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Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

MiniDV, DVD, Hard Drive, 8 mm, High Def, brands, import / capture techniques, settings ... talk about camcorders in here.

Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Red Sanders » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:03 pm

Last year, AVITRY in his post "Got a HD camcorder finally" wondered if Steve's past recommendation for a new camcorder was "still a pretty good choice. bobfranz's post "Ready to upgrade camcorder" was looking for similar advice. I hope to continue that topic because I'm looking for the most current advice for a new camcorder, since I need to replace my really dated Panasonic PV-GS180. (Please don't laugh!) :oops:

The reason I've not looked for a new one until now is that I've really been focused on capturing to my computer MANY (100's) family videos (8 mm, VHS and Digital 8) as well as scanning a much larger number of family photos. Some of the videos date back to the 1950's, some of the photos all the way back to the very early 1900's. Almost all videos I have to this date are AVI's. (Yes, I realize that's another dated file type). But it's one that I've easily worked with through the years, and was still somewhat acceptable when Steve published his aforementioned book. I'm finally ready to resume editing and to start doing a better job of sharing these with family and friends. (More on that in a minute.)

I'm also dated because I'm still using Premiere Elements 14 and have just about worn out Steve's "The Muvipix.com Guide to Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 14. But, at least I have moved up to Photoshop Elements 19, and now prepared to order Premiere Elements 19 and resume editing and sharing both photos and videos, all to be guided by Steve's most current book regarding those programs.

Ok, so why the sudden interest in getting a new camcorder? While I occasionally whip out my old Panasonic, most of the videos of family and family events are being shot by my children and grandchildren with their smartphones. Please tell me if I'm wrong in assuming that a new camcorder would shoot better quality videos? And I'm hopeful that it would encourage them to shoot longer videos that have some permanence, rather really brief ones that have short lives out on the net!

I know Steve and others will say - "Wellll...just how do you plan on sharing those photos and videos?" Well fellows, my software, video hardware (and I) may be dated. But, I have grand plans on putting those videos and photos on a Network Attached Storage device and deliver them via a Plex server. Then, my geographically dispersed family can have local and remote access to all. I know they will be very excited in seeing some videos and photos that either they've not seen for many years, or in the case of the youngest generations - most will be totally new to them. (In case you are wondering about me stepping off into such a technical area, I have built all my computers for the last 15 years or so, and have kept our LAN up to date with current routers, switches, etc. And as backup, one of my children is an electrical engineer that can either help, or get advice from his fellow workers. I've been doing a lot of research on what configurations are needed for both of these devices to function as I hope, and I'm confident I can make it work. :CS: )


In summary, please recommend a less than $1,000 camcorder that would serve my purpose, as described here. And I very much welcome ANY other advice regarding all that I have mentioned here. I promise, at my age my feelings are not easily hurt, regardless of what you say. :TU:
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Steve Grisetti » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:38 pm

Although you can grab a snapshot or a video in a pinch with a phone and get excellent color reproduction, quality and clarity, in my not so humble opinion, there's still no substitute for a good camcorder.

The main advantage cameras and camcorders have is that they use interchangeable and zoomable lenses. I've spotted so many excellent shots and whipped out my phone only to find that I just can't capture the beauty of the scene because I can't control the depth of field. And yes I know you can buy lens packs for your phone that allow it to shoot telephoto and wide angle but -- there's still no substitute for a good camcorder.

The good news is that an excellent workhorse AVCHD camcorder can be had for about $200. A refurbished Canon and be found on eBay for even less. And the quality is excellent. I've spent more taking my family out to dinner!

And yes I know we're entering the 4K era and yes I know you can spend thousands on a good semi-pro camcorder.

But for home video production and for interfacing with Premiere Elements, you just can't beat a Canon AVCHD. The quality of the video is excellent, the zoom lens gives you plenty of depth of field options and thing literally fits in your coat pocket. Dip your toe in the water by picking a cheap refurb up on eBay. Worst case, it will make an excellent backup camera for you. But more likely you'll love it so much you won't even feel the need to upgrade!
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Red Sanders » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:30 am

Thanks Steve, always appreciate quick replies. I'll start shopping. Very much welcome other comments.
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby sidd finch » Mon Jun 24, 2019 10:48 am

Steve is pretty spot on. I would encourage you to consider what you plan on recording and your environment as each type of camera has its limitations. Smart phones are great but you are not zooming and you might need to record through a dedicated app like filmic pro because many smartphones record with variable frame rate which the format does not lend itself to edit very easily. The add on lenses are "ok" but you knowing the smartphone limitations is what makes the video pop. It is a specialty camera. Also, the audio is not very good. it is almost imperative to add an external mic. So by including all these add-ons you now have a bigger investment.

Likewise for a dedicated camcorder. Yes there is an optical zoom and they are small but you have to remember to bring them with you. Also with the push to 4k and beyond the cost is steep. But Steve made some great points on a dedicated 1080p camcorder that I agree with.

I think it helps to make a list of what you are interested in recording and the see what type of camera fits most of your needs. If you already have a smart phone try making some movies and see what you like and what you do not like. That will help you make your final decision. Kind of like test driving a car.

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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Chuck Engels » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:44 pm

Consider a Sony mirrorless DSLR like an A6500 :)
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Steve Grisetti » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:50 pm

Though as we always say, the final decision is based on what you want to do and how much you want to spend.

You could spend as little as $200. Or you could spend $500-1000. Or you could easily spend $1500+. Every option is good -- but only you can decide what's good enough (and worth the price).
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby BrianR » Fri Mar 26, 2021 4:46 am

I've been reading through these posts on camcorders - thanks Steve and everyone! I've only ever shot video clips on basically still cameras (Canon, Nikon and at present a Panasonic Lumix) but I've been long thinking of getting a camcorder. Been browsing (in UK, Currys/PC world) and come across Canon Legria HF G26 Camcorder for 800 GBP (about 1100 USD). The same site has Canon HF R806 Camcorder for 229 GBP (315 USD). I've just got back into Premiere Elements, up from older versions to 2021 with two terrific books by Steve (the 2nd is the Hot Tips and Cool Tricks one) - thanks again SG!

So I'm not quite a beginner but almost, and don't want to spend more than my limited skills are worth, but does anyone know or have heard reports of either of the two models above? The same page has Sony and Panasonic models. I've done the search on this forum and nothing came up for the HF G26 -- it seems to be a new model? Here's the most recent page I'm looking at https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/traditional-camcorders/camcorders/camcorders/digital-camcorders/347_3213_30315_xx_ba00010676-bv00308608/xx-criteria.html

Thanks in advance for any suggestions (I know they have to be in the broadest terms as in the end the choice has to be mine -- but I'm ignorant about camcorders!)

Brian
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby Steve Grisetti » Fri Mar 26, 2021 6:49 am

I swear by Canons. For consumers, I think they're the best value, with excellent quality as well as functions for either point-and-shoot or custom controls.

I'm a little embarrassed to say I don't know the difference between the two models you're looking at. They both shoot AVCHD and I'm confident they'll both give you excellent video. Among the obvious features, the HFG26 has a 20x zoom lens while the HFR806 has a 32x zoom. But beyond that, I'm not sure how to quantify the differences. The HFG26 may have a more advanced optical sensor, but I'm not sure it will be a difference that's obvious to all but the professional.

Others may have thoughts, but if it were me I'd start with the cheaper model. I think you'll find it's a huge step forward from what you have been shooting with, and it will likely do everything you need. If you're terribly unhappy (and I'm sure you won't be) you can upgrade later.

Though even if you opt to buy the G series camcorder, I'm sure you'll be very happy. You can't go wrong with Canon cams.
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby BrianR » Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:20 am

Thanks so much for that detailed reply (as ever) Steve, really appreciated. I agree 100% about Canons, my experience too having had two still models in the past (one at least from the Rebel series). The only reason I changed to small, compact digitals (first a Nikon, one of their Coolpix) and now the Lumix, was for weight (as I got older, hmm...) Someone once said that the best camera is the one you have with you (when you see that view you *must* take!), and the others just got heavier and heavier.

So thanks, I've got a start and can seriously narrow down my options.
All best
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby John 'twosheds' McDonald » Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:36 am

I tend to use my phone (Samsung S20) most times these days. It can shoot at up to 8K. Maybe it's because it's always with me. :TU:
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby BrianR » Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:14 am

Thanks John, I've also used my Samsung (Galaxy A21s) which is really good, as it is for still photos. On the Camcorder issue, on the one hand a big issue for me is weight (arthritis + anno domini!) and in a way opposed to that, stabilisation. I note that one of the Canons I looked at is about 2 pounds weight and so the one I looked at instead is only half a pound -- but then is that so light that it defeats attempts to stabilise the resulting movie? (Premiere Elements can do only so much.)

My next dithering was if the camcorder was approx the same weight as the Panasonic Lumix (which takes pretty good, ie not bad movie clips) how could it be any better than the Lumix as far as stabilised images go?

Luckily we have an excellent (real, physical space) shop in the town where I live and as soon as things open up here after lockdown (still risky in my view but that's a whole other ball game) I'll be in there like a shot holding things in my hand and inspecting them, just like the old days.

Cheers
Brian
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby sidd finch » Sat Mar 27, 2021 9:12 am

I am with john on using a smartphone to capture video instead of a camcorder. Nothing wrong with a camcorder but it is an additional piece of kit. I think the smartphones do a really good job of capturing video. You might consider getting a 3 axis gimbal for the phone. This will keep the video buttery smooth and can be purchased for less that $100 USD. They are also small enough to put in your pocket. Holding the handle might be easier on the hand than the camcorder.

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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby BrianR » Sat Mar 27, 2021 1:32 pm

Hew
You might consider getting a 3 axis gimbal
I will indeed do just that, thanks for the tip. I'd been wondering if a monopod would help with the handheld camera, but a gimbal+phone sounds a better idea. What a useful website this is!! :-D
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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby sidd finch » Sat Mar 27, 2021 2:09 pm

Right now the DJI OM3 is on sale on Amazon for 99USD. I would also highly recommend the Hohem iSteady X Smartphone Foldable 3-Axis Gimbal which can be had for 69USD. I have one of the Hohem and it works great.

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Re: Latest recommendations for a camcorder, please

Postby BrianR » Sat Mar 27, 2021 5:31 pm

Thanks very much indeed Sidd, much appreciated. I was in fact looking at reviews of the Hohen or at one of the products earlier. Wasn't able to take it further at the time 'cos I was was uploading a video to Vimeo, but I'm free now. I'll almost certainly buy either the one you recommend or another if it appeals more (but it probably wont!) Will let you know which one I got.
All best
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