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Advice on New Camcorder

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

I would really like your advice on a camcorder.

I am looking for something with excellent image quality. At the same time, I will be needing it for shooting in safaris (so I would like zoom, image stabiliser and relatively easy mobility) and to shoot in Kilimanjaro, which means I am going to need long life batteries. I will be camping without the chance to charge any batteries for almost 7 days.

It is extremely unlikely that I will have the opportunity to download any footage to a laptop, so I am also looking for a lot of space. I am not afraid of getting 32 SD cards in it.

Low price is not a priority for me either, so I can go with pricy cameras, as long as they deliver quality.

I have already checked a few camcorders on the internet, but to be honest I am very undecided on what is the best for what I want.

Looking forward to your answers.
post #2 of 10
Welcome to the forum!

There are many posts here looking for camcorder suggestions. Yours is unique because you state you want outdoor, daylight, long zoom capability.

I suggest you read the thread on the FZ200 here and pay particular attention to the optional addition of a tele-extender. It seems that particular camera can stabilize very long zoom settings, even hand held. A cheap, simple monopod would help make it even better.

A more traditional "camcorder" with 21x optical and 50 intelligent zoom is the Panasonic HC-V720.

You are correct that multiple SD cards are a good choice.

For power, there is no substitute for extra batteries. An alternative may be the battery packs that have come to market for cell phone and tablet charging. Basically, they store electricity and will charge anything that uses USB to charge.

Good luck!

Edited by bsprague - 3/19/13 at 8:46am
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey bsprague, thank you very much for your help!

I must say a did a bit of research and found a few tests in youtube. I am very impressed with both, but I guess that the Panasonic HC-V720 is probably something more all-round than the FZ200, or am I wrong in assuming that?
post #4 of 10
Originally Posted by Pyrgos View Post

Hey bsprague, thank you very much for your help!

I must say a did a bit of research and found a few tests in youtube. I am very impressed with both, but I guess that the Panasonic HC-V720 is probably something more all-round than the FZ200, or am I wrong in assuming that?
Actually, I think you got it backwards. The FZ200 has things that make it more functional. For example, when shooting video of wildlife in Kilimanjaro in bright sun and long zoom, it might be necessary to have a viewfinder held to your eye -- unless of course the wildlife is standing still and posing for you while someone holds an umbrella to shade the camcorder screen from the glaring sun.

And did you read the part about the tele extender for OPTICAL zoom? You won't need much zoom if you and the wildlife are sharing the same shade tree, but some of it won't be that close.
post #5 of 10
I think bsprague is making good points. Extra SD cards and extra batteries will fix your problem with being away from humanity. A camera that can hold a zoom lens is probably what you want. Stock zoom is OK, but on a safari I think your going to want some lens on it. And at a long zoom, image stabilization will be important. You can always stabilize the image in post though. This will reduce resolution but if you started high, you should be OK.

You say price is not a priority but you really haven't shown any needs that would up the price. An inexpensive Canon HFR20 will probably meet your needs.

On the other hand, have you considered something like the Nikon D3200, DSLR. Are you taking a DSLR? If so, maybe you can do two things with one unit. Many DSLRs will shoot HD movies.
post #6 of 10
The Panasonic GH2/GH3 would be a better choice than the D3200 since it has a longer reach with a 2x crop and in ETC mode an added 1:1 2.6x in 1080p and 3.9x in 720p along with much better quality video even without the GH2 hack.

Edited by jogiba - 3/20/13 at 11:28am
post #7 of 10
I don't think the the D3200 or the GH2 or 3 would be a good choice at all. The tone of the first post is that of an amateur, perhaps beginning, videographer. Would an experienced videographer write a post asking for vague advice? He suggests he is a traveler wanting to take some video, not a videographer traveling to a video shoot.

He wrote "so I would like zoom, image stabilizer and relatively easy mobility". Packing either DSLR would require a massive lens to get the zoom of an FZ200 and mobility is lessened with a DSLR kit. Where is the mobility in that? Further, to gain any of the advantage provided in a DSLR kit, the shooter needs to invest the time and effort to understand them. Leaving them in auto modes works, but what's the point of buying all those manual controls?

Frankly, among this year's batch of cameras and camcorders, the perfect kit for a traveler's "trip of a lifetime" is a FZ200 backed up with an LX7. The LX7 would serve in case of mechanical failure of the FZ200 and would perform well for incognito street video and photography.
post #8 of 10
I agree a small sensor superzoom would be a much better choice for a travel zoom were you want a wide zoom that starts at a good wide angle in the 22-25mm range (35mm eqiv) and goes to 600mm or more. I have the older Canon SX30IS and Nikon P500 that are great for hand held zooms and the newer FZ200 is the best choice today with constant F2.8 and 1080p60.

Edited by jogiba - 3/20/13 at 2:16pm
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for all your input guys!

I am indeed an amateur at this, and as DSLR, we have a Canon 550D equipped with Wide Angle, Zoom-in and Macro lenses. My girlfriend loves photography, though, and she will be using it most of the time.

On the other hand, I found it extremely hard to use for movie shots last year when we went to Uganda and Rwanda, primarily because of the weight of the lenses, and also because I could not control the zoom/ maneuver the camera easily without make the film look totally clumsy (this might, of course, have happened because I am a beginner :P ).

I will check the FZ200 and the tele extender as back-up. Both options by Bill seem to be similar price wise.

And I can see that, comparing the HC-V720 and FZ200 equipped with the LX7, the latter option is the best.

Would it be different if I said that there will be game drives by dawn, where light will be very low? Or, in other words, in low-light conditions, would the FZ200 be ahead of the HC-V720?
post #10 of 10
Hi Pyrgos - the FZ200 will do a good job for you in low light. Here it is at dawn in a natural setting:


And here is what its telephoto lens can do in an African wildlife setting:


Bill S. has given you good advice. The FZ200 and LX7 cameras produce better video than equivalently priced Panasonic camcorders.

Good luck with your decision and have a great trip!

Bill B.
Hybrid Camera Revolution
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