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Old December 1st, 2011, 08:11 AM   #1
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New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Shawn here, but a lot of people know me on the web by the name yuppicide. I'm 38 and from New Jersey.

I'm new here and fairly new to video recording. I currently record with my Girlfriends Sony digital camera. It's an older model. I'm not happy with the video quality, but sound is always good no matter where I stand.

You can see a sample of a full concert I recorded here:

Rival Schools - October 14, 2011 - Philadelphia, PA (FULL SET) - YouTube

I don't record for money. I want to start a blog/website with my recordings on it. Of course I'll get all the bands permission. I figure I'll record bands I'm into and if someone else wants me to come record them I could probably get into a free concert and a few bucks gas out of them.

If I'm going to do that, then I wanted to get something better and opted for a JVC Everio GZ-HM320 HD, but am really unhappy with it's picture quality so far. I haven't recorded any concert yet, only a test at home. It's very poor in low light (very grainy) even though it says Super LoLux on it's features. I'd say the picture quality is worse than the old camera, just in HD.

I'm supposed to record my friends band this Saturday night. It's at the same club I recorded another band, so I'm going to have my Girlfriend stand in the back with the old SD camera and record, and I'll get up closer with the new HD. Worst comes to worst my quality will be like this:

Homicidal - Unbreakable - April 16, 2011 - Kearny, NJ - YouTube

That's the same club with the old SD camera.

So, originally I came here with questions on the JVC because I've never owned a camcorder that nice before.. never used AVCHD format before, etc, but now I think I've come here looking for recommendations in the $800 - $1000 range. My ONLY purpose is for shooting bands. I might be willing to go a little bit higher in price if it's going to make that much of a difference. I know Canon is well known for their cameras and I love them, but my friend says Sony is known for their camcorders.

I know this is an intro forum, so maybe I should actually post this in another forum.

What do you suggest I do?
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Old December 1st, 2011, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Welcome Shawn. You should know that HD cameras are generally poorer at low light than SD. It has to do with cramming more sensor elements in the same size digitizer chip. Basically speaking, the bigger the chip, the better chance of improvement.

This thread may be of interest:
The gigantic "which camera should I buy" thread!
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Old December 1st, 2011, 07:18 PM   #3
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Most consumer cams don't have great low light, but research the Canon HF Series - M41, M40 & M400 I think you'll find they have better low light than most of the competing consumer camcorders, might be "good enough" for your purposes. Sony has similar offerings, but I'm not familiar with them.

Video DSLRs can have decent low light performance, but there can be some big tradeoffs from traditional camcorders.
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Old December 1st, 2011, 09:17 PM   #4
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

If you can find a leftover Panasonic TM700, you're getting pretty much the best in this class. Even the current model TM900 with it's improvements may be in your price range.
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Old December 1st, 2011, 11:30 PM   #5
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Thanks for the info so far.

Wonder if I am Googling right.. a Panasonic HDC-TM700 sells for over $1000 yet I can get the HDC-TM900 for $665?

What's crazy is they showed the Panasonic HDC-TM900 Vs. Canon HF G10. They're both pretty close in low light with Canon a little better, but that Panasonic price is $665 or so and the Canon over $1000. That alone might make the Panasonic a better choice.

I'll probably sell this camcorder to make some of my money back if I am really that unhappy after this Saturday's recording.

How much do Megapixels factor into image quality?
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 03:27 AM   #6
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

I've got a Panasonic 900 in my line-up and I can tell you it's very good indeed - and in some ways better than my 6x more expensive Sony NX5. Always google for prices, don't take those on test pages as gospel, they're not.

The camera claims 14.3mp stills but I'm pretty sure this is an interpolation from the native 9mp. Even so, the stills are impressive. The mp chips also allow the camera to have a 20x zoom in the movie mode, yet still shoot at top quality 1920/50p. The image stabilisation is outstanding and the touch/ pull / wipe screen beautiful.

It's not so hot in low light, but what camera with smaller than " chips is? Answer: none.

tom.
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 08:10 AM   #7
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

"Not so hot in low light" you say on the 900, yet websites give it good remarks, and the Canon a little better.

So, what's the next size up from 1/4" and what models should I be looking at there to get a price range?
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 03:26 PM   #8
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Setnicky View Post
So, what's the next size up from 1/4" and what models should I be looking at there to get a price range?
- 1/4
- 1/3
- 1/2
- 2/3
- S16
- m4/3
- 4/3
- S35
- APS-C
- APS-H
- Full Frame

There's also lot's of other formats in-between S35 an full frame...

Maybe look at a Canon T2i or 550 if you're in Europe. But that's a DSLR not a camcorder. But it should give you "good" low light performance. Maybe you could get a used Sony NEX-VG10 for a decent price or a used Sony FX1 maybe?? But if you are shopping for a new camcorder I think that a DSLR such as a T2i or a GH2 or maybe a D60 will give you the best low light performance. I'm really not that into DSLRs and don't know much about them, but they do have clean images at high ISO (gain). If you won't be using the cameras handheld and if you don't need a motorized electronic zoom lens than I don't see a problem for going with a DSLR. Overheating could only be a problem with some DSLRs...
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Old December 2nd, 2011, 04:09 PM   #9
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

@Shawn,
Be careful of relative evaluation. The TM900 is maybe "not so hot" compared to a $6000 1/2" EX1R. But compared to other cameras in the sub $1000 class, the TM900 is excellent. Just get it and move on. DSLRs are hard to work with. I just don't think you're up to it yet.
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Old December 3rd, 2011, 04:57 AM   #10
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
@Shawn,
DSLRs are hard to work with. I just don't think you're up to it yet.
Why wouldn't he be up to it? The learning curve isn't that steep! A couple of days of training and fiddling and he should be ready to shoot some static shots of concerts - after all that is all that he's doing.... It's not THAT complicated Shawn, don't get scared of. DSLRs are probably your best shot of getting decent low light performance for a low amount of $$ !

But if you wan to go hand-held or shoot ENG style (zooming, panning, etc.), well, that's another story...
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Old December 12th, 2011, 02:32 PM   #11
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Well, honestly I don't think it would be that hard, because I've shot cameras before. I had a Rebel XT (I think that was it), but didn't keep it. At the time I sold it and with a Canon S5 IS because it had super macro and 12X zoom right out of the box. The sound recording on that was HORRIBLE though.

I have a friend who does photography professionally.. has some $20,000 or equipment or so. He graduated from New York Institute of Photography and I want to take the course also. I have an idea for a book of my photography but am having trouble locating someone I can print with because my book would ideally involve regular pages AND perforated pages (ie: tear outs).

So, that new Rebel might make sense if I still take that course. The T3i is $899 or less.. much better deal than the 7D with similar specs.

Attached to this are two pics I took with the Canon S5 IS I believe. Actually might have been the S3 IS now that i think about it. But anyway, one is super macro and one is on a tripod at a train station. Third picture is a leaf, just because I love that picture.
Attached Thumbnails
New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..-dragonfly.jpg   New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..-train.jpg  

New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..-leaf.jpg  
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Old December 12th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #12
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

So, while I can't say I have a lot of experience with DSLR, I have at least some.

I do shoot clothing at work, but it's a piece of crap Canon for $99. Our old Canon finally died.. he a purple tint on the LCD screen (defective recall I find out), but then eventually photos had a problem too.

I shoot photos of samples as they come in.. this way if someone takes the same or we lose it, we still have a picture. Then later on my friend does the real photography.

The new camera sucks if you ask me.. mainly because it doesn't have an LCD screen that rotates, so makes it hard to shoot sometimes.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 05:46 PM   #13
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
It's not so hot in low light, but what camera with smaller than " chips is? Answer: none.
The last generation of small handicams perform surprisingly well in dark area's, I have a sony xr520 and it outperforms my xh-a1 in low light, it's also pretty close to a Sony fx1000 and that one is a quite good in low light.
From experience I can say that the small sony exmor r series will probably be good enough for your purposes, even the sound is superb, there are only not that much settings to controll the sound, at least not on the model I have as it just has a "high" and "low" setting. You can also controll the most basic settings, you can white balance, lock your exposure, focus and it also has a good touch focus where you just point at the lcd and it focuses there. For dark concerts you only need to zoom in, focus and lock the focus and you are set to go if you stay on the same location.
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Old December 27th, 2011, 01:00 PM   #14
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Re: New here and some camcorder buying suggestions..

Shawn - a couple of brief suggestions. I agree with Les in his first post here - unless you really need HD, stay with DV instead. A HD recording can only be delivered to others on a Blu-ray disc, and in low light it will probably not be significantly better than a DV recording delivered on a DVD. Down-converting from HD to SD is a time - (and computer) consuming job to do well. The second "pearl" is that in general, with regard to low light, the larger the diameter of the lens, the better it will work in low light. Finally, I will tell you that I wasted about five years of video recording using smaller cameras with auto-everything. If you really want to learn how to record quality video, spend a bit more and get a camera with adjustable focus and iris, and later selectable gamma, knee, etc. In your price range, I would suggest you consider the Panasonic AG-DVX100B. It is SD only and records to DV tape, but it produces a very good picture. You might even find a good used one for under $ 1000. You can look at it on the B&H Photo Video Digital Cameras, Photography, Camcorders website (a quality dealer if you choose to buy something). I know, tape is old-fashioned and harder to edit than a memory card, but there are few cameras that can compete with this Panasonic for quality and adjustable options. Plus, you will learn a ton about what video recording is all about. Best wishes !
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