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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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