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Old April 14th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Hay River, NWT, Canada
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Camcorder: How small is too small?

Hi all,

I'm a newspaper still photojournalist and I'm looking to pursue an interest in video for the web.

I was initially interested in the new Panasonic TM300. It's got great features for a little cam and the samples I've seen from it have been very impressive thus far. My concern with it it that it's really, really small. I want to be able to stick a shotgun mic on any cam I use, and am afraid using mic on such a small camera would make it unwieldy.

Does anyone have an opinion on this? I'd love to own a XH-A1, but I'm already lugging around two full-size DSLRs and half a dozen lenses everywhere, so I need something a bit smaller. Plus I don't want to spend $4k CAD.

I really like the form factor of the Sony A1U, even though it's a bit older. Would there be a huge difference in image quality between that and something brand new?

Thanks in advance,
Scott Clouthier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 14th, 2009, 07:00 PM   #2
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Although I've not used that camera, Panasonic make some good kit. The main problem is the smaller the camera, the harder it is to hold steady. You don't say what you want to shoot. That will enter into making the correct choice. I personally have an XH A1, HV30 and HV10 plus a number of SD cams. I always shoot with the A1 as my primary cam except when I want to use my Glidecam, then it's the HV30 because of the weight. Follow where I'm going here?

I mostly use the A1 because it's easier to control the functions.

The Panasonic TM300 doesn't appear to have a shoe. That'll make mounting an external mic more difficult. It can be done with a bracket that screws into the tripod screw hole in the bottom. But that's another item you'll need to buy and carry.

You might want to investigate the Canon 5D Mk II, then you'll still only have to carry two cameras.
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Old April 14th, 2009, 10:15 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Hay River, NWT, Canada
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First off, thanks for the reply!

I plan on using it to shoot everything from documentary to spot news, to sports etc. Having a smaller, unobtrusive camera wouldn't be such a bad thing.

As for the shoe, looks like you're right about the TM300, but it's HDD cousin the HS300 does have one under a little cover on top... so I would likely go for that one instead.

The 5D mk II would be a great choice... except that I'm a Nikon shooter and have all Nikon glass, so it wouldn't be that practical. I know the D90 does video, but I haven't been very impressed with what I've seen and heard about it.
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Old April 14th, 2009, 11:47 PM   #4
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Scott, I have a Sony HC1 which is the consumer version of the A1U (without the XLR module). I use it with a small shotgun on top.

It's a bit larger and a lot HEAVIER than the latest crop of cameras like the TM300 ... and every time I pick up one of those newer cameras I think 'yuck' regarding their ergonomics and feel glad to have the Hc1! (I have a Pentax K10D for still photography, and the handling/weight of the two is very comparable and very comfortable to me.)

Quality-wise the newer cameras probably do have a slight edge - on a 50" monitor in your livingroom. For the web an A1U should meet your expectations in almost all regards ... I guess low light sensitivity may be an issue and I'm not sure how the A1U and TM300 compare on that front.

Some will argue tape-based cameras are on the way out - the Panasonic HMC150 might be worth considering if you are interested in a AVCHD camera with more heft to it.

Another possibility , go with the TM300 plus a shoulder brace or OmniPod | Flexible Camera and Camcorder Support | BLK 93 | B&H
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Old April 15th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #5
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Scott, if you've got a computer able to edit AVCHD, check out the new Canon Vixias.

The HF200 looks particularly nice. Tiny but has some great features, like a 3 second pre-record. We use a couple of the HF100's and they're very nice, if you compare with other consumer cameras. (Compared to an XHA1 and up, they suck, but compared to other sub-$1,000 cameras, they're good.)

The HF S100 has a little better control but is much bigger.

Canon makes a little shotgun for the camera or we've had very good luck with a Sennheiser MKE400 on a special hot shoe adapter to fit the non-standard hot shoe on the Vixia.

Just make sure your computer and edit program are compatible with AVCHD. You really need a fast multi-core Intel computer and either the latest Final Cut (on a Mac) or Vegas (on a PC) to deal with the files and still make deadline.

Whatever you get, make sure it has both mic and headphone jacks and USE YOUR HEADPHONES. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

If you don't already know about them, I run a number of sites devoted to newspaper video. Google "newspapervideo" and you'll find some sites and a yahoo email list that cover the subject exhaustively.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #6
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Chuck & Graham,

Thanks for the info!

My concern about the Canons is the lack of a full focus ring and regular size shoe. I do know people who use and love the HV20 and HV30, though.

Editing AVCHD is no problem for me, as I've got a brand new iMac and FCE 4.

I think I'm leaning towards the Panasonic HS300, but thanks to the info here I'll keep my eyes open for other alternatives that fit the bill.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 01:23 PM   #7
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Jvc gy-hm100

I know it's not out yet and we don't fully know the quality of the image, but the JVC GY-HM100 looks to fit the bill: Small form factor, has xlr mic input, easy to edit footage...

might be worth waiting for, at least I personally hope it turns out to have some nice looking footage, it ticks the rest of the boxes for me otherwise.
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