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Need help picking a new camcorder for the wife.

Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:06 am

Wife's birthday is coming up and she wants a new camcorder.

Currently we use a Sony handycam that uses a hi-8 tape and has usb out.

We almost exclusively take video's of horses outside in mostly bright or sunny conditions. These are action shots of horses that are up for sale. They are being lunged or ridden doing walk, trot, canter etc. I typically use a tripod if I am doing the recording from a single vantage point but I also need to be able to hold the camera steady if I need to move around. (Must be of decent weight and have good image stabilization.)
Because I usually have the sun behind me the LCD panel needs to be easily viewable in bright sunlight or the viewfinder needs to be usable w/ glasses.

Shots are usually imported into windows movie maker and edited for posting to youtube BUT we also need the ability to generate a quality dvd for the neophytes or those people who want a higher resolution image. Currently we do everything in standard def but I can see that in the future we will need HD.
(You see our vids here:

It needs to be fairly easy to use for when hubby is not around. Budget is TIGHT so around $150 to $300 and it has to LAST.
We do take good care of our equipment but this is going to be used in a dusty arena.

Any help in pointing in the right direction or offering possible suggestions would be greatly appreciated. (I don't wanna screw this up...)
I wish to see things not as they are but as they should be.

Main machine: Core I7 -2600K @ 4.5Ghz / 16 gig ram / Radeon 7870 / 240 gb Corsair ssd / 5tb hd
Old machine: Core 2 quad Q6600 @ 3ghz / 8 gig ram / Radeon 6870 / 240 gb PNY ssd / 1tb HD
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Re: Need help picking a new camcorder for the wife.

Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:43 am

The above site avoids the BS and puts down real numbers for the most part.

I will warn you now, that under$300 and good motion video with HD is not likely going to happen. You will probably want to chance a used older camera off ebay and get some good video processing software. Cost of the total package will be upwards of $1,000 to $1,500 to get acceptable HD video that doesn't have jumping focus, interlaced artifacts, or just bad motion artifacts.

You will want 60 frames/second for good video, short of that 60 fields deinterlaced to 60 frames. I have not found a cheaper (or free) deinterlacer that works as well as VLC. I end up saving the video in 1080i mpg and using vlc to watch it. If i convert it to 60 frames from my video editing software, the results are fair, but not nearly as good as 1080i deinterlaced with vlc.

I gave my in laws a toshiba X100 for xmas, because they wanted a cheapo that they could use and not worry about losing a $1,000 camcorder, and its good for what it cost, but the video blurs from too slow focus response, poor motion compression, image stabilization is completely absent, and the thing never quite looks "sharp". All that said its worlds ahead of a SD video.

good luck.
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 4:26 am

Re: Need help picking a new camcorder for the wife.

Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:01 am

The site cass recommended looks pretty good. Their top pick for HD cameras that do not break the bank is the Panasonic HDC-TM700, but I would recommend that you also have a look at the Sony HDR-CX550V.

Both cameras have flash-based storage and use the AVCHD format for recording. Sony and Panasonic jointly developed AVCHD as a format that can be recorded straight onto Blu-ray without any additional conversions (except for 1080p @ 60, see below).

Advantages of the Sony: wider lens and twice the storage space (64GB of flash versus 32GB in the Panasonic).

Advantages of the Panasonic: the main reasoning from in support of their pick is the 1080p @ 60 recording capability of the Panasonic. However, you will be hard-pressed to find editing and authoring software that can support this format (they also mention this). The Blu-ray specification also does not support 1080p @ 60, so you will have to change the frame rate and/or scan format of your recordings and re-encode them if you ever intend to put them on Blu-ray. They also say that video looks sharper on the Panasonic - this I cannot comment on.

Also, be aware that year 2010 HD camcorder models from Sony apparently suffer from slow auto-focus (comment from two relatives who own the HDD version of the Sony camcorder mentioned above). This issue may be a deal-breaker for you since will be filming fast-moving animals.

I would strongly recommend going to a large electronics retailer where you can play with both to see which one you prefer.

[EDIT]Sorry, I somehow completely missed the part where you talk about budget... These two cameras are way north of your price bracket...[/EDIT]
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 4:26 am

Re: Need help picking a new camcorder for the wife.

Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:33 am

How about this? ... .169976100

Currently selling for $129.95. It's waterproof, so I'm guessing dust wouldn't be a problem.
There is a review of it at CrunchGear. They put it through all kinds of water testing. ... camcorder/

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