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Old June 26th, 2012, 11:23 PM   #1
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Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Hey everyone,
I was hoping youd recommend a camcorder for my gym. The catch is since I am new to this I dont know exactly what features should I be looking for in a camcorder which is making the research and selection process go uphill for me.

The purpose of the camera will be to make clips for uploading to youtube and posting on our website, to play in the projector we had installed and on the screens we have installed inside the gym. Some clips may require specific camera features and since I want to buy only one camera I was hoping youd recommend one that fits my purpose, for example spinning and pole dancing classes are low light environments which I have read could be a problem for some cameras. I am guessing a wide lens may also be an advisable feature as we have tennis, racquetball and soccer courts and we may want to record some matches.

We have a heated pool and wed like to make some underwater clips of the baby swimming lessons.
Also, since a lot of the classes are performed using rather loud music, I would prefer a camera that has good sound recording and possibility to connect an external mic (if you could also recommend a mic that would be great too) since we will be conducting interviews to our featured trainers every week.

We are also setting up programs for serious athletes and well need to film them to better study the bio-mechanics and help them improve their performance faster, for this I understand there are some slow motion controllers in the market but I also understand the Sony CX-130 has some slow motion capabilities so I was wondering if any other cameras had them.

At least in the beginning, I will be doing all the editing myself so I would prefer a camera that provides easier to edit file formats or works with friendly user software. My computer is windows based and performance wont be a problem. I am a total noob on the subject but I am a quick study. Still, since I need to run the gym Id appreciate editing software or file format which didnt take as much time.

Hope that makes sense. Almost forgot, our budget is $3,000, with accessories included I guess we could go up to $5,000. I am aware the underwater housing can easily cost 1,000-2,000 but I dont need to buy it right away so I figured as long as the camera has the optional accessory I can get it later. The whole idea is to buy a camera that will last at least 5 years, that is easy enough to use as a novice but will have enough features I can grow into as I learn without having to buy a different one.

Ill list the models I have been looking into so far but any additional suggestions will be greatly appreciated:
- JVC GY-HM150U
- Sony NEX-VG20
- Canon XF105
- Sony HVR-HD1000U
- Panasonic AG-HMC80
- Canon XA10
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Old June 27th, 2012, 01:15 AM   #2
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Not the VG20, not the HD1000U and not the HMC80. The latter two are too old and record to tapes and the VG20 would be a hassle for you.

I would lean towards the XA10, or even a Canon G10 because they record AVCHD to cheap SD cards and have a decent sized 1/3" sensor. Same camera more or less without the XLR inputs. I've gotten really great performance out of the Canon DM100 microphone mounted on top of a Vixia series camera. Its cheap and sounds great in many circumstances.

I would perhaps step away from the XF100 (and definitely the 105) as you don't really need a "broadcast" codec for what you're doing, and your computer might struggle with the MXF files. From what I've read the image is similar to what you'd get from the XA10 (which is quite amazing in low light!) Only thing is no slow mo...

The Sony HXR-NX30 looks really interesting and the 1/3" Sony Exmor sensors seem to do really well in low light. The NX30 has some really wicked stabilization and even records in 1080p60 that you can slow down to 40%. The NX70U also looks similar if XLRs are up your alley.

Can't speak to the JVC, but 1/4 CCD aren't going to do you any favors....

You can get a Canon G10 + Mic for a little over $1,000 US and see what happens, or spend two or three times that on something else - I just dont' think that you'll get considerably better images that that without focusing more on the lighting situation. Good luck!
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Old June 27th, 2012, 04:23 AM   #3
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Or look at the consumer version of the NX30 - the CX760 or PJ760 or even a model year or two older Sony - they are "no brainer" cameras that run well in auto, do farily well in low light...

and you can get a "sports pack" (new under $300, used for far less) that will suffice for your pool duties (good to about 15 ft depth). CX700 (last years model) has 60p which should offer you some slo-mo capabilties, and they also record short clips at higher speeds (with some loss of resolution).

You'd be set at well under half of your budget and could pick up a couple DSC-TX20's or similar for additional uses.

Unless you want to spend a lot of time learning how to be a camera operator rather than running the sportscenter, go simple. Get a GOOD tripod (meaning you may be surprised at how much a tripod with a GOOD fluid head costs...) and perhaps some other grip type gear (meaning perhaps a simple "rig" for handheld, and some other mounting options where a tripod is too bulky), probably a couple LED lights for "light reinforcement".

Be sure to budget for a beefy computer to make editing quicker and easier - a computer which adequately plays back "HD video" may well gag and choke when editing and rendering... Sony Vegas Studio is a pretty decent and relatively inexpensive package, there are others, it's a matter of preference - you'll have a learning curve with any of them.

Canon and Panasonic both have good and comparable consumer offerings, but I think Sony is the only one offering a "native" water shell at a reasonable cost ( presuming you don't need a "diving" solution).

It's easy to go overboard on a "big" camera, when a smaller one may well do the job as well or better for a "non-pro" situation such as your intended use.
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Old June 28th, 2012, 01:02 AM   #4
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolle Fischmann View Post
The purpose of the camera will be to make clips for uploading to youtube and posting on our website, to play in the projector we had installed and on the screens we have installed inside the gym.

... low light environments which I have read could be a problem for some cameras. I am guessing a wide lens may also be an advisable feature as we have tennis, racquetball and soccer courts and we may want to record some matches.

We have a heated pool and wed like to make some underwater clips of the baby swimming lessons.

I would prefer a camera that has good sound recording and possibility to connect an external mic (if you could also recommend a mic that would be great too) since we will be conducting interviews to our featured trainers every week.

...to better study the bio-mechanics and help them improve their performance faster, for this I understand there are some slow motion controllers in the market ...

... I would prefer a camera that provides easier to edit file formats or works with friendly user software.

...our budget is $3,000, with accessories included I guess we could go up to $5,000. I am aware the underwater housing can easily cost 1,000-2,000 but I dont need to buy it right away so I figured as long as the camera has the optional accessory I can get it later. The whole idea is to buy a camera that will last at least 5 years, that is easy enough to use as a novice but will have enough features I can grow into as I learn without having to buy a different one.

... but any additional suggestions will be greatly appreciated
Here's my suggestion:

Panasonic GH2 - $750 body only

Lenses -
Panasonic Lumix 20mm f /1.7 - - $360 - for low light indoors
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 - $275 - general purpose
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 - $890 - wide angle at f/4 outdoors

Lenses you could add later:
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 - $500 - telephoto
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens - $800
Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 - $1,250
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 - $1,200

Microphone and Recorder -
Zoom H4n - $300
Senheisser ME66/K6 Combo with jammer, boom, windshield - $1,200

Underwater housing -
GoPro Hero 2 with Dive Gear - $250? This can also act like a second camera.

Tripod, fluid head rig and misc: $500

Total - $4,525

For interviews, add a $500 2 light LED kit - that's $5,000 give or take.

The reason I suggest HDSLRs over a regular video camera is that your low light and wide angle requirements are too tough for $3,000 prosumer camcorders to pull off - the sensors are too small and you might not be happy with the results.

Here's a wikipedia entry that gives you an overview of this system: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hope this helps for starters.
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Old June 28th, 2012, 06:30 AM   #5
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Sareesh,
while your list of gear is right on and impressive, I would have to 100% disagree with you about it for the use intended. Trying to use HDSLR type camera(s) for sports is one of the ways the camera was not intended to be used IMO. Having shot sports, unless it is chess, checkers of some other form of sport that has little if any movement and motion to it, I would avoid the DSLR camera like a long tailed cat in a roomfull of rocking chairs.
Focusing a DSLR on the move is extremely difficult (I can speak to that having been a still photog for many years and covering professional sports) and IMO you choose the right tool for the job and again, IMO the DSLR just isn't the right tool for what the OP needs.
Having said this now, I do admire the list of gear you put out there and might look at it for myself for other types of work as it is a most comprehensive list.
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Old June 28th, 2012, 06:40 AM   #6
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolle Fischmann View Post
...
We have a heated pool and wed like to make some underwater clips of the baby swimming lessons. ... I am aware the underwater housing can easily cost 1,000-2,000 but I dont need to buy it right away so I figured as long as the camera has the optional accessory I can get it later. ...
Take a look at Ewa-Marine products. They are designed for this... basically they are a large bag with a glass lens. You control the camera through the soft bag... it's an under $100 solution.... I used one years ago for something similar where you don't need much in terms of water depth capability... just surface level stuff.
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Old June 29th, 2012, 12:56 AM   #7
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
Sareesh,
I would have to 100% disagree with you about it for the use intended. Trying to use HDSLR type camera(s) for sports is one of the ways the camera was not intended to be used IMO. Having shot sports, unless it is chess, checkers of some other form of sport that has little if any movement and motion to it, I would avoid the DSLR camera like a long tailed cat in a roomfull of rocking chairs. .
Well, chess plays faster than football these days...

Good point about rolling shutter, I was hoping for GH2's 'famed' handling of rolling shutter issues to save it - but I haven't shot sports so I have no clue.

If it helps any, the new After Effects CS6 has a rolling shutter correction plug-in - it works really well.
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Old June 29th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

While there hasn't been any feedback from Nicolle...

I think Don and I are working from the view that she RUNS a sports facility, not a photography and video "biz". The desire to add the media element is certainly a great idea, but it can become a serious diversion from the main biz if it's a "high maintenance" setup. Yeah, I love my DSLT, but it's WORK to shoot with...

Maybe there's a desire to become an "enthusiast" and learn all the in's and outs of "manual" camera operation... but IMO it's better to get cameras with strong intelligent auto capabilites, and KISS.

Presuming that at least SOME of the time, the video equipment would be used by others that may know little or nothing about what they are doing other than being able to point and press record... I vote SIMPLE. Let the CAMERA do the work as much as possible, with proper support gear as needed.

It doesn't take a huge investment to capture a pretty impressive HD image anymore - I've been looking at stuff shot with my cheap DSC-TX100's side by side with stuff shot with CX700V's - it holds up quite well, at a fraction of the price... under the right conditions, cheap 60p acquisition!

Some "cheap" gear is worth what you pay for it (or less), but considering the options out there, there are plenty of "bargains" to be had to do what she's trying to do. As Les pointed out, it's possible to find options that will work FINE in a typical limited depth pool, for a small fraction of what a diving shell rig costs, and it would serve the purpose, while saving budget for other business purposes...
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Old July 10th, 2012, 11:18 PM   #9
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Thank you all for your input. I am leaning towards the Canon XA10, I had also considered the Sony HDR-FX1000 which has 3 CMOS sensors but it doesn't seem to have XLR connectors which I'd rather have the option for but maybe 3 sensors outweigh the mic inputs?

I already found a decent tripod on ebay and am looking at the rest of the accessories.

The only question I have left is if the Canon has any special codecs I should be aware of? I have a great performing computer, I didn't purchase it with the intent of editing video but it has over 8g of ram memory, 3 separate hard disks and 2 video cards in crossfire so I don't really think it will be a problem.

Thank you all for taking the time to respond and sorry for not responding sooner, I went snowboarding for a week given we had some fresh fallen snow here and I was starting to feel burned out without having been able to train.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 04:04 PM   #10
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

The XA10 shoots 24 MBPS AVCHD.

You did not say what NLE (editing program) you will be using, but most recent ones can handle AVCHD with 8gB of RAM. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any NLEs that can take advantage of your dual-GPU, but I can't think of any that will be impaired by it, either.

The three disk set-up is a good thing. Using one for the system drive, on for storing the media files captured from the camera, and the third for project/render files on another and you should be able to handle the AVCHD files.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 05:18 PM   #11
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

I see I missed your question about cameras.

I have a Sony FX1000 and am pretty fond of it, but it might not be as useful to you as an XA10 and it will be a lot more expensive for what you want to do.

What I understand you want is something to shoot inside in a gym and at a heated indoor pool, sometimes underwater.

If you were shooting football (soccer to us North Americans), or field and track events, then the FX1000 could be useful because it has a 20x zoom range while the Canon has a 10x zoom range (about half as far). For your indoor events, however, 10x might or might not be enough. (I say this from my experience of shooting I dance and theater events. In some venues, 10x is fine. In others, I need the 20x zoom for close-ups.

You mentioned that the FX1000 has 3 sensors versus the single one in the XA10. That single sensor is good enough that the FX1000 will not have much advantage and, in most instances with what you are shooting, you probably would not see any difference at all.

For the other things you have said you want to do, you will find the XA10 a better bargain and the file-based recording system is likely to be much more convenient for generating web and projection video. To get comparable ease of use capability with an FX1000, you would need to buy an XLR adapter (which would be about $200 more here in the US for a passive unit like a Beachtek or StudioOne; more like $400 for one like a Juiced Link with an active preamp section). You also would want to add an MRC1k tapeless recording unit (adding another $1000 (US) to your budget for the MRC1k, some Sony batteries to run it, and some CF cards for recordig.)

And then there is the underwater housing you you need for the underwater shots you mentioned in your first post. Seems to me that I saw underwater housings for the little XA10 for could be had for as little as $200. (You won't need much as you are only going to pool depth, not diving to 100 feet or more in the ocean.) On the other hand, the last time checked, underwater housings for the much larger FX1000 started at around $1400 (US) and quickly went up from there. Of course, there is always the Ewa bags somebody mentioned above.

I would also second Dave's suggestion that you look into the new Sony NX30 which was released here a couple of weeks ago. It is in the same size and price range as the XA10, has XLR inputs and a shotgun microphone, and a large capacity internal solid state memory (something like 9 hours). It has two things you might find very useful for your recording. One is the ability to record full 60p (NTSC) or 50p 1080 video, which can be very useful for sports. The other is an amazing floating lens-sensor optical image stablizer system with the ability to lock onto and track a particular face or person. There is a thread on it in the NX70 forum and Ron Evans has mentioned that there is a hard-sided underwater housing for it that is in the $200 to $300 range.

The NX30 also has a built in video projector which might, or might not be useful to you for doing quick replays for small groups.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 09:16 PM   #12
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Thank you Jay, I did take a look at the NX 30 and it does look great. In the meantime I have been trying to make a list of accessories I will need. I found a BOGEN-MANFROTTO 3046 TRIPOD w/ 3063 VIDEO FLUID HEAD w/QUICK RELEASE and I am going to buy a couple of led lights just in case. I will decide on the underwater housing equipment as soon as I have made my mind on which model. Other than spare batteries which I also considered what other accessories would I need to purchase? You make a great point with the zoom issue since I didn't mention it in my post but rock climbing lessons is something we do offer and a good zoom as well as a manageable size are desirable features for outdoor shots, particularly since I am not much of a climber.
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Old July 17th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #13
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

For rock climbing, where you have to lug equipment and maybe do some climbing, lighter and smaller will be a lot more convenient and a lot more likely to get used. You definitely want something like the XA10 or NX30.

The problem is the limited zoom range. Depending on the situation, the 10x optical zooms might not be enough for the rock climbing shots. (Heck, even the 20x zoom on the FX1000 might not be enough). There is the possibility of using the digital extensions on the XA10 and NX30. Dave recently posted a discussion of the digital extender functions in small cams, and explained that going out to 20x on the small cams may still yield decent footage. See this link:

Recommendation Needed for Newbie
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 05:42 AM   #14
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

I hope Nicolle won't mind me jumping in on her thread, but I am in a similar position. I currently use a Canon 1DMK4 and a Sony HC1, and while the DSLR has great image quality, it lacks the userbility of a dedicated video camera, and I often find myself using the HC1 in preference. So I am looking for a video camera that will match the 1DMK4 for image quality.

I am not entirely sure where I am going with this though. In the last year I have produced a training video for a medical university (as a freebee) and a short film about the grape harvest where I live in Marlborugh New Zealand. I am currently working on a promotional short for the PSNZ National Convention that my camera club will host in 2014. I have lots of grip equipment, some sound equipment, and use Premiere Pro CS6 on an i7 3930k system with 32GB, GTX570 and lots of drives including two raid0.

I had been looking at the Canon XF300, but I wonder if I really need to spend that much. This is at the early stage of my research, and it is a heck of a learning curve compared to stills.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 06:26 AM   #15
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Re: Need to buy a camera for a sportscenter

Probably best to make a new thread Trevor, since there are a lot of responses to yours...

My 2c, get a decent camera with manual overrides. I have no experience with Canon video cameras, so can't comment, but cut my teeth on the Panasonic HMC150, and now have my own Sony NX5. Maybe a Sony FS100/700 would be a good choice?

What aspect of the usability are you unhappy with? Perhaps it would be cheaper to invest in a rig to alleviate the ergonomic issues?
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