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Old July 4th, 2010, 05:51 AM   #1
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What Do You Think Of This Camera?

Hi All,

I am currently in the market for a new video camera.
I came across this camera that caught me eye -
SPEED Digital Limited
The camera I am looking to buy is going to be used for filming surfing.
I plan on using the footage to make surfing videos that can be distributed to surf companies and also be able to post online at a good quality.
The camera I am looking for has to have a reasonable zoom as I plan on filming from cliffs/beachesas at times I film from as far away as 200m so I was thinking a minimum of 12 optical zoom please correct me if I am wrong.
I would like to be able to edit the footage (I recently bought Premier Pro and have Sony Vegas running 9.0 on a laptop) and not loose to much quality as the videos are meant to come across as professional.
The maximum amount I could spend would be around $2000, would this camera fit that criteria? If not what camera would you suggest for my situation?
Sorry if this is another "what camera do I buy?", I have looked at many similar posts and could not find anything that was helpful for my situation.
As you have probably realised I am a beginer and dont know what I am really doing, so if you have any helpfull hints or advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help everyone its greatly appreciated
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Old July 4th, 2010, 09:22 AM   #2
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With cameras, I would stick with known brands with good reputations. The one you linked to looks like a rip-off of some Sony consumer camera, and I am willing to be it doesn't perform nearly as well.

If you're going to be distributing footage to surfing companies, I don't think a simple consumer camera is going to cut it. In that case, the company could just do it themselves with any old camera. I would aim for somthing aimed more towards prosumers. Something like the Sony HDR-FX7 (HDR-FX7 | HD Handycamģ Camcorder | Sony | SonyStyle USA) can be had for less than $2,000 locally, probably with a few extras thrown in. You'll get much nicer footage out of that than a consumer camera, the only downside being that it records to DV tape.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #3
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If you look at the "about" section of their Website, it's quickly obvious the company is HK based - meaning they are most likely producing "knockoffs"or reverse engineered copies - you really want to buy something like that? The particular camera you linked to looks very much like a Sony handycam from 2-3 years ago... probably designed to ge sold to unsuspecting (meaning "clueless") consumers for $200-400 who aren't knowledgeable enough to realize it's a "copy". Think buying a "Rolex" from a guy in a overcoat on a street corner... not a good plan.

Take the time to look around at the offerings from the major name suppliers and learn enough about features and capabilities to know what you're asking. Spend a little bit of time at DVi, you'll have some answers AND know what you're trying to undertake... as well as the possible tools available.

FWIW, I'd pass on the FX7, although I still love that camera, it's now several years old and the technology has moved on in that time. You'll probably get better image quality out of any of the current top end (meaning around $1K - 1500 retail, less "street") consumer camera from Panaxonic Canon or Sony.

You also may want to keep in mind (& budget) a protective shell of some sort (Sony makes sports packs for their small cams) if you're going to be in salt spray conditions.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #4
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Have you checked out the GoPro HD stuff?

GoPro Official Store: Wearable Digital Cameras for Sports
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Old July 4th, 2010, 09:07 PM   #5
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Hi, Chase.................

Ahem, where to start?

Let's NOT start by discussing cameras, as with your current knowledge base it's getting the cart so far out front of the horse you couldn't see it with a 1000 mm telephoto lens.

If you wish to really become a pro surfing videographer (or even a decent amateur) your best bet, and only real place to start, is to get to know some of those in your neck of the woods who already are.

Find out who, where, when, how and what with. Tag along with some of them and learn how they do it.

Don't spend one red cent till you know the answers to the above questions and when you do, you won't need to ask anyone here about cameras, as you'll know.

Right about that time I think you'll be mentally adding a zero to that $2k budget and thinking it's a bloody expensive minority pastime (and damn hard work) and not very financially rewarding unless you're at the top of the game, and is it really all worth it?

If the answer is a firm "Yes", proceed with caution and enjoy.

If "hmmmm", well, what can I say?

Just my 2 cents worth.


CS
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Old July 4th, 2010, 10:24 PM   #6
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Dave & Chris, I have to disagree with you both on this one.

Surfing films which use freelancer's footage (I'm not talking about the Taylor Steele's and Jack McCoy's here) will pretty much accept footage from any camera as long as it is steady and in focus. Many surf films are not even colour graded and they couldn't care less if all the footage matches nicely or not, or if it is 720 or 1080 or H.264 or HDV. If the surfer punts big, stays in your frame and sticks it, then you can probably sell it.

Get to know some of your local pro's, offer to shoot some footage of them for free - the pro's are always looking for good clips to give to their sponsors. Whenever you're surfing and you see the pro's paddling out go straight in and start filming. Then if you nail some awesome clips tell them and give them your details. Send watermarked stuff to all the magazines and even the big companies, and contact your local shapers or manufacturers and tell them you're available to shoot their team riders/promos.

The most important piece of gear you'll own is a tripod so make sure you get a good one. Whatever camera you get, practice to make sure you nail your focus every time - always use manual focus because often salt spray in the air can trick the autofocus and screw up your shot. Also make sure you're using manual exposure because auto will generally underexpose or shift around alot during a shot because of all the bright whitewater. Practice, practice, practice to make sure you are nailing your shots 100% of the time.

As far as cameras, the Panasonic TM700 would not be a bad starting point but you'll want to add a 2x teleconvertor. The FX7 is great for shooting surfing because you've always got plenty of light and the 20x zoom comes in handy. It may be a bit dated and soft but most surf flicks go straight to DVD and are downconverted anyway - alot of guys haven't upgraded since the HVX200 came out (they bought them for the 60p) and they are pretty soft and dated too, so nobody will turn your footage down. The most important thing is to make sure you get a camera which lets you have full manual, as this gives you not only more control, but more creative possibilities (eg you can shoot through bushes without having the AF and AE go crazy on you)

Alot of guys these days are shooting surfing with DSLR's for a number of reasons - access to super long lenses, smaller and easier to travel with, more water housings available, etc. The whole Kai Neville/modern collective movement has sparked interest with 'arty' surf films and you can see the influence of this in the Innersection Project where guys are getting all wierd and creative with DSLR's. If you want to go this way, for god's sake make sure you do it properly because if I see one more out of focus shot of a twig on the beach (I'm pointing at you, Chase Burns!) I swear I'm gonna go and super glue everyones aperture's to f/22 so they can't possibly stuff up their focus. I personally have just started shooting surfing with the GH1 (prior to that it was always my trusty FX7) and I love it - the 50p is great to have and the wider dynamic range means you don't always blow out the whitewater.

And remember that nobody in this business really is making alot of money so make sure you are enjoying it. Do it for the love of it and treat the money you earn as a bonus. I've been to Hawaii to film for the past 3 seasons and not once have I broken even - but hey, at least it was tax deductable and I got to surf, hang and party with some of my surfing hero's!
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Old July 4th, 2010, 11:22 PM   #7
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Actually, John...................

I think you just hammered my point home, in spades, beautifully put as well.

Can't see anything to disagree with there.

Great post.


CS
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Old July 5th, 2010, 02:16 AM   #8
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I'm not sure anything in there is a "disagreement" - the OP was asking about a knockoff HK camera, indicating a complete lack of camera knowledge... "steady and in focus" may be over their head at this point...

Your additional points are very helpful and good advise that no doubt will be useful a little farther down the road for the OP.

The FX7 IS a great cam, and as prices have dropped, you can do worse at sub $2K (and yes that long end of the lens could be an advantage for this sort of shooting, but OIS technology has leapt forward in the consumer end of things, which could come into play). There are other options, and while "the shot" will always count over the camera used per se, the quality of consumer gear (all the way down to cell phones) might just make things a bit more competitive when and if you're going to sell some of your footage. I would expect that having the cleaner, higher quality shot will count for something...
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Old July 5th, 2010, 07:20 AM   #9
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Thankyou

Hi All,

Thanks to everyone who replied to this post it helped a lot, the camera that I linked to I knew was not going to be well liked within this forum but I did think that that the specs were impressive when it was only priced at $300, even compared to some of the cameras canon and Sony at a much higher price.
Just to let you all know the camera that I will be buying is not meant to make me one cent I just enjoy filming good surfing and helping local surfers get more recognition, I donít plan on selling any of my footage nor do I expect to become a professional in the field. And sorry for not making this clear enough, the footage that I would like to give to surf companies would be on behalf of the surfer to help with sponsorship or maybe to give the companies something to work with, I wasnít really looking for the footage to be used in feature films.

Felix van Oost - Ok I wasn't sure what the quality of this camera would be like hence why I asked what you guys thought of the "Knock-Offs" versions, thanks for the recommendation I am looking into the HDR-FX7 at the moment.

Dave Blackhurst - Thanks for your opinion I knew that this camera was clearly not a known brand as I found out when I couldnít even find the brands website when I typed it into Google, but as I said before I though the specs were impressive so it may be worth looking into, you made a great sense when you compared it to a rip off Rolex I guess I didnít really look at the camera in terms of being a copy. I will make sure I do spend more time at DVinfo and learn a bit more about what I am about to undertake. Thatís interesting that you say you would pass on the FX7, what do you think of the Canon HV40 or similar?
Thanks for the info I was unsure whether that would be necessary as I have always just used a towel.

Burk Webb - Thanks for the link Burk, I have looked into the GoPro's but they are not really the kind of footage I am looking capture.

Chris Soucy - Thanks Chris at the moment I am not looking into following a career as a videographer I just want to film some local surfers and hopefully build up some reputation for them, not myself. I am not looking to make money out of filming it is more of a hobby rather than a job choice, so I would rather not spend big money on gear and just get a camera that is suitable for what I am looking to do.

John Wiley - Thanks for your help I found it invaluable, I do plan on only filming locals at this present time as I feel that down in Victoria there is not as much coverage as on the Goldie. I have actually purchased a tripod lately that I am currently using that seems to be fantastic, It was not cheap as I also felt that it was a major part in gaining quality footage. Thank you for your tips on using only manual settings, I have never really dived into that area and that would make sense why a lot of the footage that I have taken in the past has the white wash appeared too bright for the shot and always looked blurred. Thanks for your camera suggestion I will look into TM700. I have never really thought of using a DSLR as the short shooting times has always put me off. Itís funny you say that I have just recently been watching some of Chase Burns movies, I have thoroughly enjoyed them ( might be just due to the amazing surfing). I defiantly agree with your last point I never even thought of making money out of filming till it was mentioned in this post.

Thank you to all who replied any other camera suggestions would be greatly appreciated
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Old July 5th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #10
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Having owned an FX7, and having used a HMC40 for the past few months... get a HMC40 if you're limiting your camera budget to $2000 (not included accessories, of course).
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Old July 5th, 2010, 04:28 PM   #11
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Canon HV40 (or the predecessor HV30/HV20) is a nice camera, but getting somewhat dated technology wise. Then again, not a bad choice on a limited budget (most likely WAY better than a $300 knockoff, and not that much more!). You may want to research tape vs. flash memory media options - tape cameras are getting cheaper by the minute as cameras that record to internal memory or removable cards take over the market - just be sure you have a stout computer if you're editing if you go tapeless.

The FX7 might have a bit of an advantage on the long end of the lens range, but I've been experimenting with the OIS on the new Sony CX550V, and it's pretty effective, especially if you choose the conversion lens setting when using a tele adapter - again the OIS in newer cameras can help (may not make a lot of difference since you've got a decent tripod, but if there are wind gusts and such, OIS might still be helpful if you leave it on).

Whatever camera you decide on, you just have to take the time to learn what it can (and perhaps can't) do. I can squeeze what I need out of the smaller cams for most things, and prefer the small size/light weight, which means I have a camera WITH me to shoot with (remember that it's the camera you have at your fingertips that gets the shot, not the one you left home because you didn't feel like lugging it around that day). The overall image quality you can get out of a high end consumer cam is pretty good once you learn the camera. Plus, should you want to get out IN the surf, a small water shell like the Sony sport packs lets you protect something handycam size, for little money.
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Old July 5th, 2010, 08:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris McMahon View Post
Having owned an FX7, and having used a HMC40 for the past few months... get a HMC40 if you're limiting your camera budget to $2000 (not included accessories, of course).
Unfortunately the OP is talking in AU$. Although the exchange rate is fairly close these days, the massive price hike's we put up with here mean that he is really looking at about a US$1000 equivelant budget - which might stretch for a 2nd hand FX7 but won't get you anywhere near a HMC40.

Chase, If you only need it for fun stuff, then I would follow Dave's advice and get a smaller handycam. Just make sure it's one which still gives you the controls you need.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 06:30 AM   #13
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Thanks for all your responses guys.
So it looks like I will be going with a handycam instead of the bigger prosumer type camera.
Could anyone suggest a good handycam? something that would fit the need for what I am looking to do.

Thanks
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Old July 6th, 2010, 01:44 PM   #14
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To give you a start, current "top of the line" US models are (you may have slightly different model #'s):

Panasonic TM700, HS700, SD700
Canon HF-S21
Sony CX550V, XR550V

The above are all tapeless, and are various configurations for internal recording media, with SDHC cards for removable media (Sony uses MS duo AND SDHC now). All have some basic, usable manual control, and look to be pretty good cameras. You can always take a look around for slightly used "last years" models to save some money for accessories.

I've got the CX550 myself, like the extra large LCD. low light and OIS, but it may be a bit on the "wide" side for your needs w/o a teleconverter
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Old July 6th, 2010, 11:52 PM   #15
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Panasonic SD700 is the only one I've handled and it seemed decent. The Picture is great but I haven't used any of the most recent Sony's so can't really compare side by side. Any of the top line models from Canon, Sony or Panasonic will be suitable.

Don't bother paying extra for a hard drive model - they're a pain in the arse to use because you have to plug them into the computer at the end of the day (after your recharging your battery which no doubt is flat by now) rather than just pulling the SD card out and popping it in your reader. Plus you are never likely to need all that space. I've shot entire days at Pipe/backdoor without filling up a 60 minuteDV tape which is about the equivelant of one 8gb and one 4gb memory card. My guess is that on an average day of shooting at the beach you'll barely fill a 4bg card, so a 240gb hard drive is just wasteful!
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