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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:04 am 
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A graduate student organization at my school holds occasional lectures that we've decided to start videotaping. They tend to be about an hour long, give or take a bit. So far, I've been using my Canon 7D, Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod legs, and Manfrotto 322RC2 joystick head. But this has several problems:
- My largest CF cards are 16GB, which can hold approximately 45 minutes of HD video. This is not quite enough.
- Even if I drop the quality of the recording to SD, at around the 1 hour mark, the temperature warning shows up.
- I can't use Magic Lantern on a 7D, so I have to record the video in 12 minute segments and stitch it together later.
- All of this equipment is mine. The organization would like its own equipment.

So I'm looking into suitable recording equipment with the following requirements:
1. We need a camera, tripod, memory card, mic (optional).
2. I don't know the budget, but I expect it will be low. Maybe $300 total?
3. It needs to record in HD, and 1080p is better than 720p. (The higher resolution makes a big difference reading writing on a blackboard.)
4. The camera needs to be able to get a fairly wide angle. (I've been using mainly 17-28mm on my 7D, which has a 35mm equivalent of 27-45mm.)
5. I would expect any camera specifically meant for recording video will not have the 12 minute restriction of my Canon 7D, but I suppose I should mention that I don't want to have to record in segments. Ideally, the camera should record until space runs out.

I think I may be asking for the impossible with this low of a budget. In the short term, I can just continue using my own tripod if a suitable camera (with memory card) can be found for the right price. But so far, I haven't seen a cheap enough camera that satisfies these requirements. I've been looking at the following:

Canon VIXIA HF R20: widest angle is only 41mm, which is not very wide. (But my guess is this is something I'll have to give up on.) A little over budget at $335. And that's before memory cards.
Sony HDR-CX110: widest angle of 37mm is a bit better. This camera (before memory cards) comes in under $300.
Sony HDRCX130: widest angle of 30mm is great, but this is also the most expensive option at about $350.

As far as I can tell, the difference between the Canon VIXIA HF R20 and the HF R200 is 8GB of internal storage space. Any Canon camcorder lower in price than the HF R20 appears to lose HD. And the HDR-CX110 appears to be the bottom of Sony's HD barrel as well.

Does anybody have any recommendations on this tight of a budget? I'm sort of expecting that camera+memory cards will already use up $300, but I'd also welcome tripod recommendations. Finally, if there is a case for (slightly) increasing the budget, I'm happy to see recommendations that are just a little bit outside of the budget.


Thanks in advance.

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Body: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS 7D
Lenses: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.0 OS HSM DC Macro, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF 85mm f1.8 II USM


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:04 am 
I dont know about the camera's at the moment so cant help you there but here are a couple of other thoughts.

Make sure you pay attention to the lighting. Making the 'stage' bright enough will significantly improve the quality of the recording. A well lit 720 video will look 10 times better than a 1080 clip.

How is the video going to be used. is there really any benefit to recording in 1080? 720 will save a lot of memory space.

As with the light pay a lot of attention to the sound. Lectures are all about content and there is no point if the content can be seen but not heard. I'd go down the route of a lavelier (lapel) mic as this will give a constant distance between the presenters mouth and the mic where as a camera mounted mic will have problems if they are prone to moving around a lot of turning away from the camera to look at something on a screen behind them. If your lecture theatre already has a mic system can you hook into that?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:27 am 
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I won't have any control over the lighting. We'll be in a classroom, and the chalkboard will be lit reasonably well. It's not a lecture hall, just a classroom.

The videos will be available online to grad students (e.g., for those who couldn't make it to the lecture). The higher resolution makes a big difference for reading writing on the chalkboard, so I'd like to able to record in 1080p if possible.

I'd prefer not to use a lapel mic because there are usually questions from the audience that the mic won't pic up. I suppose if I attach a directional mic to the hotshoe, the audience questions may be lost as well. In any case, I would guess a separate mic will not make it under budget (at least initially), so this decision can be made later.

_________________
Body: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS 7D
Lenses: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.0 OS HSM DC Macro, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF 85mm f1.8 II USM


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:43 am 
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Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
If you want a wider lens with 1080p video and a mic input and long recording times, can I suggest the Panasonic FZ150? It may have a small sensor, but it's a remarkable camera...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:01 pm 
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The FZ150 is comfortably over budget. The much cheaper ZS10 looks like it may be the best option yet, however. It is under budget (approx. $250), and can record until the memory card is full.

Looking at the review (thanks, Gordon!), it seems the battery life may be the limiting factor. The ZS10 review says:
Quote:
Fit an 8GB card and you could record 720p for an hour. We confirmed this on our model, by recording uninterrupted for just over 38 minutes before the two-thirds-full battery gave up the ghost.

It sounds like a full battery charge wouldn't quite last a full hour. If so, that would be a problem. (Was GPS used for this video test? If so, would turning it off significantly extend the battery life?)

_________________
Body: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS 7D
Lenses: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.0 OS HSM DC Macro, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF 85mm f1.8 II USM


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:31 am 
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Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Forcing the GPS would extend the battery, but it doesn't tend to search that often if it guesses it has been inside for a while - and it had when I did the video test. I reckon it could be good for the best part of an hour though. The only downside being lack of external mic input.

We really need a non-European ZS10 / TZ20 owner to try it out!


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