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Making my first purchase...

Ancientblogger

Novice Member
Hi all,

I'm an ancient history blogger and decided to take the plunge into recording some stuff for a Youtube channel I'm going to set up.

Initially I thought 'webcam' but then I thought, "nope, I want to do this properly". My aims are to make short vlogs (is this the correct term?) on a variety of subjects. Ideally I'd like to incorporate outdoor shots, but often it'll be a basic affair of me talking to the camera.

Having read around I've appreciated the need for a camcorder with an external microphone, it seems a large proportion of camcorders do not embrace this facility!

My budget is around the £300 mark. I'd welcome any input anyone has on choice of camera or any other aspects.

cheers!
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Welcome++
£300 is a tad low for any camcorder with decent facilities ((and s/h is risky unless you already know what to look for, etc.)).
If you can raise yr Budget then many camcorders will have the necessary mic-input/headphone op - but this isn't the only solution - you can get a Zoom SDHC recorder from abt £70 [Maplin] and then sync to the camera's audio - then you mute the track you don't want.

However, you'll need a decent Editor and PC to run it (whoever thought fun was cheap?).
I use a Sony CX410 and that's very capable, but the manual focus can be painful if you want to move about....but then use "Auto" tracking-focus which will keep up provided the target remains in the frame.
Sony Movie Studio v12 (v13 is intended for touch-screens0, is very capable and will upload to YT.etc. if you have the Account. There are other Editors, so best to buy what yr friends use so they can assist in the early days.

Many webcams can be close-focussed, but are fairly awkward to use, whereas a decent camcorder has all the facilities you'll need, but you also need some experience (eg in stills-photography) for lighting, and sound can be another problem although tie-clip mics are available quite cheaply (like £2 each complete), and solve moving-about (esp if connected to a Zoom in yr pocket ), thus giving you complete freedom.
Cheaper camcorders will be more difficult to focus on a subject, so you may like to consider £600 for a camcorder. However, if you're no concerned about shallow Depth of field, then the CX410 is pretty good and fantastic outdoors and has SloMo
Whatever you buy:-
You'll need Memory cards, Batteries, Tripod, Zoom and lights and maybe a decent background screen.... I suppose £250 would cover, if you can make-do. You can see that £300 is really too low to include a decent Camcorder...

However, there no easy route to experience and joining a film making club will be well worth the time.... while you can experiment with their gear before parting with real dosh.

Feedback from the club members should help in getting the blogs right and you may meet folks with Blog interests....
Hope that helps.
 

Terfyn

Prominent Member
Harry is right. You may find a second hand camera with a microphone input to fit your current budget but I could not find a new camera in the Canon or Panasonic range with an external mic input for under £450. My old DV tape based Canon HV20 had both microphone and headphone sockets but ,I guess these days, the cheaper camcorders are seen as point and shoot. The requirement for such "extras" is now seen as only suitable for the higher end camcorders.

You may consider a camcorder as an investment for use in areas other than your ancient history, personal use or family for example. So an increase in your budget may be possible.
Harry mentioned the Sony, my camera is the Panasonic HC-V750 at around £500. This camera has all you would need, mic and headphone sockets, a 29mm wide angle lens plus a decent 50x zoom for architectural detail, the ability to focus at 6" for close up detail and Wi-Fi for remote control. (actually quite useful) Bear in mind that modern camcorders will take still photos as well and to a standard that compares well with a DSLR.

If you are "talking to camera" inside and in, preferably, an acoustically deadened room (plenty of curtains and soft furnishing) you will get away with the on-board camcorder mics. If you want to narrate while outdoors (and assuming you have an up market camera) a tie clip mic with a wind muff would be ideal. I use a Yoga electret stereo tie clip mic. (£24 from Maplins) I also use this mic into my PC for voiceovers.

A decent tripod is "nice to have" but, with modern cameras having excellent optical image stabilisers, handheld shots are usually exceptionally steady. But, for telephoto, a tripod or a monopod is an essential extra. Again, if much of your recording is inside and "to camera", a simple desk stand or chair clamp is all that is required.

You do not mention the editor you will use. The latest batch have a direct download facility to YouTube or Vimeo and other web sites. Harry mentioned Sony, I use Corel VideoStudio X7 which has these download features. Plus an editor will have voiceover facilities which would reduce the need for an on-board camera mic socket.

So Harry's estimate of £600 is, unfortunately, not miles away for the set up you want.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Thanks Terfyn, did I mention that the current Computer Shopper is reviewing that Panasonic?
The CX410 is possibly not quite as good, but was cheaper as it omits WiFi (extra) and NFC. Whilst the CX410 has an unbelievably good stabaliser, if using the long-end of the zoom a support is necessary, if only to reduce arm-ache. I was filming a football match recently and opted for the sony tripod (the one with wired remote-control), but I realise that Pana has moved-on and their latest camcorder is probably the better Kit.
However, OP was on a tight (Yikes!) budget and for Internet, I'm sure you'll agree the very best quality is not going to show.

Mic. If buying a budget camcorder a Zoom Audio Recorder could be used, then the only issue is Lip-sync (using the camcorder's audio as guide), so OP might save some dosh this way. However, I suspect manual focus on a budget camcorder will be "difficult" - compared say with a decent camcorder like the Sony Prosumer Z1(tape), or Z5 (dual). where the image fairly jumps into sharp focus. Yet, for most applications it's hardly a Killer, since your eye is following the action and you tend to ignore the still-in-focus background. Also, as a bonus, the internal "Sharpening" which bugs budget camcorders, does mean you can be a bit lax over focus, anyway.
Whereas anything less than "perfect" on the Z1/Z5 shows terribly - and there is little you can do in Post.

SloMo:- OP wasn't interested in this, but as you have the Pana..... I understood from the blurb that yr SloMo could be commanded at any time the camcorder is filming, then it goes into SloMo (without Audio), - so I'm wondering does "Normal" filming resume when you stop SloMo? - and is there any time-limit to SloMo? - this is a headache for the CX410 having only a window of 2-sec. and I can't film "normally" once SloMo is Optioned. So I have to wait ( Eg for the horse to jump the fence), and hope I get the start right. This is a similar issue with goal-scoring as most attempts are thwarted by a good Goalie.
However, at today's prices Az is : CX410 £475 and Pana750 a tad over £500. However the Sony 530 is now at the CX410 price, with a 60x zoom + WiFi and NFC ( plus that Projector!), so it looks as if the Sony with the Balanced Optical System ( where the whole lens moves ), is maybe the best* value...... I can't understand why the CX410 has risen in price, but maybe that's Sony killing-off their slightly older model.
*However, I doubt we'd agree, yetawhile.
 
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vkmast

Established Member
Sony Movie Studio v12 (v13 is intended for touch-screens) is very capable and will upload to YT.etc. if you have the Account. There are other Editors, so best to buy what yr friends use so they can assist in the early days.
Maybe more correctly, Sony Movie Studio 13 Platinum (forget the basic Movie Studio 13) has touchscreen editing support. Many toolbars and menu items are now larger to accommodate touch gestures. Despite that you can still use your mouse and keyboard.
 

Terfyn

Prominent Member
I suspect manual focus on a budget camcorder will be "difficult" - compared say with a decent camcorder like the Sony Prosumer Z1(tape), or Z5 (dual). where the image fairly jumps into sharp focus.

Harry you need to get up to date:D For example the 750 has a method of showing when the subject is in focus by surrounding it with a halo of blue light. Naturally there are other aids to manual operation in this 2014 camera.
I did not mention Slo-Mo as I felt it could be irrelevant to Ancienblogger's requirements. The Panasonic Slo-Mo is aimed at event recording where analysis of the action may be of benefit. It is not a slow motion camera. I seriously think you need to invest in a V750 and enjoy the benefits of modern camcorders.;)
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
terfyn, surely you don't think the CX410 is ancient?
That halo effect is "Peaking" and common on ProSumer cameras. However, CX410 probably doesn't need that, as you can touch-screen the focus (and optionally exposure) point by touching. It's far from perfect, but I like it. Also at the time of purchase the Pana was more expensive... and had a lesser Zoom range.

I will agree the latest Pan model is possibly better in many areas, ( esp as Sony has increased the CX410 price), but then I'm committed to the CX410 and all its flaws ( eh?), and concentrate on "Content" - For shallow DoF I can use my NEX5 with a Nikor f/1.8 but it's hardly worth the bother. and you need a variable ND filter to trim up the exposure...these aren't difficult, but not as easy as the touch-screen.
 

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