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What cam to buy and reasons why?

Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 1:33pm

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Demonicy

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I'm in a bit of a dilema here about what camcorder to buy.

* First thing is this. I was initially thinking "HDD would be best in terms of quality of image and recording time" and that "DVD generally sucks due to the compression it has so i won't go there" but my view has since changed after reading/hearing of many good things about MiniDV so now it's more like "HDD would be best for recording time but MiniDV would be best in terms of quality of image". First off, is my last thought roughly correct for most types of HDD and DV?

* Here's the second. In a perfect world i would of loved the HDD lengthy recording times mixed in with what i have heard about the great quality videos of DV. Back from the dream world and in reality i'm in two minds whether there is such a thing. Is there such a blessing? That leads me onto this...

* ...The third. I have an imaginary budget. I can lower it or raise it as i like because i'm currently saving for... well, anything i want really. In this case it will be the camcorder. (Excuse me if i sound arrogant here!) But i don't want to blow it all on something that doesn't do the job for what it cost to buy, aka, i want my money's worth from it. A few mates have gotten into the idea themseleves after chatting with them so i decided to give myself (and them) various price-ranges and see what people can offer for each/whatever they chosen to help with. These are:

> Up to £399.99 <
> £400.00 to £599.99 <
> £600.00 to £799.99 <
> £800.00 to £999.99 <

Sorry if i'm being confusing but basically i want one and only one camcorder. I just don't know what type to get or what price to look at, so i have given some ranges which people can shoot within (so i get an idea of what's best for each range and decide what would be the choice to buy in comparison to eachother along with my cash!)

If you're still reading, thankyou! I expect i may of lost a few of you up there >_<

Any assistance would be great. You can tell me why this format is better, or what camera i should look out for, or ask me a question to help you help me further, etc. Thankyou in advance and i will be reguarly coming back to reply me

(Man, that was longer than i hoped it would be, applogies! And yes, i'm very much a "newbie" to film making apart from the odd clip here and there for fun!)

Last edited Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 1:43pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 1:43pm

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Demonicy

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Cogz wrote:

DON'T buy DVD... its as simple as that.

DVD cameras work by compressing the content onto the DVD into some sort of mpeg format which really looks nasty, and thus makes it difficult to do any sort of keying/grading post production on it as you have already lost a lot of the data.

If you just want to shoot and watch on a tv they're great, but anything else, stay clear.
Way ahead of you, it's on my "NEVER GET" list XD

They really are only good for people/families who want a quick and easy way to record events and special occasions to then pop the disc in a DVD player and watch what they just recorded.
Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 2:21pm

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szczepanski

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MiniDV is the way to go, or if your looking for anything with HD, has to be HDV (well doesn't HAVE to be).
Since you really don't have a price range, heres some.

The Canon GL2/XM2 very popular and many people will advise you to get that one. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/264368-GREY/Canon_XM2_GL_2E_PAL_Mini_DV.html

The Sony VX2100/VX2100e is also a very good camcorder, I have been told great things about this one.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/307577-REG/Sony_DCRVX2100E_DCR_VX2100E_PAL_3_CCD.html

And the canon HV20, probably the most recommended HDV out there.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/493494-REG/Canon__HV20_2_96MP_CMOS_HDV.html

Hope this information helps you with you camcorder choosing. I'm also looking for a cam for myself and I think I will be choosing either from the Canon XM2/GL2 or the Sony VX2100e/VX2100.
Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 2:40pm

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Demonicy

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Not really looking for HD-compatibles but i didn't mention that >_<

Erm, i don't have a solid price range no, but i have ranges and the 1st and 2nd camcorders work out at over-shooting the top range which is the £1,000 mark, meaning i wouldn't want it, sorry sad

The 3rd looks promising so it has been taken into account, thanks smile
Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 5:29pm

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JUIDAR

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The Canon looks like a really awesome deal actually especially if your just starting out!

It evens comes with Tripod and shotgun mic now you just can't beat that!
Posted: Mon, 1st Oct 2007, 6:29pm

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Demonicy

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Agreed, it looks pretty nifty! Tripod, mic, bag, etc. I need to view what's on offer more before i make a final choice though. *nod*
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 1:26am

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Balketh

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http://cgi.ebay.com/Panasonic-AG-DVX100B-3CCD-DVCAM-Camcorder-3000-PKG-NEW_W0QQitemZ120165639576QQihZ002QQcategoryZ20332QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

That's an eBay link to a GREAT DVX100B package, and as most people will tell you about here, the DVX100B is one of the greats. Price range, in pounds, is just about 1200 pounds including shipping, so it should be in your range if you save for a little longer. Comes with tapes, two types of transportable cases, two types of tripod (Tiny and regular, tiny could be turned into a dolly, or used in hard to film locations like small rooms.)

Comes with 3 filters too, including the ALL IMPORTANT UV filter. Also a brilliant little Polarized filter for over-lit scenes, and a great fluorescent filter for scenes under fluorescent lights (IE: Inside shots with house lighting).

That's just the package too, the camera itself is a brilliant camera, that I'm going to be purchasing within the week!

Just my $0.02, hope it helps.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 2:23am

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ben3308

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An HV20 may have good image resolution and quality on the sample clips (which have been professionally lit and shot, actually) but all you're really paying for is a large image sensor with little controllable exposure/iris/focus and small lens size.

I'd suggest a Canon GL2 instead. A VX2100 is a good alternative to the GL2, but I find it a tad broadcasty and less filmic in its 'look'.

From the GL2, the next step up is the DVX100b (not the 100a) and after that an upper-end prosumer camera: either the Canon XH-series (XH-A1 and the higher-end XH-G1, not a huge difference between the two, besides price.).

Of course, if you're not looking to spend a ton of money, but still want a great camera, the GL2/XM2 is an ideal choice.

To quote what I've said in the past:

Buy the Canon GL2.

Why? Mainly, because it is the best priced 3CCD camcorder in its range; meaning you won't find a better price:quality ratio for $2,000 and under.

The Canon GL2 has 3CCDs- meaning it picks up color better than lower-end cameras- and a fluorite lens, which is made to prevent chromatic abberation and digital artifacts- meaning the image is pretty damn good.

If you need examples, here are some below....

Links to video are in blue.


standard graded, Marathon, short film


extreme graded, Marathon, short film


standard graded, Redemption, short film


standard graded, Redemption, short film


standard graded, Rebirth Promo, corporate promotional video


ungraded, Thomas the Drum Major, documentary


ungraded, Pandarosa concert, event footage


lightly graded (desaturation, luminance), Cover's Story, short film


standard graded, Cover's Story, short film


standard graded, Cover's Story and Splinter Cell, short film


graded, Splinter Cell, short film

graded, test footage, short film


lightly graded (hue shift), SWEET myspace pic, personal use


Baaaaaaaasically, the GL2 rocks. There are naysayers out there who will tell you to buy the Sony VX2100 or the Panasonic GS400/500 (CRAP camera compared to the GL2), but don't listen.

I think the GL2 will suit you and your budget nicely.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 2:25am

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ops101ex

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Buyer beware, Balketh. I got my DVX100B from an online ebay store very similar to that one; in fact the items in the package are identical to these ones (btw that mini tripod has no place with a dvx- much too heavy for it), except they also promised two different lenses. I never got the lenses, and they convinced my mom who was on the phone with them (and wasn't familiar at that time to bait and switch operations) to buy two extra batteries, bringing the total up to around $3000. The batteries they sent didn't fit the camera, and after I talked with them they insisted that it was a mistake and they would send me the right ones if I sent mine back. Well here I am, more than two months later with no batteries and no lenses. At least I got the camera and it has served me well. I'd say B&H is a much safer bet.

But I still highly recommend the camera itself.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 3:42am

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Balketh

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Understood completely, Ops101ex. I am very cautious of such a thing happening and I'm prepared to accept my own stupidity if I fall for it.

As for the lenses, I'm ordering the pack without them. I can get them in town for $20. Same lenses exactly.

As for the two extra batteries, I just don't think so. I'd rather check in town for them.

Lastly, as for the mini tripod, I've viewed smaller tripods and I'm aware that they're certainly not strong enough to support the DVX100B's weight, but with modification, including attachment to a strong surface, IE: A dolly body, and the addition of a board for the DVX100B to sit on, similar to what you see on the Steadycams, it should prove for good use. I'm sure I'll find something to do with it.

But, again, thanks very much for the warning, and I have emailed the shop owner in regards to the battery, tripod, and other included items in the package.

Again, thanks.

PS: Ben, you really got some great footage out of that GL2, but I'd like to point out that it's not the camera that gives great END PRODUCT footage, it's how much effort you put into using correct technique in both filming, lighting and post-production colour grading and effects.

Having a great camera just helps.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 3:52am

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ops101ex

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No problem, Balketh. Sounds like a smart approach. If they try to pull anything funny though, just threaten them with negative feedback on their eBay page. They work really hard to keep their feedback positive and will probably be more cooperative if it's in jeopardy. But good luck and hope you enjoy using your DVX!
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 4:01am

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ben3308

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Balketh, I completely get what you're saying. My only point is that when you take a camera like the GL2 visually/aesthetically as far as the image can go (which I'd like to think my crew has done), then it yields a higher quality end-result than its counterpart, the VX2100. This is, in my opinion, because of the broadcast-like 'look' of the VX2100.

The DVX100b is a superior camera, hands down. But to buy a GL2 over a camera like the HD HV20 would be only because of its latent controllability with light, focus, and depth-of-field. Hence, showing what such features of the GL2 contribute to overall (versus a much higher resolution but much less controllable camera) is the way to truly exhibit its strengths.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Oct 2007, 8:19pm

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Demonicy

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SOOO much great stuff to read and so little time!

I have literally just popped on to check how this topic is going (very well it is indeed!) and cannot stay, so i will dignify all your posts with replies early tomorrow.

Thankyou loads for this help. Skim-reading it now i can clearly see i am getting the best guidance out there me
Posted: Wed, 3rd Oct 2007, 11:57am

Post 14 of 29

Demonicy

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Ok, long post time! This should cover everything discussed plus my own issues.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Balketh wrote:

That's an eBay link to a GREAT DVX100B package, and as most people will tell you about here, the DVX100B is one of the greats.
I had a look although it has expired, and i agree, that was a great package so thankyou for showing me that! I need to look up on the DVX100B itself but the package made me drool a little, heh.

I will get back to you and everyone on what i personally think of the DVX100B.

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ben3308 wrote:

I'd suggest a Canon GL2 instead. A VX2100 is a good alternative to the GL2, but I find it a tad broadcasty and less filmic in its 'look'.

From the GL2, the next step up is the DVX100b (not the 100a) and after that an upper-end prosumer camera: either the Canon XH-series (XH-A1 and the higher-end XH-G1, not a huge difference between the two, besides price)
I think i know what you mean. It looks a lot more 'raw' and 'live' than the GL2 as if it's more amatuer than professional, or something like that, right...?

'A' is better than 'B', that's a bit odd. Upgrades usually go in an ascending form! Maybe they knew for certain before hand that they would make a better version in the future.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ben3308 wrote:

Buy the Canon GL2.

Why? Mainly, because it is the best priced 3CCD camcorder in its range; meaning you won't find a better price:quality ratio for $2,000 and under.

The Canon GL2 has 3CCDs- meaning it picks up color better than lower-end cameras- and a fluorite lens, which is made to prevent chromatic abberation and digital artifacts- meaning the image is pretty damn good.
The price is very appealing; it being under £1,000 and yet a more professional piece of kit than standard camcorders. I have checked out the quality both on the samples given (cheers for quoting them for me) and from my own research, and i must say... some serious eye candy there.


ben3308 wrote:

Baaaaaaaasically, the GL2 rocks. There are naysayers out there who will tell you to buy the Sony VX2100 or the Panasonic GS400/500 (CRAP camera compared to the GL2), but don't listen.

I think the GL2 will suit you and your budget nicely.
About those naysayers... A few of them used to be Canon lovers until weaknesses started showing. There are some things bugging me which i have to question seeing as i've witnessed a lot of this stuff being notified. Some which are of greater concern than others.

    > Battery Life - I don't have evidentual fact on what the GL2 battery life is like, but i have gathered it isn't that good (in the 60 minute area maybe) and sucks a lot of energy, even when not using the LCD screen. Did you buy a larger battery pack or anything, if so how much was it?
    > Dead Pixels - Many people have been complaigning of getting dead pixels appear within a few months of use, even when the camera is off and stationary.
    > Ejection Malfunction - Again, many people have been talking of this. And it always seems to be after 18months+ of use, aka, when the warranty runs out (similar to the pixel problem). I've seen talk and photographic evidence of different things leading up to the same problem of "REMOVE THE CASSETTE" appearing in big red letters on the LCD. Some people got it putting a tape in and some people even got it after simply turning the machine on after being left for no more than a couple of days inactive. This kinda scares me as it would completely die >_<
    > Repair price - If it be for the dead pixel, eject malfunction or other, they are ridiculously pricey. Quotes of no less than £300 have been heard of non-stop on some places i went to. If you break it, you buy it, fair enough. But these are the costs for things that usually the user has no or little control over, aka, dead pixels.


How long have you had your GL2 and do you have any annoying queries/faults with it?

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That's about it! I'm going to look up on the DVX100B/A and post what i found out next time.
Posted: Wed, 3rd Oct 2007, 12:28pm

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Arktic

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Sony HDR-FX7E.

I won't post a huge list of why I think it's an amazing camera - you can read the specifications and make up your own mind. I will say this one thing: that it's better than an GL2/XM2, imho (nearly as good as the Sony Z1 I use professionally). It's also HDV, and at that price, it's totally worth it, especially with the favourable exchange rate at the moment!

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Wed, 3rd Oct 2007, 12:48pm

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Merrick

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Is there an NTSC version of the HDR-FX7E? It looks incredible.
Posted: Wed, 3rd Oct 2007, 2:10pm

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szczepanski

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Merrick World wrote:

Is there an NTSC version of the HDR-FX7E? It looks incredible.
Of course there is I think that the HDR-FX7E is the PAL version but the HDR-FX7 is the NTSC version of it. I found one here at bhphotovideo.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?shs=HDR-FX7&ci=0&sb=ps&pn=1&sq=desc&InitialSearch=yes&O=productlist.jsp&A=search&Q=*&bhs=t

There is plenty to choose from there with all different types of packages and deals.
hope that help smile

EDIT: Also, it is a HDV so you will need a good computer to manage the editing for the format, better to look through the miniDV range, such as the GL2/XM2 previously mentioned in this topic.
Posted: Wed, 3rd Oct 2007, 6:58pm

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Arktic

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Also, it is a HDV so you will need a good computer to manage the editing for the format, better to look through the miniDV range
Totally disagree.

Yes - you'll need a reasonably powerful machine to edit HDV, but nowhere near as powerful as proper HD, but if my 5 year old dog of a machine can handle it, I'm sure most people's computers will be up to it.

Furthermore, not only do you get a better image with the Sony range, but it's far more 'futureproofed' than a SD MiniDV camera like the XM2. The XM2 used to be one of the best options available, but it's overpriced now - if you can get an HDV camera for the same price (or even less) than an SD one, I think the decision is very simple.

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Thu, 4th Oct 2007, 12:40pm

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Demonicy

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Before i start, i would like to say a lot of people have been shooting way over my price range. So while i can see and view all these great cams costing £1,000/£2,000+ i cannot afford them! I don't mind people offering me them and saying why i should buy this or that, but unless the ones over my budget come down by a few hundred £/$ for christmas, then i won't be able to buy them. wall So if i turn down an 'amazing' camera to get a 'great' one, that's probably the reason why. Sorry guys!


Arktic wrote:

Sony HDR-FX7E.

I won't post a huge list of why I think it's an amazing camera - you can read the specifications and make up your own mind. I will say this one thing: that it's better than an GL2/XM2, imho (nearly as good as the Sony Z1 I use professionally). It's also HDV, and at that price, it's totally worth it, especially with the favourable exchange rate at the moment!

Cheers,
Arktic.
Checked it out for a few minutes both on that site and others, and it speaks for itself. Great image, great sound, great battery life (a big thing for me, so 4-5 hours is awesome), great... well, everything! I'm also suprised by how light it is. Far as i'm aware, there's little complaints about it too. A well-made product. But after a price check, even the cheapest sites were a few hundred above my limit.

Best camera i have seen so far, this really impressed me. Let's hope Father Christmas will be generous this year and do a deal on that camera just for me rolleyes Well, you never know... I would be a happy man if that happened.

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Now, onto the DVX100B.

I like this cam. The battery life satisfies me enough (4 to 5 hours hard use, while the GL2 only has an hour), it's image quality is neat(seen still photos rather than footage) and it has many other small changes that add up to the overal excellence of it all. It's very popular too. On one site, 85% of people that viewed the page with intent to buy a camera bought that specific one. May just be me, but i find that impressive.

However, for some reason, i find it ugly. Something about it makes me feel irked... It could be that it's entirely black or that it looks too 'chunky' and 'heavy'... I could see myself using it and no, what it looks like wouldn't bother me when i have it, but on first impressions it looks cumbersome and not pretty like previous cameras i have seen.

There's no widescreen 16:9 vision or HD but i have always seen those as nice extras which would sway a deal if it came down to it.

On the pros again: Unlike some other cameras, this also seems to have little problems with it. Nobody has complained of huge errors or things breaking. Again, reference to Canon's GL2 which has a lot of good feedback... Until the warranty ran out 18 months after purchase. That still scares me enough that i probably won't ever think of buying it.

Price time. When currency ratio has been made, this works out at £100/£200 over my limit of £1,000. If i REALLY wanted this, i would sacrifice an extra few notes, but thanks to Arktic and his SONY HDR-FX7E, i am left wondering whether there will be a drop for December/January so i am holding back until that time comes.

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Overall, i am going to wait and see what the next 2 months bring but that doesn't mean i will stop looking! If you feel you know of a camera perfect for me then by all means feel free to post it. I know i keep saying this but thanks for the help so far!
Posted: Thu, 4th Oct 2007, 3:39pm

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szczepanski

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Yeah apparently the XM2/GL2 suffers from Cassette/Tape malfunctions. And about the 18 month warranty, with any purchase from bhphotovideo you can extend your warranty, just look in the 'warranty' section smile
Posted: Fri, 5th Oct 2007, 1:52pm

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Demonicy

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Yep, that's precisely why i'm thinking of not buying it. And i saw that on the site too but thankyou for bringing it up me

Random information, but i've seen the quality of a Sony Handycam (although i have no idea what one it is, i just knew it featured a lot throughout this short film) and it is quite shocking to see how "eww" it looked. Maybe the guy focusing it did a horrible job but throughout the entire thing it looked like it was being watched from a drunks point of view. I only hope this was one of the lesser types of Sony Handycam out there and not the ones reaching £500+
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 10:03am

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Demonicy

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*nudges up a little bit*

Anyone got more cameras to show me which they have had a good experience with?
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 11:06am

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Balketh

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Unfortunately, most everyone uses the cameras mentioned, or cameras not worth mentioning.

Hehe... That was good.

Anyway, I highly recommend ANY of the cameras mentioned because as ANY good filmmaker will tell you, it's not what you film with, it's what you do with it that counts.
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 11:13am

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Arktic

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Depending on how quick you can get money together, and how many bids this auction receives, this camera might be a decent buy:

Sony DSR PD150.

It's not HD, but if you can get it for around £750, you've got yourself a bargain. It's a downright awesome camera, my only reservation about the PDs is that the image they give is slightly 'cold' - but it can easily be warmed up in post (or even warmed up slightly in camera by off-setting the white ballance).

I can't post much more now as the plumbers are round my flat and I need to get out of my room, but if you want more info about the PD range, just gimme a PM and I'll get back to you asap.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Arktic.

Last edited Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 12:13pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 11:47am

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Demonicy

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Yay, something new to chew over and research, many thanks me

Not a huge fan of ebay and i won't be able to rack £500+ in under 3 days but still, thankyou for showing me it as i will go and look for the camera itself to see the retail prices and further information.

EDIT: Fair enough about the plumber, and cheers for offering guidance through PMs.
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 7:05pm

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The Flying Fox

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Well I've seen this camera lurking around my internet searches,

Canon-MVX3I

Appears to be a lower-mid range camcorder, but It's canon so battery life could be limited, quite light by the looks of it, Mini DV model too, not a large optical zoom mind you though (mine's higher and my camera wasn't even 500 pounds!) and I believe that it has been discontinued so may be harder to find, but you would be much more likely to find it in your price range.

Just another option.
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 7:25pm

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Demonicy

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Nice camera!

But i have to admit, after seeing high-priced but affordable cameras, anything under £900 seems to be a lot weaker in comparison to those above £900

HOWEVER you have probably helped a mate of mine as like i said in the 1st post, i am looking for my buddys as they want cameras too, but probably aren't as 'flash-with-their-cash'. So thankyou again for your guidance.

On a side-note, i've now learned that Canon generaly means low battery life.
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 7:49pm

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The Flying Fox

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I'm glad to help,any idea's on your final purchase yet?
Posted: Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 9:04pm

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Demonicy

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Right now, i can say i am about 90% sure i will be buying the Sony HDR-FX7E which was previously mentioned by Arktic. If i see something that amazes me or is very similar for a lower price i might change my mind, but that cam has impressed me a lot so far.

I have now been seeing prices for it around the £1,200 mark which is a bit over what i was looking to spend but december/january may bring some christmas/new year deals and ofcourse if i wait a bit longer i may see more prosperous cameras and obtain more money to buy the HDR-FX7E with.

Also, i may get some money/help with the cost as a christmas present anyway, so even better!