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Are these Camcorder's ok to start with?

Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 4:30pm

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JonnyT93

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I have a few ideas of films I would like to start shooting asap but as I have only recently got into this topic I do not have a clue which camera to purchase I have a few ideas for cheap ones but I am really not sure whether this is ok to use for my first few films to see if I am going to stick with it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-DCR-SR35E-Drive-Handycam-Camcorder/dp/B0011UFE9K/ref=sr_1_239?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1266249907&sr=1-239

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/products/75853/show.html

If not do you have any suggestions my budget is sub £400 so I don't expect any miracles

Many Thanks for your time and co-operation

Jonny
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 4:56pm

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Rockfilmers

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Rating: +1

You might want to consider saving up a little bit more if it is your first few films and then you want to move on to something better. I don't get the idea that "once I am good with this camera, I'll get this one" because you will end up spending a lot of money.

The cameras look like they where for birthday parties or family vacations rather than video enthusiasts or film makers. I would spend a little more money and get something that is has a few better features. I haven't really looked at the low end consumer market in years though, so I don't have any specific models to recommend but here are some features you might want to look for.

1. Manuel controls help you control your video. In auto mode, if you are filming a walking scene inside with them walking past a large window, the inside will be almost impossible to see because the camera will try to balance the exposure.

2. Mic input (Stereo mini) will help give you a nice clean sound that the on board mic can never do. This will allow you to get close to the action.

3. The larger the sensor size (CCD or CMOS), the better. Larger sensors allow more light to be recorded for better low light exposure. It also gives you shallow depth of field (The effect where the background and foreground are blurred but the mid ground is in focus).

4. Progressive recording. I'm guessing you live in the United Kingdom which uses the PAL video system (25 fps and an image size of 720x576 pixels). You might want to look for a camera that shoots 25p along with 50i (The interlaced version of 25fps http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlacing). Progressive images give more of film motion. If you where in the US I would suggest 24p, but it's not that big of a deal in PAL areas.

To me, these are the most important features on CONSUMER camcorders. Along with a good camera, you need to know what you are doing. I recommend reading Sollthars film makers guide, it's a lot of help.

Good luck smile
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 6:14pm

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JonnyT93

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Rockfilmers wrote:

You might want to consider saving up a little bit more if it is your first few films and then you want to move on to something better. I don't get the idea that "once I am good with this camera, I'll get this one" because you will end up spending a lot of money.

The cameras look like they where for birthday parties or family vacations rather than video enthusiasts or film makers. I would spend a little more money and get something that is has a few better features. I haven't really looked at the low end consumer market in years though, so I don't have any specific models to recommend but here are some features you might want to look for.

1. Manuel controls help you control your video. In auto mode, if you are filming a walking scene inside with them walking past a large window, the inside will be almost impossible to see because the camera will try to balance the exposure.

2. Mic input (Stereo mini) will help give you a nice clean sound that the on board mic can never do. This will allow you to get close to the action.

3. The larger the sensor size (CCD or CMOS), the better. Larger sensors allow more light to be recorded for better low light exposure. It also gives you shallow depth of field (The effect where the background and foreground are blurred but the mid ground is in focus).

4. Progressive recording. I'm guessing you live in the United Kingdom which uses the PAL video system (25 fps and an image size of 720x576 pixels). You might want to look for a camera that shoots 25p along with 50i (The interlaced version of 25fps http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlacing). Progressive images give more of film motion. If you where in the US I would suggest 24p, but it's not that big of a deal in PAL areas.

To me, these are the most important features on CONSUMER camcorders. Along with a good camera, you need to know what you are doing. I recommend reading Sollthars film makers guide, it's a lot of help.

Good luck smile
Thank for your hasty reply. I have through a few and i'm not sure but does the Canon HV20 sound any better?
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 8:48pm

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Rockfilmers

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The HV20 is probably among the best consumer cameras that you can get. It has everything I just described and more!
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 9:01pm

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rogolo

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An added benefit of the HV20 is that many people are selling theirs for cheap to upgrade to DSLRs right now, so I'm sure if you are diligent you can snag a great deal on a used one.
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 10:43pm

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JonnyT93

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rogolo wrote:

An added benefit of the HV20 is that many people are selling theirs for cheap to upgrade to DSLRs right now, so I'm sure if you are diligent you can snag a great deal on a used one.
I've had a quick look at the prices of the camcorders is around the £400 mark reasonable? How little do you think I could find it for as i'm 16 and my job is ridiculously poorly paid.
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 10:55pm

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TheOutlawAmbulance

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Well on ebay, and I'm not saying I recommend buying off of ebay, you can get them as cheap as $200-400 or €145-300. Here is whats up on ebay.

The on board mic for the HV20 isnt the greatest so you will probably want to buy a seperate mic. For some good mics read this, written by yours truley! wink

Note: This uses US dollars below.

Storm Grenade wrote:

I use an old discontinued Atr-55. However if I was ever to upgrade it would be to an Rode Videomic You could of course go with a seperate mic like the TASCAM DR-07. All of these mics are good however for the Rode Videomic and the ATR-55 you will need to know your input jack size (if I said that right). The Rode Videomic is what I heard many people here use. However all 3 are great cameras.

If you have a specific mic in mind, read some reviews from people who have also bought it.

A good mic can cost from $50-$500. The ATR-55 on ebay $94.95. A Rode Videomic can cost $149.00 or a STEREO Rode Videomic can cost $249.00 The TASCAM DR-07 costs $169.99.
Good luck! -Storm Grenade
Posted: Mon, 15th Feb 2010, 11:51pm

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pdrg

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Personally, in your position, I'd consider a £40 Comet special to get started, then save up for something like the HV20/30/40. Rather, a £400 camera won't be 10x better than a £40 one! You can look out for secondhand prosumer cameras, for instance I paid £170 for a (slightly damaged) VX1000 which is semimanual - it's a case of looking out for bargains.
Posted: Tue, 16th Feb 2010, 11:36am

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JonnyT93

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pdrg wrote:

Personally, in your position, I'd consider a £40 Comet special to get started, then save up for something like the HV20/30/40. Rather, a £400 camera won't be 10x better than a £40 one! You can look out for secondhand prosumer cameras, for instance I paid £170 for a (slightly damaged) VX1000 which is semimanual - it's a case of looking out for bargains.
Great, Thank you.
Posted: Tue, 16th Feb 2010, 11:43am

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JonnyT93

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Does anybody have any suggestions as i'm stuck looking around as I have no base of comparison. Any responses provided I will be truly grateful for.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 10:21pm

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cdolsen

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i agree with PDRG, and get an absolute bottom line, and learn how to make videos (scripting, shooting, locations, props, in-camera effects, etc). then you can decide what features you really need. in any event get one with at least a 20-1 OPTICAL (not digital) zoom range.
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 11:10pm

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JonnyT93

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is something like a cheap sony handycam a ok suggestion?
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 11:31pm

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Atom

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Here, I'll just repeat what I've now told a fair few people on here:

On making things look pro

Me wrote:

What I can tell you about getting those things is it's really all about vision.

You have to take an idea, what you think you can practically do, and run with it. My first relative success (and what I consider the first foray into our style of movies) came on a very cheap camera with little equipment. That project was called Found. What I learned on that, and what I will always maintain, is that there is a true bar of 'pro' that people like us can get to. The semantics of 'oh, well you're not getting paid so it's not really pro' or 'what IS professional/film look anyway?' is just silly because it ignores the point.

You want to make the step to looking pro? Then you've gotta look at movies and what you want to make from a full frame of view. Nothing out of bounds. You've gotta know that it all matters. It's not the scene in the middle of your movie or the lighting in a single scene or how clever your dialogue is.

Because, in truth, many of those things can be ignored or will be forgotten if the overall movie is, well, forgettable. What you should instead do is look at what you want to accomplish. Not for yourself but for the audience. People get too caught up in thinking and saying 'well, this is what I wanted to do/have' when really it's all about the message and effect you leave.

This is really important to me. You want to go pro, make your cinematography, lighting, script, and editing as polished as it can be; then look at the project as a whole and ask yourself 'will an audience like this?'

I often struggle with that question, and to me it's the most important. I like offering or invoking an emotion with my films for my audience. Making them ache and twist, even in a short timeframe, with care for my characters- even if I don't develop those characters. I'm able to do this because I go in saying that.

"I want the audience to care about these people. I want them to be taken aback by a message and it resonate with them. Whatever gets me to this is what I need. Nothing more, nothing less."

Then I make sure I cover my technical bases. I get flack a lot for being a very technically-oriented person, but I'm perfectly fine with that. Technicals, that being the cinematography and editing of your movie, are the backbone to a good amateur shortfilm turning pro. If you've got a solid look and tightness to your movie, the rest will come in the viewership. I'm very finite about this.

Make no mistake, making movies isn't in your story. It isn't in the script. It's in getting an idea shot and edited. And if you can't do those, or do them with some finesse- then no one will care. We're filmmakers here, after all, not writers.

On what camera to get and why

Me wrote:

The camera issue is a tricky one, but not overcome-able. I've been working with the same (now massively outdated, sadly) non-HD camera for 5 years and many would tell you they couldn't do anything with it because 'it's old' or 'it's not HD'.

Truth is, yeah, a good camera helps- but isn't necessary. How did I get my camera? I researched, proved to myself I could use a good camera through practice and polish on a cheap one, and started saving for it. That's all you really can do, too.

I hear a lot of people talk about borrowing from schools and such, but if that isn't an option for you don't bother trying to explore it- I never had it and never did myself; but it didn't get me down either. It's a tough battle, I know, and it seems like you can do nothing without a good camera- or even a camera at all- but things like this take patience. Don't be inhibited by the 'oh, well I'll never have enough money to get _____ camera, and if I don't have THAT ONE it isn't worth buying one at all'. Buy the cheapest decent thing you can, you'll be fine. And if your technicals can do it- it will look pro. Practice and produce- the 'pro' camera can come later. Tell yourself that you'll have to take a regular camera and compensate the 'pro' look through talent and work. And you will, trust me.

I still don't have my 'pro' camera yet, and it's forced me to be determined to bring about these looks through lighting and staging and cinematography, etc.

Save a modest amount of money. Buy some cheap camera. Rock the shitt outta it!
Hopefully this helps. I don't entirely agree with pdrg's assessment- getting something moderately decent will always be a plus in my book, and if something is so cheap and contrived it does nothing for you than it's a waste entirely- but I think that's not a fault of his as much as it is a product of him not being your age/generation/money level when these products came around (namely, the past 5-10 years)

What I would say here is this: Don't be hasty, but don't drag your feet around either. If you feel like you can accomplish something and be satisfied for a temporary amount of time with, say, even a Flip videocamera- by all means get one. Save the time and money for an HV20 later.

And hey, if you've got that time and money: use it! Get that HV20 and practice the hell outta it until you save that time and money from that to upgrade to something even better down the line. This is a tried and true policy of filmmaking growth in my book, and I think with a small amount of asking around (as you're clearly trying to do, so kudos) and investigating brands you'll find exactly what you want and need for the time being.

That's about it for now. Perhaps look into the Atomic Guide I've recently created (and will soon add to) for further and perhaps more concise clarification and guidance. Hope this helps!
Posted: Thu, 18th Feb 2010, 11:46pm

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JonnyT93

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Thank you so much for all these brilliant replies by everybody this has made me feel as psyched up as ever. So thank you everyone that has replied or even taken the time 2 read this post. You have been very supportive as per usual.

Many Thanks

Jonny
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 9:36am

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Atom

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No problem, man. Keep us updated with what you decide and what you do with it! (Because, obviously, that second part is the more interesting and important one after all. wink)
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 10:06am

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JonnyT93

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Atom wrote:

No problem, man. Keep us updated with what you decide and what you do with it! (Because, obviously, that second part is the more interesting and important one after all. wink)
Of course I will, thanks for your great support.

Jonny
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 12:32pm

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JonnyT93

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Finally Quiery guys i'm not sure which camcorder to go with as i have not tried enough to see what suits me. What do you think is the better camera to start with?

http://www.play.com/Electronics/Electronics/4-/8989861/Sony-DCR-SX50-Digital-Memory-Card-Camcorder/Product.html?source=9593

http://accessories.euro.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=uk&l=en&s=bsd&sku=A2571184&cs=ukbsdt1&dgc=SS&cid=41148&lid=1069637&acd=23975883724507102

Jonny
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 6:11pm

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Atom

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My suggestion, for that lower-tier of camcorder, is to most-definitely go with something that records to tape. It's tape, interchangeable, and -usually for cheaper cameras- much less of a headache to deal with as you don't get those proprietary and odd format issues with it.

Something to look into would be a used or just non-new (bought but never opened/used) HV20 or HV30 on the likes of Ebay or B&H- as they'll run you about the same price as that camera and not only are fantastic camcorders but ones with a large following and therefore a grander community of help and support and innovation for those cameras.

But hey, a Sony Handycam is still a great camera- just not exactly what I think you need for the price. My first digital camcorder was a Sony DCIM MiniDV HandyCam, and it got me through thick and thin- so whatever does it for you- get it.

Just be wary of non-tape recording on those smaller, cheaper cameras. For the most part, it'll mean bad business for you and your editing.
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 9:18pm

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JonnyT93

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Atom wrote:

My suggestion, for that lower-tier of camcorder, is to most-definitely go with something that records to tape. It's tape, interchangeable, and -usually for cheaper cameras- much less of a headache to deal with as you don't get those proprietary and odd format issues with it.

Something to look into would be a used or just non-new (bought but never opened/used) HV20 or HV30 on the likes of Ebay or B&H- as they'll run you about the same price as that camera and not only are fantastic camcorders but ones with a large following and therefore a grander community of help and support and innovation for those cameras.

But hey, a Sony Handycam is still a great camera- just not exactly what I think you need for the price. My first digital camcorder was a Sony DCIM MiniDV HandyCam, and it got me through thick and thin- so whatever does it for you- get it.

Just be wary of non-tape recording on those smaller, cheaper cameras. For the most part, it'll mean bad business for you and your editing.
Ok great. Thanks for the advice. Do you know any good places to buy second hand cameras as i'm in the UK. Do you mean more like this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/543769-REG/Sony_DCR_HC52E_DCR_HC52_MiniDV_Handycam_PAL_.html

I appreciate all replies

Jonny
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 9:22pm

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JonnyT93

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or http://www.amazon.co.uk/JVC-GR-DZ7EK-Pixel-MiniDV-Camcorder/dp/B00094AQ9M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1266614442&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-DCR-HC52-Mini-Camcorder-warranty/dp/B001IBWAEY/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1266614514&sr=1-22
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 9:23pm

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Axeman

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I think he meant like this:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/539289/Canon_2680B001_VIXIA_HV30_HDV_High.html

eBay is also a good place to start for used stuff, though you want to be cautious as well. If buying used on eBay, look for something in the original packaging. If somebody managed to keep track of the original packaging, odds are better that they looked after the camera properly as well. And use common sense.
Posted: Fri, 19th Feb 2010, 9:27pm

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JonnyT93

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Axeman wrote:

I think he meant like this:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/539289/Canon_2680B001_VIXIA_HV30_HDV_High.html

eBay is also a good place to start for used stuff, though you want to be cautious as well. If buying used on eBay, look for something in the original packaging. If somebody managed to keep track of the original packaging, odds are better that they looked after the camera properly as well. And use common sense.
Ok. but my budget at the moment is only about 250-300ish so is it better to get a camera within that price range and see how involved i get in filmmaking. Or would it be better just to save up and get a hv20/30
Posted: Sat, 20th Feb 2010, 11:22pm

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JonnyT93

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Or This

http://www.jessops.com/online.store/products/76035/show.html
Posted: Mon, 22nd Feb 2010, 4:38pm

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JonnyT93

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Thank you for all replies I am about to purchase a Canon HV20. Also does anybody know of any cheap external mics as I heard the one on the Hv20 is pretty crap.
Posted: Mon, 22nd Feb 2010, 6:11pm

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Atom

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Yeah, look into the Rode Videomic or NT-G2. Both are versatile, affordable, and reasonably good-quality mics.
Posted: Mon, 22nd Feb 2010, 6:40pm

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JonnyT93

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Atom wrote:

Yeah, look into the Rode Videomic or NT-G2. Both are versatile, affordable, and reasonably good-quality mics.
Brilliant thanks for your support. I am nearly up and running and ready to start shooting. They All Look good and I will buy them soon. I'm sure i'll be checking in soon with some of my first time at filming.

Jonny
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 2:44am

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daftendirekt

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You can get an HV30 for pretty cheap now that the HV40 has been released. Id buy an HV30 and build up a pro rig over the years. There are some very professional looking rigs. Search "HV30 rig" on google images to see a few. Some call the HV30 the poor man's XH-A1. I own an HV30 and I have used an XH-A1 so I can tell you that it is a great cheaper alternative if you build up a good rig. Im currently working on my own rig.

Here are some pretty snazzy rigs.












Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 12:29pm

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Struker

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Well, to say the very least, those rigs look rather impressive, daftendirekt!!

May I ask where you found the photos? Is there a site that describes those rigs and their components?

Thanks.
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 12:36pm

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daftendirekt

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The hv20.com forum can be pretty helpful. Allot of he rig pictures are from there. Here is a topic on the forum about HV30 rigs. http://www.hv20.com/showthread.php?t=7927
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 12:44pm

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Struker

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daftendirekt wrote:

The hv20.com forum can be pretty helpful. A lot of the rig pictures are from there. Here is a topic on the forum about HV30 rigs. http://www.hv20.com/showthread.php?t=7927
Great, thanks, Daftendirekt! Coincidentally, I just registered with that forum yesterday, (or at least I tried to. Was declined and had to email the webmaster but I'm sure it will all be sorted.)

Cheers.
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 5:12pm

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JonnyT93

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I've found a HV20 that i'm really thinking of buying as soon as this question is confirmed.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Canon-HV20-3MP-High-Definition-MiniDV-Camcorder-10x_W0QQitemZ360231997855QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCamcorders_Professional_Video_Cameras?hash=item53df80119f#ht_4551wt_1165

As i'm the UK do you think that this will be NTSC or Pal (or doesn't it matter - yes i'm a noob) as i've messaged the company with no avail or any feedback at all.

Many Thanks for saving me Again Fxhomeforum

Jonny Treherne
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 5:39pm

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ben3308

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The seller is in New York. It's likely NTSC. You can't use that if you're not in the United States; at least, not easily.
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 5:49pm

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JonnyT93

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ben3308 wrote:

The seller is in New York. It's likely NTSC. You can't use that if you're not in the United States; at least, not easily.
That's what I presumed dammit. that was a cheap HV20 aswell i doubt i will find another this cheap.

Jonny
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 6:27pm

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JonnyT93

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Oh FFS!!! This bloody camera seems ridiculously hard to find in PAL Format. So i'm absolutely fuming i can't find one as i need 2 get the camera before my birthday. PLEASE HELP!!!!
Posted: Tue, 23rd Feb 2010, 11:01pm

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Struker

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JonnyT93 wrote:

Oh FFS!!! This bloody camera seems ridiculously hard to find in PAL Format. So i'm absolutely fuming i can't find one as i need 2 get the camera before my birthday. PLEASE HELP!!!!
Firstly, join this site http://www.hv20.com/index.php It's a forum entirely about the Canon HV range, and among many other things, it gives locations in the UK where you can buy the camera you want. I joined today because I bought a HV40 yesterday!!

Secondly, best help I'd give you is to cool it, Jonny. You sound like someone who's in the mood to make a hasty decision, and that's never a good idea.

The camera you eventually buy is obviously going to have to last you long after your birthday, of course. Personally, I would never buy a second-hand video camera, especially from eBay or any other place where the product is offered sight unseen. You just can't know if it has been (a) dropped (b) exposed to water (c) internally damaged by misuse (d) operated with dirty tapes (e) had its lens scratched (f) been stored in a dusty or humid environment.... etc etc..

Guarantee you that if you grab the first available camera just to meet a deadline, the chances that you're going to regret it are very high.

Bottom line - if you have saved enough to afford a $400 camera today, keep saving and get something later that you'll never regret buying.

Oh, and stick with the Canon HV range.
Posted: Wed, 24th Feb 2010, 4:23am

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Serpent

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Great advice Struker.

If you are going to get a used camera, get a factory refurbished one that has a warranty, otherwise you might end up paying almost as much as the camera's worth just to fix it one day. I've made that mistake in the past, but my refurbished HV20 is much more comfortable.

Keep looking. And when shopping on eBay, do NOT get impatient. Don't think one seller has the only deal and that another opportunity like theirs will never come around again. It will, unless you are trying to purchase something that is truly rare (mass produced modern cameras do not count) or one-of-a-kind. But again, ebay probably isn't your best option in this case.
Posted: Wed, 24th Feb 2010, 6:33pm

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JonnyT93

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Kudos to serpent and struker. I was searching ebay after i read your message and found this camera:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/BARGAIN-Sony-HDR-HC5-HDRHC5-Camcorder-Package_W0QQitemZ270532370397QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_AudioTVElectronics_Video_Camcorders?hash=item3efcfc5fdd#ht_1635wt_1165

this comes with a years guarentee so i'm wondering whether 2 go 2 it as i cannot see a differencce with this and the HV20 - i'm sure there is. Many thanks
Posted: Wed, 24th Feb 2010, 7:20pm

Post 38 of 40

pdrg

Force: 5405 | Joined: 4th Dec 2006 | Posts: 4143

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Consumer camcorders are always overvalued on ebay, unless you go for an extinct format. And really do be terribly careful even then. A friend bought a camcorder from ebay, the vendor *whined* that his friend who was *supposed* to shill-bid against her had let him down, then the camera had no power supply, and was NTSC in a PAL zone. Just about useless. Then he vanished.
Posted: Wed, 24th Feb 2010, 7:42pm

Post 39 of 40

JonnyT93

Force: 35 | Joined: 12th Jan 2010 | Posts: 70

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pdrg wrote:

Consumer camcorders are always overvalued on ebay, unless you go for an extinct format. And really do be terribly careful even then. A friend bought a camcorder from ebay, the vendor *whined* that his friend who was *supposed* to shill-bid against her had let him down, then the camera had no power supply, and was NTSC in a PAL zone. Just about useless. Then he vanished.
I will heed your words of advice and play it safe. I think the HV20 seem s a good option and after talking to my friend who is a filmmaker he recommended it as the picture quality is top of the market for that tiny budget
Posted: Thu, 25th Feb 2010, 12:05am

Post 40 of 40

Struker

Force: 870 | Joined: 28th Dec 2009 | Posts: 178

CompositeLab Pro User EffectsLab Pro User

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JonnyT93 wrote:

I think the HV20 seems a good option and after talking to my friend who is a filmmaker he recommended it as the picture quality is top of the market for that tiny budget
He's right. Very good decision.