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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

Camcorder Advice Please


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nancyspeed

 
Member Since: Jun 26, 2008
Location: Mississippi
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The last time I used a camcorder it was the type that used those little tapes. I still have it but probably you can't transfer to the computer easily. I would like to be able to record something and put a snippet on my website. Also maybe upload something to utube. I am starting from ground zero and know absolutely nothing about any of it.

I was looking at a Best Buy ad and it lists the following camcorders:

JVC Everio GZ-MS230 with a tripod, PNY 8GB SDHC memory card and case for $260.

Samsung SMX-F40 (doesn't mention accessories) $170.

Sony Handycam DCR-SX63--record directly to 16GB internal flash memory, SC/SDHC memory cards or memory stick. $300

Sony Handycam DCR-SR68--record to built in hard drive $350

Canon Vixia HiDef HF-R10--record in 1920 x 1080 HD video $450.

Can someone please tell me what direction I need to go. I am not asking you to pick from these, but can someone tell me at least what would do the job without being overkill.

Thanks!
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nancyspeed

 
Member Since: Jun 26, 2008
Location: Mississippi
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The camcorder I presently own is a Canon ES900. I cannot find the year it was made but I am sure it is obsolete as far as computers go.
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nancyspeed

 
Member Since: Jun 26, 2008
Location: Mississippi
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I have iMovie 7.1.4. Is this statement true? "Lastly and most importantly, your Mac model will dictate whether you should buy a mini-DV camcorder or a hard-drive camcorder. The newer Mac models seem geared to ingesting video from memory cards and hard-drives. From what I understand, if you have iMovie 9 (on all Intel Macs), it designed to ingest video from the hard-drive cameras. If the Mac is older and has iMovie 6, then the best is a mini-DV camera. I personally prefer the mini-DV cameras. Tape is cheap and I can carry a pocket-full of tapes to get hours of recording at a better resolution."
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posts: 2,102
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Not really, as long as you have an Intel based Mac (since PPC Macs don't support working with AVCHD and footage would need to be transcoded prior to use in the editor).

For one thing - regardless of what version of iMovie you have on your system, you can always purchase the current version. You currently have iMovie '08. iMovie '08 supports a great many AVCHD camcorders, it doesn't name your specific models as compatible ones but what your best bet to do is to search for the model camcorder and iMovie 08 on google (ie: GZ-MS230 iMovie or GZ-MS230 iMovie 08). If you find a camera you want is only compatible with iMovie '09, you can easily buy iLife '09 for (I think) $79 and have the latest version of iMovie.

DV does not get better resolution then HD camcorders. HDV vs SD or HDD based depends on who you talk to. (HDV is an HD camcorder that is recording to a minidv cassette, it's not recording DV footage tho and requires software that supports HDV which includes iMovie tho I can't answer all the versions that supports it). Either HDV or other storage based medium (SD card, hard drive, etc.) should be fine for you.

There are many people who had systems with iMovie '06 that now have newer versions of iMovie or installed Final Cut Studio or Final Cut Express that work with tapeless camcorders. Hardware comes more into play if you have a very slow system (would still work most likely, but would be sluggish) or if you have a PPC based Mac (which will not support AVCHD and requires use of third party software to transcode). Now, if you were dealing with Final Cut Studio, hardware would also come more into play, but you're talking iMovie which has much lower requirements.

I'd suggest upgrading anyway as a lot of features were add back to iMovie '09 anyway (including transitions and such) that were not in '08.

Here are the system requirements:

http://www.apple.com/ilife/systemrequirements.html

Here's a list of Apple listed compatible camcorders (there are I'm sure more, but these are the ones specifically said by Apple to be compatible with iMovie '09):

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3290

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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nancyspeed

 
Member Since: Jun 26, 2008
Location: Mississippi
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Thank you so much for your help. I have also found several threads on the apple forum. I now understand "what should I buy" is not an easy question to answer.
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Nethfel

 
Member Since: Feb 25, 2009
Posts: 2,102
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Mac Specs: Late 2013 rMBP, i7, 750m gpu, OSX versions 10.9.3, 10.10

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No, honestly it's not - buying a Camcorder is/can be a very personal thing. I know it sounds odd, but everyones needs are so different, and based upon those needs determines what kind of camcorder to get.

Things that need to be considered include things like:

Do you need an external Microphone?
Do you need an accessory shoe?
Do you need manual controls?
If you need manual controls, are things like independent focus and zoom rings important?
What type of shooting environment will you be in?
Do you need a camcorder that you can find an underwater housing for (ie: do you scuba dive and want to take a camcorder down with you)?
Do you need good low light performance?
Are you, or where you're going to be, rough on equipment?
Do you need extended recording capabilities of a true camcorder? If not, a dSLR that supports recording may be a better option (but limited to 12-17 minutes per scene recording (otherwise, you press the record button you get 12-17 minutes before it stops recording and you have to start again - there are other tradeoffs but not focusing this on a dSLR vs camcorder thing)
What is your budget vs what do you want to spend (ie: I have $900, but I really only want to spend about $500 if I can)
Do you have any size or weight requirements for a camcorder?
Do you need video-in connectors?
Do you need a headset jack?
etc.

There are more, but you get the idea - you really need to focus on what features you really need and what features you want - then limit the camera selection to ones that have those features, decent cameras (read reviews, watch peoples sample footage/test footage on youtube or vimeo, etc.), within your price range and are compatible with iMovie (either the version you have or upgrade to the new version) - once you have that figured out, the choices usually become easier.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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