Question Help choosing video camera for my needs

mpb2000

Novice Member
I'm looking for something to record video, something I don't do often. Normally, I would spend hours and hours pouring over reviews, video comparisons, etc., but I don't really have time for that these days, and the reason for that is my main reason for wanting something to record video. My wife and I have a six month old who is starting to move around and I want to be able to capture those moments. I have a Sony camcorder that is probably 7 or 8 years old and it's time to upgrade. I’m trying to find the camera that best fits my use cases. A camcorder may not be the best option anymore.

I want a dedicated device that doesn't require a lot of setup. While my tech side would like to have as many options as possible to play with, realistically, I know I need something I can grab and go without much difficulty. At the same time, I also want something that will produce video that's actually worth watching; I'm thinking image stabilization here. I don't want to record a bunch of home movies that sit on a hard drive, never to be seen again. With a baby, a lot of the initial videos will be indoors, but we live in Florida, about a 10 minute walk to the beach, and we spend a lot of time there (not as much as we used to before the baby, but we're getting there). I don't need something for action sports, so it doesn't have to be able to attach to a surfboard or anything, but being able to survive on the beach would be a plus.

My wife and I are also Disney annual passholders, so I definitely want this camera to handle that environment as well. At the parks with a baby/small child I imagine I won't want to fiddle with accessories or a bunch of complex settings. Being able to swap batteries is likely a must. If ease of use was my only concern, I would just use my smartphone, so I do want something that gives me more than "record" and "stop" as options (oversimplification, I know) and better quality video. I want to record videos on rides, and with a baby, being able to record selfie/vlog style to get all three of us in the shot would be a big plus. It would be nice not to have to worry about rain or water on rides, but not being waterproof isn't necessarily a deal breaker. Tiny, grabby, messy hands will certainly be threats as well.

Being able to take still photos would be nice, but I imagine they won't be even as good as a decent point and shoot camera. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Low light recording would be great, especially for someplace like Disney, but low light is seemingly impossible without more equipment than I will want to handle.

A GoPro, the DJI Osmo Action, and the DJI Osmo Pocket are intriguing due to their size, and with the first two, their durability. That size is also potentially a negative because of the small sensor size and other limitations that come with the small size. I don’t have experience with action cameras, so I’m hoping some folks can steer me in the right direction. Obviously, I have to find the right balance between video quality and portability. I really like the idea of the built-in gimbal on the Osmo Pocket for image stabilization, but I'm a bit concerned with those additional moving parts and with it being a first generation product; I'm not sure how well it will hold up over time. Obviously, it won't take a beating like the a GoPro or the Osmo Action, but it might be worth having to protect the Osmo pocket if the gimbal allows for better performance than the electronic image stabilization in the GoPro or Osmo Action. If I really wanted to, I imagine I could use a gimbal with one of those, but that goes against my desire for a simple setup. I really like the idea of the front-facing screen on the Osmo Action for framing video when I want to be in the shot. From what I've read, the front-facing screen can lag behind the recording significantly, however. I'm not sure how prevalent this is or if it's something that can or has been addressed by DJI in a firmware update. I saw GoPro offers a flip screen accessory, the Display Mod, for their new model Hero that fulfills that purpose, but it looks like you have to buy another accessory, the Media Mod, to make it work; they're both $80 and it looks like they haven't been released quite yet.

I could go for another consumer camcorder. I see Sony is advertising what they claim to be akin to an internal gimbal for image stabilization in their current camcorders. How well does this work in reality? How does it compare to the other cameras I mentioned? I’m not sure flipping the screen around to get myself in the shot is a realistic expectation with a camcorder.

I know DJI has released a number of accessories for the Osmo Pocket. How necessary are they? What do they allow you to do that you otherwise could not do? How important is having the Pocket connected to a smartphone while recording?

How is post processing video for these cameras? I have a Mac and an iPhone, for what it's worth. I don't want to have to do a ton of editing, but as I mentioned, I do want to be able to end up with something watchable at the end of the day. It would be nice to have some sort of wireless connectivity to my phone to send quick clips to family and friends, but that's not a necessity.

What would you recommend for the use cases I described and why? What other options are there besides the three cameras I mentioned? I feel like these three cameras consume so much oxygen on the internet that I may be missing plenty of other viable options, or maybe even others that are simply better for what I want to do. What are the pros and cons of the cameras I mentioned specifically as they apply to my potential use and are there any deal breaking concerns that should eliminate any of them from consideration? What other cameras should I consider? Should I consider camcorders again, and if so, which ones? Keep size in mind. It doesn't have to be as small as the options I mentioned, but keep it "reasonable" (subjective, I know).

If you think posting this somewhere else might elicit more responses, please let me know. Thanks in advance for all the help.

Matt
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
That is a long list. :facepalm: I would still stick with a camcorder. My grandchildren are teenagers and have been subject of many hours of filming from a week old to today. I started with a tape based Canon but now use Panasonic exclusively so I will reserve my comments to this model.

My current cam is HC-V800 HD camera which can film in AVCHD, MP4 & 24p. Because I edit on a PC, I use AVCHD exclusively. I believe that software for the Mac will take most common video formats.
The camera has a Leica lens with good low light performance. I often film indoors and do not require additional lighting except in black or near black conditions. There was never any problem filming the grandkids under all light levels. The camera OIS is hybrid using both mechanical and electronic stabilisation giving good stability when handheld. Editing is a doddle :thumbsup: with the SD card format giving a separate file for each shot. I also use the stills photo facility (common on all cams) and get excellent photos up to A3 size.
The cameras are extremely flexible. I can fit wide angle lenses, ND filters, lens hoods to the standard 62mm lens mount. Mics or lights will fit onto the standard shoe and, with the external mic socket, I can add many types of microphone, shotgun, radio or tie-clip for example. The camera will fit onto any camera support, tripod, monopod, steadycam etc. but I normally hand hold.
As for size. The V800 will fit easily into a coat pocket and will be ready to use directly the LCD screen is opened.

You mentioned getting yourself in shot. These current cameras have Wi-Fi so, for example on the V800, you can add a "picture in picture" using a smartphone OR (a facility I use often) the smartphone will remotely control the camera giving control over start/stop (or still photo) and the lens zoom PLUS (in my case) control over a VW-CTR1 pan/tilt head. The camera picture is shown on the smartphone screen.
 
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MarkE19

Moderator
You say you don't want to use your iPhone for videoing, any specific reasons why?
Depending on how old your iPhone is it could have some advantages over a camcorder for your uses, such as being waterproof. Also as a Mac user you have the video in the best format for editing on your Mac using the included iMovie software (also included on the iPhone).
Your mobile phone is likely to be with you and charged at most times, so easy to grab and start recording. Although the recording will not be as good as the camcorder could achieve it should be plenty good enough for capturing your memories. You can also use software to compensate for the lack of image stabilization such as Mercalli - Stand-alone video stabilization Application for macOS

Mark.
 

mpb2000

Novice Member
My iPhone is a bit long in the tooth being an iPhone 6 (I'm holding out for the 2020 iPhone). The camera leaves a lot to be desired. Low light is terrible, the front facing camera is pretty useless, etc. It certainly has the advantage of always being right there, but the output simply isn't very good. I'm sure one of the newer models would be a huge improvement.

I haven't experimented with any software stabilization in post processing. The Mercalli demo video is pretty impressive. That really does make a huge difference, although it is the advertisement for their product, so I'm withholding final judgement for now. How good is stabilization in consumer-level post processing software these days? And how easy is it to produce something of reasonable quality? I don't want to have to spend hours editing videos constantly. I actually do enjoy that sort of thing but I just don't have time now.

How does post processed image stabilization compare to image stabilization from the same camera attached to a gimbal? Something like the Osmo Pocket that has a built in gimbal? Camcorders that appear to have mechanical image stabilization and electronic image stabilization? Cameras that only have EIS, like action cameras?

The image stabilization on my Sony camcorder (again, 7 or 8 years old, maybe more) has never appeared to make much of a difference. How much has that technology in consumer-level camcorders improved? Will it adequately remove motion added from walking around while hand holding the camera? Or can that be done relatively easily in post processing? How does it compare to the image stabilization in, say, a GoPro or the Osmo Pocket?

One want that may be tough to accommodate is the ability to shoot "selfie" style video and get everything in the shot. I suppose you could do this with a camcorder with a grip and a display that flips around, but it might be a bit awkward. Action cameras have a fisheye lens, which makes it easier to capture more, even without seeing what you're shooting. And I noticed the Mercalli software has presets to remove the fisheye effect when desired. Any thoughts on getting shots like this? Maybe I'm overemphasizing the need; I'm really not sure.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
One want that may be tough to accommodate is the ability to shoot "selfie" style video and get everything in the shot. I suppose you could do this with a camcorder with a grip and a display that flips around, but it might be a bit awkward. Action cameras have a fisheye lens, which makes it easier to capture more, even without seeing what you're shooting. And I noticed the Mercalli software has presets to remove the fisheye effect when desired. Any thoughts on getting shots like this? Maybe I'm overemphasizing the need; I'm really not sure
Here you have a few options. You can add a wide angle add-on lens to a camcorder to create an action camera fisheye if you want. A another way is to use the Wi-Fi in the camera to import a "picture in picture" from a Smartphone i.e. it gives you a composite picture using two cameras.

Mercalli is good but it uses the centre of the picture as a fixed point to stabilise around so you lose a small amount of the picture around the edges but with a combination of the camera's OIS and Mercalli rock steady pictures can be had.

Modern OIS is good, very good, but it helps to keep the camera as steady as is practical. There are many bits of kit available to provide a steady platform for the camera from powered gimbals (expensive) to simple supports. I use my monopod to give me a stable platform even when walking, it acts like a crude Steadycam.
 
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mpb2000

Novice Member
I could get a decent consumer camcorder for some uses and then a gimbal for my phone, or the Osmo Pocket or an action camera to use outside when moving around. The convenience of the standalone camera is nice. Obviously, my iPhone 6 isn’t incredibly inspiring, but it might be passable for video. My wife has an iPhone 8, so I could use that with a gimbal, but I would have to look at the camera specs to see how it compares with the action cameras and the Pocket. It might be a good place to start, and it would probably work with my next iPhone. I’ve never been impressed with the output of the camera on my iPhone 6, but that’s mostly as it relates to stills. How would that or the iPhone 8 camera compare to the action cameras or Pocket for video output specifically? The age of the iPhones makes me assume they would be significantly worse, but even the iPhone 6 can record in full HD.

My current point-and-shoot is an Olympus TG-3, which I bought mainly for the waterproofing for snorkeling. I’ve been quite happy with it for carrying around at Disney, the beach, or anywhere else I don’t want to carry my old SLR. I’ve never paid much attention to the video I’ve taken on the TG-3, but I could theoretically use it on a gimbal as well. I imagine the sensor is bigger than those on either iPhone we have. Is that worth considering? I’m sure there are gimbals that can be used for phones or relatively lightweight cameras. I imagine you can control shooting functions for some cameras via gimbal controls, but the TG-3 is surely too old for that. Regardless, the main function of the gimbal would still work.

I guess the real question is where should I start? Should I use one of those three cameras/iPhones I already have with a gimbal? Using the 2020 iPhone with that gimbal could be a potential upgrade at that point.
 
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mpb2000

Novice Member
And if the gimbal is a reasonable first step, what are some good gimbals that won’t break the bank? And is it worth getting one that can accommodate my TG-3 in addition to an iPhone, assuming that’s even possible?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
I would suggest you start with what you already have. You can then look at what they can do and decide from there if you need to spend any money.
There have been a few threads on here about gimbals so have a read through them - I have never used one so not in a position to recommend anything.

Mark.
 

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