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Old October 19th, 2012, 06:32 PM   #1
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Best small AVCHD Camcorder

What are the current thoughts on the latest crop of small camcorders in the Pro-sumer area ?

It usually fluctuates between Sony, Canon & Panasonic, although I did see a report on a problem with continuous recording on the Panasonic when the file size reached 2Mb. and created an interruption in the recording. The things I look for, are low light performance and ease of manual settings particularly microphone level.

Any thoughts.

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Old October 22nd, 2012, 08:00 AM   #2
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Best implies a defined intended use.
How small do you need?
For what purpose and what kinds of venues; e.g., weddings, skate boarding?

In my observation the gap sometimes reported between a 2 GB file and its continuation relates to how the files are stitched together for use in a NLE. If improperly done you may see a gap.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 01:36 AM   #3
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Thanks Don. My use is for travel shooting.

At present I use a Canon HF-S10 so I'm thinking of around this size. When I travel I don't want to look like channel 9 on holiday ! - The Canon is big enough and does a great job in good light but the newer cameras are now much better in this area. Also it has easy access to manual settings for mic volume, exposure etc.

I guess I am looking at the higher end prosumer type of camera with easy manual settings.

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Old October 23rd, 2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

There are lots of choices, and no one camcorder is best for all purposes or users. Everyone has personal preferences for look, feel, controls, handling, weight, cost, etc. What works for ma may notwork for you, and few folks have tried more than a small sample of all of the camcorders on the market.

Within the Canon line (while not new in 2012) the XA10 is a nice choice with a great image and prosumer options such as XLR capability, dual AVCHD slots, a lot of internal memory, high datarate recording, Yet you can remove the handle and make it look more consumer-ish like the G10 (its little sister) when appropriate. I am pleased with it.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 01:45 PM   #5
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

+1,
and if you have any accessories, you won't need to replace them
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Old October 26th, 2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Thanks Guys. I looked at an XA-10 and it certainly looks good. Has anyone experienced it in low light situations ? I did feel that its manual settings were a bit fiddly though and not as easy as on my HF-S10.

I Guess I was hoping for an up-grade by now with a bigger sensor and easy control access but generally Canon does not seem to up grade their cameras as frequently as Sony & Panasonic.

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Old October 26th, 2012, 09:50 PM   #7
 
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Sony PJ760 is superb. Check it out.
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Old October 27th, 2012, 06:50 PM   #8
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

I will let you know in two weeks. I will be taking delivery of a Canon HF R300 on Monday. I will be testing it out on a trip. I bought the BP727 battery pack to supplement the standard BP709. 64GB SDXC memory card and Vello C500 L-bracket to hold a LitePanels MicroLight and RODE VideoMic Pro.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

On the smaller consumer end:

96GB Full HD Camcorder with Projector | HDR-PJ760V | Sony USA

Sony Camcorders with the 'wobbly eye' stabilization - yes, when you pick it up, you think the lens is broken because it wobbles around like a 8-ball.
or
Canon G10 and such.

Both of these have great low-light capabilities (for a consumer level camcorder), excellent feature set (manual, etc.), and do the trick in a small package.

---

Lower end models like the Sony CX series and Canon R series have much smaller sensors, thus far poorer low-light capabilities. They are decent in bright situations however and come in a soda can sized package.

---

The 'best' AVCHD camcorder that's still quite small is the Sony VG900 4x5x9":
Sony Full Frame Interchangeable Lens Camcorder | NEX-VG900 | Sony USA

This baby has a FULL 35-mm size sensor, interchangable lenses, etc. Expect stunning DSLR like images all around!

But quite pricy.

---

Besides those choices, the various DSLRs and Micro 4/3rds cameras like the Panasonic GH2, GF5, etc. are great choices. eg. The Panasonics can film for an hour non-stop, have a much bigger sensor than the 1st two camcorders listed above, do very nice AVCHD filming, and do great photography on top. The latest and greatest in their series is the GH3 - AVC Intra recording @ 70+mbps! The older GH2 can be hacked to film at 100+mbps, and do quite well in low-light:


Because of the age, the GH2 is probably the 'best' middle ground in pricing & features & low-light capabilities among these choices.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 02:19 PM   #10
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Quote:
Has anyone experienced it in low light situations ?
In my opinion the XA10 does well in poor light and even has an IR option (that I have not used).

When considering low light be sure to look beyond the printed numbers. Low light performance is achieved by:
- pixel sensitivity (linked to pixel size - fewer pixels on a bigger sensor shoud be more sensitive),
- gain (more gain increases image noise cause by sensor dark current),
- shutter speed,
- aperture, and
- electronic noise reduction in the camcorders digital signal processing (that can impact effective resolution, sharpness, and introduce image artifacts).

There is no substitute for a hands on test under your own critical circumstances. There are a numebr of posts with clips and still comparisons of the XA10 to other camcorders under the same circumstances. What works well for me or someone else may not satisfy your ciritical needs.

And be sure to put the low light performance in proper perspective with the camcorders other features and your requirements. Unless you can afford to have a dedicated camcorder for every different situation it becomes a compromise to find the beast that overall best fits your needs and budget.
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Old November 1st, 2012, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder and low light

Sensor technology and processors have come a long way so that now small sensors can have good low-light performance (e.g., back-illumination). Consumer camcorders also have fast lenses - they can do this affordably because of the small sensor, typically f1.8 at the wide end and f4.5 at 400mm.

Here is an example of a dim-light (night) small-sensor camera video:


You can download the original (108060p).

And, note that you do not have the *problem* of shallow dof for scenes in dim light that you must have with fast lenses on big-sensor camcorders (putting aside the issues of aliasing and moire and lack of sharpness).
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Old November 5th, 2012, 07:09 AM   #12
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

oh i love that little camera, i just got one recently - amazing pic quality for such a small form, and underwater, camcorder, low light was probably the most surprising part, can't wait to give it a real test in Caribbean :)
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Old November 6th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #13
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

I can see that the overall image quality & low light performance of the GW 77 is awesome, given its size.
I'm curious what you guys think of its audio performance compared with bigger handicams like Sony CX, Canon XA10 (built in mic).
If the audio is anything close to the larger cams, I'll be sorely tempted to get one to use for travel.
Thanks
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Old November 7th, 2012, 07:23 PM   #14
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

The audio is surprisingly good, with the ability to turn off agc.

Here is a brief video with an emphasis on audio, demonstrating the dynamic range most of all (from airplane engines to a soft harmonica, solo singing, chorus all outdoors, distant ship bell):

Sony HDR-GW77 Test Video: Testing the Sound Performance - YouTube

Select 1080p.

The video and audio are straight from the camera. The dynamic range is amazing.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 09:24 PM   #15
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Re: Best small AVCHD Camcorder

Thanks Mark
That video certainly answered any questions I had about the GW 77 performance.
The cam also appears to have the "touch exposure" and "touch focus" features that I found very useful on the CX 550.
Time to place my order...
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