Moving from a Camcorder to Camera for video.

Created by Baltimore on July 24, 2012, 5:27 p.m.
  • After over two years I have decided that it's time to move away from my trusty Canon Vixia HF200 for shooting my video reviews and replace it with something a little more flexible. What I am looking for is a camera that does 1080p video, can shoot video in macro mode, can do wide angle video (for the larger items I review) and takes quality pictures.

    Right now I am considering getting a

    Baltimore.

  • consider getting a what!?!?!?

  • The two camera's I am looking at are the Canon EOS Digital Rebel T3i or the Sony NEX-F3. If I decide to get another digi camcorder I am going to get the Canon Vixia HF G10.

  • @Baltimore: I own a Canon HF G10 and a Sony HX9V (a $250 point and shoot) which I both use for family videos. I also own a Nikon D90 (the first DSLR to do video, I believe) which I only use for still shots. The Canon HF G10 is really nice, especially in low light. The Sony HX9V is an amazing video camera for the price, despite looking like a regular point and shoot. In good light it's hard to tell the difference in video quality from the HF G10! I think the HX9V has been replaced by the HX20V now, though.

    In my experience DSLRs are pretty useless for video unless you are doing studio work with the subject at a fixed distance and no panning. If you are moving about at all, I think you need a rig for the camera, do all your focusing manually, and be very careful and smooth with all movement and panning. Mirrorless cameras are somewhat easier to use, according to what I have heard, haven't tried one myself, but they are still far from the usability of a real camcorder.

    For your reviews, though, a DSLR or mirrorless camera might do the work if your subject is fairly fixed. I suggest you go to a store and try out different cameras. Pay attention to how they handle panning and focusing, if that is going to matter to your type of video. You could also tap into the vast experience at AVSforum.com.

    Where can I see your video reviews?

    Looking at the requirements in your original post, I would say the Sony HX9V and its successor the HX20V does the job. Here's how I would rate the HX9V:

    • 1080p video - amazing if the light is decent. It even does the new AVCHD 2.0 standard with 1080p50/60 (that is progressive scan at 50 or 60 frames per second, depending on which part of the world you live in). I don't believe any DSLR, not even the new Canon 5D mark III does this yet. The Sony NEX-F3 doesn't either, but the NEX-5n does.
    • Focusing and panning - just as fast and smooth as a decent camcorder.
    • Zooming - not as smooth as a camcorder. Try to zoom really slow, and there will be some jerkiness.
    • Macro - 10 centimeters/4 inches is no problem at full wide.
    • Wide angle - It's wider than 18 mm on a Nikon DX or other "APS-C" size sensor like the Sony NEX-F3.
    • Stills - Decent. Not as good as for example the fantastic Canon S100 due to the small sensor. Noise reduction is a little to high, and there is no quality setting for the jpeg compression. For most use it's perfectly fine, though.

    I'm sure other cameras could do the job as well.


  • My video reviews may be found at www.youtube.com\baltmatrix On my channel you will see some recently posted reviews that are not using my current setup (I recorded those reviews at the end of last year in my kitchen while the basement was being remodeled). My current review setup is two 5500K Daylight CFL bulbs projecting light onto a Fancier Muslin backdrop (kind of a gray backdrop).

    I review toys of giant robots (Transformers, Gundam, Super Sentai, etc.) and I have found that something with a manual focus ring and a macro mode would be extremely useful. Also, if I can get something that supports a wide angle lens for really big figures that would be excellent (since many of the figures I review end up being at least a foot tall). I purchased a cheap wide angle lens for my current camera but it is one that has an adapter and gives me that ugly, black ring when I zoom all the way out.

    My Vixia HF200 has been a great camera but I am noticing that I have to be very careful with panning as the camera often cannot keep up with the movements. It also cannot focus correctly when zoomed in to a subjects face. So I have to fake it by either zooming all the way out and hope the autofocus works or go across the room and zoom in to get the shot. Also, this camera does not have a macro mode.