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Old December 21st, 2009, 01:20 PM   #1
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Buying Advice (General)

I'm working on an article for Videomaker magazine on purchasing video gear, and wanted to find out what advice people would have for those starting out on how (and how not) to buy gear...just general stuff. Any purchases you've really regretted? Why? How do you know when you're getting a good deal? That kind of stuff. But don't comment if you don't want me to use your advice in the article!

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Old December 21st, 2009, 07:13 PM   #2
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What's your target audience? Typical consumers that just want to shoot some video rather casually for personal use, or folks that want to get into video more seriously like shooting professionally?
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Old December 21st, 2009, 07:25 PM   #3
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Probably the single most important piece of advice, for folks new to video, whether they just want to shoot personal stuff casually, or get into video more seriously, is to beware of unscrupulous internet camera dealers (scam artists). There's just a ton of them out there.

I strongly suggest to any newbie, that they purchase their first camcorder from B&H Photo (whether it's a consumer camcorder or a professional camcorder). B&H has been around for years, and is quite well known as a reputable outfit. They carry just about every camcorder being made by major manufacturers, and their prices are very competitive (usually much better than Best Buy, Walmart, etc.). If an internet site offers a camera or camcorder at a far lower price than B&H, you can pretty much bet that it's a scam. B&H also sells used gear, and describes those items honestly and accurately.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 08:09 PM   #4
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The obvious response for ME is: will my purchase of this item outweigh the cost of renting the same (or similar item) the number of times I expect to use it over the course of the year OR is it such an esoteric piece of equipment that finding one on short notice will be problematic.

Am I POSITIVE that this piece of equipment is going to be appropriate for me for the entire time it will take to justify the cost versus renting or would I be better off renting the best/newest/shiniest item as I need it?
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Old December 21st, 2009, 08:11 PM   #5
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Oh, and know what you're good at and what you are NOT good at: I have bought LITERALLY 3000' of BNC video cable and made up my own lengths using crimp on connections at a cost of... well, A LOT, including cable and tool costs as well as connectors. I finally got tired of the connections failing because I didn't really have a hot clue what I was doing so I threw ALL of it away and had a pro make up 1000' of cables I have been using satisfactorily ever since.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 08:41 PM   #6
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Someone has to say, in this thread somewhere:
It isnt the gear, the gear does not operate itself. Aquire things that You can operate correctally, depending on your skill. If i went and bought a $45,000 wizz bang large format device that is for making big budget Hollywood movies, it would take me the first 3 months to figure out how to operate it correctally.
EX: If you cannot manually focus (yet) Dont buy a camera that doesnt auto focus , or doesnt auto focus well.
If you cant hold anything still, or use the proper tools, make sure your camera has the fix for that. Buying a "pro" camera that has no "consumer" fixes in it, wont make you a "pro"

Some people bought cameras that high end "pros" used and were presented an array of controls, features and needs that the camera has to operate correctly. Daunted by all this technogarbage they never got into actually USING it to shoot stuff. so the Camera sits there looking at them lonely and neglected.
The number of controls has gone up hugely now for these cameras, causing even more of that. When you buy something simpler and easy to operate, you will learn what you needed, why all the crasy controls are there, and be Happy as heck to learn how to use them, instead of being overwealmed by the complexity.

Equiptment prices are logrythmatic cost increases, Operator skill is linear, you have nothing to lose from buying at a lower end now, then updating as your skill increases. all you lose is 10% :-)

Leave available at least 50% of your budget for all the accessories and fixes you will need as add-ons.
Make sure your cam, however small or consumerish can feed in audio, has a way to adjust the Iris or exposure from the auto position. those would be my first two requirements no mater how cheap the camera is. Even with HD much of good video is having good audio, consumer cameras often are way to hot in exposure.

Must have good tripod, i am no fan of the new style of purposfully making a camera look handheld, like they do in some of those Cop series, Have at least some form of stabalisation, and reserve the nauseating bumpey unstable picture look to making the Action look more like action (which it doesnt do that well either).

You can pay a Lot for your "first" tripod and get nothing, general stores and photo (only) type stores often carry $100+ tripods that the head has no ability whatsoever to do a smooth pan or tilt, the minimum for even small consumer cameras would be a micro faux fluid head.

This post assumes that Videomaker has an Editor for grammer and spelling :-)
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Last edited by Marty Welk; December 22nd, 2009 at 01:31 AM.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 09:05 PM   #7
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B&h

Quote:
Originally Posted by Julia Camenisch View Post
I'm working on an article for Videomaker magazine on purchasing video gear, and wanted to find out what advice people would have for those starting out on how (and how not) to buy gear...just general stuff. Any purchases you've really regretted? Why? How do you know when you're getting a good deal? That kind of stuff. But don't comment if you don't want me to use your advice in the article!

Thanks,

julia camenisch
B&H is the biggest and most reliable place to start. New purchasers should read reviews of both web sites and product. I suggest subscribing to magazines, both hard copy and on-line. Videomaker is a good place to start, actually. DV Magazine. These forums.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright View Post
I strongly suggest to any newbie, that they purchase their first camcorder from B&H Photo (whether it's a consumer camcorder or a professional camcorder). B&H has been around for years, and is quite well known as a reputable outfit. They carry just about every camcorder being made by major manufacturers, and their prices are very competitive (usually much better than Best Buy, Walmart, etc.). If an internet site offers a camera or camcorder at a far lower price than B&H, you can pretty much bet that it's a scam. B&H also sells used gear, and describes those items honestly and accurately.
Thank you. This is very gratifying and we appreciate it.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 03:45 PM   #9
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You can send me my check now Henry. :)
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 03:52 PM   #10
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I'm just kidding folks. I'm not affiliated with B&H in any capacity (but I won't turn down a check if they send me one!). I just know B&H to be a reliable dealer, with a solid reputation (for years) and very competitive pricing, both from being a customer and from the numerous comments from others who are serious about videography and B&H customers as well. I'd wager that there are very few pro videographers (or pro photographers) who have never done business with B&H.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:13 AM   #11
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It being a rather appropriate time of year for this;
Make a list and check it twice. Never assume you will get everything you need in the box, check, check and check again so you don't find yourself looking at the perfect shot, but without (for example) a power cord, meaning you can't film it.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:38 AM   #12
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My 2 cents

I've been using B&H for years. In the past 18 months I've purchased over $10,000 of video equipment from them and I highly recommend them.
Each item that B&H sells has a “What’s in the Box” so you know if everything you need comes with the item.

Thanks to Chris, the sponsors on the site are among the best in the country. Anyone of them will give someone a good buying experience.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:58 AM   #13
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My "gut message" is to buy once and buy well. You can't do good work with awful equipment.

Likewise, stay out of "poverty mode" when it comes to your thinking. Bite the bullet and get good quality gear. Something may be expensive, but my response is "Compared to what?". Yes, even I have to save up and hold off my purchase until I have the dollars. But it's worth it in the end.

Andrew
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:20 AM   #14
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The other sponsors here are top notch also. I don't mean to slight them, but B&H is the one that you can basically go to for just about anything. They carry almost everything you might use in video production, and at very competitive prices. About the only thing that comes to mind, that you might use in video production, that I wouldn't want to get from B&H, is computer parts and SDHC (or other flash memory) cards. I do think B&H should put some effort into bolstering their flash memory offerings, since flash memory is rapidly becoming the medium of choice for recording in video acquisition, and has been for photo acquisition for awhile now. I'd like to see them become as competitive, with as wide a choice for flash memory cards, as they are for video tapes.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 01:31 PM   #15
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My buyiing advice is... Do you homework! Start off and make a list. When you shop for a camera, don't overbuy your skill level, start basic and move up as you grow.

I have seen many cameras on Craiglist that the seller thought he was going to making "movies" and they now realized they no longer needed the $6000 camera.

They should have started with a $700 consumer camera.

What I look for in a first camera:

Never, ever buy from a shady discount online dealer (B&H is the best, price and service)
Unless it's has been checked out by a repair shop (or a dealer like B&H) stay away from buying a used camera (unless you like gambling with your money)
External mic in plug
Headphone in plug
HiDef
Does it take external screw in Wide lenses?

I bought my JVCHD100U used and paid $700 for it. It was checked out by a shop prior to the purchase and was found to have a cracked viewfinder housing. I ordered a replacment part from JVC for $23. Other than that it was like new.

If you are on a budget watch Ebay or Craig's List for your external accessories. I recently bought a Lite Panels MicroPro for $175 from my local Craig's list.
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DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
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