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Cheap camcorder for teaching
  • I took over a course of kids, got to teach them basics of media production. Got a budget of 1200 EUR for a cam, could buy two from this money I guess. Playing with the thought to get one Panasonic FZ200 and some small camcorder. Finding a model that records on SD Card, comes with manual focus ring, mic in- and headphone output and allows in general proper manual settings below 700 EUR seems to be quite hard. Does not be the very best picture quality, manual controls are more important. Any ideas?

  • 13 Replies sorted by
  • Get a decent camcorder with line-in audio. If you can find something good that is used it´s not a bad thing (older semi-pro camcorders will get you a variety of manual controls).. add a gf2 (dirt cheap now) or a similar camera with interchangable lens mount (+ kit zoom / pancake); that provides a different way of working with the camera / or just have it as a b-cam.

    I wonder what a used vg-10 might fetch these days?

    Edit: you could get an fz200, a gf-line cam + an external audio recorder for that money.. might be better?

  • Thanks for the input. I need to teach them working with traditional video cams as well, that why I am looking for a camcorder. I don't want to invest into MiniDV and HDV cams like Sony FX1 are still amazingly expensive. XLR would be nice, bit its not a must.

  • You need; as in you have to or you intend to? Personally, I don´t necessarily see it as essential in this day and age; as long as you grasp the basics and have shot quite a bit you will no doubt be able to operate a camcorder as well. Maybe you could look for cameras with similar features as camcorders they might encounter at another point. I can´t say if there are any out there with zebras, peaking a.s.o..

    Personally, I much prefer the histogram of the gh2 for exposure than zebras f.i.

  • They need to learn how to make use of a regular cam as well, this is nothing I could decide. So the search is still on, anybody knows a cam that hits above specs - or even has one willing to sale? I would actually be happy with HDV to...

  • @Meierhans .. I look after two schools .. I don't teach them (15-17 year olds). Generally I come in towards the end of semester and fix up there mismatched footage and support in Post. Both use these http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/index.php?t=product/sony_hxr-mc50e .. both have two. One of the schools also uses a variety of 7D and HDVcams.

    What I notice is that, the school that uses multiple type has a lot more issues and need for me to fix things. I believe that the multiple cameras causes confusion .. they forget the differences at the early stages in their development.

    Not really a camera recomendation, a recomendation that if you get two, get two the same.

  • Quite good camcorders with mic input and manual control start from $320 Panasonic SD90 (here I mean ebay price, check http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussions/tagged/camera-deals) Current mid range Panasonic is V700, just have better screen and few small improvements.

    If you need histograms, check 750, 800, HDC-H900 and X900 models.

    Also check Sony HD models that have lanc ability.

  • Thank you very much, this was exactly the model numbers I needed.

  • @Meierhans, can you let us know what you decide on? Please.

  • Some report from teaching front (might also useful for low budget run and gun jobs with audio involved):

    • Sony HXR-MC50E is out of budget.
    • Panasonic HDC-SD90, HC-V700, HC-X800 have no headphone output (=a must for teaching!)
    • Panasonic HDC-SDT750 is in budget (around 1000 €), has headphone output but does not leave space for second cam.
    • Panasonic Panasonic HDC-HS900 is in Budget (around 880 Eur), features headphones and leaves a bit mot space for a small second cam.

    • Panasonic HC-X900 is around 780 Eur and features headphones. http://www.testsieger.de/testberichte/panasonic-hc-x900.html?o=gp

    Unless somebody knows a reason why I should not go for the HC-X900 I will buy it. Then I will wait some months until the DMC-FZ200 is a bit cheaper and get this as well.

  • @Meierhans .. It does sound very good for the purpose on paper.
    Got your hands on one?

    Take the MC50e .. while almost all functions can be manual as per teh specs .. it's so tedious to set, to the point that the order you set them in matters.

  • Could not get my hands on one. Actually I wont have the time to test in advance, need to buy soon. From what I red the most essential functions can be controlled via focus ring. Lets plug and pray..

  • I understand, sounds good .. I look forward to your thoughts when you get it

  • You want real, full manual, including video gain control, mic in, mic volume control, LL sensor, manual focus, follow focus, custom WB, etc. Love the FF on these cams. That narrows the field. I recommend the Vivia M400 (~$400 refurbished direct from Canon) or the M41 (with viewfinder, FWIW) for this job. PF24 is a hassle, of course, and I don't recommend it for Pro work, since with CS6 you can drop real 24p, not pf24, on the timeline and work in real time (no, pf24 doesn't work, they haven't fixed it) but the students will need to learn about pulldown, so this is a good teaching scenario. Of course you can shoot the standard frame rates as well. There is also a tele function which will give you very shallow depth of field. Good student cam. This year's model is not quite as good on IQ, but adds some sort of MP4 capability. If you look around, you can get three for $1200.

    V is right to mention the histogram. No Histogram on the M4xx series, but you get it on the G10, which is a great cam but overpriced compared to the Panasonics. I've used the Panasonics, and they are great cams, but some of them have fans which I find really annoying. I recommend one of the newer, cheaper external monitors that has false color and peaking anyway, but built in histogram is nice. Fact is, blown highlights really calls for zebras, and it is a big issue. But a cheap cam can't have everything.