or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Other Areas of Interest › Camcorders › New Camcorder Help
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

New Camcorder Help

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
We are looking for a new camcorder. Our primary use (80-90%) is filming horse shows and clinics. Mostly dressage clinics where filmer will be filming from the end of the 200' arena. Occasionally filming at shows where could be anywhere from 40'-200' away from the arena along the side.

Clinics are generally in covered arenas that have really mixed lighting...could be extreme low light at times, bright at others...usually one or the other isn't a problem, but most of these arenas have open areas where it is really bright in some spots, and shaded in others. Occasionally will be at a clinic that is 100% outdoor.

SO, need the ability to adapt to extreme wide angle when the riding is at the end ofthe arena you are filming, and fairly easy zooming to keep up and get reasonably close up when 100+ feet away. Also need to be adaptable to the changing light conditions. Definitely an action sport where we need clear & accurate video of the minute details of the riders hands, etc. Also since outdoors (or in semi-enclosed arenas) there is always the potential for wind...and we need decent sound to pick up clinicians comments. So, need something with quality built in mic or something that has available quality external mics.

I will be filming with a tripod almost all the time.

Currently we are using a Sony DCR-HC96. Bought this one a few years ago. The film quality is pretty solid....really good enough. Handles the light changes fairly well, although adjusts a bit slow at times. Biggest complaint I'd have is the wide angle could open up a bit more...at the close points, I cannot get a full horse and rider in the frame (could be as close as 3-5' at times), and the zoom functions are not as smooth and easy as I'd like. HOWEVER, as I said, the video is really still OK, the reason for a new camera is format. Just getting tired of using the miniDV tapes. Not sure if we want flash or hard drive camera...dont' know enough to know which is handier...but want to be able to more easily transfer video to computer.

Would like to stay under 800-1000...so no pro models...definitely don't want to get anything that would give us lowere quality video. HD is a plus, but not a requirement.

ANy help would be great.

Thanks,
Jeff
post #2 of 19
Check out reviews at camcorderinfo.com! You can't go wrong with the Panasonic TM900, SD800 or even the TM90 for under $500. Nice 28mm wide angle lens too.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jj4osu View Post

.....need the ability to adapt to extreme wide... and fairly easy zooming .... need to be adaptable to the changing light conditions ....an action sport where we need clear & accurate video of the minute details of the riders hands... since outdoors there is always the potential for wind...and we need decent sound to pick up clinicians comments. ... need something with quality built in mic or something that has available quality external mics.... will be filming with a tripod almost all the time..... I cannot get a full horse and rider in the frame (could be as close as 3-5' at times), and the zoom functions are not as smooth and easy as I'd like....the reason for a new camera is format....Not sure if we want flash or hard drive camera...dont' know enough to know which is handier...but want to be able to more easily transfer video to computer....Would like to stay under 800-1000..

Jeff,

Buy a TM900 for around $800 It fits your list of needs and wants. If you don't need a viewfinder and use SD cards, buy the SD800 for $150 less.

- I tried to look up how wide your current camera lens is and couldn't find it. The 900 has about twice the zoom as you are used to and is pretty wide. If not wide enough, Panasonic has an optional wide angle lens adapter that cuts the zoom a little but widens up close. The zoom is very smooth with the variable speed button and even better with the manual ring around the lens.
- Rapidly changing light conditions are one of its specialties. You have to see how well it work. I don't know how to describe it.
- As an action sport you may be used to using the viewfinder on your current camera. The 900 has a good one. Few under $1000 cameras have them.
- The 900 HD modes will get the finest of details. It has five video quality settings. You will see amazing detail if you have an HD TV to watch on.
- It has a wind noise filter that can be turned off or on. Not perfect in extreme wind, but works pretty good.
- The 900 has a good 5.1 Dolby mic built in that will pick up everything. It also has a mic input in case you need a mic focused on the clinicians.
- You may not need the tripod as much as you think because of the built in image stabilization.
- If you are looking for easy transfer to your computer, use SD cards in the TM900. If you fill a card, you can use the internal memory as a backup.
post #4 of 19
Camcorderinfo says the Sony had a measured 43 degree field of view. The TM900 measured 60 degree and the TM90 68.5 degree. So even the TM900 offers a much wider field of view compared to the old Sony.
post #5 of 19
Since you already know Sony builds quality camcorders I would buy the new Sony 560. Buy it at Best Buy and get 14 days to test it and return it if you don't think it fits your needs. I like mine and think you will like your's.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thinking perhaps a step down from the TM900/G10/CX550 range.

From what I can tell from here and camcorderinfo.com, at the next level down the TM90 and the M40/41 are quite a bit better than the Sony at this range.

Looks like the Canon is much better in low light, but the Panasonic will have quite a bit wider angle. Both seem to be a step up in performance from what I see in the specs/reviews, but hard to compare a 2006 review score to a 2011 review.

I've checked them out at a store and either seems like it would work...just tough to tell in that environment.

Given what we're using this for and in the environments we're filming in, I'm a bit torn...the extra wide on the Panasonic sounds great as I'm filming a horse/rider from just a few feet at times....but the better low light of the Canon sounds good too...just how low light is low light?? I mean we'll never be filming in areas where it is dificult to see with the naked eye...a very overcast day in a covered arena using just natural light is the worst it will be.
Biggest lighting challenge is probably a CHANGING light condition...one section very shaded and then ride by an open door with bright sunlight shining in.

One other thing I just came on this weekend was filming outside...using the lcd to film outside, as long as the sun was behind me it was cool...but filming toward the sun a bit and the lcd was so dark it was tough to see and ensure I was capturing what I needed...would either of these be better??

Thinking I might just go buy both, compare and take one back...unethical??

Appreciate any thoughts on why one might be better than the other...OR if it would truly be worth it for what we need (primarily video clinic rides for personal review) to upgrade to a better model.

Thanks,
jj
post #7 of 19
You would have to get the M41 with the viewfinder. I was going for that one but settled on the TM90 because of the wider angle lens and the fabulous image stabilization. The M41 tested 47 degree field of view so about the same as your sony. Just a tad wider. For what you will use the camcorder for the TM90 will handle it well. In those difficult backlight areas it will brighten up the subject and over saturate the background. You can use other scene modes and avoid the over saturation but the image will be dimmer on your subject. Although spotlight mode and intelligent contrast works really well at getting the best of both the subject and the background.

Ron
post #8 of 19
Your description of the arena is not "low light". On this forum, "low light" is wandering around in the dark outside at night hoping for enough moonlight or by single candle inside at night. It would be animal abuse to make them perform in the version of "low light" discussed in camcorder circles.

I have no personal experience with the two you are looking at. But, with the two HD cameras I own, I am impressed by how quickly they respond when panning through various "normal" lighting conditions. The "full auto" modes are impressive when things are changing rapidly.

I don't think there is a solution to lcds in very bright sunlight, other than a viewfinder -- which only come on higher end camcorders.

Ethical? Tell the sales person what you intend to do. Buy the TM90 for the wide angle. If it does not work, it is ethical to take it back. Don't buy two at once because the learning curve will be too high! The full money back period is too short to evaluate two camcorders.

On edit: Ron beat me to the post. He has a TM90 and know what it does.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

Your description of the arena is not "low light". On this forum, "low light" is wandering around in the dark outside at night hoping for enough moonlight or by single candle inside at night. It would be animal abuse to make them perform in the version of "low light" discussed in camcorder circles.

I have no personal experience with the two you are looking at. But, with the two HD cameras I own, I am impressed by how quickly they respond when panning through various "normal" lighting conditions. The "full auto" modes are impressive when things are changing rapidly.

I don't think there is a solution to lcds in very bright sunlight, other than a viewfinder -- which only come on higher end camcorders.

Ethical? Tell the sales person what you intend to do. Buy the TM90 for the wide angle. If it does not work, it is ethical to take it back. Don't buy two at once because the learning curve will be too high! The full money back period is too short to evaluate two camcorders.

On edit: Ron beat me to the post. He has a TM90 and know what it does.


First off low ambient light is very different from almost total darkness.
If you only have a couple of 700 lumen bulbs in a room that's low ambient light.

Also they make hoods for LCD screens, i have one and use it a lot outdoors and it works great.
So that is a viable option.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Cebu View Post

First off low ambient light is very different from almost total darkness.
If you only have a couple of 700 lumen bulbs in a room that's low ambient light.

Also they make hoods for LCD screens, i have one and use it a lot outdoors and it works great.
So that is a viable option.

A 60 watt incandescent bulb puts out around 890 lumens and that is darker than I care to sit around in let alone video record in. My wife needs 150 watts minimum or multiple lower wattage lamps. The Canons low light performance comes in handy at dusk outside and if you zoom in to something in the distance during dusk or dawn hour. That's where the Canon's really shine. Pun intended. But my TM90 looks fine at dusk while zoomed to the widest angle shots. Indoors at a museum in subdued lighting it still works very well. Hard to beat for the price IMHO. Sometimes focus can be a tad off in lower light...again at dusk while zooming in. There is a manual focus mode but its only slightly off and doesn't happen that often. In fact this little camcorder focuses very well in most scenes in auto modes.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

A 60 watt incandescent bulb puts out around 890 lumens and that is darker than I care to sit around in let alone video record in. My wife needs 150 watts minimum or multiple lower wattage lamps. The Canons low light performance comes in handy at dusk outside and if you zoom in to something in the distance during dusk or dawn hour. That's where the Canon's really shine. Pun intended. But my TM90 looks fine at dusk while zoomed to the widest angle shots. Indoors at a museum in subdued lighting it still works very well. Hard to beat for the price IMHO. Sometimes focus can be a tad off in lower light...again at dusk while zooming in. There is a manual focus mode but its only slightly off and doesn't happen that often. In fact this little camcorder focuses very well in most scenes in auto modes.


I use CFL's I think we only have one incandescent left in the whole house except for specialty lighting that they don't make CFL's for.
The two lights I have in my den are plenty bright enough for doing most things except taking videos. We actually have 3 lights but we don't use the 3rd one.
I have long forgotten the wattages on incadecents but those tend to make more heat than light anyway.
Our kitchen is very brightly lit as are our other rooms but I don't want to watch TV in a super brightly lit room.
The CFL's are the eqiv of 2 (100) watt bulbs which is fine for most things.
The TM900 wanted a lot more light. The TM90 could very well be different.
You lose about 2 stops when zooming which is why it darkens up so much on a zoom.
The Canon was brilliant in Museums absolutely amazing.
The Kelvin adjustment is a big plus for the crazy mized lighting the Smithsonian uses. They mix in red and/or blue bulbs sometmes yellow for effects so you really need to adjust for that manually.
The TM90 is a very small camcorder, very pocketable. They were on sale at Costco for very reasonable money.
I had no issues with autofocus in the TM900 and the Canon HF G10 works very well at autofocus.
I did crank the sharpness to +2 on it as I like it to be crisp.

I just hope someone makes a truely decent low light 60p camcorder for 2012.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Cebu View Post

I use CFL's I think we only have one incandescent left in the whole house except for specialty lighting that they don't make CFL's for.
The two lights I have in my den are plenty bright enough for doing most things except taking videos. We actually have 3 lights but we don't use the 3rd one.
I have long forgotten the wattages on incadecents but those tend to make more heat than light anyway.
Our kitchen is very brightly lit as are our other rooms but I don't want to watch TV in a super brightly lit room.
The CFL's are the eqiv of 2 (100) watt bulbs which is fine for most things.
The TM900 wanted a lot more light. The TM90 could very well be different.
You lose about 2 stops when zooming which is why it darkens up so much on a zoom.
The Canon was brilliant in Museums absolutely amazing.
The Kelvin adjustment is a big plus for the crazy mized lighting the Smithsonian uses. They mix in red and/or blue bulbs sometmes yellow for effects so you really need to adjust for that manually.
The TM90 is a very small camcorder, very pocketable. They were on sale at Costco for very reasonable money.
I had no issues with autofocus in the TM900 and the Canon HF G10 works very well at autofocus.
I did crank the sharpness to +2 on it as I like it to be crisp.

I just hope someone makes a truely decent low light 60p camcorder for 2012.

You mean a G10 with 60p? I would have liked the G10. Nice wide angle lens on it. It is bigger and I just didn't want to spend $1k plus on a new camcorder. I spent $2k on my old Sony DVCAM. The little TM90 for $400 was hard to pass up.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jj4osu View Post

Thinking perhaps a step down from the TM900/G10/CX550 range.

From what I can tell from here and camcorderinfo.com, at the next level down the TM90 and the M40/41 are quite a bit better than the Sony at this range.

Looks like the Canon is much better in low light, but the Panasonic will have quite a bit wider angle. Both seem to be a step up in performance from what I see in the specs/reviews, but hard to compare a 2006 review score to a 2011 review.

I've checked them out at a store and either seems like it would work...just tough to tell in that environment.

Given what we're using this for and in the environments we're filming in, I'm a bit torn...the extra wide on the Panasonic sounds great as I'm filming a horse/rider from just a few feet at times....but the better low light of the Canon sounds good too...just how low light is low light?? I mean we'll never be filming in areas where it is dificult to see with the naked eye...a very overcast day in a covered arena using just natural light is the worst it will be.
Biggest lighting challenge is probably a CHANGING light condition...one section very shaded and then ride by an open door with bright sunlight shining in.

One other thing I just came on this weekend was filming outside...using the lcd to film outside, as long as the sun was behind me it was cool...but filming toward the sun a bit and the lcd was so dark it was tough to see and ensure I was capturing what I needed...would either of these be better??

Thinking I might just go buy both, compare and take one back...unethical??

Appreciate any thoughts on why one might be better than the other...OR if it would truly be worth it for what we need (primarily video clinic rides for personal review) to upgrade to a better model.

Thanks,
jj


You can jack up the birghtness on the Canon M41 I believe and more than likey the Panyy. Are you going to be zooming in and out a LOT? If so, I understand it could be hard without a viewfinder if cranking up the brightness isn't good enough, then you probably need a viewfinder. The only other suggestion is to setup your tripod and frame out what you are shooting so you don't need to adjust and or shoot up and down but just horizontal.

So did you make a decision?
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

You mean a G10 with 60p? I would have liked the G10. Nice wide angle lens on it. It is bigger and I just didn't want to spend $1k plus on a new camcorder. I spent $2k on my old Sony DVCAM. The little TM90 for $400 was hard to pass up.


Yes, I'd loe for my G10 to have 60p or a Panny that actually works in low ambient light. Their 3MOS sensor is great but they need a 500% improvement in low light. hey could always do what Canon did and sacrifice their still picture quality in return for better low light video.
I'd buy that for a dollar!

Here is a pic out of my HF G10 you can see they sacrificed still picture quality a LOT.



post #15 of 19
Expectation is too high when it comes to stills on a camcorder. It's not the primary function. It's why you could spend $500 for an excellent camera that is for the most part only good for stills! We have to stop asking them to combine both technology in one package unless you want to spend a couple thousand dollars.. maybe more..

Your still looks good, but yes I see what you mean..
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vdoggie View Post

Expectation is too high when it comes to stills on a camcorder. It's not the primary function. It's why you could spend $500 for an excellent camera that is for the most part only good for stills! We have to stop asking them to combine both technology in one package unless you want to spend a couple thousand dollars.. maybe more..

Your still looks good, but yes I see what you mean..


Actually I have no expectations for stills on a video camera. I would rather they take out stills completely and give me better video. I carry my Canon S95 with me and it's pics are considerably better.
Here is the same pic taken by my S95 my wife is in the pic.
But it's miles better than the above. When it posted in here it's a bit blurry but the raw pic on my PC is crystal clear.


post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for the advice!!

Went ahead and bit the bullet on the Panasonic TM900K. $800 from Amazon, next day service. Used it to film at a horse show, and results were great...just thought I was getting a good picture with the old one, lol. But that was in a very well lit arena..go to a clinic where the lighting won't be as good...we'll see how that goes.

JJ
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jj4osu View Post

... that was in a very well lit arena..go to a clinic where the lighting won't be as good...we'll see how that goes.

You got a good price.

When you are at that clinic, be sure the camera is in full automatic mode and point it at the darkest spot you can find. If it is dark enough, it may automatically shift to a low light scene mode. Press record and gently pan to the brightest spot you can find, like an open doorway. Throw in some zooming. Watch the screen. You should see the cameras brains working hard at getting exposure and focus right. My bet is that you will be impressed.

If you would please, post back as to how well it works.

Bill
post #19 of 19
So how did the camcorder work? The Panasonic 900. Was it able to deal with the indoor lighting? If not have you found a camera that can?

Tracy
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Camcorders
AVS › AVS Forum › Other Areas of Interest › Camcorders › New Camcorder Help