Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What Type Of Video Camera Should I Buy? Here’s What I Bought And Why

August 23, 2010 by  
Filed under All Posts, FAQs, Video Production

Canon Xha1s

The Canon XH A1s is the main HD camera I use now

Q: What type of video camera do you own and use for your video production and special interest video business? Why did you choose it?

A: Just about a year ago I was hot to upgrade from my trusty Canon GL2 standard definition camcorders and dive into the HD world. My clients weren’t asking for it, but I just felt it was time to move on and start learning about HD.

However, I didn’t want to over-buy for my needs (producing special interest videos and some client work) and I didn’t want to buy something that would make all of my existing computer hardware obsolete. I am always reluctant to jump in on a first-release of a new piece of sophisticated hardware, too.

I seriously considered two new camcorders; the JVC GY-HM100 and Panasonic AG-HMC40 HD, mostly because I liked the compact size and the fact that they were tapeless. I went to DV Expo West in Pasadena to check them out and wrote about it. Those observations turned out to be one of my most popular posts and was even picked up in Internet Video Mag.

Well… I never bought either of those camcorders. I feared both would require expensive computer upgrades, so I took a breath and waited. Although I really liked the JVC’s small form factor and its drag and drop into Final Cut Pro capability, I felt it was pricey for what it was, and some reviews were knocking it on build quality. At $3,500, I had reservations.

And to be quite honest, as much as I like the idea of solid state memory and the end of capturing from tape, I was not comfortable trusting my footage to hard drives as the storage medium. I have had three major name hard drives fail on me, and the cost of SDHC cards is still pretty expensive as backup storage. (The 16GB Class 6 cards can range from $45 to $100, so storing on that is out of the question. A 60-minute HDV will hold almost that much and costs $7.00 (you can also use mini-DV tapes at about $3.00, but I prefer the supposedly more robust and finer magnetic particles of the HDV tapes).

Canon XH A1s – My main HD camera

To get to my point, I ended up buying a Canon XH A1s in a Pelican case from a hungry student in Santa Barbara for 1/2 the new price. I love the handling of this camera and the incredible control it offers over every aspect of the image. I’m glad I bought it. When I need a “professional” looking camera, this one fills the bill perfectly.

Keep in mind, I still do a lot of work for corporate clients so I needed a more professional camera like this one. However, for your special interest video productions, you most likely won’t require such a sophistocated camera. For your needs, consider what I bought next. (You may also want to look at tapeless cameras such as the Kodak Zi8 and Canon hf200.)

Next up – the Canon VIXIA HV30

Then someone on one of my video forums offered to sell me a Canon VIXIA HV30 for $350. It had only been used to shoot one tape and is essentially brand new. I bit and have to say that I love that little camera too. It doesn’t look professional, but the results are amazing, and it is so discreet when shooting in public.

So for the time being I am happily shooting on tape in the HDV format. My four year old MacBook Pro easily edits the HDV format and I have always loved the warm, cinematic look of Canon camcorders.

Canon Rebel T2i Digital SLR rounds out my gear

A few weeks ago I also bought a Canon Rebel T2i digital SLR, for both still photography and stunning HD video, which my computer is still able to process, albeit a bit more slowly. I have read so much about the film-like video quality of the new generation of DSLR cameras and I wanted to upgrade my still camera anyway. The Rebel is an affordable step into this world. I rate this camera as without a doubt the best SLR I have ever owned, and everything they say about the high quality of video from these cameras is true. I love it!

I frequently get emails from people asking what camera to buy. I often see them buying more camera than they need for the type of work they are doing. Most can get along fine with a sub-$1,000 camera and will never use the controls and features that come with a $3,500+ camera. One reader contacted me because he was considering buying the JVC GY-HM100, but his goal was to record audio interviews. Talk about overkill. And since most cameras today are using some type of solid state memory, that begs the question of how to archive your footage. I’ll get to that in my next post, so make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed here to get notified when it’s live.

[UPDATE] I have since sold my Canon XH-1 and now own a Canon VIXIA HV30Canon Rebel T2i digital SLR, and a Canon Vixia HF R300.


5 Responses to “What Type Of Video Camera Should I Buy? Here’s What I Bought And Why”
  1. Carlos says:

    do you have the gl2? want to sale it how much


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