Long Camcorder Battery & Recording Time ??

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by linearconcepts, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. linearconcepts

    linearconcepts
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    I leave next week for Africa and want to record video of the conferences we're teaching. Recording time will be ~5 hours per day for 5 days. The place where we're holding the conference has VERY unreliable electricity. The last time we were there, we had maybe 5 hours of electricity the entire week (I do not exaggerate). Electricity at the place we're sleeping at night *should* be better than the school where we're holding the conference.

    After doing some preliminary testing, I'm finding out that the video solution I have on hand (Lumix FZ-28) can't compress videos in real time, and at HD, I only get ~8 minutes of video on a 32GB SDHC card. With 320x280 in low quality, I get 3 hours on 32GB card. But the video is horrible. Failing any other solution, that's what I'll be doing.)

    However, I understand newer cameras/camcorders can take much better video and have longer battery life.

    So... Any suggestions on what kind of camera I should purchase to get good video record time and long battery life?

    Please also keep the following in mind:

    1) The country where we will be is somewhat hostile to tourists. Anyone foreigner making videos runs the risk of police intervention and possible equipment confiscation. The camera must be cheap ($100-$400USD. Used is fine.) The country is also overrun with "law-enforcement" willing to pump me for a bribe. Expensive gear is a magnet for unwelcome scrutiny. Cheap is better.

    2) If necessary, I'm not opposed to swapping SDHC cards every couple of hours and backing up to my laptop & external HD.

    3) If I have to cobble together an external battery pack, that's do-able, provided I have pinouts & power requirements.

    4) Audio will be a non-issue! The entire conference is for the deaf and will be done in sign-language.

    5) Lighting may be an issue, but thankfully, the facility has large windows.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    TIM
     
  2. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    One suggestion re the batteries. Both the stand alone chargers I have run off 12V as well as 240V so a car battery/lighter socket could provide the support you need.

    On my camera a Panasonic HC-V700 the recording times are for best quality 50i are 4 hours for a 32Gb SDHC card increasing to 5hr20min and 13hr20min for the lowest quality. For a 64Gb card double the time.
     
  3. linearconcepts

    linearconcepts
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    Thanks, Terfyn

    After doing some research, I've found that my biggest problem is that I'm using old equipment! The camera I'm using records JPG video, and the compression it offers is nothing compared to AVCHD. By getting a new(er) camera, I'm able to get substantially more video on my 32gb cards.

    I'll definitely keep your battery tip in mind as I chase that one down.

    Thanks!
     
  4. 12harry

    12harry
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    Followiing Terfyns comments: My Sony Charger monitors the battery temperature and has the additional terminals connected . . . I bought a "BlueMax" charger which offers both AC Mains and 12v (car) inputs, so it is possible to charge one battery while driving to the next venue. However, looking at the construction it is clear the low price does mean there is no battery monitoring (other than voltage of course). So following discussions here it seems that using these chargers carries L-T risk.


    The fix appears to be to use the Sony charger with a 12v/240vac inverter. These are cheap, as the charger-power is quite low. I think I paid £15 at a computer-fair. However, it became obvious that the journey-time was too short to do the charging and I ended up buying a spare battery.
    I now have three batteries for the NEX5 and these are numbered I, II,III, so they are Used and Charged in a strict order....only using the Sony charger.

    OP is visiting a hot country and consideration for monitoring the cell-temperature, during charging, will be more important then back here in Britain.


    . . . Thought it might help . . . .

    BTW
    I have found that many car-power plugs can be a bit "tempermental" when vibration is present. If OP is using a motor vehicle as power-source stationary, then this may not be such an issue. However, I think for a Pro-set-up he should get a car-specialist to install a fused power-point using decent connectors (eg Mini-XLRs) - and possibly with meters that show the (car battery voltage) and the Accessory current . . . with a current-limit about 2A - such a set-up won't be cheap but something like £150 should start to look the Biz.




    Re-reading OP original post and the potential for "intervention" I wonder that he should consider a GoPro - these are tiny, with high quality, wide-angle (no zoom!), they are very robust and being intended for extreme sports should have low battery consumption - they are not known to eat memory, so this may help OP with the existing 32G card problems. I wonder if two-cameras aren't the best answer, so the sign-language can't be inserted as PiP in the Edit. It would free the Camera-operator to get the best view of the teaching whilst not losing the Signing. GoPros are often used as helmet-cams so an assistant could be used to watch the lessons in progress (but I don't know the Subjects/Content) - - - As ever, DYOR.
    + If OP straps GoPro to an Elephant, make sure you know which one it is! The potential for YouTube vid-postings may help with the project finances, etc.


    Good Luck, let us know how thinks pan out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013
  5. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    Try digitalmediastore: Camcorder Batteries, Top Branded Rechargeable Batteries For replacement high capacity batteries and chargers.
    I am very wary of 12v/240v inverters, the AC output can badly affect equipment as the waveform may not be sinusoidal.
    12harry's idea of a prewired fused 12V lead with a suitable plug for your 12V charger may be the best solution, I normally recharge at a standstill but the socket in the boot of my car supports a fridge without any problem on the move.
     
  6. 12harry

    12harry
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    I will agree with Terfyn that cheap (and some expensive!) inverters have poor waveforms - indeed I'd be surprised if they were good, since the modern PSU is switch-mode and can accommodate quite distorted waveforms - what is important is that the frequency is reasonably near 50Hz and the rms voltage about 240v (although these can vary quite a bit and still work OK, because as I said the Power used is quite low - this is a feature of the Batteries, which can't be fast-charged ) . . . my own take about 2x the camcorder time...so my 4hr battery takes nearly 8hrs . . . but then you shouldn't run then anything like that low.
     
  7. linearconcepts

    linearconcepts
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    In case anyone is interested, my final solution is as follows:
    - Panasonic Lumix FZ35
    - 32GB class 6 SDHC card (capable of holding 7.5hrs of video)
    - AVCHD video support
    - Custom battery pack made of 7 NIMH AA batteries, putting out ~10v and 2200 mAh direct to a barrel connector plug on the side of the camera.

    In my tests so far, the battery pack has had no problem keeping the camera recording for 10+ continuous hours between charges, and the 32G card can hold almost 8 hours of video.

    This solution will allow me to record 5-7 hours of daily conference lectures in HD, (swap out cards maybe once a day), recharge AA batteries and prep daily videos each night, and have the videos ready for select conference attendees the morning after the conference is over.

    The videos won't be professional, of course, but will be more than enough to get the job done.

    TIM
     
  8. 12harry

    12harry
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    Reads like a workable solution, but I hope there is a fuse in the battery line...otherwise you could induce a hefty discharge that's not good for the cells, and importantly dangerous for the leads. The fuse should be within the battery-pack, perhaps yr supplier can confirm and maybe supply a few spares "just n case"...Ideally 20mm glass fuse rated at 250/500mA should be quite suitable. It might be a good idea to include a protection diode to prevent reverse-connection (so it blows the internal fuse) . . . . and lastly a Charging-light, so you know some current is going into the cells. This would be over and above any "Charge-lights" on the charger.

    Let us know how the project works out...
     

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