Video Equipment

When our team starts up again next year, I’ll be looking into getting some new equipment, mostly just a camera. I can’t get anything too fancy, just a simple handheld camcorder. What would you guys recommend?

I have a cannon HV20 and like it quite a bit. I did a bunch of research before I bought and decided that an HD camera was the way to go now a days, since they are only a couple hundred more than SD cams and you can always decrease your video quality but never go up.

I think the biggest point is to decide what your final output will be. If you are going to be shooting mainly for the web many cameras are optimized for that. If you are thinking of making team dvd’s and/or editing check the format that the camcorder records in before you buy. Some of the modern cameras actually compress the video on the fly and it makes it difficult to do editing. AVHD is one of those compressed formats.

At this point in time, I would recommend a camera that uses MiniDV tapes. Although the hard drive and flash memory camcorders may seem nice, they usually record in compressed formats (like AVCHD) which are difficult to edit later. The camcorders that record directly onto mini-dvds are just trouble (especially if you have a mac). They can usually not be read by slot-loading DVD drives (as found on most macs), and even if you can get one into your computer, most editing software cannot handle it. (will not work with iMovie or Final Cut Express)

I have had two Sony MiniDV cameras. (one HD, one SD) and would reccomend both. The sony cameras are high quality and work well. For editing, I use Adobe Premiere Elements 3. It is well-designed and affordable software that I would reccomend.

I like using the MiniDV tapes as well, for two reasons: one, when you run out of space for recording video, it is very quick to change to a new tape. This is especially helpful when you stick to the 10-to-1 ratio of video: film ten times as much video as you expect to actually need, because 90% won’t be good enough for the final cut.

The second reason is that the MiniDV tapes all act as a relatively cheap means of keeping long-term backup archives of the raw video. I never reuse any tapes - ever - in case I ever need to recapture that video for a future project.

I’ll switch to hard drive/flash memory cameras when they are available with the capacity to shoot at least six hours of uncompressed 1920x1080 video, as generally five to six hours of video has been the most I’ve ever shot without access to a computer to capture to.

Also, be sure to buy a good battery upgrade for your camera. The current Sony video camera I have only came with a one hour battery; after purchasing the largest upgrade battery, I can now film for eight hours without recharging. That’s enough to fill up two or three one-hour tapes from each day of a competition - enough to film all the matches, or to film only your team’s matches with a lot of “stock footage” for great team promotional DVDs.

Thanks guys. Right now I’m using a Sony that’s getting kinda beaten up. I may go for the same type, but a newer model. It would also be rather nice for us to have two cameras for filming so I can take two different angles of the same match.

The current software I’m using is Adobe Premier Pro 2? I think. Possibly 1. Either way, it really gets on my nerves a lot, due to how much it freezes. I may look into getting either a better version of the program, or an entirely new program.

I would look for one that has a decent lens and stability control is a big plus since you will likely shoot handheld often. You want to be able to get good resolution and fill the screen with the competition field when shooting from the stands while still being able to get in and take pictures inside the robot. Low light capability is an extra added plus.

I agree, the MiniDV format is excellent. I also agree, buy as much lens as you can afford - ignore “electronic” zoom, go for “optical” zoom as a better indicator of lens quality.

I have a canon, it has treated me quite well these five years.

Find a price you can afford, then see what’s available for that price. Online offers some excellent deals. I can recommend Abe’s of Maine (even though he is in Brooklyn, NY) even though they are kinda pushy with the extras, good prices.


For programs, I’d recommend Sony Vegas.

I’ve only used the Pro version, but if it’s any indication of how good the others are, it’s worth it.

Thanks synth3tk, I’ll look into that. I don’t know how willing my team would be to buy online, but I may try to go that route if there is a cheaper camera available somewhere. Thanks for all your help guys.

A friend of mine at CP24 in Toronto has a Canon HDV, shoots both mini-dv or to a card, has all the pro in/out, SDI, great in low light, he can’t say enough good things about this camera, apparently it blows my Sony XD CAM 350 out of the water in low light. It’s a comfortable medium sized camera as well, has just the right weight to it, great image stabilizer. Even in full auto this camera focuses and white balances bang on. He let me handle it and after five minutes I liked it so much all I could think about was how much I am still paying on my lease for that XD cam :frowning:

(disclaimer: I work for the office of Sony that develops Vegas and DVD architect, though I don’t work directly on those products)

Vegas is a great piece of software, and can directly edit AVCHD video straight from an HD camcorder. I’ve used it to great effect with a Sony hard disk camcorder. You copy the MTS files straight off the camcorder (no analog/firewire import, just straight USB2) and can go straight into vegas for editing, no converting required. It takes just a few hours to learn, and you can learn as you edit.

It also integrates very well with DVD architect (which I believe now has a Blu-Ray authoring capabilities), so you can burn to a DVD or Blu-Ray with minimum hassle.

I use a Canon XL-1s, the quality is excellent. I can connect upto 4 XLR mics to it. I have the dual battery charger and DC coupler with 2 12Hour batteries, so I can record 24 Hours just on those 2 batteries, and have the ability to hot-swap the batteries. :smiley: it records to either miniDV, or directly to a HDD recorder or computer through a firewire link.

Hello !

We are developing training modules with embedded videos and we are using Flip-Video Camera, it cost around $200 for the top end model and you can shoot in HD mode, what is pretty neat is that it work seamless with your computer and you can edit and upload with the software included in the camera in which downloads to the computer aoutomatically when you connect the camera to the computer using the USB portecommend for any team starting to get their feet wet on videography. I know at least of one Fortune 100 company that is using this type of camera to shoot internal videos to communicated with employees.