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Digital Video Cameras


PoolHaddock
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I have been looking intae getting a digital video camera, however there is so much choice on the market, and contrasting reviews, that it's hard to choose een! I noticed dabs have a samsung een goin fir aboot £173. It seems lik a good deal, but is it really?

Does anybody have any advice on which model, and/or which retailer?

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It looks ok for the price, I've never used one though, so I can't really comment.

 

It all depends what you want to do with it really. How creative do you want to be? If you want to do anything more than really basic home video stuff you're going to be limited with that camera. It lacks some basic control functionality. For instance, it doesn't look like there's a manual gain control and a manual zoom ring would be useful too. It does give you some control over white balance and black level which is more than some of the opposition in that price range do.

 

At that price range the big cuts will be in the quality of the optics and the fact that it's got one CCD rather than three. Also, it looks like it's got no external mic input, so sound quality might be a bit ropy, but getting a camera that has external mic inputs is going to be a big step up in price.

 

What software are you going to import into? Has your computer got a Firewire port? Cos if not you're going to need a video capture device of some sort as well.

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I was planning to do short films for my website.......so yes, it would be more than just basic home videos. Also, I wouldna mind trying my hand at "claymation", it looks fun. I wid lik een that you could film at night with and get the cool green night effect but that's maybe an add-on rather as a camera feature, I dunna keen?

 

An external mic input wid be a definate "must have" feature. My lappy does have a firewire port, and I'm no sure what software I will initially import into (maybe adobe premier??? I need advice on this too) but I will end up sticking it in Flash so I can turn it into .SWF format, and then cram it onto my website.

When my site gets enough content, I'll stick it online.

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I can't help with the claymation, I've no idea how it's done. And real night vision cameras are pricey beasts. You'd probably be better off trying to create the look of night vision using filters and effects in your software.

 

I think you're looking at spending around £500. That's about the starting point for single chip DV cameras with half decent optics and an external mic input.

 

I don't think you need to spend much more than that though, since you're going to be compressing for the web. It would be pointless getting a super hi res 3 CCD camera, only to squash your video down to grungy low bit rate mpeg. I think you can probably manage without the more "professional" controls as well. Things like zoom effects can be approximated in your editing software as long as you plan your shots well. This will save a lot of cash as well, you really only find things like manual zoom rings on semi pro models that cost over a grand.

 

As for the software, I'm firmly a Mac man for video. I use Final Cut Pro HD. I have used Adobe Premier though, and it's eminently capable.

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I've had a good look around, and I've decided not to give you a list of possibilities because there are so many. I had no idea there was so much stuff around on the consumer camcorder market!

 

Instead, here's a few pointers on what to look for when you're shopping around. I'm keeping in mind the fact that you're going to be doing this at college and so you'll probably be looking for something with good creative potential.

 

Get as much manual control as possible. This is going to be expensive so you'll almost certainly have to make compromises, but as an absolute minimum make sure you've got control over white balance, some sort of gain control and manual focus.

For focus and zoom controls, rings are better than buttons or panels but are going to cost you. Zooming smoothly and accurately with buttons is very difficult but you're unlikely to find zoom rings on non pro models, so deal with it!

 

As I said before, get an external mic input. Mic positioning is vital, and you haven't got many options with that if the mic's stuck to the front of your camera. Also, try to get some sort of manual mic level control if you can. Think about the type of mic you're going to use as well. You'll probably end up with a mini-jack input so if you want to use a condenser mic you'll need extra equipment for phantom power and to provide an adaptor from xlr to mini-jack. The most common compromise solution is a little battery powered electret which are reasonably inexpensive and usually have mini-jack outputs.

 

Optics are important. Get as good a lense as possible, obviously. Some of the £500+ models have lenses from the likes of Zeiss or Leica and you can't really go wrong with these. I wouldn't get obsessed with german lenses though, Canon make their own and they're very good.

 

Try before you buy if at all possible. Ergonomics is a big factor and different people find the feel and control layout of some cameras off-putting. It's a matter of taste.

 

Don't worry about 3 CCD's or Megapixel resolution. I would rather have a camera with a single chip but more manual controls. And if you're importing DV PAL you're only dealing with 720x576 pixels which comes to just over 400k pixels, so millions of pixels isn't necessary, unless you plan to use the camera for stills as well.

 

This might be a bit obvious, but make sure you've got firewire out! AV out would be nice for previewing on a decent monitor as well.

 

That's about all I can think of for now, but let me know if you've got any more questions. Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

:lol: ^

I havna got een yet. I have been using my digital Camera (which has a built in video mode, which is crap) tae do a few peerie trial projects. I was thinkin' tae join the Yell film and video club, dat way I will be able tae get use of their cameras. I am still lookin intae buying een though.....but I am goin tae wait till the next time I am sooth, that way I will be able tae see what they feel lik in my hond. Thanks ageen fir all dy help McFly. Du stopped me fae making an expensive mistake! :lol:

 

Du you work much with stills cameras in dy line of work? I got een fir my Birthday aboot 8 months ago, and have teen aboot 15000 photos since. It's a Panasonic DMC FZ20, which I highly recommend to any budding photographers. It's got just the right number of megapixels for the photos to be extremely good quality, but keeps the file size reasonable. It's also got a very, very good leica lense, which for those in the know, is the bees knees (much more important than numbers of pixels). Panasonic came oot with a newer model (the fz30) which pushed the price of the fz20 doon a touch.

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Yins what I wid of liked (had I had the cash!)

 

I'm looking intae fish eye and wide angle lense kits for my camera. Has du used dem afore? Dad has eens on his SLR, but they obviously dunna work on my een. I've been looking for them for ages but they are really difficult tae find. I think my only choice is tae get een aff eBay fae America. They are aboot £80 fae there, but I wid probably get stung fir import tax. Has du ever ordered anything aff eBay fae America?

 

I feel lik Ann Robinson on the weakest link here with all my questions. BANK! :lol:

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