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Old February 1st, 2013, 10:47 AM   #1
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Buying my first camera

I'm looking to buy my first camera. Have 800. Looking for something filmic. Am a beginner in the technical side of filmmaking. Any suggestions?

I've researched A LOT online - the likes of the Canon Vixia range to DSLR's, such as Sony NEX VG10/20.
I am fairly new to the technical side of filmmaking (am a writer and actor). I have operated camera's in my own experiments, but haven't learnt through education or as part of a crew and certainly don't have a good grasp on how to properly work a camera/create the best shot - yet.
Initially am looking to shoot a dramatised blog and upload online, but then looking ahead will shoot film (shorts, initially) and would like a camera that has a lovely filmic look.
Any advice/suggestions would be very welcomed. Thanks.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 11:20 AM   #2
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Re: Buying my first camera

Hi Vicki,

Welcome to DV Info Net! Is there a shop nearby where you can go and look at some of these cameras in person? Because, as I like to say often, the right camera *for you* is the one which feels best in your hands and whose workflow makes the most sense to you. There's really no one right or wrong choice; it's mostly a matter of personal preference more than anything else.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:14 PM   #3
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Re: Buying my first camera

For a filmic look, DSLRs are the way to go.

That said, for DSLR video to look good, you need to be comfortable making manual settings, manually adjusting focus, and changing lenses. Most important, you need to take care to stabilize the camera on a tripod or some other device. And you need additional gear for capturing good audio.

A standard camcorder will have better image stabilization, autofocus, exposure features, and audio connections. For 800, you can easily get a good camcorder kit. But it will never deliver the filmic quality of a DSLR. Then again, a DSLR without good lenses, audio, stabilization, and operation won't look filmic either.

It probably comes down to your personal goals. If you are driven to learn film production and are willing to jury-rig and improvise to get good results, go for a DSLR and build up your kit over time. If you want results now, want an out of the box solution, and aren't interested in the technical details, get the camcorder. It really depends on how hungry you are to get filmic results.

There's no wrong choice. The most important part is to understand your true goals and choose the gear that is the best match for you.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:46 PM   #4
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Re: Buying my first camera

Hi Vickie, and ditto the "Welcome Aboard." Hopefully you come back often.

Disclaimer: I'm a hobbyest so consider the source. In the past I was really into 35 mm photography and my interest waned just about the time digital came along. Digital was nice because one could rattle off lots of shots with no expense and delete the ones that weren't worth keeping and just print those that were keepers. Somehow, though, my interest just wan't there.

About three years ago I was doing a lot of investigating about buying a video camera to make sailing videos. I was talking to a friend about it and he gave me a camcorder (video camera - don't know if the "Kings English" is the same term. Since then I've been on a very steep learning curve. Very Important Note: I was on a steep learning curve before I got it, and I feel I'm still on one.

There is a LOT to learn. A Lot. It's all digital so there is the computer and software (applications), knowing how to work files (no more "just" *.jpg), audio (2/3rds of video is good Audio), lighting, story telling, and I could go on.

Since getting this "Free" camera I've upgraded from an MacBook to a much more powerful MacBook Pro (with a lot more memory), and because processing video files is very computer intensive I've got a Mac Pro so I don't melt down my laptop. Just last month I got a second Mac Pro (all my stuff is used/second hand). Starting with clean hard drives (only video files touch them!), and the newest Mac Pro (3,1) has a nice Solid State Drive (SSD), all the applications have to be loaded commensurate with their EULAs.

Since getting the "Free" camera I've invested heavily in gear (what everybody calls "the kit"). That's lighting (with stands), mics (I'm up to 6 now. Consider this a "tool box"), reflectors, backdrop system, Glide Cam (aka Steadycam, Bliackbird, etc.), wind protection for the mics (mostly Rycote, including a windshield), pre amp (for the XLR mics to the 3.5 mm mini jack on the prosumer camera), video tripod, video monopod, camera bracket (to attach mic and light to), cables, clamps, video books (a small library) .... I could go on. Another Very Important Note: the camera purchase is the proverbial tip of the iceburg.

In once sense, I'm still a "Tourist" in this hobby. The edits I've put together have been getting better but I've set the bar higher and I've got a lot more learning and work (in that order) ahead to achieve my goals.

My approach was probably very typical of someone just wanting to get started: that is, get a video camera. I knew what I wanted to make videos of but didn't know there was any difference or nuance between various end result types, to to this end, you're actually ahead of where I was. My path (probably an incorrect one) was to start at A and end at Z while your path is probably more to start at Z and figure out where to start at A, so that's good.

Buying gear (kit): for low budget or if you have more time than money, maybe consider going used if you can be assured there aren't "issues" and the price is good. Everything I've got has been used except for the video tripod and the backdrop so I've managed to really save a bundle while at the same time getting some reasonably good gear. I wouldn't have nearly the quantity I've got if I had to buy new but it took time.

PC vs Mac: Video is very application dependent. Besides the camera you'll want to look at what editing and burning applications to use and make sure they will work with the camera files. I've migrated from the PC (still have one PC for my legacy software) over to the Mac, consequently my very first videos were edited with iMovie. Since then I bought Final Cut Pro X and I've got the last iDVD for menu authoring and Toast 11 (this one was horrible due to Corel anti-support) for going to Blu-ray.

When people talk about "Workflow" it might sound easy but the more you read about "how to make the best DVD" you'll find there are lots and lots of different ways to get from Z to A. And there are nice smooth paths, bumpy and dusty dirt roads, and maybe (I've never found it) a freeway.

Reminder: I'm a hobbyest so consider the source. Keep reading and asking questions. Video production is a forever learning process.

What is a good UK used web site to go to?
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:02 PM   #5
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Re: Buying my first camera

Hi Vicki, buying your first video camera is like buying your first golf clubs.

Many people get out on the course and start thrashing around without taking any lessons.

Get some lessons, join a good local camera club. You could write for them and trade some acting videos then borrow some likely cams.
They'll love it, and you :)

And get a good stable tripod and mic, then you can get in front of your cam to study your technique.
See, 2 for the price of 1 :)

Cheers.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 02:01 AM   #6
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicki Helyar View Post
I've researched A LOT online - the likes of the Canon Vixia range to DSLR's, such as Sony NEX VG10/20.
I would suggest the VG20. Its sensor size allows reasonable control over depth of field used to direct viewer attention in narrative filmmaking. At the same time the VG20 is a video camera that avoids the complications which arrise from shooting video with a DSLR designed for still images. As mentioned in other posts, you also need accessories such as a good tripod, microphones and lighting.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 07:06 AM   #7
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vicki Helyar View Post
...Initially am looking to shoot a dramatised blog and upload online, but then looking ahead will shoot film (shorts, initially) and would like a camera that has a lovely filmic look.
Any advice/suggestions would be very welcomed.....
It strikes me there are some very practical aspects of your situation that should feed into your choice. One is whether you are trying to do this without someone operating the camera. The next is perhaps splitting a semantic hair but if you are looking for "filmic" results, you need to consider more than just the camera. Lighting and post production tools come to mind.

In my mind the two are connected. A shallow depth of field (sDOF) will be a bear to keep in focus without an operator. Conversely, auto focus isn't a strength of cameras in the sDOF cameras you are looking at. Also, sDOF cameras in this price range typically lack focus assist features and some have low res screens so even with an operator, you'll shoot a lot of blurry video. This is frustrating when your main goal is the performance and you are missing your best ones.

The term "filmic" can have different connotations and they go beyond DOF. These include frame rate, grain and color. Some cameras such as the VG10 and 20 are criticized for their lack of ability to customize the image acquisition. Like the model T where you could have any color as long as it was black, you are left to the factory choices. Same may be true in the Vixia.

Consider how much effort you want to put into the technical side of your project vs getting your dramatic acting captured and published. Frankly, at this point, getting your content acquired relatively easily may be more important than having it look filmic..... and we haven't even touched on lighting.....
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 03:40 PM   #8
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Re: Buying my first camera

John, I had to smile at your post above, and I bet I am far from the only person here who empathised with what you said. Even as a professional photographer, I found video a far more difficult genre to get to grips with. So many codecs and frame and bit rates. Talk about a steep learning curve. And then you have sound. Way more to it than I am sure most people starting out realise.

It is really kind of nice having a medium like DVInfo where real pros with years of experience are so willing to share, and the information is solid gold. So I also hope Vicki stays with the forum, and reads all the sticky threads and FAQs, and asks questions when she has problems.

But video is much more rewarding to work with than stills IMHO, but sure as heck takes a bunch of time.

Anyway... A big thank you from me for all the info here, and questions answered.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 12:59 PM   #9
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Hi Vicki,

Welcome to DV Info Net! Is there a shop nearby where you can go and look at some of these cameras in person? Because, as I like to say often, the right camera *for you* is the one which feels best in your hands and whose workflow makes the most sense to you. There's really no one right or wrong choice; it's mostly a matter of personal preference more than anything else.
Hi Chris. Yes, to look and play in person would be best, but Somerset isn't the most affluent area for film, to say the least! Real life shops seem to be closing all the time, as well.
Allan kindly suggested joining a local camera club, which is a great idea and I will look into that, as it would be nice have a play around and learn my craft with others.

Everyone else's responses have been really interesting to read and I will have to go over them a few more times to really digest the info.

Thanks everyone for your responses - I really appreciate it. It seems the DSLR is the jumping feet first version of buying a first camera - but I'm willing to do it and to learn. I'm going to have to learn whether it's a DSLR or it's a Vixia, I'll just have to invest that much more time, blood, sweat and tears if I go with the DSLR, it seems. I'm okay with that, it's not an easy industry, is it?
If anybody could suggest any DSLR's they may have used/like, that are good for beginners - that would be great. Also, on lenses would be extremely helpful too.

RE: Lights - I've spoken with a professional lighting designer and he's given me a lot of advice, and I do own one Sony LED camera light with a diffuser sheet. Should I think about a diffuser box?

Sorry about all the questions! Thanks everyone.
Vicki
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 01:26 PM   #10
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Re: Buying my first camera

Hi John

Thanks a lot for the response. If I could ask you a question - I currently own a Macbook OS X - 10.6.8 version, so it's not advanced. I do have Final Cut Pro (left for me by the previous owner) but have never used it because my Mac couldn't cope with running it. I only have around 800 at the mo, so to upgrade my Mac would be a big chunk off of the camera.

So, if I were to continue using my current computer, I guess I should stick with a less advanced editing programme so it runs better? Which would you suggest for a Mac? I used Corel in the past (on a friends PC) and found it very easy to use, but is obviously not massively advanced with it's options (and can't be used on Mac?). But this may be okay, if I'm initially just going to be uploading a fictional blog onto youtube? I can't imagine I'd be using much post production for that. (I know that the advanced camera isn't necessary to film this kind of thing, but feel I want to make the right choice for future projects, so am willing to invest and learn how t use, in the meantime.)

Cheers John.

Vicki
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Old February 4th, 2013, 01:00 AM   #11
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Re: Buying my first camera

Hi Vickie - I had a really long reply and hit Submit and it vaporized. Seems it didn't like that I "logged in" since I started the reply.

This one will be much shorter and, unfortunately, less informative, but I'll try.

After reading everything from your last post I might suggest this route.

For starters, so you can use your current computer and not have to buy another one, I'd go with iMovie. iMovie has a lot of capability. I've got a MacBook White 1.83 MHz with 2 GB of memory running 10.6.8 (like yours) and it runs iMovie, at least the version I have. This route will allow you to sink your hard-earned money into the "kit".

"Kit": Camera, tripod, and mic. For panning you'll need a video tripod and that costs more. Maybe for non-panning one can use a cheap tripod.

Mic: The on-camera mic isn't really worth anything, maybe for doing goof-off family and friends stuff but not for what you want. Musicians have a saying: "Play to the audience." In the video world I would say that for YouTube that playing to the audience who is watching this on their laptop only merits a really cheap mic. However,.... since the camera will no doubt have a 3.5 mm mini jack that will limit the mic availability.

Audio: read the posts in the Audio section here and you'll come away with the concept that a mic that is close to the sound source is good (closer the better) and a wired mic is good. The trouble is that even beginning better mics are going to be the XLR connector type and the camera won't have those connectors so a pre amp will be needed. Mine is a JuicedLink CX211, more or less a starter model, and it has been discontinued. Mics don't get outdated near as much as other electronics so investing in a good mic is practical and it will hold it's value reasonably well. Be sure to make sure you dont buy a Chinese knock-off phony, though.

I'm having a hard time re-writing this and it's all different than my first approach.

Price out an Audio Kit with a mic, cable, pre amp, and a little wind protection and you're going to be not to far from what you would like to spend on the camera. I'm sorry. The good news is, it will last. The other bad news is, if you try different things you'll probably need more mic. This is like an artist with paint brushes and a color pallet.

Video editing applications are tough on laptops - they make 'em work hard so be sure and back-up any files you don't want to loose. I had a hard drive crash and I've never recovered.

Next step: Personally, because FCP X is so cheap, I'd look at that for the next step after iMovie. It has really improved since it came out. I know there are a lot of opinions here that will be different but for the money and what it takes to run it, it's a good bang for the buck. The computer requirements for X are more and I'd go with a Mac that is 2011 or later. The 2008 model MacBook Pro that I have will run X but apparently the motherboards aren't as robust as on other Macs. The '09 and '10 models are similar to my '08. I'll use my '08 if I need to do something and I'm away from home but otherwise I want to use my Mac Pro because it is a lot more robust.

iDVD: if you can get a copy of this it would be good for DVD authoring with a menu. It's a discontinued product and not for sale anymore.

If FCP7 is part of a suite and Compressor is with it, be sure to hang onto that. The "new" Compressor 4 is only $50 and is basically the same as the old one so if you sold your 7 copy you could always buy 4 if needed. A lot of professionals prefer FCP 7 so I might get roasted here for saying that.

Corel: I don't know anything about it. I have Toast 11 and the Corel "support" beyond FAQs is non-existent. And the FAQs aren't much help, either.

More on cameras: I can understand wanting to get a good camera now so you don't have to buy another one later but here is a thought. First some background.

My first video camera was a $1,500 pro-sumer model, Full HD, lots of bells and whistles. As you read above, it was free, BUT there was no battery charger as it got misplaced. So, I went on-line to get one and being me what I am, started also looking for a used one. What I found was a cheap entry-level camera that used the same charger as my camera used. Retail this camera was $300 but he wanted $60 (they depreciate fast) and also came with it's battery. So I bought the package and I get a charger AND a backup battery. Such a deal!

So much for the background. There is one more plus to this picture. Now I have two cameras. This cheapie that I got is also Full HD but also full flash memory (one built in, one removable card). Now I have a B-Roll camera. How about that? What's a B-Roll camera? Sorry, I have to leave something for you to learn, but it is nice. Oh, just remembered, FCPX also does audio syncing.

Bottom line: It'll take some time to learn all the ins and outs of taking video, capturing good audio, learning editing, etc., so starting with a less than stelar video camera (or DSLR if you want), may not be such a bad thing. At least I wouldn't rule it out. On the other hand, maybe you're a faster learner than I am .....

This "second post" isn't nearly as nice as my first one would have been.

Be sure to check out the "All things Audio" and "Supporting your camera" sections. FCP 7 and FCP X have their own sections so they would be worth a visit too. Hope this helps, and if not, ask more questions!

-= John =-
(still a Tourist! and that's my 2 cents)
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Old February 4th, 2013, 01:22 AM   #12
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Dennis View Post
John, I had to smile at your post above, and I bet I am far from the only person here who empathised with what you said. Even as a professional photographer, I found video a far more difficult genre to get to grips with. So many codecs and frame and bit rates.
Thank you, that's very kind. And, yes, on top of that one has to be a computer guru.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Dennis View Post
And then you have sound. Way more to it than I am sure most people starting out realise.
Audio is really tough. What winds up being recorded is different from what you heard. I'll never forget trying to record the sound of skis on snow for a radio ad. I tried to record with the mic taped to my ski boot, leg, and just holding it and I could never get the sound I wanted. When recording audio for video when sailing I get all the sounds I DON'T want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Dennis View Post
It is really kind of nice having a medium like DVInfo where real pros with years of experience are so willing to share, and the information is solid gold.
That's for sure. Nobody around here has the time to talk about this and, to some degree, you might say the comments are peer reviewed so that's a real plus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Dennis View Post
But video is much more rewarding to work with than stills IMHO, but sure as heck takes a bunch of time.
I couldn't agree more.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 07:38 AM   #13
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Re: Buying my first camera

Vicki - you have gotten some very good advice here. I want to second the recommendation on the Sony NEX-VG10 or VG20 camcorder - at your price point, it is a good compromise between a DSLR and a camcorder.

I have shot with the VG20, and it produces terrific images. Here are some examples of what the VG10/20 can do:


VG20 narrative short "Blonde Ambition"

VG20 narrative short "Date"

VG10 narrative short "It's a Living":

VG10 travel piece:

VG10 dance piece:


Something else you may want to consider - in the UK, DSLRs are limited to 30 minutes of continuous recording. If you plan to record plays or long performances, this could be a challenge. The VG10 and VG20 both shoot essentially unlimited length clips.

Here is a http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B003Y3PFWS/sr=1-8/qid=1359983265/ref=olp_tab_used?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&condition=used&me=&qid=1359983265?tag=hybrcamerevo-21.

Here is one for 795pp on eBay UK.

Sadly, the VG20 is a little above your budget range, the least expensive unit I could find was http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-NEX-VG20EH-Interchangeable-Lens-Camcorder/dp/B006OW5418/ref=sr_1_2?m=A2OAJ7377F756P&s=merchant&ie=UTF8&qid=1359983748?tag=hybrcamerevo-21.

The VG20 does have some advantages over the VG10 (principally a true 24fps frame rate and manual audio gain control), but the VG10 will produce very very nice results for you.

Hope this is helpful and best of luck with your decision and your new video blog!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Old February 4th, 2013, 05:04 PM   #14
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Hi Vickie - I had a really long reply and hit Submit and it vaporized. Seems it didn't like that I "logged in" since I started the reply.

This one will be much shorter and, unfortunately, less informative, but I'll try.

After reading everything from your last post I might suggest this route.

For starters, so you can use your current computer and not have to buy another one, I'd go with iMovie. iMovie has a lot of capability. I've got a MacBook White 1.83 MHz with 2 GB of memory running 10.6.8 (like yours) and it runs iMovie, at least the version I have. This route will allow you to sink your hard-earned money into the "kit".

"Kit": Camera, tripod, and mic. For panning you'll need a video tripod and that costs more. Maybe for non-panning one can use a cheap tripod.

Mic: The on-camera mic isn't really worth anything, maybe for doing goof-off family and friends stuff but not for what you want. Musicians have a saying: "Play to the audience." In the video world I would say that for YouTube that playing to the audience who is watching this on their laptop only merits a really cheap mic. However,.... since the camera will no doubt have a 3.5 mm mini jack that will limit the mic availability.

Audio: read the posts in the Audio section here and you'll come away with the concept that a mic that is close to the sound source is good (closer the better) and a wired mic is good. The trouble is that even beginning better mics are going to be the XLR connector type and the camera won't have those connectors so a pre amp will be needed. Mine is a JuicedLink CX211, more or less a starter model, and it has been discontinued. Mics don't get outdated near as much as other electronics so investing in a good mic is practical and it will hold it's value reasonably well. Be sure to make sure you dont buy a Chinese knock-off phony, though.

I'm having a hard time re-writing this and it's all different than my first approach.

Price out an Audio Kit with a mic, cable, pre amp, and a little wind protection and you're going to be not to far from what you would like to spend on the camera. I'm sorry. The good news is, it will last. The other bad news is, if you try different things you'll probably need more mic. This is like an artist with paint brushes and a color pallet.

Video editing applications are tough on laptops - they make 'em work hard so be sure and back-up any files you don't want to loose. I had a hard drive crash and I've never recovered.

Next step: Personally, because FCP X is so cheap, I'd look at that for the next step after iMovie. It has really improved since it came out. I know there are a lot of opinions here that will be different but for the money and what it takes to run it, it's a good bang for the buck. The computer requirements for X are more and I'd go with a Mac that is 2011 or later. The 2008 model MacBook Pro that I have will run X but apparently the motherboards aren't as robust as on other Macs. The '09 and '10 models are similar to my '08. I'll use my '08 if I need to do something and I'm away from home but otherwise I want to use my Mac Pro because it is a lot more robust.

iDVD: if you can get a copy of this it would be good for DVD authoring with a menu. It's a discontinued product and not for sale anymore.

If FCP7 is part of a suite and Compressor is with it, be sure to hang onto that. The "new" Compressor 4 is only $50 and is basically the same as the old one so if you sold your 7 copy you could always buy 4 if needed. A lot of professionals prefer FCP 7 so I might get roasted here for saying that.

Corel: I don't know anything about it. I have Toast 11 and the Corel "support" beyond FAQs is non-existent. And the FAQs aren't much help, either.

More on cameras: I can understand wanting to get a good camera now so you don't have to buy another one later but here is a thought. First some background.

My first video camera was a $1,500 pro-sumer model, Full HD, lots of bells and whistles. As you read above, it was free, BUT there was no battery charger as it got misplaced. So, I went on-line to get one and being me what I am, started also looking for a used one. What I found was a cheap entry-level camera that used the same charger as my camera used. Retail this camera was $300 but he wanted $60 (they depreciate fast) and also came with it's battery. So I bought the package and I get a charger AND a backup battery. Such a deal!

So much for the background. There is one more plus to this picture. Now I have two cameras. This cheapie that I got is also Full HD but also full flash memory (one built in, one removable card). Now I have a B-Roll camera. How about that? What's a B-Roll camera? Sorry, I have to leave something for you to learn, but it is nice. Oh, just remembered, FCPX also does audio syncing.

Bottom line: It'll take some time to learn all the ins and outs of taking video, capturing good audio, learning editing, etc., so starting with a less than stelar video camera (or DSLR if you want), may not be such a bad thing. At least I wouldn't rule it out. On the other hand, maybe you're a faster learner than I am .....

This "second post" isn't nearly as nice as my first one would have been.

Be sure to check out the "All things Audio" and "Supporting your camera" sections. FCP 7 and FCP X have their own sections so they would be worth a visit too. Hope this helps, and if not, ask more questions!

-= John =-
(still a Tourist! and that's my 2 cents)
John

The 'vapourised' incident must have been really annoying - thanks for writing it again!

I really appreciate your input. I've taken a lot of notes and, along with everyone else's posts, will further research the products that have been suggested.

I certainly have to invest some time into researching audio. Likewise, lights. People keep stressing to me that achieving a 'filmic' look is nothing without getting these right.

I'll think about getting iMovie and starting from there. As I said, I have Final Cut Pro 6, but my Mac can't run it properly.

I doubt I'm a faster learner than you, but I'm dedicated to achieving my goal and am willing to invest a lot of time, so am leaning towards a DSLR.

Thanks for the advice with the back up - an additional hard drive?

Thanks again, really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Vicki
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Old February 4th, 2013, 05:12 PM   #15
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Re: Buying my first camera

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Bruner View Post
Vicki - you have gotten some very good advice here. I want to second the recommendation on the Sony NEX-VG10 or VG20 camcorder - at your price point, it is a good compromise between a DSLR and a camcorder.

I have shot with the VG20, and it produces terrific images. Here are some examples of what the VG10/20 can do:


VG20 narrative short "Blonde Ambition"
Blonde Ambition on Vimeo

VG20 narrative short "Date"
Date on Vimeo

VG10 narrative short "It's a Living":
It's A Living on Vimeo

VG10 travel piece:
My Vietnam Experience (NEX-VG10) on Vimeo

VG10 dance piece:
FairyWings in the Woods, Sony NEX-VG10 and Glidecam HD4000, Switzerland 2011 on Vimeo


Something else you may want to consider - in the UK, DSLRs are limited to 30 minutes of continuous recording. If you plan to record plays or long performances, this could be a challenge. The VG10 and VG20 both shoot essentially unlimited length clips.

Here is a used VG10 with the 18-200 autofocusing kit lens for 815.05 on Amazon UK.

Here is one for 795pp on eBay UK.

Sadly, the VG20 is a little above your budget range, the least expensive unit I could find was 1034 (body only, no lens) at Amazon UK Warehouse Deals.

The VG20 does have some advantages over the VG10 (principally a true 24fps frame rate and manual audio gain control), but the VG10 will produce very very nice results for you.

Hope this is helpful and best of luck with your decision and your new video blog!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution
Thanks Bill.
Have looked these over and they do look good, especially the VG20. I am leaning towards a DSLR, as so many people keep recommending it for professional filmmaking and saying the benefits they bring compared to camcorders out way the price and difficulties. But the VG's do look good! It's so hard to know! I will keep researching and thinking about it and will check the camera's out that you left links for.
Thanks very much for your help.
Vicki
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