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Old November 17th, 2009, 08:51 PM   #1
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Looking for a good 'first' camcorder

I am looking for a home camcorder, but I would like it to be sophisticated enough to give me practice for a more 'professional' camcorder in the future.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'm thinking at least it would need to use MiniDV tapes.

We don't have it in the budget to go serious right now, but we are thinking of doing a documentary film in the future.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:05 PM   #2
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Budget?

So, what is your budget?
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #3
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Under a thousand. Something like Best Buy.

In the future we're looking at maybe spending 5k.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #4
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Panasonic TM-300

I haven't used one, but I know a few people who use the Panasonic TM-300 and speak highly of it. It's near the top of your price range, but seems to have a good balance of features for the price.

Here's a link to some more info…

http://www.panasonic.net/avc/camcord...cts/hdc-tm300/
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Old November 18th, 2009, 02:49 PM   #5
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I've recently used a Canon HF11 and found it to be very satisfactory under normal lighting. It's about $700 which will allow you to also buy important accessories like a wide-angle lens, extra batteries, memory cards, etc. It uses SDHC memory cards and records in AVCHD format. Read the threads here about that and how to edit that footage. I haven't had any problems using the middle quality setting, which is 1440x1080 at 17Mbps and looked very good.
Also in that price range are the HF200, HFS10 and HFS100.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 10:42 PM   #6
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Sony XR500V - not as many manual controls, but a lot of image quality for the money...
SO, now you've got the three main brands/players...

There are a lot of REALLY excellent cameras produced in the last 3-4 years - the Canon HV20,30,40 are highly regarded, the HF series cameras are well liked too...

Budget to $1K is pretty good if, especially if you pick up a gently used camera.

How about expected shooting conditions? That can make a bigger difference in camera choice...
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:02 PM   #7
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My wife wants a camcorder to do home films, nothing more. Stuff like clips for the parents, some shots of 4rth of July fireworks, etc. A sunset that doesn't look like crap. I want something that at least gives me some preparation for working with more expensive equipment.

I HOPE to get a semi pro camcorder in a couple of years. I want to shoot a documentary, and maybe some independent short films. All sorts of shooting conditions, I suppose. But I've never shot film before, and have no idea what I'm doing, so I don't want to dive into expensive equipment right away.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:04 PM   #8
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Thanks for the ideas, I will be checking them out.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 01:36 AM   #9
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Mark, you can show your wife the sunset on this video I made in South India recently. It is 5 minutes, a bit long but following the song we used, my wife played a bit with some color correction.
Shot with the HV30 the camera is also a second camera for our Canon XHA1. So it is definitively a great consummer camera that allow you to do pro work, wich is what we are doing in India.
And if you look on Vimeo for this camera you will find some far better video than this one, but at least it is an exemple. In this case we only recorded using the automatic.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 05:49 AM   #10
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Nice video gives me a much different impression of India than I previously had. Did you ever visit one of the small villages or one of the many homes that you see along the river and shoot that environment as well? It looks like the everyday life is a throw back to much quieter and more peaceful times. Although a raging monsoon would have added a bit more drama to the peaceful riverscape.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 10:23 PM   #11
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Thanks for the video, Robert. Wifey says thanks too.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 08:34 PM   #12
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Thanks guys.
Doug, India is a very diverse country. This video was shot in the south, in Kerala. We spent 24 hours on that boat and 5 weeks travelling in the South, staying always with locals.
The villages are nice and people are very welcoming.
We have been in India since August and will stay till Xmas, we are working daily with the local people and we can certainly see how India is moving forward rapidely to become a very important power; economically but also culturally and socially. They have built their self confidence and they don t look at the West with envy. They have little to loose , are very smart and hard working. A beautiful place with a great future.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 12:37 PM   #13
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Mark,
Whatever you get make sure it has full manual controls, namely independent control over aperture, shutter, gain and audio recording levels. Don't settle for aperture or shutter priority controls that let you lock the exposure and then boost it up and down. I think you should be looking at used cameras, and maybe boost your budget to $1,600. You'll have a lot more options at that price bracket. At $1,000 or under, I think the best you're going to do is a used GL2.

Bear in mind that Robert's video (which is very nice) is shot in lighting conditions under which pretty much all video cameras can look great.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 06:48 PM   #14
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All the new stuff I see has either flash memory or hard drive. So I guess tapes are out?

I imagine it is easy to download from flash memory to computer hard drive.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 02:09 PM   #15
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I just got a CANON HF20 ... my first camera... I've only shot 10 minutes with it around the house testing it out so I can't give an indepth review (there are tons of them on here and around the web), but I can say that for my first camera I'm very happy so far. Got it pretty inexpensive IMO from B&H. Very happy with their service.
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