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View Full Version : cheap camcorder or (more)expensive dslr?


Hermione
11th of October 2010 (Mon), 08:24
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some guidance here. I own an xsi and for the most part it meets all of my needs. I've recently decided to get a camcordeer. Nothing fancy, just something that will take good videos of my family, christmas, vacations, etc. I figured that in the future I would probably invest in something of better quality and more money, however right now, money is an issue. Anyways, is it worth buying something such as:
http://www.henrys.ca/58583-CANON-FS300-BLUE-SDHC-FLASH-CAMCDR.aspx
(Canon fs3000
or would I get much better results out of a new dslr with video capabilities? In which case I could upgrade. As much as I like photography, I'm also not interested in anything too complicated in the way of video. While I would enjoy making nice videos, some times you just want to "point and shoot".

Thanks for the help.

MCB
11th of October 2010 (Mon), 10:16
Do you have an HD TV? Anything to play HD content on it (like a blu-ray or PS3)? Do you want to buy both of those things sometime soon (if you don't have them)? Do you have a computer and software capable of editing HD video?

If the answer is "no" then go ahead and get the standard definition camcorder.

If the answer is "yes" then consider a more expensive HD camcorder or the DSLR with video.

For family stuff, kids at birthdays etc, you'll be better off with a camcorder. It's way easier and you can basically just point and shoot. The DSLR gives better quality but is more work (especially due to the lack of autofocus).

That's my opinion, anyway. Good luck. :)

sxotty
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 11:11
I am debating between a $150ish camcorder device and a t2i body.

I found this thread searching for advice on the same topic. Basically the boat I am in is that I have a Xti (400d). I have been hankering for a newer body such as the t2i especially for low light conditions as the XTi just cannot shoot decent quality at high ISO speed. We also need a video camera. So at first I thought aha! salvation is at hand I can have an excuse to get the t2i, but more reading up on the topic makes me a bit leery that it will actually work out. When people say "shaky cam" I have seen reviews saying "it will look like amateur camcorder video" and if that is the case then I don't care. I get the same thing as the camcorder (if it is worse then that is something to think about), but there are obviously other drawbacks like autofocus.

If I were to run the aperture down though the depth of field should increase and the focus issue should cease to be problematic. For normal lighting situations how well does this work?

Last night I took some photos with my XTi with aperture closed up and at 1600 iso and it seemed the focus issue would not be much of a problem, but how is the video at 1600 in a t2i (reviews of still images show much less noise than my 400d)? Is the overheating issue related to ISO? I searched and found people stating it wasn't related to shutter speed, or aperture, but I thought that ISO might actually make sense if they pump more current through the CCD to get more sensitivity or something like that.

If I bought a t2i and a Hoodman Loupe (so I could see the LCD) how would the results compare to a $150-200 camcorder indoor and outdoor?

rxjohn
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 12:55
Here's my set up. Canon Vixia HF200 with an external mic, extra battery (lasts 300 minutes) and Tiffen Hollywood Filters for that film look. This little camcorder records in 30p..and the quality is good in HD and it'll do for any casual gathering of family and friends.

But, I wanted to get into DSLR video... so Kiss X4 (T2i) is on its way today or tomorrow. I'll let you know if it satisfies the craving.

http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/8314/mg9705.jpg

Daship
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 13:04
Get a camcorder, DSLRs are fun but are not easy like a normal camcorder. No easy focus, and unless you manually focus with the DSLR you will hear the focus noise.

MikeFairbanks
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 13:43
I've just started learning video (Canon T2i) and it's really hard, but it's also fun.

I'd suggest using a tripod religiously. Handholding a DSLR is very difficult. Lots of shaking.

sxotty
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 14:10
I've just started learning video (Canon T2i) and it's really hard, but it's also fun.

I'd suggest using a tripod religiously. Handholding a DSLR is very difficult. Lots of shaking.
More shaking than a cheap camcorder though? That is the comparison I am trying to make. Thanks.


rxjohn, I will look forward to your impressions when you get your set up. Basically I would be happy to spend more on a DSLR setup b/c I already have lenses and want a new DSLR anyway so the additional cost for the loupe and such are basically the cost I see. The magic lantern focus assist for the t2i was incredibly cool too if anyone has seen that.

I wish my current DSLR did some minute amount of video so I could just try it and see how it turned out... I am pretty decent at holding steady this photo I just took with no tripod or anything.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gFci_9QwVBcekZIhv_h31FrxmTHCqxGYvD2OKpDHjSk?feat=d irectlink

Chippy569
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 16:15
ultimately, a camcorder will be better for video than an slr, but then the camcorder will be inconvenient for stills. Camcorders use completely different sensors and focus systems. SLR video is a sort of adaptation of DSLR's equipment.

A camcorder is significantly easier to hand-hold because it's designed to be. An SLR is meant to be held against your eye for stability but you can't do that in video mode, so you either need to acquire some extra gear or just deal with it.

a photo handheld is no problem but video handheld is an entirely different beast. For an example, take a burst-mode shot of something for 5 seconds or whatever. Then, open up all the pictures and scroll through them. Notice how much of the edges move from picture to picture. (note also that the longer your focal length the more profound this effect will be). Holding acceptably still for a picture shot at 1/250 of a second is no biggie, but in video you're usually hanging out at 1/50 or 1/60 depending on your frame rate. So now not only do you need to be perfectly still for 1/60, but you need to be perfectly still for 30 pictures at 1/60 all in a row. Quite simply, this is impossible for humans to do.

That was a bit of a tangent, so I digress. Camcorder will shoot better video, at least for the time being. As DSLR video technology improves, perhaps there will be a time where that changes, however if Sony's new NEX-VG10 is a glimpse of what's to come I think the camcorder technology will improve better sooner.

peter nap
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 16:32
ultimately, a camcorder will be better for video than an slr, but then the camcorder will be inconvenient for stills. Camcorders use completely different sensors and focus systems. SLR video is a sort of adaptation of DSLR's equipment.

A camcorder is significantly easier to hand-hold because it's designed to be. An SLR is meant to be held against your eye for stability but you can't do that in video mode, so you either need to acquire some extra gear or just deal with it.

a photo handheld is no problem but video handheld is an entirely different beast. For an example, take a burst-mode shot of something for 5 seconds or whatever. Then, open up all the pictures and scroll through them. Notice how much of the edges move from picture to picture. (note also that the longer your focal length the more profound this effect will be). Holding acceptably still for a picture shot at 1/250 of a second is no biggie, but in video you're usually hanging out at 1/50 or 1/60 depending on your frame rate. So now not only do you need to be perfectly still for 1/60, but you need to be perfectly still for 30 pictures at 1/60 all in a row. Quite simply, this is impossible for humans to do.

That was a bit of a tangent, so I digress. Camcorder will shoot better video, at least for the time being. As DSLR video technology improves, perhaps there will be a time where that changes, however if Sony's new NEX-VG10 is a glimpse of what's to come I think the camcorder technology will improve better sooner.

Chippy...I have to disagree and agree.
My DSLR (7D) is what I consider my best quality under controlled conditions, video camera. It's not my high end still camera but I could live with it for that.

I have several Camcorders including two very Good HD Consumer camcorders (One is the Vixia 200 pictured above) and a higher end Sony.

I also have two GoPro's and as of two hours ago, a Zoom Q3HD.

They all have different uses and it's hard to fathom doing everything with just one camera.

I agree that for the OP a Camcorder is the way to go since he already has a good serviceable still camera.

rxjohn
2nd of February 2011 (Wed), 16:43
To my untrained eyes, DSLR video quality seems much better than Camcorder video. Of course DSLR requires much more gizmos (Tripod, rail, follow focus, ext mic) to deliver...

sxotty
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 00:07
The photo I linked had a 1s shutter speed, and it was just in my hand so that means I can hold it steady for 60 frames at 60fps :)

Of course that doesn't involve panning or anything like that. I was actually surprised it did not blur myself, but at the time thought what the heck.

It is still not quite clear since you are bringing up stuff like the NEX-VG10 that costs an arm and a leg.

I am comparing to
Sanyo GH4 (http://www.amazon.com/Sanyo-VPC-GH4-Camcorder-Range-Charcoal/dp/tech-data/B00426D9KQ/ref=de_a_smtd) or Flip Ultra (http://www.amazon.com/Flip-UltraHD-Video-Camera-Generation/dp/B0040702HA/ref=sr_1_1?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1296709003&sr=1-1)

<$200 camcorders don't seem that special, but they may be.

davidfig
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 01:51
It depends on your usage. I would like a good video system that takes good pictures. This leave out camcorders as they take like 1mp pictures. But my wife has the Nikon S8100 and it takes good pictures and good movies. Its IS handles fairly well and the 10mp back illuminated sensor does pretty good. Its small and she can drive it to 10x zoom.

Chippy569
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 08:27
Those sub-$200 cameras give you very little control over exposure. They're basically permanently on "auto" mode. They're good for taking a very simple shots but not much else. In that case, the HDSLR is better.

sxotty
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 13:11
Chippy what about stability of image (shaking)? I am trying to figure out how those sub $200 camcorders compare all around. Obviously the DSLR will take way better quality footage if done right, but if hand held I am not sure how it would turn out. Maybe the problem is normally people are not cross shopping between these sorts of items so reviews don't compare them very well. Hmmm I think one of my friends cameras might do video I will have to call him and see what he has. I know his SLR is newer than mine, but it might be a 450d which I don't think does video either.

edit:

BTW when thinking about this I figured I would get a wide angle lens as well then focus should not be an issue at all on the DSLR. That would only leave the shakiness as a potential issue.

Chippy569
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 14:02
the heavier the camera, the more taught your muscles have to be, the less shaky they'll end up.

also, the more attachment points (your hands, your elbows to your sides, your forehead, etc) between you and the camera, the less shaky. With those little cams like the flip, it's tough to get close and tight because they're so small.

peter nap
3rd of February 2011 (Thu), 23:02
You can build a frame for your DSLR for about fifteen bucks.
It works very well to control the camera during Video.

Channel One
6th of February 2011 (Sun), 20:51
Camcorders use completely different sensors and focus systems. SLR video is a sort of adaptation of DSLR's equipment.

How’s that, there are camcorders out there that use the same type of CMOS sensors as HDSLR’s and focusing is a factor of a lens, not a body.

Wayne

Chippy569
6th of February 2011 (Sun), 20:59
How’s that, there are camcorders out there that use the same type of CMOS sensors as HDSLR’s and focusing is a factor of a lens, not a body.

Wayne

Single CMOS would be rare and it's the af system specifically how the cam determines what to focus on and if it is in focus that differs. AF on a dslr is a phase-detection system which is slow and requires high contrast.
Another camcorder benefit is "unlimited" record times whereas an HDSLR has to shut off in 15 mins or whatever before it overheats.

Channel One
6th of February 2011 (Sun), 21:29
Single CMOS would be rare and it's the af system specifically how the cam determines what to focus on and if it is in focus that differs.[quote]

First of all there is no auto focus on professional camcorders, though it can be found on low end soccer mom video consumer camcorders, so we are back to the lens.

[quote]Another camcorder benefit is "unlimited" record times whereas an HDSLR has to shut off in 15 mins or whatever before it overheats.

Actually its 29 minutes 59 seconds and it has nothing to do with overheating it is combination of a 4 gig file size limit and an EU requirement and is really a moot point as camera operators have been changing reels, tapes, cards etc. since the beginning of the art.

Now some of the early HDSLR had CMOS sensor over-heat problems but that has been solved at least in the Canon EOS series, and for what it is worth even professional camcorders suffer from the same problems, if their imaging sensors get too warm they shut down as well.

Also an HDSLR user can utilize the same workaround of dumping to an external recorder that camcorder operators use when shooting longer events.

Wayne

Chippy569
6th of February 2011 (Sun), 22:39
First of all there is no auto focus on professional camcorders, though it can be found on low end soccer mom video consumer camcorders, so we are back to the lens


Actually its 29 minutes 59 seconds and it has nothing to do with overheating it is combination of a 4 gig file size limit and an EU requirement and is really a moot point as camera operators have been changing reels, tapes, cards etc. since the beginning of the art.

Now some of the early HDSLR had CMOS sensor over-heat problems but that has been solved at least in the Canon EOS series, and for what it is worth even professional camcorders suffer from the same problems, if their imaging sensors get too warm they shut down as well.

Also an HDSLR user can utilize the same workaround of dumping to an external recorder that camcorder operators use when shooting longer events.

Wayne
we're not talking about pro here, the person is looking at a $200 camera!

Channel One
7th of February 2011 (Mon), 06:07
we're not talking about pro here, the person is looking at a $200 camera!

Then why your comparison to a DSLR which will cost many times that number?

ultimately, a camcorder will be better for video than an slr, but then the camcorder will be inconvenient for stills. Camcorders use completely different sensors and focus systems. SLR video is a sort of adaptation of DSLR's equipment.

None the less other than ergonomics and ruggedness there are very few applications where a professional camcorder will be capable of outperforming an HDSLR and that is my point.

Wayne

David Yi
7th of February 2011 (Mon), 18:24
1) You also need to ask yourself just how much video you plan to WATCH in the future. The more video you get, the more you have to edit to remove the boring parts.

I have a Canon HV20 camcorder and a 7D. After seeing that the 7D can and cannot do, I find that it's video is adequate for my limited use (I typically capture only short <30 second segments).

2) Please ask yourself, are you going to take the camcorder out of the house? The camera as well? In theory, you can have both and enjoy the best of both worlds. But in practice, it is way too much stuff to travel with and fiddle with.

rxjohn
7th of February 2011 (Mon), 18:44
OP needs to make a decision. My small handy dandy camcorder is so much easier to use. Auto focus, IS, HD quality video..and it doesn't shut off at 20 minute mark. The extra battery allows for 300+minutes of use time.

But DSLR provides a much superior quality video under optimal condition.. I have to manually focus - which I enjoy and it must sit on a sturdy tripod.. I also installed Magic Lantern Firmware for more control.

I enjoy both... but to make the DSLR work, I'm going to end up spending about $1000 excluding the lenses.

Camcorder on the other hand was about half of that.

Channel One
7th of February 2011 (Mon), 19:11
1) You also need to ask yourself just how much video you plan to WATCH in the future. The more video you get, the more you have to edit to remove the boring parts.

Excellent advise and if not avoided is a pitfall that often kills doing video for a beginning cameraman.

More often than not just running tape/cards while not shooting “for a purpose” plows many beginners into hours of panning for the few specks of gold in post and in the end relegates video to a far back burner.

I have a Canon HV20 camcorder and a 7D. After seeing that the 7D can and cannot do, I find that it's video is adequate for my limited use (I typically capture only short <30 second segments).

How true, unless one is shooting news conferences or concerts wall to wall then why the need for more than a reel?

Wayne

sxotty
28th of February 2011 (Mon), 22:41
I made a bookmark for the post and never noticed all the replies on the second page b/c it just happened that the last post was right at the page flip. Sorry for missing the replies right away. I do appreciate all of it. For sure I won't be carrying a camcorder and a DSLR, but often now I worry about carrying my dslr (biking, climbing, impact sorts of sports). The good thing though is as I get more lenses and so forth the worth of the camera body declines in comparison to everything else so I am not as nervous about destroying it :).

Anyway with the upcoming t3i I really am quite enthusiastic about the idea of getting it. The bad part is that magic lantern might not end up on it, but I can live without it. I finally found a review that says it has manual audio gain ability and that was one of the main things I worried about with the t2i. The digital zoom sounds cool as well, but no one has yet described how it works. If you could zoom while shooting in increments that would be stellar, then I could get away without a lot of other gear.

Oh and I did check with a bunch of friends, but none have the t2i. And none of them who live nearby have video capability on their slrs. All a bit too old.

@peter : thanks yes I stumbled across some pipe frames people made

@ chippy and channel one re:time limit. I am not planning on shooting more than 30 min anyway. I mean I can definitely stop part way thru any event for a few seconds. As was said I am not a pro and that means I don't need to capture every second.

@rxjohn: I was figuring the big expense would be a nice wide angle lens. I checked the depth of field calculators and it seems I can basically film from close to infinity with a reasonable aperture. Then focusing isn't an issue. Just stability of the image.