Blathering about mp3 but wanting help with Camcorders

mp3 is a fantastic invention (I mean the players as well) and as inventions go, ranks right up there with Pizza, bicycles, gravity and instant coffee as far as I’m concerned. Despite me having a terrible horrible no good very bad journey this morning, I did at least have the mp3 widget playing throughy the car stereo. I love the ‘shuffle’ setting, just enjoying the random uncertainty of “What’s next?” This morning I ended up with:
‘Baby I don’t Care’ Transvision vamp
‘Rock me Gently’ Andy Kim
‘All revved up’ Meatloaf
‘Don’t have to tell you why’ Bruce Cockburn
‘All star’ Smash Mouth
‘Ride of the Valkyries’ Wagner
‘American Pie’ Don Mclean
‘Angel of Harlem’ U2
‘Angel Eyes (Techno remix)’ Abba
‘Back of my Hand’ The Jags

And now by virtue of the genius that is the internet you can be sitting at your computer saying, “COOL!” or “NOOOOOO!” to this snapshot of my musical taste or lack thereof 🙂
Now onto the reason that started my blathering about inventions, “Camcorders?” I know NOTHING! I have been given the go ahead to get one for work and really want to use it for Vox Pops type stuff so that young people’s voices can be more easily included into training and the like. If you are a black belt in the art of the video then could you help me thusly ….
Best model at about £400 – £450 ish that has GOOD sound quality and comes with great but usable editting software? What other issues do I need to be aware of? What things do I need to avoid? Wisdom pleeeez?
*btw, I’m trying to work out what the person on the screen in the picture is actually doing? It looks like the’ve dressed up in a purple sheet and are pretending to drive a car? weird

11 Replies to “Blathering about mp3 but wanting help with Camcorders”

  1. The latest issue of PCPro has a group test of camcorders, the majority of which are below your budget if I recall.
    In terms of editing, in a lot of cases the stuff in the box is not the best, and you’ll probably want to get something else, like Adobe Premiere Elements. I’d recommend getting the best camera you can, rather than being swayed too much by the freebies!
    What would also help would be if you can get a Mac from somewhere (budget above doesn’t really stretch to that though) as iMovie should do you just fine, and from past experience of both PC and Mac is a lot less hassle. Having said that you should be able to get decent results on either platform.

  2. Thanks Richard, good advice ….plus I like the Mac suggestion but the Diocese of Oxford is PC through and through.
    BTW, what does a better camcorder do better than a cheaper one?

  3. In terms of what a better camcorder does from another, there are two main bits I guess. Lens and the sensor. Lens wise you want the biggest optical zoom you can get, as soon as you start using digital zoom you lose quality. Sensor is related to the ccd’s and megapixels. Again the bigger the better. Also, I think going in the shop and holding the thing is important. Make sure it’s comfortable and the buttons you need to use whilst pointing it at people (zoom, record) are easy to press without wobbling the camera over the place. You’ll also need to think about the format you want it to record to miniDV or HD are the two main options at the moment.
    If you want to get into anymore detail I’ll ask my brother as he is training as camera man and knows lots more about this than me.
    Drop me an email if you want to know more.

  4. Mark has covered the main camera bits – I’d certainly second ignoring the digital zoom option and paying attention to optical zoom figures only (in actual fact on our cameras I always disable the digital zoom straight off).
    The other thing to look for is whether it has an input for an external mic. If you’re doing Vox Pop type stuff, the mic on the camera is in totally the wrong place, and it really helps to have a microphone that you can hold close to the subject.

  5. Richard and Mark,
    Thank you so much for the advice. I went to Jessops this morning but we couldn’t actually find one with an external mic port. I’m really tempted to get a DVD one for ease of transfer but I’m told the quality isn’t as good? AAAAArrrghghgh why is this so complicated.
    Off to by a copy of ‘PC Pro’ now

  6. My experience is that if you go for mini-DV, the cheapest, worst camera is absolutely fine for picture quality. I would look for ease of use, assuming you’ll have kids using it. Mic i/p is essential. Spend the money on editting software. Remember to budget for a firewire input to your laptop – if you don’t have one, buy a PCMCIA card with firewire input. Also a tripod for interviews. For normal people, infrared nightvision is a waste of time, but for you, Ian…

  7. Hadn’t thought of Night Vision, Cool!
    I also need to be able to attach is to my helmet to get some cool Cycle duel with the Oxford traffic type footage.

  8. I’d also check the editing software too. Most free software allows you to download the recorded data and burn on a cd, but not allow you to edit the footage without forking out more cash. Recording straight to dvd gives .vob files which i don’t believe the free microsoft movie editor can manipulate. You would have to download a file converter software to convert to .wmv or something (which takes ages and a lot of processor power) to edit using movie editor and then re-convert to dvd, thus losing picture quality. I don’t really know what the best software options are, but I’d advise checking exactly what the software with the camera can do

  9. Hello, know nothing about cam corders so won’t even go there! The picture is of a woman leaping (in an opposite direction to the person in a purple sheet driving). I don’t know if you were seriously asking that question, but there’s your answer!
    P.S. It took me ages to see the person driving – dah!

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