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help buying first camcorder

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I know there are a number of threads similar to this on here already, so please forgive another one, and help anyway

I'm not doing any professional video shooting, just family stuff - holidays, my dog while she's doing silly things around the house, vacations (especially a fishing trip my dad and I are taking to Canada this summer)... stuff like that.

I've tried doing a bunch of research prior to posting this, but I'm still pretty uneducated when it comes to the world of camcorders. It seems that when it comes to finding something with good overall performance and quality, the most important features/specifications are sensor size, optical zoom, effective video megapixels, 35mm equivalent video focus, and lux for low light. As a first step in my search, does that seem fairly reasonable?

Assuming I'm on the right path, how would those specs be "ranked" as far as importance? For example, I can find some camcorders that have a good sized sensor, but the focus length and effective video megapixels are poor. Are there thresholds on some of those specs where anything "better" wouldn't be all that noticeable for how I'd be using it and I should pay less attention as long as it meets that threshold?

That's kind of how I'd like to start my search since I'm not loyal to any brand, and my budget can flex a bit if necessary.

If I'm completely going about this the wrong way, hopefully someone is kind enough to point me in the right direction. Thanks experts!
post #2 of 16
Go to camcorderinfo.com and look at their rankings, then read the reviews.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahender View Post

Go to camcorderinfo.com and look at their rankings, then read the reviews.

I've already been there, and done that. But thanks, I guess.
post #4 of 16
I have a Panny TM700 and I absolutely love it. For the money, nothing beats the TM900 (IMOP).
post #5 of 16
Canon hf g10 if you can afford it is a great camera. I also recommend Sony hx100v and hx9 point shoot cameras they are awesome for the money and ease of use. My goto camera is the hx100v
post #6 of 16
I have two camcorders, an earlier version of the Panasonic TM900 and a Sony HX9V that looks like a pocket point and shoot. They both take extremely good quality video. The smaller one often works in places where the bigger one won't and I have it with me, in my pocket. I would buy both again without hesitation.

This week I finished this video with the smaller, cheaper HX9V: https://vimeo.com/36973087

Sony, Panasonic and Canon all make great camcorders. Don't get carried away with the specs. Pick any of them that say HD or AVCHD or 1080p in the specs and use SD cards for memory. Make sure it feels good in your hands. Then learn the camera, its features, functions and limitations. The get your head around capturing short stories with motion and sound in them.

Good luck and have fun.

Bill
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I was trying to take a step back and avoid getting into specific cameras, but I do very much appreciate the info!

I had been looking at a handful of different models, all of which are made by either Canon, Panasonic or Sony. I wish I could play with them in person, but the closest store that sells anything good is a couple of hours away, so I'm trying to come as close to a decision as I can before making the trek.

I know I shouldn't get too caught up in specs, but they still exist and I'm analytical enough to pay attention to them. Some of the Canons for example - pretty similar specs between the HF S20/S30 and the M4XX/M5XX lines, but the HF lines have a 1/2.6" sensor compared to 1/3" and the effective video megapix are 6.01 compared to 2.07. Based on that, will the HF line be noticeably better?

Or comparing between brands, are the backlit sensors on the Sony better, in general, than the sensors on the Canons. Does the 3MOS sensor on the Panasonic make it significantly better? Does the ability to film in 24p vs 60p matter?

This is the kind of stuff I'd love to learn from people who can explain it in layman's terms for me. I know it's a lot of questions, but if anyone would mind answering some of them for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks!
post #8 of 16
The differences in quality between the cameras are noticeable to SOME trained eyes when watching on an HDTV but very few people (if anyone) can distinguish the difference of 1080 videos on YouTube even with very careful comparison.

I chose the Sony CX550V (1 1/2 years ago) even though was it more expensive at the time and had what was considered slightly lower quality video than the others. It had ever-so-slighly better low light ability and image stabilization (at no-zoom), infra-red nightshot ability for no-light situations, the largest LCD screen, and most importantly the widest angle lens. These have been valuable to me.

1/2.6 vs 1/3 sensor would be significant if you were comparing still photography cameras. With these video cameras however there are so many variables in the guts that it may or may not make a difference. Backlit sensors are similar on most brands and way better than non-backlit. 24 vs 60p is significant if there is a lot of motion, otherwise it's not. I don't miss it even videoing little league games, but I do wish I had it when I slow-motion the video while editing.

I wish my Sony had a little sharper video but capturing the moment properly is a lot more important than the difference in resolution (to me). Resolution is very important to me on still photography (which these video cameras are terrible at).

Figuring out how to edit, combine clips, and archive was a MUCH bigger issue to me than camera choice. Camera choice is almost insignificant in comparison. Here's my original post describing everything I went through:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1266943
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiteBright View Post

Figuring out how to edit, combine clips, and archive was a MUCH bigger issue to me than camera choice. Camera choice is almost insignificant in comparison.

x2
post #10 of 16
I'd just like to say thank-you jazztalker for starting this thread. I too just started the research process involved in choosing just the right camera and wanted expert feedback. Speaking of which, any recommendations regarding tripods? Are most camcorders bad at still photography in terms of resolution and or picture quality? Should I consult Consumer Reports magazine in making my choice of which camera to get? Is there a brand that is known for being the most MAC compatible?
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahender View Post

Go to camcorderinfo.com and look at their rankings, then read the reviews.


Dude, do you enjoy posting this kind of reply?? You also posted in a thread I started with a link to a page in Wikipedia which was of no help whatsoever, when all I asked was what is a relatively inexpensive video editor for an iMac. If I wanted to use Wikipedia, I would. If the OP in this thread had wanted to read reviews from camcorder.com, they would. But they didn't. They came here and asked it's members what they thought.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_burlock View Post

Are most camcorders bad at still photography in terms of resolution and or picture quality? Should I consult Consumer Reports magazine in making my choice of which camera to get? Is there a brand that is known for being the most MAC compatible?

Even though video cameras have improved their photo taking abilities, you still can't beat a standalone digicam. Even a $300 digicam will beat the best video cameras in terms of still photos. If you don't mind carrying a second gadget along with you then I would recommend picking up a still camera.
I'd recommend looking at: http://www.steves-digicams.com/ or http://www.dpreview.com/ for reviews...

Re: Mac compatibility. All still cameras work well with Macs. All cameras record in the universal JPG format and Macs, Windows, Unix etc. machines will be able to handle them with ease. All you need to do is plug your camera into your Mac and a window will popup asking you to transfer your photos across. If you want to copy the files manually then that's straight forward as well.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabatical View Post

Even though video cameras have improved their photo taking abilities, you still can't beat a standalone digicam. Even a $300 digicam will beat the best video cameras in terms of still photos. If you don't mind carrying a second gadget along with you then I would recommend picking up a still camera.
I'd recommend looking at: http://www.steves-digicams.com/ or http://www.dpreview.com/ for reviews...

Re: Mac compatibility. All still cameras work well with Macs. All cameras record in the universal JPG format and Macs, Windows, Unix etc. machines will be able to handle them with ease. All you need to do is plug your camera into your Mac and a window will popup asking you to transfer your photos across. If you want to copy the files manually then that's straight forward as well.

Thanks for the info! What about Mac compatibility and camcorders as opposed to still cameras? Which brands of camcorders are the most compatible with a Mac?

That Panasonic TM 900 mentioned above, is it only available in America?
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_burlock View Post

I'd just like to say thank-you jazztalker for starting this thread. I too just started the research process involved in choosing just the right camera and wanted expert feedback. Speaking of which, any recommendations regarding tripods? Are most camcorders bad at still photography in terms of resolution and or picture quality? Should I consult Consumer Reports magazine in making my choice of which camera to get? Is there a brand that is known for being the most MAC compatible?

My opinion is a little different from sabatical's on camcorders and still photos. I have taken pretty good 14.2 megapixel stills with my TM900, like this one:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YOsHAPgPDy...0/M1000018.JPG

and pretty good 16MP stills with a Sony NEX-VG20:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QHhlGqtAaY...0/DSC00011.JPG

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IHzzvidRN-...0/DSC00002.JPG

And yes, the TM900 is available in Canada.

Hope this is helpful

Cheers,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JPD2 View Post

Dude, do you enjoy posting this kind of reply?? You also posted in a thread I started with a link to a page in Wikipedia which was of no help whatsoever, when all I asked was what is a relatively inexpensive video editor for an iMac. If I wanted to use Wikipedia, I would. If the OP in this thread had wanted to read reviews from camcorder.com, they would. But they didn't. They came here and asked it's members what they thought.

Drink some coffee and quit being so testy.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahender View Post

Drink some coffee and quit being so testy.

Another one line post.
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