Camcorder recommendations

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VictoriaF
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Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

I think I need a camcorder. I am taking a standup comedy course and want to record myself at home and in clubs. The camcorder must have a good microphone, record well in dark noisy rooms, and have videos easily transferable for viewing on a Windows computer. Most importantly, I have no experience with video recording and don't aim to become good in it. I just want to see myself performing so that I could improve. Thus, I'd like it to be as simple to use as possible. To summarize, my requirements in the order or priorities are:
1. Very simple to use.
2. Works well in dark environments.
3. Works well in noisy environments.
4. Transferring videos to a Windows computer is easy, preferably via a USB cable.
5. Can be set on a table to record me while I am performing.
6. Not too expensive; otherwise it can be stolen.

My go-to source is Amazon.com. After reviewing the best selling one for about $60, I moved to a highly rated Canon Vixia for $300. But someone commented that it does not work well in dark environments.

What do you think? Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by 123 »

Perhaps you can start out with just audio, use a phone or an mp3 player that also records. Audio is easier to work with as well as to play back whereas there are just a lot more "production" issues involving video, primarily lighting. You can capture video at home with a laptop easily.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Toons wrote:Sony Dominates in the Camcorder Market.
Excellent Bundle for the price.

https://www.amazon.com/HDR-CX405-Record ... +camcorder
Thank you, Toons!

This Sony bundle looks excellent. Do you know if it takes a long time to learn?

Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Midpack »

I know more about cameras, many of them have considerable video capabilities, but not trying to sway you from a camcorder. In camera world:
  • low light means faster lenses which cost more. If you have stage lighting, you may not need great low light capability unless you want to capture the audience too
  • no camera comes with a great mic, and especially mics that filter out noise. You'd want a separate mic to plug into the camera, with a dead cat cover. Or better yet, a (wireless) lavalier mic that you wear. Neither has to be expensive.
Again, my knowledge may be useless when it comes to camcorders. Good luck.
Last edited by Midpack on Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:22 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

123 wrote:Perhaps you can start out with just audio, use a phone or an mp3 player that also records. Audio is easier to work with as well as to play back whereas there are just a lot more "production" issues involving video, primarily lighting. You can capture video at home with a laptop easily.
Thanks. I can do audio, but I also want to capture my gestures and other body language.

Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Midpack wrote:I know more about cameras, many of them have considerable video capabilities, but not trying to sway you from a camcorder. In camera world:
  • low light means faster lenses which cost more. If you have stage lighting, you may not need great low light unless you want to capture the audience too
  • no camera comes with a great mic, and especially mics that filter out noise. You'd want a separate mic to plug into the camera, with a dead cat cover.
Again, my knowledge may be useless when it comes to camcorders. Good luck.
Great points!

There is excellent stage lighting in the club where I am taking the course. A guy in the class took a video of me and it was very clear. I hope lighting in other clubs will be similar. But even if lighting is not always good, it does not make sense for me to get an expensive device to accommodate exceptions.

I've seen Q&A for camcorders about an external mic. I will be looking for one with an external mic capability.

What is "dead cat cover"?

Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by PoppyA »

VictoriaF, you are too much! That is so cool. Don't forget to post a video! Maybe some Financial advisor humor?
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by dad2000 »

Dead cat cover looks like an ear muff that goes over the microphone. It is a cheap way of filtering out noise.

You definitely want the external wireless mic.

I don't recommend just setting it on a table. You can get a flexible tripod from Amazon for $10-15 that you can put on a table, or wrap around a railing. It will keep the camera more stable and give you more flexibility with aim and placement.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by cholan »

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-video-camera/

I have no personal knowledge of camcorders recommended.

Consumer Reports also has some recommendations.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: 3. Works well in noisy environments.
Writing a separate post on the audio.

Most inexpensive camcorders will do a very poor job with audio. Rather than spend a lot more for a camera that will do marginally better audio, you will do much better with a separate recorder for audio that will give you better audio quality. There is software these days that allows you to synchronize video clips and separately recorded audio. I use Cyberlink PowerDirector 14 Ultra for this. It's inexpensive. You can usually get it for $60 or less. It's simple to use. It does require a beefy PC unless you want to wait a while, but any video editing software will also.

I use some fairly high end audio recording equipment at home - Firewire audio interfaces, and some decent microphones, that will likely be too much for what you are trying to do. And what I use is really not very well suited for stage unless you want to spend a lot of time setting up.

There are some portable recorders that can be battery powered that will likely to the job. Go to Guitar center and try one. You might spend less than $100 . Or you could spring for a lot more. Again, the sky is the limit. Here is a link for the type of device I'm talking about :
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?N ... rtclk=sort
A friend of mine bought one and use it for recording piano music in a group that used to go to regularly. I did not like the results at all. But I'm very demanding when it comes to audio. I don't think he used one of the cheap models either, he always goes for high end. That said, demands for voice recording are going to be very different than for video - it should be much easier and cheaper to record voice decently. Mic choice and placement is usually the most critical factor, rather than the cost of the equipment.

Portable recorders can be setup on a tripod. It could be the same tripod as for the video camera, or it could be a separate one.
Most likely, you will do better with recording audio much closer to yourself than where the video camera will be. So, I would recommend using separate tripods for video and audio. Tripods for light equipment such as this can be very cheap, under $20.
Last edited by madbrain on Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: 2. Works well in dark environments.
3. Works well in noisy environments.
I think these requirements are going to be very hard to meet in an inexpensive device. You really need to determine how well you want it to work. It depends on your expectations. You could easily spend thousands and still get an unsatisfactory result. I would recommend buying from a vendor with a liberal return policy without restocking fee, so you can try one or more and see they if meet your needs.

I think most camcorders will meet your other requirements. But I would not recommend using USB for transferring videos to the computer. A lot of cheap devices will use only USB 2.0 and have very slow chips for file transfer. IMO, it's better to use a high speed SD card and just copy the files in your PC using its built-in card reader (if your PC has one), without using the USB connection at all. I record a lot at home and this allows me to leave the camera on the tripod and just take the SD card to my desktop in another room to transfer video.

There are some camcorders that support Wifi for file transfers - even SD some cards that support Wifi file transfer (Eye-Fi), but I have never tried them.

FYI, I still use a 9 year old Canon HG21 as my primary camcorder to record myself playing music. This was a $1000 device at the time. It does an adequate job in my well-lit room. Can't imagine that it would perform decently in a dark environment, but I have never tried it.

One of the nice features it has is an old fashioned infrared remote control, something that has mostly gone away in favor of Wifi remotes from smartphone, which I hate. This allows me to quickly start and stop my takes.

If you want something that performs well in the dark, you will want a camera with a large sensor, and a good lens. This usually disqualifies consumer camcorders. That could mean a pricey full frame DSLR with a good lens. I don't own one of those. This combo would likely run you at least $2000 new, and the sky is the limit on camera prices. You may want to consider something used, but you won't be able to try it.

Recording music is one of my hobbies, and I actually have a Youtube channel if you want to see what the results look lke. PM me.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: I've seen Q&A for camcorders about an external mic. I will be looking for one with an external mic capability.
Just be aware that this will often restrict you to only higher end models. At least, that is true for DSLRs cameras. Perhaps not so with camcorders.
But as I mentioned in a previous post, you may be better served by recording audio separately, and you don't need a camera with audio input in that case.

Note that many cameras have an option for shoe-mounted microphone (on top). I have one of those on my Canon HG21. It's better than the built-in mic that came with the camera, but the quality still does not come close to separately recording the audio. Save your money and don't buy a mic mounted on top of the camera. The mic placement is really important and even with a good mic on top, you won't be well served.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

dad2000 wrote: I don't recommend just setting it on a table. You can get a flexible tripod from Amazon for $10-15 that you can put on a table, or wrap around a railing. It will keep the camera more stable and give you more flexibility with aim and placement.
Yes, a tripod is a must. Consider a second tripod also for audio recorder or mic, depending on what type of mic you use.

In a home environment, with sufficient light and not too much environmental noise, you can probably find something that will do reasonably well for under $1000 total, maybe under $500, if you are not too picky.

In fact, cell phone cameras do a surprisingly good job these days with video. If your smartphone has a good video camera, you may not need a camcorder at all. You will still want something else for audio.

For dark, noisy club environment, the needs are going to be really different. How often do you plan on doing this ? If it's very occasional, maybe renting a higher end camera and audio equipment for those times makes more sense. But that assumes you already know how to set everything up each time, which you may not if it's a really short term rental (like one day at a time) and you don't get the same equipment each time.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by WolfgangPauli »

I was intrigued by this as i had no idea camcorders still existed. Why would you not use an iPad or a Phone (would need external memory but that is dirt cheap).

I was with a reporter from the WSJ once doing a story and they had completely eliminated the "camera man". The reporter used his iPhone to get pictures and for video interviews (like you see at WSJ.com).
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

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Do you have a routine about Edward Jones?
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

WolfgangPauli wrote:I was intrigued by this as i had no idea camcorders still existed. Why would you not use an iPad or a Phone (would need external memory but that is dirt cheap).
Yeah, camcorders didn't just evaporate just because smartphones came along.

Camcorders still have the edge in terms of ability to record long clip uninterrupted . The sensors are smaller in smartphones too, which means worse lowlight performance.

There's no optical zoom either, which will greatly limit the creative possibilities.

Digital zoom will significantly degrade clip quality.

All smartphones lack an optical viewfinder as well.

Smartphones cannot be controlled by an IR remote.

Smartphones don't have a tripod mounting hole. You need a separate accessory for them.

Even if you eliminate the cameraman, that doesn't mean you don't use the best tool for the job. In many cases, that isn't a smartphone.

That said, a smartphone on a tripod mount may work very well for Victoria for capturing video at home. I don't think it will do a good job with audio. And it will for sure struggle in a dark club setting.

My Galaxy Note 4 gives a very sharp picture in 4K ... for the first 5 minutes, until it overheats. It's sharper than the camcorder. I just can't capture a good take in 5 mins. Then I have to wait a while for it to cool down before capturing again.

In HD, phone can capture longer, but picture quality does not match the 9 year old camcorder. And the phone has all the limitations outlined above, which the camcorder does not have.

I forgot another issue : phones record in variable bit rate. This is problematic for editing depending on the software you use. It can mean degradation in quality. Camcorders can use continuous bit rate.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

To expand on the last comment, with continuous bit rate, you can do lossless digital cuts to your files. I discard 99% of my footage. But each file can be up to 2GB with my old camcorder. It could be even more with newer camcorders and file systems. CBR allows splitting a single file and taking just the part you need, without having to reencode, and thus, without any loss in quality.
If you use VBR and do a cut, you must reencode.
The other possibility is keep the original file in its entirety. But that would mean using much more storage for me.
Sometimes i will produce a video without any edit except titles and replacing the audio track.
Only the portion of the video with titles gets reencoded. The rest is the original as captured by the camera, without reencoding.
However, the moment a clip gets uploaded to YouTube or another site, the site will reencode.
This will further degrade the video and audio quality. It's important to minimize the number of reencodes as much as you can if you care about final quality delivered to your viewers. Cell phone variable video bit rate will get in the way of that.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by 123 »

Would a GoPro model of some kind work for the OP? They seem lightweight and not too expensive (at least some models). But maybe they wouldn't be able to handle audio adequately?
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

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123 wrote:Would a GoPro model of some kind work for the OP? They seem lightweight and not too expensive (at least some models). But maybe they wouldn't be able to handle audio adequately?
Forget audio - GoPros are designed as action cameras, which is the opposite of what you want for the uses that Victoria is interested in - mainly stationary, on tripod. These cameras work best outdoors with plenty of lights. They have fairly small sensors for standalone cameras, in the same size range as a smartphone. A modern smartphone will likely do just as well as a GoPro for op's use. But all of them will struggle in low light indoors due to small sensor size.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by msk »

I have dabbled with home movies since just about the stone age (1950s). These days I would first try a smart phone and THEN progress to a video cam if really necessary. From the stated requirements most likely not. Most digital cameras (e.g. DSLRs, etc.) can also do movies, but frankly, just try out a smart phone first. Tonight. Some are really good these days. Sound quality is very dependent on how far the mike is from the presenter. A phone can be placed right at the front, ring-side, table and still be very unobtrusive.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by in_reality »

madbrain wrote:
dad2000 wrote: I don't recommend just setting it on a table. You can get a flexible tripod from Amazon for $10-15 that you can put on a table, or wrap around a railing. It will keep the camera more stable and give you more flexibility with aim and placement.
Yes, a tripod is a must. Consider a second tripod also for audio recorder or mic, depending on what type of mic you use.
A tripod is really a must!

Sony's often have a mount on top for an external mic. They run off a second battery (which last a long time, but any battery will deplete over time if unused) so you have pay attention to that and remember to flip it on and check for the light.

The external mic makes all the difference in the world if you really care about the audio.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

in_reality wrote:
Sony's often have a mount on top for an external mic. They run off a second battery (which last a long time, but any battery will deplete over time if unused) so you have pay attention to that and remember to flip it on and check for the light.

The external mic makes all the difference in the world if you really care about the audio.
Battery will be an issue with or without mic. The Canon DM-100 microphone that I have which mounts on top in the shoe mount on my HG21 is powered by the camera's battery, not a separate battery. Also, the camcorder can run with an AC adapter, without any battery. This will power the mic indefinitely, too. The downside is that mic shoe mount interfaces are proprietary. The mic no longer fits current camcorders, even from Canon.

A smartphone might not be able to be powered indefinitely, even if plugged in to an AC charger. The reason is that video recording may use battery more quickly than the charger can recharge it. My camcorder can run without any battery at all, but smartphones can't.
Last edited by madbrain on Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Midpack »

madbrain wrote:
123 wrote:Would a GoPro model of some kind work for the OP? They seem lightweight and not too expensive (at least some models). But maybe they wouldn't be able to handle audio adequately?
Forget audio - GoPros are designed as action cameras, which is the opposite of what you want for the uses that Victoria is interested in - mainly stationary, on tripod. These cameras work best outdoors with plenty of lights. They have fairly small sensors for standalone cameras, in the same size range as a smartphone. A modern smartphone will likely do just as well as a GoPro for op's use. But all of them will struggle in low light indoors due to small sensor size.
+1. And GoPro's use extreme wide angle lenses, not desirable for the OP's application. GoPro's have narrower FOV settings, but they just crop the native image, giving up resolution. And their audio isn't very good either, as stated above. The OP is going to want a dedicated mic, good advice above.

And the OP shouldn't need any more than 1080p (HD). I wouldn't pay any premium for 4K (UHD), that might help hold down costs if he/she buys a camcorder. But if you have a good smartphone, I'd try that first as others have said. A GorillaPod would be good, you don't have to buy a full on tripod. I've done some videos and pasted in clips from my iPhone, perfectly watchable if shot in decent light.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Toons »

VictoriaF wrote:
Toons wrote:Sony Dominates in the Camcorder Market.
Excellent Bundle for the price.

https://www.amazon.com/HDR-CX405-Record ... +camcorder
Thank you, Toons!

This Sony bundle looks excellent. Do you know if it takes a long time to learn?

Victoria
Should not be difficult at all,check out some youtube videos :D
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Teague »

As already suggested, 2/3 of video is audio. And the best place to put the camera is usually about the worst place to put the microphone. So get an external mic, maybe even a hand-held one if that's what you will be using in the clubs, and practice with that. Otherwise a cheap lapel mic. No need to go expensive on either the camera or mic for what you're planning to do (practice/review).
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Thank you, everybody, and particularly Madbrain, for excellent recommendations.

Here is a summary of my responses:
1. Separate audio and video with subsequent integration is probably the most economical high-quality approach, but it is not consistent with my request for simplicity. I have many things on my plate, and I just don't want to deal with several devices, cables, and synchronization however simple it could turn out to be if I tried it.

2. An external mic and a tripod seem to be consistent recommendations. Will do.

3. Requirement for performance in a low-light environment is now lifted, because most clubs will have stage lighting.

4. I don't use a smartphone. I might in the future, but not yet. And even if I had a fully functional smartphone I would not leave it on a table to record me while I am performing. I would rather have a stand-alone device stolen than a phone with personal information on it.

5. Re: finance related routines:
- My claim to fame in the Bogleheads community is my invention of the Bogleheads secret handshake comprising Bogleheads Index-finger Shake. To find anyone in a comedy club who would understand it is less likely than to get hit by lightening on my way to the Forum.
- The most effective standup routines, at least for beginners like myself, are based on our own misfortunes. For better or for worse, my finances are in good order, and I have never suffered a comedy-worthy financial loss. I have no personal experience with Merrill Lynch, Edward Jones, or Jim Cramer.
- Even if I tried to make Bogleheads jokes on stage they would not go well on the background of my classmates who describe how they maxed their credit cards, totaled cars, and were stealing from friends and family to get controlled substances.


A quick question. How would an external mic work in conjunction with a club's mic?

Thank you again,
Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Midpack »

VictoriaF wrote:2. An external mic and a tripod seem to be consistent recommendations. Will do.
A tripod might be a little awkward. As long as you use a camcorder with an external mic jack, you can buy a corded lapel mic starting as low as $20 with a 20-30 foot cord. Or if you want more freedom, a wireless lapel mic can be had for $140. I am not recommending these brands/models, just for example:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... l_lav.html

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... mount.html
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Midpack wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:2. An external mic and a tripod seem to be consistent recommendations. Will do.
A tripod might be a little awkward. As long as you use a camcorder with an external mic jack, you can buy a corded lapel mic starting as low as $20 with a 20-30 foot cord. Or if you want more freedom, a wireless lapel mic can be had for $140. I am not recommending these brands/models, just for example:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... l_lav.html

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... mount.html
Thank you for the links.

Let's say I have a wireless lapel mic feeding into the camcorder and a "real" microphone for the audience. Could there be any interference between these two mics?

Victoria
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: Here is a summary of my responses:
1. Separate audio and video with subsequent integration is probably the most economical high-quality approach, but it is not consistent with my request for simplicity. I have many things on my plate, and I just don't want to deal with several devices, cables, and synchronization however simple it could turn out to be if I tried it.
You might want to think again about this in the future depending on the results you get. Will you be doing any editing or post-processing of your videos at all ? Things like adding titles, etc ? And will you be publishing them somewhere ? And have you given any thought on how you might be doing so ? If you will do that work yourself, you might not save a whole lot of time by keeping your audio & video capture all to one device.

FYI, with PowerDirector, the synchronization is automatic - all you have to do is drag the video file from the SD card to the video track, and the WAV file from your recorder's SD card to the audio track, highlight both, and click "synchronize audio". Years ago I used to align manually, but no longer. The software now just analyzes the audio from the video and can automatically synchronize it with the audio. Then, when I produce the video, I just mute the audio from the video track.
2. An external mic and a tripod seem to be consistent recommendations. Will do.
Just be aware the external mics designed for cameras often cost more than separate recorder/mic and will still have inferior audio quality compared to the later. The mic for my Canon was in the $200 range for example. It could even cost the same as the camera itself if you go for an inexpensive one like the cheap Sony bundle mentioned.
3. Requirement for performance in a low-light environment is now lifted, because most clubs will have stage lighting.
Even with stage lighting, that still qualifies as a low-light environment. Be prepared for video noise in your picture with an inexpensive camera. It may be possible to reduce that noise in post processing, at the cost of sharpness in the picture. It all depends on your expectations.
4. I don't use a smartphone. I might in the future, but not yet. And even if I had a fully functional smartphone I would not leave it on a table to record me while I am performing. I would rather have a stand-alone device stolen than a phone with personal information on it.
That's a good point. Smartphones can be encrypted nowadays, though, and you can record video without unlocking them, such as if it was lost or stolen, you would really only be out the cost of the device, but the information on it should not be compromised. A good smartphone costs more than a cheap camcorder, though, and will not be a as good for video for many other reasons I mentioned earlier, so don't buy a smartphone just for a video.
A quick question. How would an external mic work in conjunction with a club's mic?
The club mic will likely be amplified through the club's speakers. Your camera's mic (whether built-in or external) will pick up the amplified signal from the speakers. You are at the mercy of the acoustics in the club, quality of speakers, etc. The audio will be more or less clear depending on where people in the audience are. This will affect your camcorder's mic the same way. The mic placement is always very critical for audio. A seat with a good view might not always have the best sound, or vice versa. Separate audio recorder/tripod will be more versatile.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: Let's say I have a wireless lapel mic feeding into the camcorder and a "real" microphone for the audience. Could there be any interference between these two mics?
There should not be, because the mic feeding into your camcorder will not be amplified.
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yatesd
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by yatesd »

This site for camcorder reviews and sortable by budget:
http://camcorders.reviewed.com/

For low light you really need a decent lens and larger sensor. Also agree with getting good sound, although I might focus on raising your budget some on the main camcorder before buying too many accessories.

Edit: After checking out the website it looks like it hasn't been updated much. That said, even a detailed older review may give you some insight. Canon, Panasonic, and Sony have been doing camcorders for a while.

Also, although I use Amazon for many things I highly recommend B&H Photo for cameras & camcorders. They have fantastic customer service.
www.bhphoto.com
madbrain
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

This 10-year old article is really outdated and inaccurate IMO. It should be ignored.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

Victoria,
VictoriaF wrote:
Toons wrote:Sony Dominates in the Camcorder Market.
Excellent Bundle for the price.

https://www.amazon.com/HDR-CX405-Record ... +camcorder
Thank you, Toons!

This Sony bundle looks excellent. Do you know if it takes a long time to learn?

Victoria
I checked out this particular cheap camcorder and noticed that it has no provision at all for external microphone.
There is no Sony microphone shoemount interface, and also no 1/8" audio input jack.

Thus, if you go with this camcorder, you would either be limited to its built-in mic, or if you can't live with it, use a separate external audio recorder and microphone, as I suggested.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

madbrain wrote:Victoria,
VictoriaF wrote:
Toons wrote:Sony Dominates in the Camcorder Market.
Excellent Bundle for the price.

https://www.amazon.com/HDR-CX405-Record ... +camcorder
Thank you, Toons!

This Sony bundle looks excellent. Do you know if it takes a long time to learn?

Victoria
I checked out this particular cheap camcorder and noticed that it has no provision at all for external microphone.
There is no Sony microphone shoemount interface, and also no 1/8" audio input jack.

Thus, if you go with this camcorder, you would either be limited to its built-in mic, or if you can't live with it, use a separate external audio recorder and microphone, as I suggested.
Thank you, madbrain!

I will check it out,

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
yearzero
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by yearzero »

I've been very happy with the Sony HD HDRCX405 Handycam Camcorder. The built in mic has worked fine for recording events such as birthday parties, my kids sporting events, surf lessons, camping trips, etc. Great price for a lot of functionality.
"Don't waste your time, or time will waste you"- Muse-Knights of Cydonia
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VictoriaF
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

VictoriaF wrote:
madbrain wrote:Victoria,
VictoriaF wrote:
Toons wrote:Sony Dominates in the Camcorder Market.
Excellent Bundle for the price.

https://www.amazon.com/HDR-CX405-Record ... +camcorder
Thank you, Toons!

This Sony bundle looks excellent. Do you know if it takes a long time to learn?

Victoria
I checked out this particular cheap camcorder and noticed that it has no provision at all for external microphone.
There is no Sony microphone shoemount interface, and also no 1/8" audio input jack.

Thus, if you go with this camcorder, you would either be limited to its built-in mic, or if you can't live with it, use a separate external audio recorder and microphone, as I suggested.
Thank you, madbrain!

I will check it out,

Victoria
Tonight our standup class had a "field trip" to a local comedy club. In addition to observing the comics' performance I was wondering how video recording would work. It seems that either a comic must stand in one place and not move around, or ask someone to record her. Also, in the class we all are one friendly group. But in a public performance, the front tables are occupied by the public, and it would be inappropriate for a comic to use table space for mounting her camera. I have to think about it.

I found an inexpensive camcorder that works with an external mic, SEREE HDV-520 Camcorder WIFI External Microphone Jack Input FHD 1080p 24.0MP 3.0" Screen 16X Digital Zoom Digital Camera Video Recorder, $150, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU5B0BU/re ... TRW3&psc=1 .

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
madbrain
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote:It seems that either a comic must stand in one place and not move around, or ask someone to record her.
The alternative is to have a camcorder with a wide lens, or recording from way back to capture a wider angle. But the farther away you record from, the less light there will be from the source. And of course there might be obstacles in the way.
But in a public performance, the front tables are occupied by the public, and it would be inappropriate for a comic to use table space for mounting her camera. I have to think about it.
You would have a floorstanding tripod in this case, and probably record from somewhere on the side, as close to the center as you can without obstructing the audience's view.
I found an inexpensive camcorder that works with an external mic, SEREE HDV-520 Camcorder WIFI External Microphone Jack Input FHD 1080p 24.0MP 3.0" Screen 16X Digital Zoom Digital Camera Video Recorder, $150, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU5B0BU/re ... TRW3&psc=1 .
Never heard of this brand and can't really make a recommendation. Feature set looks OK. Long-term reliability is unknown.
Buy something you can try and return if it's not suitable. Maybe buy your top 2 or 3 choices, see which one works best, and returns the others. I would not expect miracles in this price range, though.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

madbrain wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: I found an inexpensive camcorder that works with an external mic, SEREE HDV-520 Camcorder WIFI External Microphone Jack Input FHD 1080p 24.0MP 3.0" Screen 16X Digital Zoom Digital Camera Video Recorder, $150, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU5B0BU/re ... TRW3&psc=1 .
Never heard of this brand and can't really make a recommendation. Feature set looks OK. Long-term reliability is unknown.
Buy something you can try and return if it's not suitable. Maybe buy your top 2 or 3 choices, see which one works best, and returns the others. I would not expect miracles in this price range, though.
Thank you, again, madbrain!

I am still thinking but inclined to get the last one. It's cheap enough to use as a learning tool.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
jcchen
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by jcchen »

I like your initial suggestion of getting a canon vixia. Canon is a well respected brand with a long history of making camcorders.
Eg, the R70 has an external mic input and costs $250 new at B&H photo. I think you can also buy from Costco/ BJs.
Compared to the $150 model you are considering, this model has a big optical zoom so you can record from back of the club.

To save money, I bought a refurbished Canon VIXIA camcorder directly from Canon's website. I found the camcorder to be easy to use. Never used it in a club but I am guessing the camcorder can record the performers since they are under the hot lights, but the audience would be too dim to be recorded.

What camcorder do the other students use? Can you share a camcorder for club use? and then use a smart phone or laptop camcorder to tape yourself at home?

Have fun at the class!
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by madbrain »

VictoriaF wrote: I am still thinking but inclined to get the last one. It's cheap enough to use as a learning tool.
I just don't think this is likely to be a quality video camera.

FYI, I was at my local Wal-mart late last night and there was a Nikon D3300 DSLR kit with 18-55 lens for only $262 ! Never seen a DSLR kit for that cheap.
This is just a little over half the typical price. I almost bought one just to resell given the price. Might do well as a spare camera as well. My main DSLR is Pentax though, not Nikon. My K-30 does fairly poorly with video, unfortunately.

This would do much better in low light than any camcorder or smartphone for video due to the sensor size.
The main downsides of a DSLR for video is :
- 30 min max clip recording limit. Sometimes much less. It's 4 GB or 30 min, whichever comes first, usually. Depending on the quality setting (bit rate) you may be able to get the full 30 mins. Smartphones also have the same recording length limit, and typically file size too.
- no video autofocus . You need to prefocus the camera. That is a bigger one . But it may not be a serious problem if you are using it on a tripod. This pretty much disqualifies it (and most current DSLRs) for handheld use, though. In that case, a camcorder will be far better.
It looks like this particular D3300 model has a stereo mic input, too.
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by daveydoo »

Just skimmed all these but did not come across the comment I was looking for so here goes.

I was very much into digital video and video editing ten years ago when my kids were small(er). But this whole world is gone now -- everything has switched to digital video on DSLRs. Hollywood movies are shot on DSLRs. Even the most basic DSLRs have full video capture with audio. Plus, the cards have such enormous capacity now. Even a phone, as some have pointed out, is better than old camcorders -- even digital ones. There are high-end platforms for digital video but they're way beyond what you'd need.

I would put a DSLR on a tripod -- possibly with an external mic -- and hit "record."
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"
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VictoriaF
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Madbrain and Daveydoo,

Thank you about your comments about Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. I will check them out, but the need to focus them may be a disqualifier.

Victoria

P.S. I have learned on Sunday that the club where I am taking the standup course will provide a videographer for our performance in April. This relieves the pressure of getting a camcorder immediately. On the other hand, all comedians have web sites and YouTube videos and eventually I will need to do my own publicity.

P.P.S. Yesterday I have performed my first open mic standup. In that specific club (FireFlies in Alexandria) setting up a recording device would have been easy and safe. But the lighting was treacherous. The spotlight was on the back of the stage, but most comic stood in the front part with their faces in the shade.
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
Lynette
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by Lynette »

Cool Victoria:). You should get assistance from retired members at your local Bogleheads chapter :D I am sure that they will find your stand-up gig far more entertaining than some of the standard fair.

Once I get my house remodeling and finances sorted out, I am going to take a course in Photoshop at my local community college. I know that they also have a class on videos. For me the advantage of a class is that you get fairly qualified people critiquing your photos. I have a DSLR but I'm mainly interested in landscape photography. Community colleges are cheap in my opinion and I think some in your area even offer free courses. In any event, one can also audit them if you don't want to write the exams. I've been on several Road scholar photographic courses but of course, the concentration is on still photography.

Years ago I started taking a class on photography in the pre-smartphone era. The instructor said that compact cameras were all the same. Of course, this is not true but the minute differences in the same price-range vendor products is minor. I've been watching differences in photographs produced by different websites comparing Iphone/Samsung. Maybe a pro can tell the differences but I cannot.

Good luck.

Lynette
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VictoriaF
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Re: Camcorder recommendations

Post by VictoriaF »

Lynette wrote:Cool Victoria:). You should get assistance from retired members at your local Bogleheads chapter :D I am sure that they will find your stand-up gig far more entertaining than some of the standard fair.

Once I get my house remodeling and finances sorted out, I am going to take a course in Photoshop at my local community college. I know that they also have a class on videos. For me the advantage of a class is that you get fairly qualified people critiquing your photos. I have a DSLR but I'm mainly interested in landscape photography. Community colleges are cheap in my opinion and I think some in your area even offer free courses. In any event, one can also audit them if you don't want to write the exams. I've been on several Road scholar photographic courses but of course, the concentration is on still photography.

Years ago I started taking a class on photography in the pre-smartphone era. The instructor said that compact cameras were all the same. Of course, this is not true but the minute differences in the same price-range vendor products is minor. I've been watching differences in photographs produced by different websites comparing Iphone/Samsung. Maybe a pro can tell the differences but I cannot.

Good luck.

Lynette
Thank you for excellent ideas, Lynette!

When I was contemplating retirement, taking a photography course was on my long list of potential activities. However, the way it's been going so far I am spread so thin with my current activities that I have absolutely no time for new ones. When I have started this thread my goal was not to master a new skill, videography, but to find the easiest way to record myself. As I am reading Bogleheads comments, it appears that quick-and-dirty approach would be, well, quick and dirty but not very useful.

Speaking of lists, an older guy in my standup class is making a joke about "bucket lists." He says that every list is a bucket list, because nobody makes lists for after they die. Instead, he maintains a f* list, where f* rhymes with "bucket".

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
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