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Old November 26th, 2012, 03:48 PM   #1
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Eyes melted, could use some advice

Hi folks,

So I figured since it was cyber-Monday I'd knock out an important part of my business and finally buy a good camera. Knowing nothing about cameras I have spent the last 6 hours in front of my computer trying to figure it all out and I've finally hit my wall.

Fortunately in all of my searching I found this forum and have been reading it on and off for the last couple of hours. Unfortunately, I'm as confused as ever.

I would deeply appreciate input from you.

This is what I need.

Price - $1500 or less (happy to buy used)

I am a life coach so I will use the camera to create infoproducts, online video content and record my workshops. I have a Handycam but I want to create professional quality videos in terms of look and sound. In many of the places that I give workshops the lighting isn't always the best.

Great sound quality, I don't know if I need something with XLR capability or if a lot is lost using the XLR converter cables but solid audio is a must. Recording separately is a challenge because my workshops are often broken up and so the audio and video might have different starting and stopping points. Since I'm doing my own editing it would push the limits of my patience to sit in front of my computer and sort it out.

I've found tons of deals but don't know which way to turn.

FX1- $1100
FX7- $1100
AG-HMC40- $1200
HVR-Z1U- $1399
XA10 - $1550 (Very top of my price range)
DCR-VX2100 - $895
HVR-Z1U - $1395

I'm open to cameras which aren't on this list too.

I don't know anything about cameras. I didn't even know what XLR was until I started trying to figure out how to hook my wireless mic into the camera.

Thanks again.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 04:37 PM   #2
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

I have both the Canon XA-10 and the Canon vixia HF-G10. The G10 is basicly the same camera without the handle and xlr inputs. Picture quality is very good. G10 will save you some money if you don't need xlr.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 06:12 PM   #3
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Thanks, Jim. Do you know if using XLR adapter cables in lieu of the XLR inputs will affect the audio?
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Old November 26th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #4
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

This isn't usually something people knock out in a day. Getting professional results requires more than a camera. Good audio requires a good audio recording capability but also good mics and the knowledge of how to use what mic when. The better the audio block in your camera, the more signal you will record. Using the camera mics is pretty much not going to give you professional results. Typical thing to do is to put a lavalier mic on the speaker and use wireless radio mics back to the camera. The Sennheiser wireless units have cables for both XLR cameras and mini jack cameras.

To answer your direct question, there is no conversion with XLR adapter cables. That's a mechanical adaptation of a professional cable/connector to a consumer one. Most people use something like a Jucedlink device to handle XLR mics being run into a consumer camera such as the G10.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 07:31 PM   #5
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Hi Les,

Thanks for your response. Good audio is definitely a requirement. I was looking at the Shure wireless pack which is what started my search for a camera with XLR. Will having XLR make a substantial difference when it comes to sound quality? How do I determine which of the cameras have the best audio quality?

Thanks!
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Old November 26th, 2012, 09:27 PM   #6
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

The rule with audio is that the closest mic wins. A cheap mic 5 inches from your mouth will beat a $700 shotgun from 10' away.
Getting a mic close to your source is the key thing. I would expect any of the cameras in your price range to do an adequate job at recording audio. But if you see mention of hissy audio in a review, stay clear of that one. Also, if you go the route of a mini jack for audio and an XLR to mini adapter, you want to get one with good preamps (these will require battery power) vs the passive models which inject hiss,

A camera that supports XLR directly will be easier to manage as a one man band. AFAIK, Shure does not have battery powered receivers. Sennheiser and others have packages that use bodypacks at both ends, The receiver usually mounts easily on the camera shoe for a rather tight package. Sennheiser is the standard. There are some others. Plan to spend $600 or more gor good wireless audio. If you can get away with a 30' cable from your talent to the camera, you can go wired.

The smallest package I ever put together was a TM700 camera (mini jack) and sennheiser G2 bodypacks. Audio was fine and the package small.
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Old November 26th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #7
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

David - here are some thoughts for you:

1. If you're just getting started with trying to put together some videos of your workshops and you're being up-front about this being a new learning exercise, what about trying to network or trade with someone who knows something about putting a video together? It could be someone going to college that is looking for a "project", someone who would like to take some of your classes but doesn't have the money but would be willing to trade, or maybe a videographer who is trying to get started in the business and is willing to do some videos for cheap? Just a few ideas and a creative thinker could come up with more.

Reason being, the camera is just a piece of the pie, cost-wise. The chain is as strong as it's weakest link and there will be many more components you'll need to put together a video system and you need to learn what these are. Someone who knows what it needs can help.

Case in point: my son-in-law gave me a nice HD video camera for FREE. Since then I've acquired about $3,000 in equipment, all of it used except for the tripod with the fluid head, and at prices about 1/2 of new. You're talking quite an investment and there are STILL items I need or want. And I've yet to get a lavalier system which is something you might need ($600 to $900, depending on system). Cable is better and much cheaper. And this didn't include the computer or software.

2. Audio is 2/3rds of the video (read what people have said about audio in this thread If 2/3rds of good video is audio, how come there is only one Audio section?). You seem to already know this but there are some really good and informative posts there. You'll want to budget for audio.

3. Computer & software: You'll need to plan for this also. The kind of video files and video editing software needs to be compatible and you'll want an easy workflow. I'm using Final Cut Pro X ($300), ClipWrap ($?), Sandvox (for a web site $?), and a used Mac Pro (~$1,000) but your system may vary.

4. Reference books: you'll need some of these.

5. Storyboarding?

6. Lighting (this will be interesting. LED, Tungsten, fluorsent, halogen - will need to be compatible with the ambient lighting.)

This is enough for now but finding someone willing to work with you and with your budget could be money well spent. The camera is just the start.
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Old November 27th, 2012, 10:24 AM   #8
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
The smallest package I ever put together was a TM700 camera (mini jack) and sennheiser G2 bodypacks. Audio was fine and the package small.
Les, thanks for all that information. I looked at the TM700 and it looks great. Do you think it's a better choice than the X900MK (which looks like it's the newer model)? If I only spent $600 on a camera then $600 on an audio setup would be very doable.

My only concern is creating a professional image and sound so that my video content and products don't have an amateurish feel to them. I know that not having somebody else shoot the video will create a bit of but as it stands I record at varying and unusual hours.

Thanks for all of your help.
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Old November 27th, 2012, 10:30 AM   #9
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

John,

Thanks for some great ideas. I've actually tried using a "volunteer" in the twice in the past and so far they've been a bit unreliable. I guess I saw the camera as the first step to creating the products that would enable to afford a more professional crew in the future.

I'm in New York so I could probably go to one of the film schools here and look for people willing to work for food (or beer). I would like to have a relatively high quality set up so that I can record things on my own when that doesn't work out.

Thanks again!
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Old November 27th, 2012, 11:32 AM   #10
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Here's another thought:

What kind of shots do you plan on making? From what you said earlier it seems like all the shots will be on a/some subjects that are reasonably well lit and, given the presenter and audience, probably from a distance of 6 feet to maybe, what?, 40 feet (for the audience). Assume no macro required.

How will the video be viewed? On a standard home-sized TV in someone's living room?

For starters, if this is what you're looking at then I don't see that one really needs a "fancy" camera, at least not for starters. Pick up a used 16:9 format HD camera for a few hundred bucks, use an XLR cable mic with a stand (keeping audio equipment costs down) and a JuicedLink pre (low noise with XLR input and mini jack output for the budget camera), and start collecting good lighting lighting equipment. Make sure the camera video file format and video editing software are compatible, and you're good to go for probably less than $1,500.

Once you get into this "business" then get your dream camera that has a file format compatible with the system and use the first one for a Roll B camera. If you are wanting "professional looking" videos, in my opinion, you'll really need a Roll B camera anyway (and somebody to run it). With an operator then add on a Glide Cam or Blackbird for even better results. Heck, what is another $500 to $1,000 (plus operator costs) of someone else's money? By now you're making a profit, right???

Will this video be in the cloud or on DVDs? If DVDs then you'll need a quality commercial-type burner.
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Old November 27th, 2012, 12:50 PM   #11
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

John,

There will be two types of shots. For my instructional coaching videos (both dvds and cloud based) I imagine the camera will be 4 to 10 feet away while I talk and use a whiteboard/butcher block. When I do workshops I normally set my camera up behind the audience 20 to 30 feet away.

The videos will be viewed on tv's and computers.

In terms of dvd production I was looking at Kunaki or a similar fulfillment service.

Checked out the Glidecam and Blackbird. Thanks for the info.

Would a standard format 16:9 HD video with the audio you recommended provide the results I'm looking for. My main concern is people paying for content and then getting an image and sound that is like a home movie. I've paid for a lot of dvd's in my day for hypnosis and NLP training and they were always a pain to watch.
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Old November 27th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #12
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

John,

I just finished reading the All Things Audio thread you posted. Great information, thanks. I looked at the Sennheiser G3 pack you recommend and also the Marantz PMD661 that was mentioned in the thread. I will most likely end up getting the Sennheiser instead of the Shure bundle I was looking at.

So now, it's just down to the camera.

Thanks a lot for your guidance!
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Old November 27th, 2012, 02:53 PM   #13
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Parke View Post
...My only concern is creating a professional image and sound so that my video content and products don't have an amateurish feel to them. ...
The TM700 is not a currently sold model and you would probably have trouble finding it. It does however do what you need functionally. I don't expect there;s anything in the newer version that will make a detectable difference in the image and audio quality.

What will make the difference between home looking and professional looking won't be which of those cameras. It will be your lighting and staging. The more it looks like and is lit like a studio, the more professional it will appear. Even if you are filming you in your standard hotel ballroom, you *could* add your own lighting. This is a whole nuther area requiring hundreds of dollars of equipment, experience and skill. This is another reason hiring someone who knows what they are doing and can bring the equipment will get you going right away as you climb the learning curve.

Here's an example I thought of when I read your description of presenting at a table:

This is a simple studio background nicely lit separatly from the talent which is also lit.
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Old November 27th, 2012, 09:46 PM   #14
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Thanks Les,

I've been looking online and a used TM700 is around $700. I've already ordered the Senheisser wireless pack that was mentioned in the audio thread. I'll start scouting around for affordable lighting solutions.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 09:05 AM   #15
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Re: Eyes melted, could use some advice

Dang. I thought I had recommended the Senny's first! I realize you already ordered some but you can save some serious dough buying a set of G2 (G3 is current model) on ebay. Make sure you don't get the 700Mhz (C-band) as they are no longer legal in the US.
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