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Pro HD Camcorder for beginner

COW Forums : Event Videographers

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Mark CarterPro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:58:25 pm

I am looking for advice on equipment, I am just beginning and need to purchase two professional camcorders for shooting kids sporting events, skills videos and game footage. I have done lots of reading on various products but the more I read the more overwhelming this becomes with so many products.

I am looking to edit in Final Cut Pro, need HD quality video and at least 4 hours of continuous shooting. Ease of operation and learning curve would also be good.

Any direction on some parameters on what to be looking for or any camcorder recommendations would be great. We have budgeted up to $3500 per camcorder.

Thanks - my apologies if this is in the wrong forum.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Jan 19, 2011 at 10:27:21 pm

You can scan a few of the similar threads a few lines down, this is a discussion that comes up often, and the answers tend to change as new products emerge.. If you're serious about an uninterrupted record duration of four or more hours, then that rules out all the tape-based camcorders in your price range. Some of the AVCHD -based camcorders can do several hours by recording to flash memory cards. Another method to get long record times is to strap on an external portable hard drive system like a Firestor, which can take a firewire output and record in parrellel to whatever is recording inside the camera, sometimes it can even record in a different format.

As a first step, try going to B&H Photo-Video's web site. Select the category "professional camcorders", then use their ranking tool to list all by price in ascending order. This will introduce you to the field of what's available in your range, and B&H has a lot of good detail in their listings to help you make comparisons.


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Mark CarterRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Jan 19, 2011 at 10:49:20 pm

Mark - thanks for the suggestion I will check out the B&H website. I read one of the earlier threads and do have a sort of supplementary question. Earlier thread mentions having to convert the video in order to be able to work with the content in the right format. If I am using Final Cut Pro for editing any of the AVCHD should be fine, correct?

THanks again


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Mark SuszkoRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:15:16 am

The current version of Final Cut can NOT edit AVCHD natively: it requires you to first convert the footage to a codec like ProRes, which is not bad at all, but will add time to your process. Plus, when you convert AVCHD to prores, the size of your files increases, I'm told, by a factor of ten. We are all praying for the next version of Final Cut to address this. Adobe Premiere users point and laugh at use from their lunchroom table, because this is not a problem for them. Premiere's current version handles this format natively. If I was starting from scratch and making my first NLE system purchase, this alone would be a huge advantage to choosing the Adobe suite. All the new camcorders seem to be heading towards AVCHD lately.


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Brent DunnRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Jan 31, 2011 at 8:58:31 pm

I don't know any kids sporting event where they play for 4 hours continuously, unless they are in the ironman competition. Do you mean 4 hours total recording time?

I film a lot of sporting events. I've used both tape and tapeless formats. If you are traveling and in a multi-day tournament situation where you have 2 or more games in a day, tape cameras are much easier to manage, but you have to import all that footage.

If you are in low light, the auto-focus feature on some cameras tend to hunt and search.

Since SD cards are pretty cheap now, you may want an AVHCD camera that uses these SD cards. You'll also want to look at the zoom. I have one camera with a 10 x zoom and another with the 20 x zoom. For football the 20 is nice to go end zone to end zone.

I use Final Cut and Premiere. Premiere handles most formats from AVHCD to XD-Cam and DSLR camera footage with no issues. Final Cut now have plugins for XD-Cam and DSLR cameras for log and transfer, but currently do not support AVHCD. You'll have to use either compressor or another 3rd party software to convert the AVHCD footage to Pro-Res, Apple's Final Cut format.

Try to rent a camera you are thinking of buying first to test it out.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite





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Mark CarterRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 3:28:21 am

Brent, thanks for the help, I believe we have narrowed it down to one of the AVCHD cameras and format and then Adobe premiere for compatibility.

Sports events such as games are of course are not 4 hours, however we will be shooting skills, which if you are looking at two players running through a variety of skills it will be that long. That being said it wouldn't be four hours of continuous filming necessarily.

I appreciate all the responses, thanks Mark


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Brent DunnRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 3:44:33 pm

I would definitely go to the Adobe Production Suite to make life easier. Plus, CS-5 works seamlessly with Encore / Photoshop / After Effects, etc. There aren't any issues now on the Mac using Premier.

I love my Final Cut, but Apple has just left us on the sidelines while they make billions on the iPhone.

You might want to also buy an external hard drive docking station for backup of your files. This way you can use internal hard drives, which are cheaper and easier to store. To really protect your files, you should back them up twice to two different drives, since hard drives can fail. Also, you have to spin your drives about once every 6 months to keep them lubricated and operational.

Brent Dunn
Owner / Director / Editor
DunnRight Films
DunnRight Video.com
Video Marketing Toolbox.net

Sony EX-1,
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 7D
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio

HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite





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Dave HaynieRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 3, 2011 at 9:33:20 pm

I am looking for advice on equipment, I am just beginning and need to purchase two professional camcorders for shooting kids sporting events, skills videos and game footage. I have done lots of reading on various products but the more I read the more overwhelming this becomes with so many products.
While you don't necessarily need pro gear for this, it's not a bad option. I have shot soccer for over eight years (if you're interested, you can see the online-quality versions here: http://www.frogpondmedia.com/soccer.

One big thing for sports... you really, really, really want to shoot at 60p. This can be 1080/60p, though that's rare, or 720/60p, which is available on every serious pro/prosumer camcoder, but not usually on consumer gear.

I recommend tapeless... there's zero point in tape anymore, and SDHC/SDXC flash cards, when you do decide to go tapeless. For one, that's the only way to get 4 hour continuous shooting (back in my HDV days, I used 83min tapes to shoot a whole game.. sure, I could have changed tapes at halftime. But 32GB SDHC cards give you twice the storage), other than HDD recording. In-camera HDD is not a professional solution, simply because, when you drop them, they break.

I am looking to edit in Final Cut Pro, need HD quality video and at least 4 hours of continuous shooting. Ease of operation and learning curve would also be good.
Modern formats like AVCHD are not currently supported within FCP. As well, they're the only major NLE not supporting a Blu-ray authoring solution. If you shoot in HD, Blu-ray is the best delivery format. It was at 17% of US households as of last September, and will be ubiquitous before too long... any player selling for more than $75 these days is a DVD/BD player. Next Christmas, that'll be any player over $50.

I don't use a Mac... overpriced and under-performing, for exactly the same hardware, if you ask me (and you should, I used to design computers for Commodore -- the Amiga systems created "desktop video"). But if you do, switch to Adobe. Premiere was, at one point i time, the only real video solution on any PC that didn't require custom hardware add-ons. And yeah, at another point in time, they were kind of a joke -- you had to "import" your camcorder video into Adobe's internal format, and they didn't support the newer formats (sound familiar). I'm not an Adobe user (I use Vegas on the PC... the only real choice if you're an audio guy), and I know Steve Jobs is gunning for them, but lately, Adobe has been rockin' hard on innovating the video NLE (they have the best AVC editing, far as I've seen.. tightly coded playback engine that taps your GPU).

And Apple seems to have shut down on these things. Now that most of their money comes from iOS, not a huge surprise.

Any direction on some parameters on what to be looking for or any camcorder recommendations would be great. We have budgeted up to $3500 per camcorder.
I shoot sports with one camera. You will need another person for a second camera, there's no way to leave a B camera just there on a tripod. And of course, you do want to shoot from a tripod.

The next choice -- what are you shooting. The best case for two people on camera is this. If you're coordinating with the team and players, they get a very real benefit being able to replay games. But for that to be very useful, you need to have a high vantage point, and shoot a fairly wide shot. On the other hand, if you want to shoot a highlights reel set to music (http://www.frogpondmedia.com/soccer/2008/highlights.html... shot with older cameras and less experience, but it's not bad. Lots of unlicensed music, which is why it's not on YouTube), you'll want some ground-level close shots.

These days, I shoot with a Panasonic HMC40. You can spend more, but probably not get better video without going way past your budget.

-Dave


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David EaksRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:26:05 pm

I have been happily shooting with a pair of Sony NX5U's for a few months now. Great camera, incredible battery life, dual SD card slots etc.. Close to your budget and I think it might be just what your looking for!

link- http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/672423-REG/Sony_HXR_NX5U_HXR_NX5U_NXC...


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Mark GoldbergRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 13, 2011 at 2:44:35 pm

There are several good cameras to consider in this range and application. First, let me say something about the editing end.

I now use a $1500 Sony Vaio computer with i7 quad core chip and Sony Vegas Pro 10, which edits AVCHD natively and burns Blu-ray or DVD. Vegas handles and renders just about anything and does not require transcoding. The computer is also USB3 compatible. That interface transfers 10x faster than USB2.

Camerawise, I recommend the Sony NX5 (pro version) or AX2000 (consumer version) of their AVCHD 3-chip camera which can be had in the $3500-4000 range.

A wonderful new entry is the Canon XF100, a 3-chip AVCHD cam that weighs about 2.5 pounds.

You also have to consider support of these cameras, and the latter can work on lightweight Bogen professional pods with the latest video head.

Mark Goldberg
Spectrum Productions
Annapolis, MD
http://www.markgoldberg.com


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Dave HaynieRe: Pro HD Camcorder for beginner
by on Feb 13, 2011 at 8:43:47 pm

[Mark Goldberg] "Camerawise, I recommend the Sony NX5 (pro version) or AX2000 (consumer version) of their AVCHD 3-chip camera which can be had in the $3500-4000 range.

I gave up on Sony awhile back. I used an HVR-A1 for years, but when it was time to upgrade, Sony didn't offer anything reasonable. They kind of fixed that with the NX5... they finally embraced both flash recording, AVC for professional use, recording rates other than 60i (ok, sure, they did 24p on some higher end models), and all without being forced to use Sony's proprietary memory stick. I had moved on to Panasonic by then, and still recommend the HMC-150 or HMC-40, depending on your budget. But the NX5 is a legit choice.

[Mark Goldberg] "A wonderful new entry is the Canon XF100, a 3-chip AVCHD cam that weighs about 2.5 pounds. "

Wow, that's quite a bunch of mistakes for such a short sentence. Yes, the XF100 is new, and it well may be wonderful. But it's an MPEG-2 camera... it does 4:2:2 MPEG-2/MXF at 50Mb/s (4:2:0 at 25Mb/s an 35Mb/s). And it's a single-chipper, not a 3-chip model. Which is going to run you about $3,000. For over a grand less, you could have a 3-chip Panasonic HMC-40. And this is actually pricier than the HMC-150, too.

Canon offers what's essentially an AVCHD version of this camera, with scaled down body/controls (same sensor) as the new HF-G10. This is Canon's high-end consumer offering... so no XLR inputs, but at least it's got a focus/zoom ring. Like most AVCHD models, they're only doing 4:2:0 color, but on the other hand, AVC can deliver up to twice the coding efficiency of MPEG-2 (eg, well encoded AVC at 24Mb/s will look about the same as well encoded MPEG-2 at 48Mb/s). AVC encoding improves every year, as software algorithms improve and on-camera DSP chips increase in performance.

These have me a little nervous. I haven't seen a full detailed review yet, and apparently, Canon thinks the world of their new 1/3" sensor (one of them in the XF100/105, three in the XF300/305).

But as a former HVR-A1 user, I can attest to the single-chip issues, even when you have the best-in-class sensor of the era. These sensors are 2Mpixel, too... most of the single chip consumer camcorders, as well as DSLRs, get around the color error problems with single chippers by bit-bucketing.. if you have at least one red, green, and blue sensor per video pixel, there's no need to interpolate across pixel boundaries. Thus, no color fringing along contrast lines. But with the single sensor... I'd be nervous.

-Dave


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