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Old August 5th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Windsor, ON Canada
Posts: 2,763
OT: looking for cheap Sony camcorders

The AV department at the college I work for wants to buy several new camcorders to replace the old miniDV models.
Because of the way our place works, they have to stick with Sony as a brand.
They also insist that they don't want tape-based models any more.
These camcorders are for general student usage as the Journalism program has four PD-170s for their use.

(here's the Vegas tie-in Chris!!)
Because I end up having to edit a lot of the material that the the students shoot, I'm looking for recommendations for something that will plug into Vegas directly, either with a USB cable or a card reader and transfer the footage as it was shot, scene by scene.

The Sony SR47 (they already have one and I don't like it) they're considering is $500 Canadian and that's the price point they've established.

Does something like this exist that will not cause me to pull to my hair out when it comes time to edit?
Any and all answers greatly appreciated.
Mike Kujbida is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 6th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,816
Hi Mike -

Hmmm. I've been using the SR/CX/XR Sonys, with their PMB software - everything logs in sequence and by date and time (even sets up folders by date, and has other options I think, I just used default settings), files drag and drops to Vegas = painless for me.

IMO your "A/V" department needs to radically rethink... or wait a while before making this purchase. $500 will buy you a consumer grade Sony, period, and a pretty basic one at that, and I suspect it might even be SD unless you're talking Webbies... Even at the 1K price point you can only get an XR500V, great HD camera, but limited manual control...

I'm presuming that they have considered that buying HD cameras should be a required element, and have either rejected that or decided to cheap out and buy the lowest price thing they can find (I think MAYBE a CX100 might squeak in around 500CDN? But did they budget for MS Pro Duos of sufficient size?).

I agree that tapeless is good, but did they budget for computer upgrades for editing (you can always downconvert in PMB though)? Tapeless is the future, but is somewhat dependent upon raw processing horsepower.

They are "replacing" PD170's - a "prosumer" camera that still brings around $1K used! Apparently for this they have budgeted about 25% of the price of the least expensive "prosumer" camera Sony offers (tape based FX7)... I know there have been economic cutbacks, but this just simply makes no sense. It looks like the equivalent of holding an "equipment provided" photography class, and handing out a bunch of disposable cameras (OK, maybe that's a bit extreme, but I'm sure it makes the point - you CAN take usable photos with a disposable cam, but you won't learn much using one, nor can you expect QUALITY results).

I'll presume the purpose of the equipment the A/V department owns is to familiarize the students with the basics of camera operation (shutter/iris/gain/WB at the least!), not just pointing and shooting? Not going to happen with $500 cameras IMO.

I'm not knocking small cameras, that's what I shoot myself (XR500), but I think in an educational environment, you really need at least a couple "real" pro/prosumer cameras for proper training. Sony isn't "yet" doing tapeless in this price range/class, unless something breaks soon, and it won't be in the price class, though I'd expect a competitor to the HMC150/HMC40 and JVC HM700/HM100 - you're talking a $2000-3500 budget, even converted to the loonie.

I know educational politics/economics can be a bugger, but shortchanging the students by handing them a P&S consumer camera to "learn" on is not a good outlay of funds IMO. Far better to wait or rethink and spend the $$ right the first time.

I don't think you'll hit "technical" snags with AVCHD/Vegas, but the whole proposed execution looks to be deeply underthunk and flawed...

I re-read your post... sounds like these are supplemental to the PD's... I'm going to go completely off the field here and suggest you take a look at the Sony HX1 superzoom - it would come in "on budget", has manual control for stills (takes pretty good ones at 9MPixel), and shoots up to 17 minute 1080/30P clips that look pretty decent, with a little manual control of exposure (basically an "EV" adjustment, equivalent of the "exposure shift on Sony Handycams). It's still a "consumer" camera, but might work for "photojournalist" use - and actually would be good for a forward looking program, as the video/still distinction is rapidly blending/morphing/fusing. Just a crazy idea that might make the budget work... and still get some decent cameras that would help students learn the basics!
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