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Which camera to buy for nature videos in low light condition with high quality sound on $1200...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone,

I need to buy a camera to record nature videos, occasionally in low light / night conditions. Sometimes these videos will be shot in city parks, so the ability ti pickup the sounds of the trees, rivers, animals and night sounds, and filter out the city sounds like airplanes and such is important. I guess this is the ability to pick up directed sounds, in high quality. The videos will be mostly "static", no rapid changes in scene, like in sport videos.
To sum up, I am looking for a camera with high quality HD video, high quality directed sound, ability to record in low light conditions. My budget is $1200.

Hope someone can help me to choose the right camera. Thanks!
post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by aikimatsu View Post

Hello everyone,
I need to buy a camera to record nature videos, occasionally in low light / night conditions. Sometimes these videos will be shot in city parks, so the ability ti pickup the sounds of the trees, rivers, animals and night sounds, and filter out the city sounds like airplanes and such is important. I guess this is the ability to pick up directed sounds, in high quality. The videos will be mostly "static", no rapid changes in scene, like in sport videos.
To sum up, I am looking for a camera with high quality HD video, high quality directed sound, ability to record in low light conditions. My budget is $1200.
Hope someone can help me to choose the right camera. Thanks!

Hi aikimatsu - the high quality low light camcorder in your price range is the Canon HF G10, which is $1148.49 at Adorama. Sadly, that doesn't leave enough headroom in your budget for a shotgun mic - which is what you would need to capture directional sound.

Here is a video shot at dusk with the HF G10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xpr0l1M_dLs

If you want both high quality, low light video and sound, I recommend a $679 Panasonic GH2 DSLM camera with a $225 used Olympus 14-54 f2.8-3.5 lens and a $101 Panasonic MA1 adapter for a total of $1005. That will leave you a couple of hundred for a good directional microphone such as the $229 Rode Videomic Pro (and the $5 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter you'll need for the Panasonic).

Shot with the GH2 and the Olympus 14-54 lens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvioxcWdtgE

Shot at dusk with a slower Olympus lens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C860EmMPgkQ


Hope this is helpful,

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
Edited by brunerww - 10/6/12 at 6:11am
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Dear Bill,

Thank you for your expert answer, it was very helpful.

Canon HF G10 is among 3 other camcorders I am considering: Sony HDR_PJ710V, Sony HDR PJ580VE and Panasonic HC_X900M. As you mentioned, the price of these cameras doesn't leave much headroom for a shotgun mic (Thanks for mentioning shotgun mic, as a beginner, I didn't know that's what I am looking for a directional sound). Fortunately, I was able to find Sony HDR-PJ710V on sale for $999, which should give me just enough room for a shotgun mic. It also appears to have a slightly better Image Stabilizer, so I think this is a good option for me to try.

I also didn't realize that digital cameras can produce such a high quality videos. The videos you refereed to are quite impressive, especially the one at dusk. Definitely another good option for me to think about.

Thanks again for your help.
Cheers!
post #4 of 5
Currently you can pick up the awesome HC-X900 from J&R for under $700:
http://www.jr.com/panasonic/pe/PAN_HCX900K/

This is the model without the internal 32mb memory. I had the TM-700 with internal memory and didn't like it, since I have a much faster card reader and importing software, so I preferred the non "M" version.

Anyway, in reading various tests, the stabilization on the panny is about as good as on the Sony, and the resolution was slightly better. The biggest concern I saw with the sony is the severepurple fringe CA at long focal lengths, very obviously worse than the panasonic.

The GH2 is a great choice as well.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the information on HC-X900. It is a very good camera, and was among 4 top camcorders I was considering, among the Canon VIXIA HF G10, suggested by Bill.

I went ahead and got Sony HDR PJ710V, mostly because it was on sale at that time. So far I am pretty happy with the video quality, but still need a better solution for the audio. The built in microphone picks up sounds from everywhere, so if I am filming in a park, it will record sounds of cars on highways, airplanes etc. I tried ECM-HW2 Wireless Microphone, thinking if I move the microphone closer to the source of the sound (it records sounds being 300 feet away from the camera) it will solve the problem, but the mic is designed for picking up human voice, and wasn't that great for the nature sounds.

Currently I got the ECMHS1 gunshot mic, and it does a better job for my purposes, but still, I am thinking of recording sounds separately with a high quality gunshot mic close to the source, and then combining with the video.

A feature of the camera I really like it's the side projector! It is very handy when I want to quickly show my videos to friends at any place, without having a computer nearby.

One thing I didn't realize at the time of the posting is that the battery life was also an important factor, since I am recording for 2-3 hours in nature, without being able to recharge the batteries. The battery life of PJ710V is 110 min, as opposed to 75 min for HC-X900, and I still needed to get a spare battery not worry about running out.

Thanks for mentioning about the purple fringe, I'll keep an eye on the issue.

Thanks for your help.
Cheers!
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