Looking for a camcorder + lavalier mic combo - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 05-16-2014, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

I'm looking for a good quality camcorder + wireless lavalier microphone combination for, hopefully, $1000 or less (though I will go higher if it's absolutely worth it to do so). I would like it to be capable of recording in 1080p at 60fps, and picture quality is key, along with excellent audio with the attached microphone. The microphone should be reasonably wind-resistant.

I'd prefer it to be capable of recording to a memory card but that isn't a requirement. Battery life isn't an issue as long as I can purchase an external (hopefully extended) battery.

The camera & mic will be dual use. Its purpose will be to produce travel related videos, so its time will be split between a studio environment with a tripod, good lighting and reasonably quiet acoustics, and shots at travel locations, both of the presenter and footage of various environments, mostly during the daytime.

I have to this point been using a Panasonic HDC-TM700K with a Rode shotgun microphone, which worked for the type of video being shot in the past, but I'll no longer have access to this setup and I feel a lavalier mic would do better for this application. I am not familiar with lavalier mics at all so opinions there are especially welcome.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 21 Old 05-16-2014, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, for this application would it be worth considering a DSLR?
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post #3 of 21 Old 05-16-2014, 03:01 PM
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I use the Yoga tie clip mic from Amazon. It is a stereo electret condenser mic so has a small box to carry the battery. Most external mic inputs are stereo and experience has taught me that a stereo mic is the best way to go. I use the mic for in camera sound and for voiceovers while editing on my PC. If you want to do any "to camera" talking shots I suggest that an extension lead may be useful.

 

My setup is a Panasonic HC-V750 with the mic suggested above and two other mics  (both stereo) a shotgun and a handheld. I also have windshields for all my mics.

 

The 750 is this year's model and has an uprated lens system. I have a second battery plus a charger. The Panasonic batteries are expensive but you can get a double life battery. I use two of the standard batteries which last 1hr 20min before needing a recharge.

 

If you are making videos then a camcorder is better than a DSLR in my opinion. Plus the 750 takes brilliant still photos.

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post #4 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 02:20 AM
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You may be pushing it to get a high quality wireless system, lav and camera for that price. You may want to consider a wired Lav, there are many great ones for very little money.

Although stereo mics can produce a great sound, they are not really designed for dialogue. You may want to consider a mono one with something like a cardioid pattern if you require dialogue in a fairly noisy location. Or omni for a more open sound where the dialogue isn't fighting with ambient noise.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #5 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 02:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the help!

One problem with considering a wired lav is that some shots will be of the subject climbing up steps, hiking, and similar things where it would seem unlikely that a wired mic will work out too well.

I'm definitely willing to go above $1000 if the application calls for equipment that doesn't fit inside that budget.
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post #6 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 03:04 AM
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The only problem going wireless is that it could be diminishing returns. You won't get any better audio quality, but you do get freedom of movement and all the other benefits of not being tethered. I have used a number of wireless systems in the past and this one is about the best value for money for features and quality http://www.gak.co.uk/en/sennheiser-ew112p-g3-system-wireless-radio-microphone-system/26894?gclid=CNaDnaTWsr4CFfMftAod5zkAbw

But as you can see it will chew into your budget with a hefty bight. There are cheaper systems, but in my experience you really do get what you pay for with wireless systems, and the G2/3 is really solid and very good quality in build and sound. Unlike many other components and tools for film/video production, where cost doesn't necessarily indicate quality, I wouldn't compromise on a wireless system, or at least the transmitter and receiver.

Maybe just get a wired Lav and see how you go, and then go wireless if really necessary. You could buy a wireless system and then find that most of your dialogue shots could have done with being wired, and find the cost of the wireless negates its use. And maybe the money could be put toward something that you will get an appreciable difference from. Also, you won't get a technically better method than hard wiring.

I have been doing a number of wired mic tests with an AX100, I will see if I can get any online so you can see another point of view.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #7 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 03:20 AM
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If you do go for a wireless mic you need to know that the cheaper analogue ones are prone to radio interference. You should look at the more expensive digital ones.

 

In my experience of using a stereo lavalier mic there is no detriment and you do not need a mono one for dialogue - the stereo one works just as well.

 

There was a problem with certain mono to stereo adapters and mic inputs. First the external mic socket is normally stereo so an a mono to stereo 3.5mm adapter is required. Piggy back the mic mono plug to an adapter and you create a sizable bit of metal sticking out of the camera side. With some cameras, this distorts the internal socket which is (these days) soldered to an internal circuit board and a bad contact can cause loss of sound. (I know - it has happened to me) So I always stick to stereo mics.

So if you do decide to go for a mono mic (and most wireless ones are mono) then buy a mono to stereo wired adapter cable which you can tape to the camera body.

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post #8 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 06:35 AM
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Hi khelvan - for travel videos with a $1000 budget, I would get the $150 Sony ECM-AW3 Bluetooth wireless mic. VHF mics are subject to interference and UHF mics will take you above your budget limit.

Here is what this mic can do:



http://youtu.be/rV9wLcvgxjM



If you want the timelapse/intervalometer shots and shallow depth of field seen in this travel video:




http://vimeo.com/95488709




...you may want to consider the $647.99 (with kit lens) Panasonic G6 interchangeable lens camera.


This will give you a much more "cinematic" look than a camcorder such as the $598 Panasonic HC-V750 - which will give you results that look more like this:





I have a traditional camcorder and several interchangeable lens camcorders - and, when I travel, the camcorder stays behind on the shelf.

Hope this is helpful!

Bill
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post #9 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all, thank you again for all of the advice.

So I have one other option that I've been considering - I have a Nikon D300 that I have used for professional still photography in the past. I have been considering upgrading it for a while now, and given what I want to do with video now might be the time to do so.

Do you think the Nikon D5300 would be suitable for this application? It takes 1080p video at 60fps, but I'm not familiar with its ability (or lack thereof) to handle external microphones. The bonus to this is that I have a ton of lenses that I could use with this camera.

This would allow me to cut costs by selling my old D300 and then putting more money into a great microphone. I estimate that I'd have over $500 in budget to get a microphone at that point, assuming the D5300 can handle this task.

What are your thoughts on that option?

Thanks again!
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post #10 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khelvan View Post

Hi all, thank you again for all of the advice.

So I have one other option that I've been considering - I have a Nikon D300 that I have used for professional still photography in the past. I have been considering upgrading it for a while now, and given what I want to do with video now might be the time to do so.

Do you think the Nikon D5300 would be suitable for this application? It takes 1080p video at 60fps, but I'm not familiar with its ability (or lack thereof) to handle external microphones. The bonus to this is that I have a ton of lenses that I could use with this camera.

This would allow me to cut costs by selling my old D300 and then putting more money into a great microphone. I estimate that I'd have over $500 in budget to get a microphone at that point, assuming the D5300 can handle this task.

What are your thoughts on that option?

Thanks again!

For what you are going to be doing, and while stills cameras can make great video images, this would be a bad choice. You are doing what is essentially run n' gun, and a stills camera is going to be more problematic than a use. The first and biggest issue will be a lack of ND, on most stills cameras. By the time you would have spent the right amount of money on a stills camera for your particular video use, including all the particular updating it will need to match the functionality of a video camera. You would have been better off paying for a video camera.

Skimping on your video acquisition in order to accommodate a microphone is probably not the best way to go either. A more expensive and capable video camera with only moderate and less than perfect audio options, is a way better option than a cheaper under facilitated camera with a brilliant audio system. You can do way more in post with audio than what you can do with video, if you have to start chasing things and fixing.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #11 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 04:52 AM
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Skimping on your video acquisition in order to accommodate a microphone is probably not the best way to go either. A more expensive and capable video camera with only moderate and less than perfect audio options, is a way better option than a cheaper under facilitated camera with a brilliant audio system. You can do way more in post with audio than what you can do with video, if you have to start chasing things and fixing.

 

Wise advice. You can improve the audio in so many ways in post production. Many users record the audio on a handheld recorder such as a Tascam or Zoom. I use the Zoom H2. If as you say you are recording a voiceover "to camera" and not using a connected mic, there will be times that you can turn away from camera when the synchronisation will not matter too much. When you need to sync the sound to the video then video editors allow you to "slide" the audio to align with the video. Pretty standard practice.

 

I tend to add a voiceover during the editing as 1) it gives perfect conditions for adding sound and 2) I can prepare notes (even a script) to add information to the video shot.

Unless you are very experienced it is difficult to talk to camera in a lucid and fluid manner without "ums" and "errs". Question whether your audience wants to look at the views or at you and whether "to camera" shots either on location or in a studio adds to the final video.

 

In fact the filming process is only a small part of the final result. Most of the work goes into editing (and cutting out the trivia) adding music, a voiceover or sound track and titles or effects. Then it will need rendering and saving to a storage media.

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post #12 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 02:40 PM
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You will need a wired lavalier regardless, as a back up. Most of them come with 12' cords and it is not critical that you clip them to your lapel. I use the non-powered ones that run off the camera with no additional battery ($5). I have a wireless set up that I never use, but I am always shooting from inside a vehicle. The wired mics range from $0.99 to $50.

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post #13 of 21 Old 05-20-2014, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, after much going back and forth and reading your advice, I think I've decided on a course of action. As the on-location shots won't come until later, I think I'm going to go with the Panasonic HC-X920 and a wired lavalier mic for now. Then when it's time to move to on-location shots, I'll revisit the audio question with those specific needs in mind.

Yes, this will be beyond my initial budget, but I feel like the reviews of the HC-X920 warrant this increase in cost given what everyone is saying above regarding camera quality.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks again.
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post #14 of 21 Old 05-20-2014, 11:36 PM
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Check on the reviews for the Panasonic 750, mine gives brilliant pictures plus it is this year's model so has all the latest tech and it will save a bit on your budget. Comparison suggests that the one larger chip performs as well as the three smaller ones.

 

Please also bear in mind what I said about the mic input on Panasonic cameras. A wired mono 3.5mm socket to a stereo plug will give less problems if you buy a mono lavalier mic.

 

Budget for extra batteries and possibly a mains/12V charger. You will also need to invest in a video editor.

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post #15 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 03:36 AM
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What ever camera you go for, around the price you are looking at, you will find it really dificuilt to buy anything with a bad picture. I think you will be fairly safe no matter what you go for just make sure that what ever it is has got the features you require, and it's software/menu features are what you want. I personally like the mid range Sony cameras, my PD150 was so reliable that I just stuck with Sony.

As for a microphone. While people like to use stereo microphones, you really should be using mono mics for dialogue recording. By its very definition of use, a stereo mic has a very wide polar pattern and is designed to pick up within that very wide pattern. This is exactly what you need when you are trying to pick up the ambience of what you are filming, for instance, you are in a room environment with a number of people in it and you want to get a feel of what is going on in the room. But if you want to be more specific about what you are picking up, for instance, the same room environment but you really want to concentrate on mostly picking up just one voice. Then a stereo mic is not the right tool for that particular job. Mono mics with varying widths of polar patterns are more designed for focusing your audio pick up from within narrower forward facing areas. Even an omni mono lav would be much better, despite its polar pattern, it would be very close to the subjects mouth and be mostly picking up dialogue over ambience.

As for connections etc. I have a number of in line convertors, both passive and active and for both electret and phantom voltages, and for doing dual mono to stereo input. These include XLR and quarter inch, down to stereo and mono eight inch. They are not bulky or get in the way, and can be easily zipped or Velcro strapped. You could even go for any of the various Beachtek boxes, which fit neatly either on a shoe or under the camera via a 3/8 screw.

If you check out these videos you will get a good idea of how good a very cheap lav mono mic can be. This is about as rough and ready and run n gun as you can get, the mic didn't even have its wind shield on. The mic cost £7.00, so will give you an idea of how little money is needed to get good quality results from a wired mono lav.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #16 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 04:44 AM
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Hi khelvan - I agree - I would go ahead and spend the $998 for the X920 because of the viewfinder. If you're ever outdoors trying to see an LCD in bright sunlight, you'll wish you had one. For me personally, it's worth the extra $400.

I will not buy any more LCD-only cameras (I broke that rule for the BMPCC, but that was a special case smile.gif)

Good luck!

Bill
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post #17 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 02:15 PM
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You can always rig a piece of tape as a visor to the LED to shade the sun.

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post #18 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickndfl View Post
 

You can always rig a piece of tape as a visor to the LED to shade the sun.

 

Quite agree. I made a sun visor for my 700 but I never needed to use it as the LCD is clear enough to be seen even in bright sunlight. ( Yes even in the UK we had bright sunlight last summer) The LCD on the 750 is as good and now I am  used to it I would not go back to a viewfinder.

 

The main problem with a viewfinder is that it puts the camera close to the user's face. With my Canon HV20 every noise from breathing to clothes movement was picked up on the video. It became such a nuisance that I resorted to using the LCD screen. A viewfinder is useful on a stills camera but not so necessary on a video. The LCD screen has become both an information provider and a controller, a use that cannot be replicated with a viewfinder.

 

As nickndfl has said it is easy to remove reflections  from an LCD screen, with a bit of tape and imagination, if it becomes necessary.

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post #19 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I've read a number of reviews that pit the Panasonic 750 vs. the 920 and the consensus seems clear that if I want higher picture quality I should go with the 920, unless I'm looking to do slow motion (I'm not).

Are there reviews that place them on the same level in terms of picture quality?

One consideration moving forward is an aperture that allows me to create depth-of-field effects, and the precise control needed to create these effects. It seems like the 920 is closer to a professional camera in this respect than the 750, unless I'm misreading the reviews?

I'll definitely go with a mono lavalier based on your advice, thank you.
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post #20 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 05:36 PM
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DOF is a result of a number of things. It's achievable on any fixed variable lens, to greater and lesser degrees. The easiest way to get it is to put a bit of distance between you and your subject and zoom in with the iris as wide as you can get. Although your shutter can play a part in DOF, you are probably best using it to stop down your light in order to keep the iris open. I only suggest the shutter so you don't have to used an ND. The further to the end of your zoom with an open iris, the narrower the DOF.

Cheers,
Dave.
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post #21 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 05:39 PM
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The flagship consumer grade should always give you the best PQ.  But that will most likely be surpassed in a couple of years anyway with even newer technology, so don't get too caught up in the spec sheet.  We are at a great time in history be it video cameras or cell phones or motorcycles, the technology leap in the last 10 years has been only surpassed by what the internet has provided.  Truly comparable to the electric light bulb. 

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