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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


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Old September 9th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #1
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Best camera for wildlife/nature videography?

I am looking for something that can be found cheep (under $400 US dollars).
Now I don't know much but I really want to learn. So, I need you guys to help me understand this. The first thing that I'll say is, I have no Idea what is good for this area... Or any area for that matter! So if you would not mind to tell me some stuff about this area and what the pros like to use, or what ever.
A couple of things that I would really like to hear from the fellow members of (H)DV info net. is; What kind of filters to use? How much zoom? And, what's the difference between macro and zoom?
Those are just some of the things that I would like to find out. But manly I would like to hear about everything, and (if possible) what camera is going to be good for me with only $400 to spend.

Thanks in advance!
~Gabriel~
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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:16 PM   #2
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Gabriel,

I think you are going to be hard pressed to find a camcorder that will give you the results you want for $400. But others may have a recommendation in this price range. I would suggest looking for a used Canon GL1, GL2 or Panasonic DVC30. I recommend these camcorders because I have used all three and they produce excellent images. They have the telephoto lens reach you need to get close to wildlife subjects (20x for the Canons and 16x for the Panasonic). I think you might be able to find these from $800 - $1,400 based on condition and use. And don't forget you will also need an editing program for your computer if you don't already have one. You might start with Premiere Elements, which I think is around $100. This give you basic cuts and disolves between scenes and some other rudimentary functions.

If I can be of any help let me know....

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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #3
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Thank you, Mark!
I have been told this before in one of my other threads. The only problem with that is, I don't have a job, nor can I get one. I am only fourteen and a half. Unless there is someone I can find that would let me work for them that I know or find. So as of now, I am kinda stuck with only getting 20 bucks a month. That is why I only have a 400 dollar max price range (which a most of it came from selling stuff). Thanks for the advice tho! I'll keep looking...

PS: I have Imovie HD, which I will have to live with until I can afford something nice.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #4
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Gabriel,

Alright, since $400 is what you have to work with then look for a camcorder that has a 10x or greater "optical "zoom lens. I wouldn't consider a digital zoom because the quality isn't that good. You might want to go over to camcorder.com and look at some of the reviews of one chip camcorders and find one that gets a good rating and meets your budget. You can always buy used. Also, get a tripod. It dosen't have to be fancy. Maybe a cheap still camera tripod for $25.00 or less will do. Just remember to use the tripod when you can to avoid shakey shots.

Everyone has to start somewhere so don't worry about having to get a less expensive camcorder. I've been doing this for 10 years and I still don't have the camcorder I really want.

Good Luck and let us know how it goes.

Regards,
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Old September 9th, 2006, 08:11 PM   #5
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I have a 30 dollar tripod, but its starting to break, and the pan head on it is Horrible! Anyways. What would you say the most important things are for shooting wildlife/nature? Like what settings are needed?

I watched your demo real and you have some great stuff on there! Good job!
Thanks!
PS: What brand do you like most for recording on?
~Gabriel~
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Old September 9th, 2006, 09:09 PM   #6
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Gabriel,
We all have to start somewhere. You can buy something in the Canon ZR
series in your price range. They are good camcorders, sturdy and reliable.
They produce very good images when you shoot scenics, and respectable wildlife shots. They just don't have the telephoto power of their bigger cousins. For a few dollars you can buy a 2x extender that screws onto the lens (Raynox, and others). Don't expect pristine shots, but it will get you started. You will learn about settings as you work. No one can tell you in advance. Too many variables.
You can get a really basic editing program for under $50.00 at a big box retailer. The Adobe Premiere Elements, will let you do pretty much anything you want for around $100.00 (If you can buy it with Photoshop Elements bundled in, do it. You won't be sorry).
You need to save up for a good tripod with a video head. If you hang around used photo equipment shows, you can pick up a tripod cheap. It's the head that costs. Try to stick with Bogen-Manfrotto.
By the way, to answer one of your other questions. Zoom usually refers to telephoto (shooting things far away); macro refers to shooting things very small and close (like the insides of flowers) with special lenses. Macro isn't really feasible with the kind of video you will be doing...too much movement. You should spend a few dollars more and subscribe to a magazine like Videomaker, if you haven't already. You'll learn a lot.
Good luck.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #7
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Hi Gabriel

I have a suggestion which is probably not mainstream, but here goes

Sony made a digital 8 unit the TRV340. It has a 25x optical zoom which is a great help with wildlife, the camcorder does a decent job. It is digital, and on ebay they tend to go for about 230 dollars

Might be worth a look
Sharyn
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Old September 9th, 2006, 11:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharyn Ferrick
Hi Gabriel

I have a suggestion which is probably not mainstream, but here goes

Sony made a digital 8 unit the TRV340. It has a 25x optical zoom which is a great help with wildlife, the camcorder does a decent job. It is digital, and on ebay they tend to go for about 230 dollars

Might be worth a look
Sharyn
I agree this should be considered. As far as video capture, it is the same DV file you get with MiniDV. I started with a TRV 720 years back, and still have that camera. It is not a three chipper, but it produced some pretty decent stuff. Tapes are cheap enough, and if you buy the right one, you also have a converter for anything you input through it to DV.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 01:56 PM   #9
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Thanks guys.
Is anyone familiar with the Optura line, or the Elura? I went to bestbuy the other day to try out some of the cameras there, and this is what I found out:
-The ZR500 has good picture and the manual control is nice, and its small (for better or worse). I did not find it very comfortable... but then again, if I'm putting it on a tripod whats it matter.
- The Elura 100 has great image, the manual control is pretty good, and it fits nice in my hand.
-The panasonic PV-GS180, has lots of nice control, the image is pretty good. But "I" think that the Elura has better image, even tho its only a one chipper. And its not to bad in the hand.

So right now I'm liking the Elura 100. But now I found the Optura line. One of the Optura's that I was looking at is the Optura 50. It has a focus ring, and the CCD is a 1/3.4"! I found this very nice. But I have not seen it in person. Whats you're suggestion as to what I should look for?
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Old September 10th, 2006, 02:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I agree this should be considered. As far as video capture, it is the same DV file you get with MiniDV. I started with a TRV 720 years back, and still have that camera. It is not a three chipper, but it produced some pretty decent stuff. Tapes are cheap enough, and if you buy the right one, you also have a converter for anything you input through it to DV.
How do these cameras work? Are they just a HI8 tape but you can import to DV?
And also, in one of the pictures I looked at, it looked like it had a focus ring? is this true?

Thanks for the help!
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Old September 10th, 2006, 04:42 PM   #11
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730 has a focus ring, and yes, you use Hi8 tape, and it actually records in the same format as DV. 730 does not have separately adjustable shutter speed or fstop. Rather you adjust "exposure" which gives you less control. I agreed with the Digital 8 assessment if you are limited in your budjet, and you might get a lot for your money with a used one like this. There is no difference between MiniDV bitrates and and Digital 8, and the captured files are interchangeable.

However, it is definitely not the VX2000 that I stepped up to, but for me it was a good starter.
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Old September 10th, 2006, 04:56 PM   #12
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Ahh... I see. Hmmm... I personally do not like HI8. I just sold my hi8 about two weeks ago because it did not offer anything to me. It was great if I want to just point and shoot, but thats not what I want. I would like to be able to make some indie films, and some documentaries and some wildlife and nature. I'm not sure what it is that I'm going to end up liking the most so that is why I want to try them all. And that is why I want something that has a bit of control, so that I can get all of that. I know that a lot of people like the GL1/GL2 But that is a ways out of my rang of price for now.
For picture, who would you say gives you the best quality?

Thanks again for being so helpful!
~Gabriel~
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Old September 11th, 2006, 12:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel Yeager
One of the Optura's that I was looking at is the Optura 50. It has a focus ring, and the CCD is a 1/3.4"! I found this very nice. But I have not seen it in person.
For all intents and purposes, the Optura 50 has been discontinued. Even though it is still listed on the Canon USA website, it cannot be reliably be found for sale anywhere. It was a great deal at around US$400 ... while it lasted.

As for what's coming from Canon to replace it. We'll just have to wait and see.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 12:30 AM   #14
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Gabriel, I know how you feel about getting the best buck for you money. I'm afraid that you will not going to be satisfied with any camcorder within your budget!
My advise to you will be to join a video-club (society) in your area. I don't know how it is in the US, but in Norway we got clubs where you can rent or borrow decent camcorders for a weekend. You also get in touch with other fellows with the same interests.
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Last edited by Per Johan Naesje; September 11th, 2006 at 02:56 AM.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 12:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wisniewski
For all intents and purposes, the Optura 50 has been discontinued. Even though it is still listed on the Canon USA website, it cannot be reliably be found for sale anywhere. It was a great deal at around US$400 ... while it lasted.

As for what's coming from Canon to replace it. We'll just have to wait and see.
Yes, I see that now. This is to bad. If I can find this camera used, would it be worth getting? And would it be good for the stuff I want to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan
Gabriel, I know how you feel about getting the best buck for you money. I'm afraid that you will not going to be satisfied with any camcorder within your budget!
I now notice this... I notice that I'm not going to be able to get everything that I would like, but I would like it if I could get something that is "ok", and it is digital. I had a Hi8 cam. and the reason why I sold it was because I could not do any editing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Johan
My advise to you will be to join a video-club (society) in your area. I don't know how it is in the US, but in Norway we got clubs where you can rent or borrow decent camcorders for a weekend. You also get in touch with other fellows with the same interests.
That sounds like a good idea, I'll look into it. Do you think they would let a High School student join. And even if they did, do you think they would really let me use their equipment?

Thanks again for all the help guys! I really appreciate it!
~Gabriel~
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