Good handycam for pupils at

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Old January 27th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #1
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Good handycam for pupils

Hi all,

I teach part time (videography/editing) for Media students at a secondary school, and another member of staff has been given a budget to buy two camcorders (100-200 each).

Can anyone recommend a camcorder in this price range (Sony or Canon) that has the basic essentials (Firewire, 16:9, good optical zoom, etc). The pupils don't need anything too professional or grand, they just need something within our budget that allows them to get out there and shoot something! Also they will be shooting onto mini-DV tape, as it's an important practice to get used to.

I've had a look at lots of similar posts on here, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) I couldn't find anything relating to this sort of equipment. Obviously it's not professional grade equipment, but horses for courses! We can only spend what money the school gives us.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Are there any jems out there in the handicam world?

Many thanks in advance!
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:15 PM   #2
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Hi Rob,

I'm afraid you'll be forced to buy used, or perhaps NOS (that is, New Old Stock, meaning discontinued product which has never been sold). The problem here is that Mini-DV tape is very much a thing of the past now. Neither Sony nor Canon offer low-budget camcorders recording to Mini-DV cassette (although both still offer higher-priced HDV camcorders but they are probably out of your budget).

Solid-state recording to flash memory is where it's at these days. Hope this helps,

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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #3
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Sorry Rob but with over 30 years in broadcast if potential media students at any level are being taught video making skills on a 100-200 camera the reality is that they are not going to learn very much that will help them get a job in the media industry.

I get loads of feedback from media graduates and they all say the same thing that what they learn at college has very little to do with the real world that they then encounter when trying to get a job.

Even a 4k HDV camera is not relevant to the real media world if you do not have the correct skills being applied and if you are also not getting people to learn AVID/Final cut pro and pro tools for dubbing they will have no real industry relevant skills in that dept either.

Sorry for a bit of a rant but if you look elsewhere about pay rates etc you will see that loads a media graduates are being trained for an industry where people like me with all my experience have no chance of much gainful employment as nothing is being made at the moment.

Ask yourself the question would the school give a student a 100-200 laptop and expect them to be up to date with the latest IT?

I appreciate budgets may be tight but that is no excuse for raising young persons aspirations for media but giving them low grade tools to do the work in an ever sophisticated media world.

Having said all of that I own a 550 canon HF11 and i get good results but I have the experience to use it properly.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 06:56 PM   #4
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Hey Rob, in answer to your question I see this one at B&H Canon | ZR960 MiniDV Camcorder | 3543B001 | B&H Photo Video for $249 U.S.

I understand your issues go beyond the camcorder budget. With the newer solid state models you may need a more robust computer as well.

Even with tape they'll have fun learning videography not to mention editing their footage.

Good luck
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Old January 27th, 2010, 07:25 PM   #5
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Gary, thats the equivelant of saying there's no use giving a High School student a Legal Studies textbook because it wont teach them every single law ever made. We're talking about school kids here, not University students. My High school didn't have a single camcorder, so anything would have been an improvement on that.

Rob, if you can find one or two second hand on ebay, a Panasonic NV-GS400 may be a good choice. They were an excellent camera back in the day and the first camera I ever learned to use manual controls on.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 04:54 AM   #6
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At the local high school here, they chose the Sony HVR-HD1000 and have an option in the visual arts. They ran an in-school contest last year and the DVD was issued by the DVD-Video rental store along with some voting forms.

They actually have the last two years of primary school students there as well and the whole primary school will move onto the same campus in a few years time.

If you want to swap notes with the Deputy Principal, please send me a email and I will pass it on.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 12:31 PM   #7
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Hi all,

Some really helpful posts, thank you!

It is a shame about the budget, but John as you rightly point out we're only talking secondary school here. To have sufficient cameras for everyone to use (we have 4 now, moving up to 6 shortly) you need a very large budget to buy good cameras.

It wont get them a job in the industry, but having worked with them I can tell you it does give them a very basic tool with which to develop their (often inspiring) level of enthusiasm for making films. And they're very talented to boot!

Thanks again for all your advice everyone There are couple of stand-out models you have suggested that will do a great job considering our small budget.
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