As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Getting A Camcorder

VariableVariable Mouth CongressStroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
edited April 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking at getting a camcorder after my birthday and tax refund in april. splitting the price with a friend of mine, and I want to get something that is really great. I'm planning on using it a lot for various projects and I want to get a beautiful picture with plenty of options and whatnot, quality recording obviously.

I'm currently looks at the Sony HD-SR11 and in fact am pretty set on getting that. I figured it was worth it to ask in here if there's anything right at that price that's better. I like what I'm getting here and feel it's worth the price and is going to provide me with everything I'm looking for, but since I'm not exactly an expert, I thought it was worth it to ask.

Second question is, what should I look for for editing software? As said I have a lot I want to try and do with it, but I'm not quite sure what software is ideal for editing on a PC. I'm, for now, just looking for basically clipping and pasting files to create longer clips. Just what I believe is considered basic editing.

thanks for the help h/a!

BNet-Vari#1998 | Switch-SW 6960 6688 8388 | Steam | Twitch
Variable on

Posts

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For basdic editing, the Microsoft program, MovieMaker, is probably a good place to start. Before spending $$ on a camera and software, give MM a try. I know it was included with XP, and seems like it comes with Vista too.

    MichaelLC on
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Variable wrote: »
    I'm looking at getting a camcorder after my birthday and tax refund in april. splitting the price with a friend of mine, and I want to get something that is really great. I'm planning on using it a lot for various projects and I want to get a beautiful picture with plenty of options and whatnot, quality recording obviously.

    I'm currently looks at the Sony HD-SR11 and in fact am pretty set on getting that. I figured it was worth it to ask in here if there's anything right at that price that's better. I like what I'm getting here and feel it's worth the price and is going to provide me with everything I'm looking for, but since I'm not exactly an expert, I thought it was worth it to ask.

    Second question is, what should I look for for editing software? As said I have a lot I want to try and do with it, but I'm not quite sure what software is ideal for editing on a PC. I'm, for now, just looking for basically clipping and pasting files to create longer clips. Just what I believe is considered basic editing.

    thanks for the help h/a!

    Do you plan on using the sony nightshot a lot? if not, you might consider a comparable cannon.

    JohnnyCache on
  • mspencermspencer PAX [ENFORCER] Council Bluffs, IARegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Have you given much thought to how you're going to be shooting video? You may find your money is better spent on a cheap camera and lots of useful accessories.

    (My insomnia is your gain -- I'm hoping typing all this out will help me go back to sleep. All of this is my own text, not copied or pasted from anywhere, and hopefully doesn't contain too many stupid errors. Corrections welcome.)

    Camera features:
    * ignore digital zoom -- it's useless.
    * ignore analog zoom as well unless you're SURE you need it. Remember that zooming in and out during a shot can be uncomfortable to watch, and generally tight shots look better if you physically get closer to the subject instead of staying back and zooming. Zoom also amplifies the effect of camera shake, so if you're going to be using zoom you need a way to support the camera.
    * inputs: if you have external microphones, it's good to be able to plug them into your camera and have the camera record external audio instead of using its built-in microphone. Your camera gets HUGE bonus points (and probably costs a lot more) if it has XLR inputs.
    * outputs: unfortunately all cheap consumer and prosumer cameras have crappy tape transports which WILL break after not a lot of use. You can extend this life by keeping your camera and tapes clean and dust free, rewinding and fast-forwarding almost never, and using cleaning tapes liberally. If you can get useful OUTPUT from your camera, though, you'll always have a backup plan: hook the camera up to an external recorder.
    * monitoring features: if your camera can point out to you when a scene is too bright (maybe by flashing overexposed areas on screen) that'll help you avoid mistakes. Similarly an audio level meter will help you confirm you aren't clipping and capturing bad audio.

    If you're just planning on shooting for home movies or for youtube, the camera is probably all you need. Consider buying a wide angle adapter for the front and stay close to your subject and you'll be set. If you're interested in shooting planned, produced video, read on:

    Camera support:
    Unless all your shots are handheld at minimum zoom (with a wide angle or even fisheye adapter on the front) you'll want some way to support the camera.
    * cheap Wal Mart tripods ($50 and under): may not be heavy enough to reliably support the camera. Even if you get a large cheap tripod, cheap tripods can't be panned and tilted smoothly, so expect to either edit out your pans and tilts, or stop recording when adjusting the camera. These non-fluid heads will slip and stick as you move them, like rubber against metal. These cheap tripods frequently try to mislead people who are looking for an actual fluid head tripod by saying "fluid like" and whatnot.
    * professional tripods generally sell legs and head as separate products, so you can mix and match. (I own Manfrotto 475 legs with a Manfrotto 3130 head.) These tripods tend to be heavier, but that's what you want: you don't want to try to pan the camera and have one leg rise up off the floor. If you can afford it, get an actual fluid head, often sold as a video head. True fluid head motion involves two oiled pressure plates sliding against each other. This gives you the ability to pan and tilt smoothly, all professional-like. For example you can zoom in to maximum (so every bump of the camera is super-amplified on screen), just lay a couple fingers against the handle and barely push at all, and the camera will ever so slowly pan. On the viewfinder you can see the image slowly panning, but you can barely see the camera move at all. THAT is what you can't do with a $50 Wal Mart special.
    * if you have really special needs, consider buying a cheap crane for your camera. Your camera needs to be really light for a cheap back-of-a-video-magazine crane to be safe -- heavier cameras need much more expensive gear.

    Sound:
    On-camera sound is usually crap, for three reasons.
    First, down in the consumer and prosumer level people don't tend to understand what they need when buying, and good audio quality doesn't make for catchy marketing statements on the box. So camera makers frequently use cheaper sound hardware so they can afford other parts which support catchy marketing statements.
    Second, cameras with a tape transport have motor noise, and many cameras have noisy zoom motors as well. The on-camera microphone, simply because it's on-camera, will tend to pick up this noise. If you record to flash memory and never zoom then this problem goes away.
    Third, also because the on-camera microphone is on-camera, if your subject isn't within a few feet of your camera the microphone is too far from them to pick up their sound without also picking up tons of ambient sound.
    The only way around this is by using external audio, and that costs money. An external microphone can be a special design or can be placed in a better location, but you either need a camera that will accept that external audio and record it or you need an external recorder that takes a video cable from the camera and audio cables from your audio gear.
    If the problem is ambient noise -- you want more of your subject and less of everything else -- then your two solutions are: move the mic closer and/or use a more directional type of mic.
    Microphone types:
    * headset with boom mic: the boom mic is right in the speaker's face so you get amazing ambient noise rejection, but the downside is your subject is wearing a headset.
    * lavalier mic: a lavalier (or lav) is a small mic element you can clip on the subject's clothing or hide it in their costume somewhere. You're still kinda close to the subject's mouth now but not as close as you can be with a headset. Lavs come in wired and wireless. Wired lavs just run a cable down through the subject's shirt and out a pant leg and straight to your audio gear, and are a great way to see a subject forget about the microphone, get up and start walking, and either destroy your mic or drag your audio gear off onto the floor. Wireless lavs are more expensive, can have RF noise problems (and don't get a ham radio geek started talking about RF :-) ), but don't have that problem.
    * directional mic on a boom: now you need another human to hold your mic. Just rig a painter's pole or something, wrap the mic cord around the pole so it won't fall off, and teach your sound helper to hold the boom above the shot. To avoid fatigue they need nearly equal lengths of pole in front of them as behind them, so get a longer pole than you think you need.
    * mic handheld, maybe even in the shot: if you're playing news reporter and you don't mind a microphone in the shot, just have someone hold a mic up to their mouth.
    * directional mic, held in the cameraman's off hand: you may need to get a shoulder mount for your camera or practice the "gun and flashlight" trick you see on TV to pull this off.
    * directional mic in a shock mount on the camera's body: this is slightly better than the on-camera mic, because you can pay extra for a good directional mic -- but you're still coupled to the camera body.
    * on-camera mic: if that's all you have, do what you have to do.

    Mic directionality:
    * some mics are 'omnidirectional' (omni for all) and pick up sound equally in all directions. These can be any size or shape. Directional mics can be 'pointed' toward your subject or away from a noise source, so omnidirectional mics aren't always best. If your mic can be positioned inches away from your subject (headset or lav) then omnidirectional is fine.
    * a 'cardioid' pickup pattern describes a different kind of pickup pattern that picks up sound a few decibels quieter to the sides than in front. So noise sources off to the side will sound like they're a little bit farther away, but overpowering noise is still overpowering. It's not terribly difficult to build a cardioid mic so these can also be nearly any size or shape.
    * a 'line' or 'line + gradient' pickup pattern is even more directional, so noises off to the side will seem even quieter. Depending on how directional your mic is, overpowering noise sources can become audible-but-not-overpowering, within limits. These microphone designs generally require a long tube like shape, so these microphones are generally called 'shotgun' or 'short shotgun' mics. (A good cheap one, which I own, is the Audio Technica AT835b.)
    * mics can be even more directional than this, but now you're talking about spy gadgets that either require an array of microphones and an audio processor or use a parabolic dish with a mic element in the focal point. Audio quality can be poor but you can't beat the directionality of these thrillingly expensive mic systems.

    This point is debatable, but I believe you can easier get away with crappy video with awesome broadcast-quality audio than you can get away with decent video with crappy audio.

    Then again, I may be doing more harm than good. You were probably imagining buying a camera and immediately starting to shoot video. I seem to be trying to turn you into a guy with a camera on one shoulder, a bunch of big loops of mic cable around the other shoulder, headphones, and a pistol-grip-shockmount'd shotgun mic in one hand. Shooting video is less spontaneous when you have multiple pieces of equipment to worry about.

    Also, if you really get into learning to plan and shoot good quality video, don't take your stuff on vacation. You'll come back from vacation with more practical experience shooting video, sure, but you won't enjoy your vacation. X__X

    mspencer on
    MEMBER OF THE PARANOIA GM GUILD
    XBL Michael Spencer || Wii 6007 6812 1605 7315 || PSN MichaelSpencerJr || Steam Michael_Spencer || Ham NOØK
    QRZ || My last known GPS coordinates: FindU or APRS.fi (Car antenna feed line busted -- no ham radio for me X__X )
  • PitselehPitseleh Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I'd say hold out for a canon hv20. I got one for christmas last year (my birthday and christmas are the same day) and it's been one of the best cameras I've ever had. The quality is tremendous. I shoot a lot of spontaneous things and use it for plays I'm directing and it couldnt be more awesome. Just youtube or goto vimeo.com and check out people's test footage with it. The quality is amazing.

    As for editing software you might as well just learn sony vegas. It's not that expensive and you dont want to develop bad habits or run into the frustration of movie maker. If you're going to be serious about this, you might as well work with the best programs right off the bat. No use in learning one to learn another later on when you want to do more technical things.

    Pitseleh on
  • VariableVariable Mouth Congress Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    thanks a LOT mspencer. I, though I don't plan on jumping right in with it, am happy to know about that audio stuff and what to look for.

    and pits, that's exactly what I was thinking about the software. I'd rather learn the good stuff now.

    I'm going to look at the hv20 tomorrow and compare it to the hd-sr11. I'm happy to hear about other cameras because I didn't do all that much research to find the hd-sr11 but I knew it was at least very close to what I wanted and thought working from there would be great.

    and it has been! thanks everyone!

    Variable on
    BNet-Vari#1998 | Switch-SW 6960 6688 8388 | Steam | Twitch
  • WheezerWheezer Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Variable,

    if you get to test a SR11 in a shop (or buy one), report on the touch screen if you will?

    When I last bought a compact camera, I had a choice between a Sony Cybershot with a touchscreen and without. I selected the one without (and I've been very happy with it) as it felt the more traditional button controls were worth the 0.5" smaller screen. I wonder how well the SR11 controls with the touchscreen - it seems to have regular controls as well, but I'd like to hear your take on the display.

    Wheezer on
    megamansig.jpg
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Canon XH-A1

    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Wheezer wrote: »
    Variable,

    if you get to test a SR11 in a shop (or buy one), report on the touch screen if you will?

    I've got an older Sony MiniDV cam w/ touchscreen, and it works fine.

    I can change the white balance, audio, rec mode, etc., from the screeen, and everything comes up fine. Don't notice any lag, and it's actually a pretty good interface. Don't know if it's any better than buttons, but certainly not worse.

    MichaelLC on
Sign In or Register to comment.