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  1. #1

    Lightbulb What kind of video camera do you use ?

    Hello, I'm in the market for a video camcorder and I'm interested in what other people are using and how they like it.
    I don't know much about this field so I'm trying to do some research. From what I've seen you can spend anywhere from $200 to $2,000 +

    I just need this for casual use so I don't want anything too high tech. I have no aspirations of becoming a paparazzo.

    Thanks for any input you have, I might have some questions because I am quite a novice here.
    Last edited by 2-1B; 01-13-2004 at 12:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Caesar, I bought a panasonic palmcorder because I had found that I was going to be able to see my son for the first time in about 6 years. I had no idea what to look for and basically I had to get something relatively cheap since I also had to buy plane tickets, car rental, hotel room for a week, and tickets to Disney attractions. It works okay, but I think there are much better out there. One thing I'm not to thrilled about is the fact this uses a VHSC which if you want to watch the cassette in your VCR you have to purchase a piece that this cassette fits into. The cassettes hold only about a half hour worth of tape. I'm rather novice myself when it comes to any electrical, digital or video equiptment.
    2012 RFL Thank You to, TeeEye7 & Slicker!!!!
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  3. #3
    Just how casually are ya gonna be using this thing, Caesar??

    Sorry, he started it.....

    Yeah, ditto on what BF said, any one with a cartridge or any sort of "extras" required to hook it up is just designed to break easier.... try to shoot for something with a good and simple RCA hook-up if it's possible, that way you have options...
    Cassettes are another thing... ideally, you should just plan to dub raw footage down to standard tapes, or if you're fiming in a place near the VCR and such, record straight to VHS, as this is quite easy to set up....

    Another REALLY IMPORTANT consideration is power source... something with a unique, model-specific battery pack is gonna be a hassle down the road, better to get something with generic batteries or some sort of modular power pack which is at least somewhat universal (an oxymoron, but fitting).... almost every Camcorder I've ever used has been most troublesome in the power department.....

    Just keep these points in mind and you should be golden.....

    OH, and if it's possible get one from the same company as whatever VCR you will be using it with most, this can help make sure the tracking is similar and makes for less signal loss in transfer.....

    And most importantly, get what you need... a lot of editing bells-and-whistles are just more things to go wrong and are substandard to begin with... many titling features and display options etc are worthless, in my experience

    Oh, and Caesar, I'll buy yer tape
    Something about him reminds me of my older brother, Rex.

  4. #4
    Thanks gents.

    Hey mabs I hear ya on the bells and whistles, I was doing some research last night and found some nice looking models but then when I look down the price range by $70 or $100, I can get the same stuff I want without all the extra bells and whistles. So I don't know . . .

    See, I have no designs of plugging into my PC so I don't think I even need to go digital yet ? I mean, that seems to be where the added bells and whistles are at . . . all great stuff but I can't even use it yet and wouldn't for a few years.

    And from what I've been reading, it sounds like if you are going to go digital, to get something really good you need to go over $700. Any comments on that ?

  5. #5
    I happen to have a Sony Hi-8 Digital Handycam. You can use either Hi-8 cassette tapes or memory sticks to store your footage. The standard Lithium Ion battery it comes with lasts a good 10-11 hours. Mine cost about $500 (and I got it last May). It doesn't hurt to have your camcorder equipped 50/50 (standard and digital) and it's a reasonable price.
    If Yoda is capable of kicking someone's @$$, imagine what a muppet could do!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar
    Thanks gents.

    Hey mabs I hear ya on the bells and whistles, I was doing some research last night and found some nice looking models but then when I look down the price range by $70 or $100, I can get the same stuff I want without all the extra bells and whistles. So I don't know . . .

    See, I have no designs of plugging into my PC so I don't think I even need to go digital yet ? I mean, that seems to be where the added bells and whistles are at . . . all great stuff but I can't even use it yet and wouldn't for a few years.

    And from what I've been reading, it sounds like if you are going to go digital, to get something really good you need to go over $700. Any comments on that ?
    Go digital. The number one problem with tape of any kind is that over time, it will degrade. You will have to "bump up" your source material at some point before you just can't use it anymore. The estimated time of life for shot tape is somewhere between 15 and 20 years.

    If you shoot analog, you will have image degradation during the transfer. But, as you're probably already aware with digital, it's all just ones and zeros floating around so it's a perfect copy everytime. PLUS, the day you do decide to plug into the computer for editing or to transfer the material to a DVD or something, the information won't have to be converted from analog to digital. Most computers already come with the ability to just plug-in the camcorder for transfer to your harddrive from a digital source. However, if you have an analog source (like a VCR or analog camcorder), you'll also have to buy some kind of converter (like a DAZZLE product). Those run about $200 bucks or so on their own.

    As mentioned, forego the built in titleing and editing features as they are cumbersome, difficult to use, and you probably wouldn't use them anyway. But either get Digital 8 or High 8. Most come with electronic zoom extenders so try to get the longest lens as possible. Depending upon what you plan to do with it, you may also want to buy a screw on wide angle adaptor as most of these lens suffer at the wide end. Sound is ultra important as well. People are more willing to forgive a bad image, but if they can't hear good sound, it annoys them quicker than anything.

    For my money, I'd look at SONY cameras. I'm not sure about cost, but they know how to make cameras and their sound is superb. As you know, I'm used to pro gear so picking up my home camcorder is a bit of an adjustment, but I've used several types of consumer grade camcorders and the Sonys consistently are the best.

    Also think about getting a decent tripod while you're at it. It's fun and easy to shoot handheld all the time, but there will be moments when you're pushed in all the way on the lens and the image is shaking like a mother-fu***. Drop it on the tripod and be the envy of all the other parent's who can't get good shots of their kids during the Christmas play.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the comments, very interesting.

    Well I certainly see the point in going digital but I just don't see myself plugging into a PC with it anytime soon. I mean, it wouldn't be until after I get a new computer and that BETTER not be for another several years. Since this is my first purchase I might just go Sony High 8 and be content for my first time. Unless, stillakid, you care to swipe some of the pro swag and send it my way ?

    Talk about power sources, it looks to me like many models come with a weak-arse battery which last maybe an hour or 90 minutes. And then if you get a decent InfoLithium battery to upgrade, that's 100 bones they soak you for.
    Last edited by 2-1B; 01-14-2004 at 12:54 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar
    Thanks for the comments, very interesting.

    Well I certainly see the point in going digital but I just don't see myself plugging into a PC with it anytime soon. I mean, it wouldn't be until after I get a new computer and that BETTER not be for another several years. Since this is my first purchase I might just go Sony High 8 and be content for my first time. Unless, stillakid, you care to swipe some of the pro swag and send it my way ?

    Talk about power sources, it looks to me like many models come with a weak-arse battery which last maybe an hour or 90 minutes. And then if you get a decent InfoLithium battery to upgrade, that's 100 bones they soak you for.

    Yeah, I bought the "extended" life battery for my Sony and I have to say that it was worth it. Depending on the format and tape, you could get two hours out of the tape. But that does you no good (on a trip for example) if your battery goes down. That extra battery gives me something like 240 minutes of running time on a full charge. I keep the other battery with me when I know I'll be out for a while (shooting the kids school programs or something) because it's a good idea to always have a spare battery and spare tapes nearby, but I rarely have to pull out the smaller shorter life power.

    Also, (and this is something that nobody wants to talk about), the estimated life of the camera itself is really only 3 to 5 years depending upon use. The video heads are not designed to last forever so you will definitely have to replace the entire camera before the decade is out. If the heads don't give out, it'll be something else, perhaps in the tape feed mechanism or some other part of the electronics. You could get those things fixed, but the price they'd charge you makes it more cost-effective to just buy a brand new camera.

    So I guess the bottom line is to buy the best camera you can afford, but not more than you need. Stay away from super-cheap cameras because you'll wind up having to replace them sooner than later and end up paying more in the long run. And keep that tape life thing in mind as well. I've got analog 8mm tape sitting in my closet right now which I plan to convert to MPEG2 files this year.

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