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got 300 pounds and looking for advice on camcorder please


Novice Member
please help, doing videos of gymnastics in pavelion with low lighting, need wide angle and decent zoom. looking for hard drive only with possibility to do still also whilst videoing, if poss, thanks for all who help as I am bit useless
Hi alixxx - at your price point, there are three choices from the major manufacturers that should be able to do the job:

£310 Sony HDR-CX250 (£40 cash back promotion from Sony until 18 July)

£302 Panasonic HC-V500 (£50 cash back promotion from Panasonic until 31 August)

£286 Canon LEGRIA HF-R306

All three produce great images, but the Sony has a microphone jack, which will give you cleaner sound if you have a good external microphone -- and it has the ability to take 8.9MP stills during recording. It also has the largest sensor amongst the three - which should give it the best low light performance.

The Panasonic does have better manual control of exposure and the Canon has a slightly longer zoom range, but the Sony seems to have the features that you need for capturing indoor action.

Here is a Slashcam comparison of the three cameras: HD camcorder reviews/tests and comparison of Canon Legria HF R306,Sony HDR-CX250 and Panasonic HC-V500 Best values highlighted sorte

I hope this is helpful,

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Distinguished Member
Alixxx welcome, can you give us a "Budget" and explain what these vids are for, etc.

Do you have friends with a camcorder? This might be useful, for some idea of what the issues may be.

Indoors means low-light (compare with outdoors) and sport means fast action . . . these things spell a pricey camcorder will be needed, but heck, it depends "what" you want this footage for,
- if they are training videos, where quality matters then employ a videographer who will produce good stuff.
Without experience you are somewhat less able to overcome difficulties.

Indoor sports halls are notoriously difficult for audio, due to the high level of echos. Fortunately our ears ignores much of this, but a camcorder will record it all.

You might consider a "hero-style" camcorder that can be worn on a headband, etc. this can produce very good "acton" shots, but there will be a lot of vibration present . . . it all depends.


Novice Member
thank you both for your advise and help. The videos will be for home use but to be played back preferably on large screen. I can stretch the budget up to 400 pounds if necesary. I do have friends with cameras, but being so engrossed in what is going on have not so far taken too much interest. I also work with a stills camera which is a pain as you are trying to do 2 things. I normally place the video on a tripod and set it to run but its a shame as you never get to zoom into subject. That was why I asked if any of camcorders are any good for taking stills from video footage at later stage..??

Very kind and so much appreciated any help you pros can offer me.


Established Member
That was why I asked if any of camcorders are any good for taking stills from video footage at later stage..??.

Look for one with 50p (if you're in Europe, 60p most everywhere else) recording and use it, you can then get 2M pix grabs from any frame via a video editor.
You will need a stonking computer to edit 50p though.

I'd also suggest looking for one that has a mic in socket. I'm guessing that the sound of photo shutters can be heard on your current video setup. A good shotgun type mic will help eliminate this.

There have been leaps and bounds in low light tech within consumer cams lately my now 2 year old Panasonic SD700 was a revelation compared to my old Sony HC1 and now Sony and Pana offerings are even better than the SD700.

One thing that has got worse with modern camcorders is the size of the zoom rocker. You'll need to be a black belt in Tai chi :/ to pull off a smooth pull back zoom.


Distinguished Member
That's quite a bit to get started; but a word of warning, it's kinda a no-no to zoom-in when viewing a static shot (ie just to get closer), far better is a "cutaway" (which is usually done at a different time, naturally) which has the lighting rearranged and a clear view of whatever you think is interesting. Zooming-in/out is not pleasant for viewers. Look at documemtaries and see how often they zoom (rare) compared with a cutaway (change of view).
A camera with manual-focus is ideal for cutaways so the viewer is in no doubt as to the part that's interesting.
Try to restrict the zooming to framing shots (ie before you press Record).

It's all in the Edit, as they say.

A decent video tripod is essential; with a fluid head if you can afford it and you wish to pan. Cheaper cameras are not good at panning and some show "tearing" of the image if it's too fast.... and you can always speed it up in the Edit, (or cut it short, etc.).
However, all "accessories" like Tripods/Mics can be bought later as the filming progresses... and you get to see where the needs are.
Stills taken from a movie are arround 2Mp and can look a bit blocky, compared with any modest still-camera, or movie with Still feature.

Good luck.
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Novice Member
goodness, you guys are blinding me with science!! But thank you so much for your comments anyway. The subject is my daughter who is amongst the 20 best gymnasts at the moment in Spain, she is only 11 tho. She dances for 2 minutes only in a pavellion with quite low light. I have a tripod and mount the video on that normally. Sadly I probably willl not have use of 2 video cameras yet anyway. Not sure how I would do the cut aways shots?? I really appreciate what you say harry about the zoom. Can you later from footage zoom in on video already done?

Would love peoples opinions on buying video camera in the 300 - 400 pound range if you can help. The one I am looking at seriously is the Panasonic HC V700

What do you think?


Distinguished Member
Lets start with cutaways...the vid starts with an official looking at their list and mentions the girls name, the trainer shouts out the name (walkie talkie?) and somewhere in a dressing room she is called, we see her beiing led out, removing an enormous sweater as she climbs the equipmet (here my Sports knowledge is shakey!), then the Oficial looks up and checks their stopwatch, maybe calling "in your time" as she starts we see the stopwatch operated and the screen shows the seconds counter rolling. Your daughter does a perfect sequence and we see moments where she concentrates, maybe a slight change in foot-position then its over and the Official clicks the stopwatch and marks the chart. The camera looks all round, as we wait for the result; it's now we realise other competitors have gone before and are waiting for their results too. We hear the result echoed round the hall, with a view of the Tannoy to make the point its Public Information, looks on the individual Competitors . . . . . . if she didn't win. . . there's always next time.

I think you can see that a straight shoot misses much of this script/scenario.

Some of the bits that aren't the straight shoot will be cutaways. They can be done at (almost) any time, provided the lighting matches.
Yes adding zoomed-in footage from earlier/later is good. However, very few of us really take enough of these shots, but in the Edit you soon discover what you need.....and next time will remember to get that brief link-shot.

You only need one camera, as a result, but the "low-lighht" could be an issue as well as filming children who aren't your own....unfortunately our society has become quite distorted as we don't object to the 100 CCTV on every High Street, do we?

Shots of the Official are faked at a local gym, etc. as are shots/sounds of the stopwatch. Tanoy audio in English may be done at a Uk-basedl squash club which have similar echo. (or maybe you live in Spain, my mistake). This addition can be done weeks later, but do record the actual event as you may need to check results....etc.

If your partner has a stills camera you can include stills as well,
(I did much the same in a static view in a flower-garden in a local park...trouble was I wanted to include cutaway shots, so used a lesser camera in close-up to show the individual flowers. ).
If their's is a zoom model that's even better as stills tend to be sharper than movies with a much lower resolution.

Now if you compare the Storybord version I described witha static shot (even if you zoom about) you will see there is no story and that's what makes the video worth watching again. However, you will have to become Editor and Photographer well as Continuity ( making sure she wears the same hair-clip, for example), but you will find that modern gear is surprisingly versatile and fantastic shots can be achieved with care in the Edit.... they will join themselves "as-if-by-magic".

It comes down to this . . . is it worth the effort?
She's only 11 once.

....Sorry if that's too much, all at once....

I checkced yr post and should have said . . . the V700 is a single sensor camcorder wih good zoom and some say better low-ligt performance compared with more expensive panas. It all depends on what you can afford and require.
You do need a very sturdy tripod and preferably manual-focus to prevent it "hunting". At a distance, there's not much you can do about light-levels, but keeping the shot wide will help, but you lose the close-ups....now you understand why these other shots need to be faked, in time and place, etc. - that "foot movement" is a tension-riser =something you may spot in films like Chariots of Fire and somwhat brutal Raging Bull (in B&W) - & this was Edited by a woman, surprisingly..?
You can learn much from working out how they got "that" shot.
...However, all of this may be just "too much" - so you have to do whatever you can....

EDIT:-Bob++ Post #9, well spotted, + yep agreed...
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Established Member
looking for hard drive only

Not sure why you said this. Maybe you aren't aware that the better recording medium is SDHC cards. They are almost universal now and fairly cheap so you can have backups. They are much more robust than a hard drive.


Novice Member
Thank you again for advice, I like the sound of doing the video with cut outs now, they don't sound quite as difficult to do once you explained how to a 'starter' !!!!

Please can you help me with another thing, editing, can I get away with free software for doing these impressive things?? I have been using Windows Live Movie maker....

I did hear bouncing around an editing suite called Magix Pro.... but sadly its expensive!!

Any ideas??


Established Member
Please can you help me with another thing, editing, can I get away with free software for doing these impressive things?? I have been using Windows Live Movie maker....

I did hear bouncing around an editing suite called Magix Pro.... but sadly its expensive!!

Sony Vegas Movie Studio, look around and the latest version can be had for less than £30
Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum Production Suite 11 (PC): Amazon.co.uk: Software It's got everything you'll need and very little of what you don't - unlike some IMO. Plenty of tutorials online (youtube and the like).


Distinguished Member
Vegas Studio is good as an Editor for the money, but I've heard of issues with support, but this may not be limited to Sony - but worth considering before paying out money. The Production suite include sound-forge which si a nice Audio editor (somewhat like Audacity which is free), and includes a 45min DVD on hints and tips, but you need to have used the program for a month or two as it's rather fast. Provided the software runs (and you'll need a multi-core PC to watch your edits properly, ) their "Show Me How" tutorials guide your hand over the screen, so you learn quickly - but you need very good eyesight, since the explanation text is unbelievably tiny. It's difficult to understand how large companies can get the details so wrong.

The term is "Cutaway" (Post #10)- because that's how it appears to the end-viewer, you are cutting (=away ) to another scene (often a close-up, but can be the reaction of the other actor, etc.). It's just a fleeting glance, if it is held then it's a scene change, or different shot, etc. It was a pain in the days of film, but with a computer it's very easy.

Windows live Movie Maker is a pain, IMHO - as you may have discovered. Two video tracks is just not enough, as I like to have my TEXT on three, so the text panels can fade in/out under my control!

However, there is a professional "free" Editor called Lightworks, with some very good Tutorials on-line. Snag is the free program doesn't appear to have reached HD yet, so you have to pay £40 pa for that. This includes updates, bug fixes, etc.
However, this is a really professional Edit-package with advanced features; most using the keyboard. They sell a coloured one for £99, or you might like to colour a "White Keyboard" (forget black), with nail varnish in colours like Red, Yellow, Green, Blue - an excuse perhaps to increase yr painting skills and save some money. The colours group features. e.g. J, K, L, are used for . . . . . . . . . ( easily, you can find out!)

When you've got used to it, your hands gliding over a coloured keyboard will amaze your friends - like a maestro playing a concert piano.
- - As they say "It's all in the Edit!"

Good Luck.
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