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highest quality picture for £500 budget

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by William Wizz, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. William Wizz

    William Wizz
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    Hi, I'm a complete newbie to camcorders (apart for messing about with my friend's in order to film a 2 minute long horror movie set in a kitchen starring a pig's heart from the butchers). After some experimental animation and script writing I'm looking to shoot an amateur film or two (nothing big, just for fun).

    I'm looking for a camera that will produce the highest quality picture as close to dvd quality as possible. I've got a £500 budget (ruffly) and picture quality is my top priority. being able to edit the footage on my computer would also be helpful.

    If anyone could help point out some camcorders for me I would be very, very grateful thanks a lot.
     
  2. Roy Mallard

    Roy Mallard
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    panasonics are really the best way to go for absolute image quality.
     
  3. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    I think you'll find that most, if not all MiniDV Digital Camcorders these days will actually give you better than DVD quality. By it's very nature, DVD will never be as good as raw footage shot on a camcorder - 1 Hour = 14GB raw footage or 4.7GB DVD
     
  4. William Wizz

    William Wizz
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    Thanks I didn't know any of that.

    So if I uploaded some footage from a MiniDV Digital camcorder to my PC and burnt it to dvd would it look dvd quality?
    Also what other specifications do I have to take into consideration to get a good quality picture? I've been told about sensors (or something like that) that adjust to different lights and colours.
    With this in mind what camcorder do you guys think would be best for me?
    (sorry for all the questions but I really want to get it right before forking over £500 or so)
     
  5. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    Providing you don't try to sqeeze too much onto the DVD (a single layer DVD shouldn't hold much more than 1 hour) and use a decent 2 pass variable bit rate compressor, the quality should be very good, that is, not really any noticable difference between the DVD and the original.

    I would add, however, that I've been thinking about your question a bit more. With a camcorder in the price range you're looking for, you are not going to get footage a good as a professionally produced DVD. This is because the equipment movie studios use, produces far higher quality raw footage than a consumer camcorder can produce. Whilst this still has to be compressed to fit onto a DVD, because they are starting off with a better quality 'original', and because the programs they use to compress it to the DVD format cost thousands of pounds, the end result is going to be far superior.
     
  6. senu

    senu
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    I agree with the panasonics being real value for money when it comes to camcorders less than £1000.
    Sony ,Canon are brands which seldom produce poorly specced camcorders but you do pay a bit more for that pedigree.
    Melliot1963 hit the nail on the head when he alluded to the high specification and controlled environment used to produce DVDs commercially such that even compressed from the starting material down to mpeg2 ( dvd files) still looks very good.
    Although the mini dv standard is " fixed". the differences in out put from a camcorder costing £300 and high end prosumer ( consumer with professional aspirations!) Like the Sony vx 2100 lie not only in the number of manually controllable factors but also by the sheer amount of visual and sound detail that they seem to be able to pack into the tape. To do this they have high quality lenses, electronics which can cope with poorer lighting and ccd or cmos chips which are superior in their ability to collect the information and reproduce colours, contrast and shades into believable images.These cameras also give you the ability to not rely on automatic camera settings which are not always spot on.
    Broadcast houses and film studios use dvcam, betacam and other "non domestic" formats {film} which enable them get the high quality raw footage melliot1963 was reffering to.
    In many ways you get what you pay for with technology .Still £500 is not hay and Im sure you can get something to start and improve your basic videography till you can aspire to have somthing that will get you closer to "hollywood standard dvds (LOL)
    Sorry if this seems long winded. some features you will see advertised( or not):
    3ccd chip camcorders ( each for a primary colour) are more accurate with colours but generally less tolerant of low light at this prize range
    a 1/3 chip is bigger than a 1/4 chip: it will get more information.
    megapixel rating as applied to still digital camera does not nessesarily influence video quality : video size is fixed
    DV /in is a good ( sorry, mandatory) idea you will soon discover why
    The ability to do custom white balance can allow you make videos whose colours look natural despite varying lighting conditions.
    image stabilisation is good ( especially optical ) if you shoot a video not using a tripod as shake during shooting is very exagerated during playback.
    digital zoom is to be ignored as a selling point , it just degrades the video
    Finally you will very early on realise the need for a tripod, extra batteries, a few tapes, a dvd burner , dvd blanks and a pc with enough oomph (and hard drive space).. ..all in good time

    These above factors relate to the features that make your raw material the best you can get. Try to see thru the marketing hype and look at various forums and reviews
    The rest ( post production) relates to how much you try to put on a dvd-r and the 2 pass variable rate compression reffered to above.

    Good luck in your shopping . Beware If something looks too good to be true it probably is!
     
  7. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    William Wizz - I bet you wished you never asked the questions now :rotfl:

    When you are starting out it can be very daunting with a little knowledge trying to pick the best out of everything. Without knocking you down, TBH you are never going to get DVD quality clips to start with. A pro videotographer (like Roy :D ) will always get far better results from a cheap camcorder than a newbie with a full BBC camera setup. Getting the best requires knowledge & experience. Take it one step at a time and learn from your mistakes.

    I suggest you follow Roys recommendations of a Panasonic camcorder, but think seriously about other requirements such as upgrading the disc space on the PC etc. In other words, don't blow every penny you have on the cam and then not be able to do anything with the footage as the PC can't handle it. A good fluid head tripod will also be required, plus the mentioned extra battery as the supplied one normally wont even last the length of a tape. At ~£3 each you don't need to worry too much about tapes, but a good case to protect the cam when not being used is also well worth getting.

    So as I said at the start of my post, I bet you wish you never asked the questions :suicide:
    Oh well, it's too late now, just hand over the wallet as this is the last time you will have a need of it - for the next 20 years at least :devil:

    Good luck with the upcoming feature films and let us know how you get on.

    Mark.
     
  8. William Wizz

    William Wizz
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    Thanks guys this has all been really useful. Especially Senu's long yet very informative post.
    Mark - I was going to upgrade my computer to begin with but now that you've mentioned hard drive space I'll definitely upgrade my 20gb one, I assume 80gb will be enough.

    So yeah, I guess I'll have to start out with mistake after mistake but thanks for helping me not to start with one expensive mistake. I'll save a bit of money for a spare battery and if I can't borrow a tripod I'll get one of them too.

    Thanks again guys you've all been really helpful, I'll try and keep you updated if I come up with anything good.
     
  9. melliott1963

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    To be quite honest, I would advise you get the biggest hard disk you can - 80 GB is going to fill up pretty quickly. 250Gb and above disks are so (relatively) cheap these days, I personally wouldn't go for anything less.
     
  10. MarkE19

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    Agree, the bigger the better - HDD that is :blush:
    I would think that it is starting to get difficault to find drives as small as 80Gb, and when you do they will work out expensive compared to bigger drives.
    IMO to edit & create a 1 hour DVD you are looking at at least 30Gb of required HDD space as extra is needed for file conversion etc. As the drive gets full it slows down and becomes more fragmented. If you then want an exstra tape captured you start to run low on available space with just an 80Gb drive. Are you organised well enough to only have a single project on the go at a time, 'cause I know I'm not! Therefore as suggested you really want to get the biggest derive you can afford.

    Mark.
     

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