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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Video Cameras... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

NJJ
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I'm looking to by a camera for filming rehearsals and shows for me to review later on. Therefore, it needs to offer reasonable picture and sound quality but it does not need to be broadcast quality or used for promo videos etc.

Can anyone help me out with features etc I might want or questions I should answer!

So far I know

1) Canon is dodgy. They can not be fixed by any repairer in this city
2) Ignore digital zoom and look for optical zoom. Get 10x zoom minimum
3) Look for a camera with a "low light" setting


Thank you video geniuses!
mvmagic
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I use a Sony DVD Handycam which records to an 8 centimeter DVD disc (DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW). 20x optical zoom. Been very happy with it so far (for a week). Picture quality is fine, its compact and I like the mini DVD's as a recording medium-you can pop them in a normal DVD player.
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glodmagic
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I have 2 Sony DV Cams. I set one at the back of the auditorium and one with a wide angle lens near the stage. I have used Sony for years because of the abundance of accessories (wide lenses, shotgun mic, batteries everywhere, remote controls, etc.). Sometimes it's not just the camera but the availability of the stuff for it.
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Kevin Ridgeway
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We use a Canon XL1. Now it may be overkill for you...except for one part. The lense...it is much bigger than you will find on consumer grade video cameras. This will allow much more light into the camera. You can also change lenses. The 16 times optical zoom lense that comes with it is awesome.

We shot footage over this past weekend at the Phoenix International Raceway. We got incredible close up shots of the driver. The clarity is unmatched at this price level.

Hope that helps.

Kevin
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Mercury52
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I have always found Canon to be of very high quality. At the moment I am using their Elura 70 model, which has a few variations on low-light setting, an 18x optical zoom, etc. It uses MiniDV tapes. The camera, while small, is not one of these dwarf models that are so popular today, which I like. There's small, and then there's too small to work with.

I wouldn't worry about not being able to get a Canon serviced locally. It's unlikely that it'll fail on you, provided you treat it properly. If you do wind up needing repairs, their mail-away service is good. My father dropped his ultra-telephoto zoom lens for his 35mm Canon, and got good service at a good price by mailing it back to them to have it fixed. You'd never know it had been broken.

Sony also makes great stuff.

I'd say in general, look for MiniDV cams that have good reviews. Check cnet, etc.

A good, very reliable company to buy from is http://www.bhphotovideo.com They are a HUGE brick and mortar in Manhattan, with great service and prices.

A 3 CCD camera will give you a great picture, but it will mostly be found on prosumer and professional cameras, and the prices reflect that.

One more point to add to your "caution" list. Don't be swayed by the offer of digital effects. You can add everything they offer with the right computer software later on. Keep your original footage nice. Computer manipulation allows you a lot more options.

Many cameras now are coming with a built in digitial still camera as well. Don't focus on this feature. The camera you wind up with may have it, but they're no up to par with stand-alone digital still cameras, so don't consider it a major factor. They're not crummy quality shots, but you'll probably rarely use that feature. Consider all the points of the video options that you want, and decide based on that.

I'd recommend a higher-end consumer Canon or Sony ultimately, since it for personal viewing only. Cameras like the XL1 or XL2 are sweet, but way more than you need at this point. Have fun!

Kevin
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NFox
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I do some amatuer[ish] short movies, clips, and such and have always found Sony MiniDV cameras to be of amazing quality. Recently some company (can't remember which offhand) released a consumer level digital camcorder with 3 CCD's...it might be worth checking out.

I will go with everyone else and say that the Canon XL1, XL1S, and XL2 are probably the best you can get while still at the "prosumer level" but be prepared to pay thousands JUST for a new lens. The Canon GL2 is absolutely amzing without such a high price.

What price range were you specifically looking at?

Nick Fox
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ScottRSullivan
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Well, as the Canon's seem to be ruling the thread, I thought I'd throw in another contender, especially since you mentioned the lack of Canon support in your area.

Best bet, the Panny DVX-100a. This is a standard for most of the reality-type shows you see on the tele these days It's a GREAT camera. In fact, like Kevin, I own a Canon XL-1. He's right on, it's a great camera, and, oh that lens!

But what's nice about the DVX-100a is that it's a small camera. Very small with better quality than the Canon, mostly because it's newer technology in it. The lens is not removable, but it's got great OPTICAL range. Plus it's great for low-light situations. Even better, it's got a gamma setting that approaches film. This helps in high contrast shots (like when you're in the spotlight and there's lots of darkness around you).

Plus, it has 2 direct XLR inputs for patching your sound board into the camera directly. My XL-1 can do this, but I needed to buy a Beachtek adapter to attach the two XLRs.

I would stay away from cameras that record right to DVD. They are more expensive than the miniDV cameras on the market and less compatible. miniDV is the standard (both the DVX and XL-1 use it).

I can't say much about the Sony's except that I never liked them. Their equipment always has too many menus to hop through to change settings. The Canon and Panasonic both have actual buttons on the body of the camera to change things like shutter speed, apeture, white balance, etc. It doesn't seem like a big deal, until you're trying to find a feature quickly in a rush.

Hope this helps. Let us know what you go with!

Scott
mvmagic
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Now why didn't I think of the XL-1..? Guess because I don't own one. BUT I have worked a lot with one and it really has an amazing lens (and that lens is HUGE, I think its larger than the camera body) and you can find a lot of accesories, at least Les Bosher from England has made lens supports for it. You might find a used one for reasonable price-a local camera dealer here had a used one for sale for about 900 bucks-and me being too slow missed it!
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the levitator
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I love my XL-1's, and I've had my eye on that Panasonic. It's a very popular choice on many videography sites. The only thing I don't like about my XL-1's is doing long shoots with it like when I shoot live band performances. When I don't have it on my steadycam it gets pretty heavy by about minute 30 of shooting. For reviewing rehearsals, a good quality used HI-8 cam. off Ebay would be more than adequate. I have 2 Canon L2's and 2 Canon A1's that I got really cheap and the quality is close to it's newer cousin the XL-1. I think I got my A-1's for less than $150 each. If you haven't noticed, I'm a pretty big fan of Canon. Many professional videographers still prefer the warmth of Hi-8 over the more user friendly miniDV.
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Kevin Ridgeway
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We love our XL1...and too there are a few things that I do not like. For instance, when sending the live signal out to a monitor or even worse sending a live feed to a projector, there is the time code numbers...well this can only be turned off with the remote control, it cannot be turned off on the body itself.

As James mentioned it can get heavy on longer shoots. I'm sure he has done this as well...but if you guys spend the money on a good camera..don't go to Wal Mart to buy your tripod. in fact do not use any tripod made for still cameras. Save your money and go get a fluid head and a good tripod. We use a tripod with a 100mm bowl that then accepts a true fluid head. The pan and tilt from this baby is incredible. It is balanced and will stay at angle we leave it at.

Also don't forget to put on a UV filter...this will save you from getting a scratched lens.

Kevin
Living Illusions
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ScottRSullivan
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Kevin, you bring up a good point about filters. That's one area many forget. James, if you're looking for a 'warmer' image, there are two things you can do, both very cheap, and one is a filter.

First, white balance to a "warm card." Basically instead of white balancing to a sheet of white cardboard, set your camera's white balance off a very light blue. This tricks the camera's color settings and will make all your video have a 'warmer' feel to it.

Second, you can buy a cheap softening filter. Tiffen is the king player in this arena. They have the Soft F/X filter that softens the edges of a person yet retains the detail in the face. They come in different degrees of 'power.' A number 1 or 2 will be more than enough. Any more powerful and it looks 'blurry.'

Also, I guess a third option would be to use the Canon's 'Frame Mode' which is close to a progressive (not true progressive like the Panny, though). As the frame rate approaches 24 per second, it looks more movie like and less like video, which is 30 fps.

Scott
NJJ
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Wow! What a lot of great advice. I wish I could understand more!

The general idea seems to be that Sony is a good direction to go in (the reason I am scared of canon is I blew up a friends Canon and had to send it interstate to be fixed. The company admitted it was a fault but still made me pay)

What sort of features should I look for on a BASIC model?
Kellar
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As a sales consultant (electronic retail) I recommend something that has a stable shot, good optical and digital zoom, if you plan on using the audio from the cam for demo reel make certain it has a good if not great mic or hot shoe for mic (or light). highest grade goes to Panasonic 3CCD either pvgs250 or pvgs65, both are
excellent models and are terrific value. Good Luck and great shooting.
Eric Buss
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Nicholas,

While I agree that all these people are talking about great cameras, I think they missed the point of your question... key words; "videotape rehearsals, and shows to study later"

You do not need a Canon XL1, or GL1, or any 3 CCD camera for that purpose. Any 1 Chip digital camera (Sony, JVC, Panasonic) will be fine for those purposes. They run from the mid to high hundreds. Not the thousands. I have a Sony Mini DV (cheaper consumer model) and it shoots footage that rivals some of my friends expensive cameras... definitly good enough for reheasals.

One thing you might want to think about, is a large LCD screen. If you are using it for rehearsal, and want to immediately watch what you just did, and can't hook it to a TV, a bigger LCD screen helps in the viewing process... you won't need a magnifying glass. Also, get an extra battery. There are fewer electrical outlets in this world than you think... and they are certainly never in our performaces areas.
Mercury52
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I'll agree with everything Kellar has said except digital zoom. You'll never need to zoom into something at 800x, and if you do, it will look like trash. Most cameras allow you to turn off your digital zoom function, and I'd recommend that you do.

To restate my earlier post, I'd recommend a consumer canon or sony MiniDV camera. Since you're not so keen on Canon, Sony is a great bet. Start browsing retail websites to find models you think will suit you, and then search for reviews on your top few choices.

Kevin
Kevin Reylek
Kellar
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Eric great reply, on the same note Merucry 52 how true in regards to the digital zoom. Most if not all cameras will allow you to connect to a monitor (tv) while recording or not, this allowing you to see your angles from the camera view point, I have used this on many occasions but just like a mirror do not get into the habbit of staring in that direction. Good luck and happy shooting!
MDS
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Look for one with a stage lighting setting. I have a Canon Mini-DV that I love. It is about 3 years old, but works great still. I video every practice and just about every show. It has been great. I would like to get one of the new Canon Mini-DV's though they look bad ***.
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magicleland
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JVC all the way ! tried all the others and nothing beats my GR-d250.
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