Answered Consumer level video recorder with viewfinder?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by JungleExplorer, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. JungleExplorer

    JungleExplorer
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    Hi all. Newbie here. Okay, I have to admit, I have been out of the video camera market for a good while. Not that I don't own video cameras and take video, but the last real video camera I bought was in the 1990s. A Sony 8mm Handycam. Now since then I have bought many P&S (Point and Shoot) cameras that can take video, and of course I have a smartphone that can take HD 1080P video. Last year I bought a knock off GoPro Sports Cam that takes amazing eye popping video. But all these video cameras lacked two things that my old Sony Handycam had. A viewfinder and a good optical zoom lens. Five years ago I bought a Pentax K-r DSLR to take pictures of my only daughter's wedding. Now the K-r does have a viewfinder and I have a 300mm lens for it, but here's the catch. The viewfinder cannot be used in video mode, it's lcd screen only. This is not a problem if I am shooting a still object, but if I am trying to film a bird in flight or something like that, it's unusable.

    So here lately, I have been thinking about getting a video camera that has a viewfinder and also a zoomable lens. The problem is, I can't find anything in the consumer level market with those two things. I mean, I paid like $250 for my old Sony Hi8 HandyCam brand new in the store, and it was like the flagship Sony consumer level Handycam at the time.

    Another thing is, I can't hardly find any dedicated video cameras in the consumer level market at all. It seems like everything is a point and shoot now days. I have been able to find some Bridge cameras like, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, that have both a viewfinder and an decent (24X) optical zoom, but I wonder how they compare to a dedicated video camera. My Pentax K-r takes really nice 720P video if the conditions are right but struggles with light changes and has an extremely slow and ineffective autofocus to the point that I have to go to manual focus if there is any movement at all. I once bought Fujifilm Finepix HS20 and that camera was so bad at taking video, I returned it after only two days. Again, as with the K-r, lighting change compensation and auto focus were just atrocious with the Fujifilm HS20.

    I know, it has been many years since the K-r and the Fujifilm have been made and that there has been light years of video technology advancement since then. So, I am wondering if these new modern bridge cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 are good as a dedicated camcorder? Have they fixed the light compensation and auto focus abilities that plagued these style of cameras in the past.

    Let me put it another way. My old Sony DRC-TRV350 Handy Cams still works great. I can go out and film with it and it performs just fine. I can zoom in on a flying bird (it has 20X optical zoom) and track that bird in flight and get smooth video. It's just that the video quality is not really that good. It is only low quality DVD 720x480 video. But as far at filming goes, the auto-focus is very fast and it is able to adjust to changing light situations almost instantly. It even has the NightShot feature that allows for filming in complete darkness (You don't see this anymore). Basically, if I could get the same video quality that my knock off GoPro sports cam produces out my old Sony Handycam, I would be satisfied.

    I know I can spend a grand or more on a professional level camera, but I am not trying to film BBC Planet Earth videos here. I am just wanting something that produces decent quality video for home use that has a viewfinder and a reasonable optical zoom lens (maybe 20X), like my old HandyCam. It just seems that it should not cost an arm and a leg to get this in an age where every $80 smartphone can take sharp HD video.

    Any suggestions? Please?
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  2. Best Answer:
    Post #13 by Terfyn, Aug 20, 2016 (1 points)
  3. JungleExplorer

    JungleExplorer
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    Okay. What do ya'll think about the Panasonic FZ1000? It looks like an amazing camera a great price and probably the only video camera I can get with a viewfinder for under $1000. I was looking at FZ200, but after watching many videos comparing them, there is a huge difference in between them in terms of final product, both in pictures and video. It's not even close. From what I have seen I could replace my Pentax K-r with this one camera and have much better stills. It's more then what I wanted to spend, but if I sell off my K-r kit and lenses, I could afford it. What's your opinion?
     
  4. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    The Panasonic HC-VXF990EB has a viewfinder as do the Canon LEGRIA HF G25 and G40.
    A viewfinder is a "nice to have" but, with the quality of the current LCD screens, totally unnecessary. I had a Canon DV camcorder with a viewfinder and all it recorded was the sound of my breathing - most annoying. The two cameras I have now the HC-V700 and 750 only have the screens and I have never had a problem viewing the picture. I even made a hood for the screen but I never use it. You will find you get more for your $ without a viewfinder especially as with modern camcorders you can connect your smartphone to the camera using an App and monitor the picture through the phone.
     
  5. JungleExplorer

    JungleExplorer
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    You will not find a professional camera without a viewfinder. Why? Because viewfinders are better, plain and simple. Yes, you can get by with an LCD screen, but when it comes to tracking a moving target and hand held operation, a viewfinder has two huge advantages. First, a viewfinder provides three points of contact. It is the law of physics at play here. A Tricycle (two hands and your eye) is more stable then a Bicycle (two hands only). LCD screens forces you to hold a camera at length from you (away from the fulcrum, which is your body) creating a level of instability that is difficult to correct even with two hands (the law of leverage is at play here). A viewfinder allows you to bring the camera close to the fulcrum and adds a third point of contact, the eye, which give you a tripod. When trying to track a moving target with an LCD screen, your hands are out away from your body creating a strong lever against your body (the fulcrum). Then to track a moving target you are fighting multiple forces and moving your arms to track the object. In this position, is very difficult to stabilize the camera. Also, you are having to look in two different places. One at the target, and one at the screen. With a viewfinder, you bring the camera close to your body almost eliminating the leverage of gravity against your body. Since you are looking at the object you are tracking directly, you are looking at only one place (not two like with an LCD screen). To move in this position is very easy and smooth because you simple pivot at the waist to follow your target while keeping your camera in a tripod supported position (two hands and your eye). This provides a much more fluid motion then moving your arms to track an object.

    I am not saying you cannot use a an LCD screen, it is just simply not as good. You can't argue with the laws of physics. There are reasons why all professional cameras have viewfinder. All cameras use to have them, but because most consumers are driven by fads and popularity (OOH! It's so neat looking!) and not logical functionality, manufacturers have left them off cameras to save a few bucks.
     
  6. rogs

    rogs
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    I have to agree with you about the advantages of having a viewfinder - although as you have read, not everyone agrees!
    I believe one of our forum members - Chris Hull - uses the Pansonic FZ1000, so he will hopefully be able to give you the pros and cons of using this format for video. Certainly the initial 'enthusiasm' for DSLR video - primarily because of the big sensors and the chance to use decent lenses - seemed to evaporate a bit when people had major problems with auto focus (or lack of). And also with 'moiré pattern' aliasing problems because of the lack of a decent OLPF (optical low pass filter).
    I believe cameras like the FZ1000 can cope well with these issues, and so may well be what you are looking for.
    Not everyone likes the overall form factor of bridge cameras, but I've always found them OK -- and having a viewfinder is a real plus (only IMHO of course :) )
     
  7. JungleExplorer

    JungleExplorer
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    Thanks. I think people opinions about viewfinders and screens are shaped by how they personally use a camera. If you have a person who predominately shoots indoor video from a tripod, they will have no use for a viewfinder. If you have another person who shoots primarily outdoor hand held video of changing situations, they will have no use for a lcd screen. That is why I based my statements solely on non-opinionated facts. A Tricycle is more stable then a Bicycle and a Tripod is more stable then a Bi-pod. Anyone who remembers 6th grade science should know the laws of leverage and the basic rules of Force, Fulcrum and Load. Based on those laws of phisycs, holding a load (camera) out away from your body (Fulcrum) with two hands (Bi-pod force), is scientifically more difficult to stabilize then holding a load close to you body in contact with your eye (Tripod force). This is not an opinion based statement. It is the simple laws of physics. The problem is that in today's world, people believe that they have an inherent right to determine the rules, rather then DISCOVER the rules. That is why there are so many confused people these days. But 2+2 will always equal 4, no matter how many people get together and decide to determine that it should equal 20, because that is what they FEEL it should equal and it makes them feel all good inside. They are people that can walk around all day on their hands and claim they prefer that over walking on their feet, that does not change the fact that humans were made to walk on their feet and not their hands, and that it is easier to walk on your feet then your hands. A Tripod will always be more stable then a Bi-pod. And using a camera with a viewfinder handheld to track a moving target will always be easier to stabilize then to holding the camera out away from your body with two hands. I am not saying it cannot be done. I am sure there are some hand-walkers out their that think it is easier no matter what the laws of physics says, but it just is not so. I rest my case. Off my soap box now.

    But back to my question. I hope some owners of the FX1000 chime in here. I really like this camera and have to make a decision on it in the next week (Have an important event coming up).
     
  8. rogs

    rogs
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    Some of the comments in THIS THREAD - especially the later ones - may give you some answers
     
  9. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    I have never read so much twaddle. Does it not occur to you that a LCD allows the camera to be placed easily on any solid object for example a wall? However if you feel that a camera stuck to your face is more stable than a solid object - so be it. I use any sensible means to stabilise my camera including a tripod and monopod as well as solid objects. Plus there are a number of ways to hand stabilise a camera, for example a SteadyCam. SteadyCam operators do not use viewfinders.
    I don't expect everybody to agree with my views but I don't expect a rant about basic physics in which you try to claim your nose is more stable than a solid object.
     
  10. 12harry

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    If you are moving about then a viewfinder as support may be appealing, but most consumer-camcorders have done away with the EVF because ( for young eyes), they can use the fold-out LCD for the touch-screen tech.
    In the past there were fewer options, so the EVF wasn't too cluttered. - but to implement all the menu-options nowadays means you must take yr eye away from the EVF and refocus on the LCD.

    My Sony CX410 ( discontinued now, in favour of Projector-camcorders!), has both Auto focus . . . . and tracking focus - foe which you need to be able to touch the screen to tell it where to concentrate.

    LCDs are a pain in the bright sun . . . and I use mine on a pole so I'm looking to the sky, but when the camcorder is 10ft above ground any EVF would be unusable ( without a large step-ladder ). Whilst I then cannot track-focus the LCD is used only to check the tree-line, etc. as the height is giving me a clear-view compared with anything hand-held, or tripod mounted. This probably doesn't suit many . . . but I like it. I cannot track birds in flight with this set-up.


    If OP needs to track birds in-flight, he could construct cross-hairs to attach to the camcorder - any parallax-error will be near-zero and this would mean he's got a larger pool of Kit to choose from.

    In general camcorders with EVF are significantly more expensive, weigh more and can restrict battery-sizes.
    Pro camcorders usually have EVF - but then Pros usually set the controls and keep going.

    Hope that helps, but I suspect it may not.
     
  11. Richard Jones

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    I have to say that I don't like LCD finders, especially in bright light when you can have difficulty in seeing the image properly, even on the best and most modern screens. It's all very well saying that you can rest the camera on a solid surface when using the screen but there isn't always one available at the time you are shooting. What is more, the statement that resting the camera against the eye socket when using the ELF adds an additional layer of stability is incontrovertible: you are, in effect converting a bipod into a tripod in that yoor body serves asan additional "leg" as it were --- although, of course, this will never match the steadiness you find when using a proper tripod! You will almost certainly have made the appropriate settings before you start to shoot while the ELV can't really be beaten when you are panning or following a moving object unless you are using a properly versatile tripod. It is for these reasons that I rarely use the LCD screen.

    Richard
     
  12. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    As I said "each to their own", you like EVF I like the LCD. If I do not have a handy wall, I use my monopod or tripod (for telephoto) In the past I have used viewfinders with my cine camera, my Hi-8 Sony and my Canon and my experience show that there are many disadvantages to putting the camera to my face so I am quite satisfied with the LCD which, on my two Panasonics, is bright enough to see in sunlight.
    I find this argument that your face makes the third leg of a tripod a bit flimsy seeing you are presumably standing on your "bipods" while filming.
    For serious steadiness a mono or tripod cannot be beaten, the monopod removes any vertical movement and effectively becomes that third support.
    I also use my VW-CTR1 pan/tilt head on a tripod, This means that the camera is remote and the picture is viewed through a Smartphone, so no EVF there!

    We may agree to disagree but I would not just buy a camera for its viewfinder, I would buy it for performance and value for money.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  13. Richard Jones

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    Yes, we can agree to disagree but I know I would never buy a camera without an ELF. With that said, I am astonished that you cannot see that pressing the camera against the forehead provides a third level of stabilisation beyond that provided by two hands only (with this also being the case if the camera is on a monopod) --- I can readily accept, however, that there is nothing to beat a proper tripod (even though it may not always be possible to make use of one).

    Richard
     
  14. Terfyn

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    As I noted in my post, Its not your forehead that can shake, it is all the bits that support it and keep it where its supposed to be. My own experience convinced me that the body alone is not a steady support for a camera. I use my monopod to eliminate vertical movement and I often "lock" the pole against something solid using my hand (in the case of, say, railings) or a long Velcro belt. As my mono is also a trekking pole, it serves a double purpose.

    It is also worth noting that both Hassleblad and Rolleiflex have used ground glass screens as viewfinders for many years. The original viewfinders were fitted to show the user where the camera was pointing and had little to do with camera support. It is only the very recent trend of providing a miniature LCD screen plus optics to copy the older use for the viewfinder that has changed. These have now been replaced with the LCD that can not only frame the camera's view but provide a degree of control over the camera operation. Our lives are surrounded by screens from the car to the phone to the sewing machine. If viewfinders are so popular, why do people invest in HDMI monitors to view their camera output?
     
  15. chrishull3

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    The FZ1000 is a very good bridge camera as Rogs said,i dont use mine a lot now as for what i film my camcorder and GH4 camera have the edge,for me a viewfinder is a must the only time i use LCDs is indoors or outdoors when it is cloudy and then rarely.
     
  16. Richard Jones

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    Terfyn: If you stand with your legs apart and press your feet firmly into the ground the stiffened body can offer a surprisingly stable base. Using this method as a stand by when a mono or tripod is not available has been the recommended advice for decades. Suffice to say, it works for me and many others and has saved my bacon on a number of important occasions --- although I accept it it is unlikely to provide the answer if your are working with a telephoto lens. (Incidentally, this is also the advice given to the military if firing a rifle from a standing position when no other support is available). In addition, shortening/tightening the camera strap around the neck helps to add a degree of tension that aids stability (again similar to the advice given to the rifle shooter and you can see these same techniques being applied on the Bisley ranges).

    I used both Rolleis and Hasselblads (note the plurals) over many years and always found the best of their screens easier to read critically (e.g. in focusing on close subjects where the depth of field was crucial) than even the modern LCD screen on a video camera. This was also true for more general work although even so the outside light could sometimes make for difficulties. For this reason I tended to use the prismed ELV attachments when out of doors and also used them to help stabilize the camera against my head. I In fact I eventually fund that I tended to leave the ELVs on save when doing close up, still life or studio work.

    Anyhow, nuff said on this subject:) I've other matters to worry about at the moment.

    Richard
     
  17. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    I was also taught to hold my breath. Good for target shooting but less so for a lengthy video shot!:facepalm:
     
  18. 12harry

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    Most animals when walking/running manage to keep their heads steady - it is essential to minimising changes in the eye-vision.
    However, we're going away from OPs original Q's . . .
    What's the view re 4K, which still isn't offering much in the way of Camcorder choice - and in Our price-range, most manufacturers' Zooms are fairly modest.

    We never discuss JVC camcorders . . . why is that? Two years ago they sold lots to the BBC, prob. for ENG purposes.....but maybe also "fly-on the wall" programs.

    Perhaps OP can come back and tell us where he's at, just now - after all the above discussions.-
    Also:- is the Budget now just under £1k, or is it significantly under, perhaps?
     

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