to do all of this on a budget. I figure 1st the camera $$ . "

Consider looking at a Panasonic FZ200. It may not look like a camcorder, but functions like one. It is about $500 and has a viewfinder. There is a thread here with plenty of examples as well as other review sites.

It uses the same AVCHD high quality formats that the $1000 cameras have.

Bill

Hi Bill, if you get this I am going to buy this camera after studying up on it. Thanks for this tip!

I noticed in one thread I'd read that you had bought the camera for your wife. How does she like it? I was bummed that Costco web site no longer list the camera. I like their added warranty.

I perhaps never found the thread you were refering to. The one that I saw "the official" labeled Panasonic FZ200 thread sounded like it was made perhaps after much of the discussion on the merrits of the camera happened in previous threads. If there is another could you point me in the right direction.

I like that you can save 4 of your own settings in the camera. So if you want to punch up the colors for a sunset type setting no need for a filter. Or tweak the colors to look more punchy like the Olympus. I don't think that you can (save settings) with the Panasonic TM300, 700, 900 & X900 series camcorders or is that wrong?

Do you have an opinion on one 1/2" sensor vs. the 3 x 1/4" sensor. Which gives the sharper picture? I realize sensor size is a factor in depth of feild.

Do the Panasonic TM300, 700, 900 & X900 series have a F stop of 16? The FZ200 only closes down to F8 stills F11 for video if I understand correctly. The English guy that does demos on you tube says the lens performs best only up to F4 or 4.8, I forget. Most photographers prefer the subject in sharp focus with a blurry background. I like to do mostly landscapes with foreground & background with sharpest focus possible. So the highend camcorders might do that a little better job on that. I can't have everything.

And I can't beat the price for my budget. And it will be great for wildlife!

Thanks once again for your help!
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post #26 of 26 Old 04-26-2013, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by ahern View Post

1. I noticed in one thread I'd read that you had bought the camera for your wife. How does she like it? I was bummed that Costco web site no longer list the camera. I like their added warranty.

2. I perhaps never found the thread you were refering to. The one that I saw "the official" labeled Panasonic FZ200 thread sounded like it was made perhaps after much of the discussion on the merrits of the camera happened in previous threads. If there is another could you point me in the right direction.

3. Do you have an opinion on one 1/2" sensor vs. the 3 x 1/4" sensor. Which gives the sharper picture? I realize sensor size is a factor in depth of feild.

4. Do the Panasonic TM300, 700, 900 & X900 series have a F stop of 16? The FZ200 only closes down to F8 stills F11 for video if I understand correctly. The English guy that does demos on you tube says the lens performs best only up to F4 or 4.8, I forget. Most photographers prefer the subject in sharp focus with a blurry background. I like to do mostly landscapes with foreground & background with sharpest focus possible. So the highend camcorders might do that a little better job on that. I can't have everything.

1. She never takes videos, but loves the camera. When she is in a serious picture taking mode, she uses the FZ150. When she wants to be inconspicuous, she as a LX-7 in her purse. Her pictures are usually better than mine.

2. The only thread I know of is http://www.avsforum.com/t/1457248/panasonic-fz200-thread

3. It is only my opinion, but sensor size and other specifications often cloud that good pictures and video come from the shooter, not the camera.

4. I don't know. I do enjoy Graham Houghton's videos!
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