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Old July 11th, 2013, 12:55 PM   #1
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Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Hello everyone,

I teach video production at a community college and we will be purchasing some new equipment soon. I'd like to purchase a set of cheap camcorders to use in the intro to video class while keeping the nicer cameras for the more advanced classes.

The only hang up is that I would like the cheaper cameras to have manual settings for aperture, shutter speed and gain - even if they have to be accessed through the menu. Unfortunately this isn't something that's listed in the camera specs on product pages. Does anyone know of any camcorders or DSLRs $600 or less that have these manual settings for video?
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Old July 11th, 2013, 02:18 PM   #2
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Cheap camcorders are disappearing from the market (thank you, cell phone) - the Fry's I visited had mostly bare shelves... rather unexpected...

I don't think you will find ANY manual cams under $600 other than perhaps dual mode point & shoot cameras that also do video, and even those will have limited manual as video is a secondary feature.

One camera worth a look that MIGHT be coming down a bit in price now an update has announced (it's held it's price through its entire market cycle so far) is the Sony DSC-RX100. It does allow manual adjustments in video, but it may spoil the students with it's small size and portability along with a pretty strong feature set. It could just sneak in under $600 if it goes on sale or closeout...
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Old July 11th, 2013, 02:34 PM   #3
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

The Panasonic LX7 has full manual controls in video, but beyond PASM and manual focus and focus lock, also has controls for sharpness, noise reduction, saturation, sharpness in video. Does high-speed video as well (720p at 120fps). Does 108060p video and MP4. It takes great video, with a sensor size that is larger than most camcorders but not so large to get aliasing like the RX100 and it has an f1.4 lens at the wide end.

And, it is one of the only consumer cams that has a built-in ND filter that you can manually invoke! It sometimes sells for $350 new.
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Old July 11th, 2013, 02:48 PM   #4
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

I would suggest a refurbished Canon HF-G10 at around $625 but I don't see it on the Canon Direct site any more. That is, if you don't mind a touch screen.
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Old July 11th, 2013, 04:31 PM   #5
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

It's still there, you just have to access it directly. They have sales fairly often which can bring it down to around 550 or less. Of course it may not be in stock when another sale happens.

Canon VIXIA HF G10 Refurbished | Canon Online Store
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Old July 11th, 2013, 09:30 PM   #6
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Thanks Chris. I really want a 3rd one and almost snapped one up last time you posted that link :-)
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Old July 12th, 2013, 05:48 AM   #7
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Hi Britt - below $600, I would get a Panasonic FZ200. Like the LX-7 it has full manual control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (gain) - plus a viewfinder and a 2.5mm mic input (you will need a $5 adapter to use it with standard 3.5mm mics). It has no built-in ND filter, however.

Here is what this camera can do (please watch at 720p):




Here is a documentary shot with the FZ200:



As of this post, the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 is $548 new at Amazon.

Hope this is helpful!

Bill
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Old July 12th, 2013, 07:16 AM   #8
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Thanks for the great suggestions, there are definitely some options there.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:13 PM   #9
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

As a fan of the "bridge camera" form factor myself, I'd say that FZ200 might be the best of the options out there (I'd toss in the Sony HX300 I've got... IF it had manual video control, but video is a "auto" affair - takes good video, but it makes all the decisions!).

The "bridge" cameras of course have a smaller sensor, but usually have a pretty good lens and lens range so they are versatile, and not so big as to attract attention or be a pain to lug around. They are probably as close as you can get to a "cheap consumer camcorder" with full features nowadays! Plus the prices are not too bad for what they give you.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

You might want to look for some used DSLRs. Or if you can raise your budget a bit, maybe you can pick up a few Black Magic Pocket Cinema cameras when they start shipping.
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Old July 12th, 2013, 06:33 PM   #11
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Britt - another option that will give you terrific image quality (as good as a DSLR) for not a lot of money, is the Canon EOS M, which is on closeout with the 18-55 STM lens for $349 at Amazon as of this post.

This camera has full manual control, a standard 3.5mm mic jack and a much larger sensor than the FZ200 I recommended above.

Here is what the EOS M can do:




These cameras will not last at this price. If this looks like what you need for your students, you should pick them up soon.

Good luck!

Bill
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Old July 13th, 2013, 02:47 AM   #12
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

I second the EOS-M,
BH also has it for $350
. Most consumer camcorders don't even have real exposure settings, on Sonys you can only pick one at a time: AE shift, exposure, iris, shutter speed, or gain. A DSLR or mirrorless camera would be the way to go on the cheap.
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Old July 16th, 2013, 03:26 PM   #13
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip Gallo View Post
I would suggest a refurbished Canon HF-G10 at around $625 but I don't see it on the Canon Direct site any more. That is, if you don't mind a touch screen.
Today they have the refurbed ones for $519.00!!!!
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Old July 17th, 2013, 08:59 AM   #14
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

Thanks for all the replies guys. I'm finally getting around to researching these cameras and as usual, it's difficult to find a review that actually comes out and says that the video settings are manual - especially since most of the reviews focus on the still aspects of the camera.

I just wanted to double check with everyone to confirm that the Panasonic LX7M, Panasonic FZ200 and the Canon EOS M actually have manual settings for aperture, shutter and gain/iso while the camera is in video mode. The only reason why I'm suspicious, especially in the case of the Canon - is that Canon's DSLRs in the $800 - $1000 range don't have full manual controls while in video mode.

Any further feedback would be appreciated.
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Old July 17th, 2013, 11:05 AM   #15
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Re: Cheapest Camcorder with full manual settings.

The Canon EOS-M can also use Magic Lantern which will give you all the manual controls and more for your students.
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