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Old May 21st, 2010, 02:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Graham, NC
Posts: 2
Economical Camcorder?

I have never posted here before but have been browsing this section of the forum for a while and soaking up as much as I can. I have a keen interest in wildlife videography, and am currently shooting with a Sony HX1. I am enjoying the HX1, but I am wondering if there is another camera/camcorder with a similar pricetag ($300 to $400) that would be better suited for wildlife videography. I really wish I could invest in a more professional camcorder like I had planned to, but due to recent (unanticipated) financial difficulties, $300 or $400 is the best I can do. I am actually currently self-employed as a still photographer, so know a little bit about apertures/shutter speeds, etc but I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to camcorders so thought it would be best to ask someone with experience rather than trying to figure it all out for myself.

Thanks in advance!
Amy Flood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 21st, 2010, 06:38 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,874
Actually the HX1 isn't half bad, especially for the price, my only "complaint" is the 30p seems to show a little stutter to my eye. You'll have to double the $$ to get anything significantly better, at least from Sony. When the budget gets better, you could look at cameras in the $1K range and find some nice options.

Under that, it's tough to get even marginal improvements in performance, although maybe you could look around for a used Canon camcorder and catch a deal.

I've got the little HX5 and the TX7, the HX1 holds up pretty well to those two cameras that fit your price range... and they are more oriented to "point and shoot".

Depending on what DSLR camera you shoot, you could see if there is a compatible body that shoots video - Canon has an economical option in the T2i, although still 2x your budget... but if it could do double duty, might be worth considering.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 10:29 PM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Graham, NC
Posts: 2
Thanks for taking the time to reply Dave! I do love the HX1 and don't have any complaints regarding it, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing out on anything better (i.e. w/more manual control) within its price range. I actually shoot with Nikon DSLRs and have invested in Nikon glass, otherwise I really would consider switching to Canon just for the t2i and 5D Mark II. I am pinching pennies and hopefully in a year or two I will have enough for a nicer camcorder. :)
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Old May 31st, 2010, 06:29 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Eugene, Oregon
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The Sony HX1 provides the most bang for the buck of any HD video shooter. It will perform amazingly well in dim light and when the smart autofocus fastens its teeth onto a subject, it doesn't often waiver or let go. If you find any stutter in playback, download the free Splash Lite 1.4.2 player, which is the best at any price.

I convert my 1440 X 1080p videos from the HX1 on the free Prism Converter into Xvid, using the higher-level quantizer target rate of 3.0 (default is 4.0) and get a 16 Mbps result. I edit this into 1920 X 1080p with MP4 on AVS Video Editor 4 ($60. U.S. for their entire package of A/V programs), using a 16 Mbps rate. The results can be used where 1920 X 1080 is required for fullscreen display, such as Vimeo and the quality looks good to me.

The Sony PMB program provides a very good still-capture feature and acceptable HD vid-caps can be extracted from its video, in low light where photos can't be taken. One fault, compared to a camcorder, is the non-variable zoom speed, although it becomes slower for video than with still photos. It needs a small fake-fur windscreen, to block the very bad wind noise on its poorly-placed mike openings. I made one from the fur of a small stuffed poodle and attached it with shoe goo. It eliminates about 90% of the wind problem.

If you wanted to pay $1,200. or more for a last-year's Sony XR500/XR520 AVCHD camcorder, you might get comparable performance in dim light and probably a little better in good daylight. The new XR550 has reduced lens power.

I'd enjoy your HX1 while it lasts. You can still buy a new one for $400. at a few places, but they won't be available much longer. It seems uncertain if a new HX1 upgrade will be offered, but nothing has been heard about one.

Here's a couple of pictures, showing the windscreen and the steadying rod I sometimes use. It's attached with a 1/4-inch bolt embedded in the wood core of the metal tube and fastened with a wingnut and a large fender washer to spread out the load on the bottom of the camera.
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Economical Camcorder?-dsc03172.jpg   Economical Camcorder?-dsc03461.jpg  

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; May 31st, 2010 at 07:12 PM.
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