View Full Version : Camcorder

2010-01-10, 17:47
I've been thinking about getting a video camera to go along side my still camera gear, but I do not know very much about video cameras, as in what is good and what is not. I don't need anything high end or fancy, I just want the camera to help me record some video for a project I am going to be working on over the next year or so. I'd like something portable, not super cheap and some ideas on how I could mount the camera in my car (04 Toyota Corolla, if that matters), so I can record when I am traveling.

I do not want to spend more than $400 Cdn (375 US or so) on the camera itself. From what I've seen so far online, there are a few decent cameras in my price range: Canon FS21, SANYO VPCTH1, JVC GZ-MG630AU and the SAMSUNG SMX-K40. I like the Canon, since it has 16GB of internal memory, plus an SDHC slot while the others require SDHD cards, but as I said, I don't know much about video cameras. All of the cameras in my price range are Standard Definition, unless I go for the Kodak pocket camera, but having HD video is not that important to me for this project. For the video folks out there, I'd like to know what you think about these options, or if there are better choices (older models that might be at Costco etc) in the same price range. I'm also interested to hear what people think about battery life, and stuff like that. I've thought about getting a DSLR with video like the D5000 or Canon T1i, but I kind of like the idea of having a stand alone video camera, since I'd have to use a different battery pack and memory cards than my D300 anyway.

2010-01-12, 15:13
I don't know anything about the specific models you mention, but in general, you should check and make sure, that the camera records in some sort of standard fileformat. e.g. Mpeg2 or 4. Some brands have their own proprietary formats, and they are a pain in the a**, if you want to edit and/or share your recordings.

Furthermore you should make sure, that the cam supports, or come with, an external microphone. You'll really like one of those, when you record people talking.

On a final note, make sure to buy a cam, with the best optics, you can afford. Optical zoom is key. Digital zoom is crap no matter how many HD-stickers is on the box.

2010-01-12, 15:57
Got an iPhone? You could use the ZGrip iPhone Jr. $69US.


2010-01-12, 16:00
All the cameras I'm interested in shoot MPEG2, seem to be the only choice in my price range. HD is not important to me, this is more for support for my project, I'm not trying to make movies. I know that sounds strange, but the camera is simple for recording visual details to help me write a book. Only one of the cameras I listed has an external microphone port (Canon FS21) which is my top pick anyway. That isn't very important to me though, as this camera is more for scouting purposes, and not sound recording.

Finding good reviews for Video cameras seems a lot harder than it is for digital cameras. :(

No iPhone, and I'm on a contract for another year, so no switching.

2010-01-12, 17:38
If you want this camera only for the specific application of recording in the car as you describe, I think the FS1 looks to be a good SD choice.
In fact, I would look for a really cheap way to do that one thing, after all it is "not for air" in the long run.

If you want a video camera that does it all, then >$400US is going to be a tough row to hoe.

In my profession, we use wide angle lipstick cameras to do this sort of thing. Obviously, make sure that whatever camera you decide on has a wide enough scope to cover whatever you are doing in the confines of the car. On a recent doc in South Africa, we supplied 6 kids with Canon Vixia HV40's and the footage was pretty good. Beyond that, my knowledge of consumer cameras is sorely lacking. :o

There are plenty of mounting options available and gaffer's tape is very useful as well.

2010-01-13, 02:58
Thanks for your advice. I'm not looking to do it all, thank goodness, as it is more of a support tool to use along side my photography gear.

Dorian Gray
2010-01-13, 12:43
You say you might want to mount it on your car. A while ago I considered getting a camcorder to mount on my scooter, and in my initial research I discovered that CMOS camcorders in this price range suffer from "rolling shutter" effects. This is a big deal for recording from a moving vehicle. The alternative is a CCD camcorder, which works differently and doesn't have this artefact. Unless there have been significant advances in CMOS tech in the last year or so, I suspect a CCD camera is still the way to go.

Panasonic used to have a range of 3-CCD camcorders for a while, though I'm not sure if that is still the case. Maybe purchasing a used one is an option?

2010-01-13, 13:17
Maybe, I think the real issue I'm having is not knowing what to look for. :lol: I figured flash based is better than some of the HDD models (due to possible in car use).

As for the sensor, just another reason to consider the Canon FS21, since it has CCD sensor. Another JVC I'm considering, the JVC GZ-MS120AU also has CCD sensor and dual SD card slots, although I really like the fact that the Canon has 16GB built in, no chance of losing a card. For me that 16GB will be more than enough.