Help with Panny, Canon or Sony camcorder decision

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by Xylo, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Hi all,

    I'm looking to buy a new camcorder to replace my exsiting one.

    The 3 I've narrowed it down to are:

    Canon Legria M406

    Panasonic HDR SD90

    Sony CX130

    Basically want a half decent HD camcorder to use filming family and holidays not really into the whole editing thing but might give it ago if I get the right software. :)

    Any advice would be greatfully received
     
  2. 961

    961
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    Get one with a viewfinder
     
  3. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Ok, why's that then? Most of the ones I've looked at no longer have view finders they just have a 2.7" or 3.0" LCD screens/monitors
     
  4. Bob++

    Bob++
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    With no viewfinder you have trouble filming with the sun behind you.
     
  5. 961

    961
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    Filming fast sport for example in bright sunlight without a viewfinder is hopeless. Same for kids at the seaside, air displays, loades of other stuff

    I know makers are trying to make small without vgiewfinders but, trust me, it's not user friendly
     
  6. chrishull3

    chrishull3
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    Ditto regarding viewfinders.
     
  7. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson
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    Same here (viewfinders), lcd screens pretty useless in bright conditions.
     
  8. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Cheers for the responses so far it's very helpful advice, so in regards to looking at camcorders with viewfinders are there any that you'd recommend around £300?
     
  9. 961

    961
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    Well, as you'll have discovered, despite the fact that every one of us has said camcorders without viewfinders are a no-no, they are very thin on the ground

    It's partly price competition and partly the desire to make it pocket handy so you don't need to lug around a case or camera bag

    I have to say I'm not up with prices at the moment. I do know that camcorder ranges are regularly "refreshed" at which point the "old" models come down in price with a bump. At the same time, the January sales this year should be worth a haggle

    So the three I've found via a quick look round the net are higher than you want to pay but may well have come down in price if you shop around

    Check the reviews. All these rate quite well in Which? and other reviews and some are part of a range which might have a cheaper model still boasting a viewfinder

    Panasonic HDC-SD900 review | Expert Reviews

    The Panasonic gets the best review here and on the Which site. It's pricey and may be beyond your range, but there are cheaper models which may (or may not) have a viewfinder

    Two Canon models are nearer your price. The HV40 and the Legria HF M41

    Some camcorders currently have cash back offers from the maker as well as anything you can haggle off in the shop
     
  10. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Cheers for the info and links 961 they are very helpful, I must say that I like the look of the Panasonic HDC-SD900 and next time I'm in town I'll have a look at it in the Panasonic shop and if all goes well could be onto a winner :smashin:
     
  11. 961

    961
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    Although this is a review centre from the USA it does give an indication of the specifications of many camcorders available in the UK

    As for prices, you know you just change the $ to £ and then find the models which are due for replacement and haggle hard

    Best Camcorders of 2011
     
  12. 12harry

    12harry
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    SD900 is still way over yr original Budget . . . and I suspect you're going to need to get "into" editing to make the most of those family opportunities.

    Note that cheaper camcorders also suffer poor low-light performance, due to small sensors, whatever the Mfr claims. The SD90 is about as cheap as you should go, although it has its limitations.

    If holidays feature in yr needs, consider a "fun" camera which is waterproof - it won't make superb movies, but it won't let you down (well not in respect of water/sand. etc.).....DYOR

    Of course if you consider Editing, then a serious camcorder like the 900 will be an excellent starting point, provided you have a modern PC available . . . that's another Cost!
     
  13. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Blimey I had no idea that there were so many factors to consider when buying a new camcorder. Ok I'll retract my previous post saying I could be onto a winner if I liked the sd900 as it sounds like it might do more than I need but I still really appreciate the advice given. Perhaps I should've mentioned that my current camcorder is a Sony DCR-HR18E which has a viewfinder and LCD screen and tbh I've hardly ever used the viewfinder on it so just goes to show my level of filming must be pretty crap, maybe I should practice filming through the viewfinder on my current camera and see how I get on.
     
  14. 961

    961
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    That's really interesting to hear and I've got to say well done for saying that.

    I'd be interested to hear if you ever film against the sun or at the sea or air displays or motor racing. If not, you may get away without a viewfinder. However that's not my experience if you are in to serious movies

    I went to film the Vulcan bomber at an air display a year ago. It was a bright sunny day. I never got a sight of the thing within the screen and came away wishing I had stuck to my older Sony which would have found it no bother

    One thing I didn't say yesterday because I'd been on several times, was that the viewfinder does not need to be colour. My camcorder has black and white viewfinder and it's fine. The newer one I bought without a viewfinder was top range Sony but I just couldn't see what I wanted in sunlight through the screen

    Take your time. No hurry. Prices continue to fall
     
  15. 12harry

    12harry
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    I agree about viewfinders, but there are "shades" available and I made one for my LCD, using a glass lens and some odd bits and pieces - it gives a bright image much like a (film) SLR, so the change in focus (I was using manual) is quite clear. However, may camcorders have the swing-out LCD at the side, far forward, so it may not be so easy to fit a magnifying shade . . . . . My accessory cost all of £1....but I have plenty of "bits" to hand, only the lens was bought (about 1" dia f=120mm)...DYOR.

    If EdieHitler is using the LCD with both hands supporting the camcorder, that may help improve stability; whereas one-handed using the eye-viewfinder does look a tad wobbly, as I see folks doing. Perhaps he could try both (with the same subjects) and let us know his findings. Standing under a tree helps seeing the LCD, but trees aren't always in the right spot.

    Upmarket Camcorders' EVF have a "pull-out" design - so they let you see the rabbit when a larger battery is fitted. Otherwise the big-battery can get in the way.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  16. Xylo

    Xylo
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    Most of the things captured on film have been of Xmas time, holidays (for example, Malaga which was very bright and sunny and Florida which also was very sunny) and the occasional trip to the sea side all of which have never really been a problem filming through the LCD screen. However I can't remember filming any fast moving images such as air shows or motor sports in the time I've had my current camera and never even attempted to edit any of the films I have atm so doubt I'll start anytime soon. My Sony also has a black and white viewfinder and I must say I have always been pleased with performance and video quality of my Sony when playing back videos and it never let me down, apart from that though if we took viewfinders out of the equation and had to choose out of the 3 in the starting post which would be the best out of the 3?
     
  17. 961

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    That's a fair enough question, so let's have a go

    First, you've already got a camcorder with a viewfinder. Keep that, and if you ever have a problem with the new one you can use that to get round things

    Second, read the reviews to see what these three have, and how they differ. Amazon is a good place to learn from folk that have bought and used stuff. They really will tell you the ups and downs, for example...

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B004I1KPI4/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

    Do you want a big zoom, a low price, a pocket size?

    The Canon has a 10x zoom and has a £50 cashback at the moment, so you'll probably get it for about £300

    The Sony has a 30x zoom and can be got for £258 from Dixons on line

    The Panasonic is a little dearer but also has £50 cashback at Amazon

    Panasonic SD90 Full HD 1920x1080p 3D Ready Camcorder: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

    Here's a review

    Panasonic HDC-SD90 review | from TechRadar's expert reviews of Camcorders

    If you trawl this site you'll probably find reviews for the other two as well

    I'm a Sony man for lens quality but Canon certainly is not far behind. Remember you may need to consider for each of these what you need to buy in the way of memory cards and batteries virtually as soon as you buy the camcorder. This can alter the best buy

    Let's know how you get on!:D:laugh::D
     
  18. 12harry

    12harry
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    EddieHitler,
    FWIW....I'm not sure any value should be put on "3D" ready as the images are side-by-side and there are zoom limit (like none-DYOR). although if you want 3D and are prepared to pay a few hundered pounds then it's about as good as 3D will get on a budget camcorder.

    Also, I'd put little value on an extreme zoom, as this is bound to create steadyness issues, despite Optical stabilisers... what you need is a SOLID tripod.
    - Unfortunately that leaves a camera with "Cashback" which I refuse to consider. Why not let the Retailer do the voucher-exchange . . . it puts the consumer in a risk that somehow they'll miss the smallprint, yet they are buying the product on the assumption it will be honoured. (yep, I'm mad!)

    Good luck with yr choice.
     
  19. PizzaDeOveja

    PizzaDeOveja
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    Hi there:hiya:

    Im currently enjoying the glory of the canon hfg10 and I got to tell you, the price is xtreme but the quality is too. So far I haven't produced a top qual Blue
    (25MB) but at 17MB the colors, pans and crispness looks like if my plasma was a window. If you live in America you get the option of shooting in 24p or in 60i thus you are pretty covered in any situation to get the best filmed material.

    Ive read on the internet that the high end consumer Panasonic is currently the one to beat. It has a different approach than the canon top dog, as it employs 3CCD's instead of the single ultra big 2megapixels one of the canon.

    Even in an article that I think was made by a representative of Panasonic, they had to admit that night shots with the canon were astounding and I concur. You can get night shots that look even better than some films and the sunsets will blow you away. My fiance was saying the other day that
    ....hey! it looks a lot better in film than it did look down there! I think that is the biggest compliment one can ever hear about their work, from a woman at least!:laugh: But I did just kept the cam steady and shoot in auto, the cam did the rest (I didn't tell her that ;)hehe).

    You also get the ultrasteady mechanical whatever steady shot button that keeps the image pretty neat when using xtreme zoom, really useful if you don't go traveling with a tripod in your back (which I dont).

    My previous experience with sony was very disappointing, the steady shot did lack a lot in my model, and you could barely see them videos that looked like if they were made by a guy with Parkinson, but they must have perfected that a lot since then, it was a model from 2008-2009 or so. Image of course was not nearly as good as it is on the hfg10 thou it is true that it is an unfair comparison.

    Also one of the things that my current cam is an improvement over the older one is the fact that the canon records in a flash drive card. A real improvement over the record in Hard Disk option, which took for ever to start recording and had a lot of potential problems that you wont find with the flash drive option. Also you can add up to two additional ones if you plan to record more than 3 hours at top qual before returning home to download.

    I have to disagree with the guys from the forum, as I haven't used the lame viewfinder the cam has not a single time. The huge tactile screen is a great way of filming, you don't get nearly as tired and are able to see much more of the environment and so the quality of the video improves a lot. Frankly I don't remember ever not being able to see the screen, it must be one of those things like the protective filter for cam lens...I wonder how many people have had their lenses broken by a direct hit on the Cristal:D. Thou of course it is absolutely true that having the option is always better than not having it.

    Hope I was of some use...
    BEST!:thumbsup:
     
  20. 12harry

    12harry
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    Hi PizzaDeOveja, always good to have female views.

    However, whilst the Canon HFG10 is a fine camcorder, is it nearly 3x the price of the OP's budget, so I'm a tad lost as to how this helps.

    re LCD's
    If you are filming, using a tripod and the action is in the open (so no shade from trees) and you need to have a high viewpoint (ie higher that you are - as I don't imagine you take steps with you - you said "no tripod"). Then, when the sun is out it is directly on the LCD and it's very difficult to set the focus manually, so you can pan (as a parade, for example) passes. If you use AF then it "hunts" when there are gaps in the parade, since the background has the greatest contrast. My long lens is off a SLR, so it has a ft/m scale which can help, but finally it's down to getting the focus right, using the shaded/magnified-screen.

    Now, I'm not suggesting a viewfinder solves this, since that requires the viewer to be above the camcorder, however, a really "pro" piece of kit has a video-output and this can drive a small LCD screen a metre or so away (in the shade).
    Cheers.

    It was a situation like this that prompted me to make a magnifying "shade" which enables the focus to be really good. I use a camera with interchangeable lenses, closer to the OP's budget.

    BTW the reason for that camera-filter is to allow cleaning when it gets covered in marks. If it get scratched it reduces contrast, but being a screw-in, it can be replaced. Using a camera without a front-filter is inviting trouble, IMHO.
     
  21. fearce

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    Hi,

    OP - what did you go for? I had the cx130 and returned due to a dead pixel (most likely one off) and also poor low light performance. I figure I can now spend less and still get the same performance.
     
  22. 12harry

    12harry
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    fearce - what did you find and at what price?
    I see UK prices vary a lot - today Jessops is almost half the Tesco price - but this may change in a blink! Surprisingly Dixons is also quite competitive - I guess it depends which is in stock locally.
     
  23. fearce

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    Hi again 12harry,

    There are various deals at Currys that offer ther best value for Panasonics. I've just replied to another thread with my options but am ensure what to go for. I know the larger the sensor the better (sony in this case) but from what I have experienced (indoor & low light) it was grainy and pixelated so if I spend less will i continue to get the same quality....appreciate if you could have a look at the other post in the other thread and give an opinion on the models I've listed please?

    Prices from vary but there all with budget and shopping around they all have good deals as already posted on here.
     

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