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  1. #1

    good camera to buy for first timer???

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a good camcorder? A friend and I are basically wanting to try to film a small screenplay we wrote up. I'm sure we'll need to play with lighting to get the film to look good, but we need a camera!

    Sorry for being so very noob, we just want to have some fun, but we want it to look good at the same time. I guess a good example of how we want it to look would be to check out some of the short clips on ifilm.com. They look like they were done very nicely.

    So if I've rambled too much and you forgot what this post was about - what is a good camcorder/video recorder for a couple of newbies?



    Thanks.

    Oh yeah! We also hear that using the onboard mic on camcorders really sucks, so what should we do? Buy a good mic and hook it directly into the camcorder to use that instead?

  2. #2
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    I don't have any specific recommendations but as it happens I'm in the market for a cheap camcorder myself. I'll let you know how I get on.

    I think as long as the camcorder has manual focus and iris, plus a reasonable optical zoom (10x or so), any old cheapo model will do for your first projects. Whatever camera you buy, you will start to learn which things you need and which you don't. Most likely it will be further down the line when you buy your second camera that you'll want to be picky.

    As you mention, onboard mics are often not the best, but I don't know if I'd be too concerned at this point. If possible, do get a camera with an external mic input and have a play with it.

    A lot of people agonize for ages over every little feature on their first camera, only to wish later that they had gone for a slightly different model. IMO the best thing to do is by a cheap first camera, have some fun and experiment, then get serious with your next one when you can afford it and have the experience of knowing what you want.

    Don't know if this helps much, but in any case, good luck with your project. I'd be keen to hear how you get on.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  3. #3
    I've posted this question in the audio section as well, but I'll ask here too.

    At the risk of sounding like a total idiot, what device do I need to get to plug my mic into if my camcorder doesn't have a mic jack? I just can't take the sound from the mic on the camcorder...

    Please help. :?

  4. #4
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    On consumer camcorders, if there is no external mic input you probably can't plug an external mic in. There is a possibility that you might be able to use an external sound mixer and connect to the camera's other audio inputs (RCA or XLR), but in consumer camcorders you can't usually do this in camera mode (i.e. you can only use these inputs in VTR mode).

    After thinking about this, I'll revise my previous message slightly and say that I think an external mic input is important. Although most people are more than happy with their onboard mic, if you are interested in learning and improving then it would pay to have the ability to plug in a mic. Sorry about the "about face" ops:

    BTW, I went and bought myself a Panasonic NV-DS60. It's last year's model so I got it cheap. It's a very basic camera but it does have all the necessary functions including an external mic input. It's been a long time since I've been shopping for a consumer camera and I have to say I'm impressed with the features available on most cheap cameras these days.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  5. #5

    Good Cam for First

    I would highly recommend the Sony DSR-200. It is an older camera but has everything you could need for the most part. All manual settings, not menu driven but actually switches dials etc... It has built in XLR adapters on the back end on the camera for use with mics. The XLR does not support phantom power but you can build an inline device if you need it. This is a one piece camera with a I believe 20x optical zoom, but it may be 10x with a 2x digital. The lens unfortunantly is servo driven for zoom and focus but you can get use to it. The tape format is DVCAM and if you dont have a seperate deck it does have fire wire support so you can use your pc or mac non linear editer. The Camera is a "over the shoulder" model, but is rather light, under 13 pounds with batteries and tape. You can buy an adapter to where you can have 3 hot swapable batteries and tape times up to 184 minutes, but I dont use that long incase something happens to the tape. Check it out on E-Bay you can usually find one for $1500 or less with plenty of accesories like portabrace bags extra batteries, etc.. If you are looking for a shot gun mic I would also say that the Sensiezer ME-66 has done wonders for me, I also use a rycote sofie mount and a rycote partial muff compared to a full zeplin or blimp alternatives. Looking for tripods we use gitzos at the station, but are more expensive. Personally I use a bogen manfroto set which works ok, but someday it would be nice to have something better. I did decide on a 9 foot carbon boom pole for use of my shot gun mic. 9 Feet is a good length for me. I dont require shot that need a pole longer than 9 feet since I use mostly close shots for my interviews or if I use some other shot I still use the audio off my original cam. I do think that using a XLR "Y" adapter is a good idea if you dont have a seperate person to run your audio. By turning both of your XLR adapters on cam to manuel control set one higher than the other but both in a good range can save your audio in post. Let me know what you did or if you have questions I have used many cameras including the Cannon XL1 and later models and I am not really pleased with them. Keep in mind if you are on a budget and you spend money to buy a camera with a removable lens can you afford aditional lenses? Well have a good one. Im a terrible speller BTW.

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