Picking a Camcorder and software.

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Crit Racer, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. Crit Racer

    Crit Racer Guest

    Hi all.

    I need help trying to find a suitable Camcorder and possibly video
    editing software. I'm trying to capture a finish of a bicycle race.
    Currently we are using an at least three-year-old camcorder. The
    problem is not frames per second but resolution and the washing out of
    colors. I'm prepared to spend $1500-2000 (USA) on the Camcorder. Of
    course I'd love to get away cheaper, maybe with the advancements in
    the last few years I can.
    So far I'm looking at the Sony DCR-PC330, Canon Optura Xi, The
    PV-DV953. Reviews seem to show that all are good. The Sony DCR-PC330
    seems to have the best lens and also a large 1/3 in and a 3.3
    Megapixel CCD with 2,077K effective pixels for video. As far as
    resolution what is gained when you go to a 3 CDD unit? The CCD's are
    smaller so do you lose resolution? Or do you add the CCD's to get a
    total resolution? The The PV-DV953 contains three, 1/6 in. 800K CCDs
    but has great reviews too.
    I'd like to either stream the video or download it to a PC to
    enlarge a single frame of the video or screen capture the video and
    enlarge it. If possible I'd like to make a final review movie of the
    finish that changes between fast/slow motion and freeze frames of
    enlargements. Hopefully the editing of a 30 second capture of the
    finish will take less than a half-hour. Or it might be easier just to
    use a TV and slow motion freeze frames. But would I lose resolution?
    What will the software that comes with the units do? Pixela ImageMixer
    1.5 appears be able to enlarge single frames of a movie. Also it seems
    to handle movie files in the raw form. This seems to be an advantage,
    won't compressing result in lower resolution?

    Crit Racer, Jun 23, 2004
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  2. Crit Racer

    twobirds Guest

    You can find a used Sony VX2000 on Ebay in your price range easily. "Bang
    for the buck" in your specific price range, I have to say the VX2000 all the
    3CCD Cameras basically have a CCD for each red green and blue. There is a
    longer explaination, but perhaps that will help you understand.
    I have one. If you ever want to use it in low light (like indoors in a
    house or someplace where you can not control the indoor lighting) you will
    not be happy, IMHO. I've found mine to perform poorly in low light and I've
    seen strange results with it specifically in flourescent lighting. If it is
    only for the specific purposed you mentioned (bicycle race - hopefully a
    nice sunny day), it would be a good choice, though

    With what you said you are willing to spend, I have to reitterate my
    suggestion that you consider moving into a used pro-sumer camera. The
    difference between the cameras marketed to the average consumer and those
    marketed to pro-sumer videographers is night and day. I own models from
    Sony, Panasonic, and Canon. - All have their own benefits. I'll break it
    down to three pro-sumer cams that are "somewhere near" your price range.

    The Canon XL1 or XL1s are very serious looking cameras. People will take
    you seriously if you are manning one. Image quality is superb, but I think
    both the Sony and Panasonic out-perform it in low light. It has the best
    image stabalization of any digital I've ever used. Even used, it is
    probably a few hundred dollars beyond your stated budget (an XL1 will
    probably be 700 abive your stated budget.. an XL1s will be a thousand or so

    The Panasonic DVX100A is less serious looking but really an incredible
    camera that can be manipulated to actually produce results that look so much
    like film that the majority of people would be hard pressed to tell the
    difference. It is quickly becoming my favorite digital. You would be lucky
    to find one used. It is a relatively new camera and not many people are
    selling them once they get one. It may still be a few hundred above your
    stated budget if you can find a used one.

    The Sony VX2000 is also a marvelous camera. Its zoom controler is a bit
    fast and can be a little jerky, but that can be overcome with a $30.00 Lanc
    controller (and probably doesn't matter to your current specific
    application). It has much the look of a large palmcorder, but for the lense
    hood. It is silver like any sony palmcorder, and doesn't have that
    "serious" look to it like the Canon. Don't let that fool you, though. The
    VX2000 produces stunning footage and performs exceptionally well in low
    light and mixed light. It also has the best autofocus of the three, in my
    opinion. I also am of the opinion that of the three, it probably handles
    motion (like bicycles going fast rather close up) better in auto-mode (using
    the automatic settings rather than the manual control of the camera) than
    either of the other two. Used on Ebay and elsewhere, you can pick one up
    between $1500.00 and $2,100.00 USD depending on what "extras" and
    accessories are with it.

    <snip - I'm unfamiliar with pixella and you may need to learn about
    interlacing before you decide you want to show a whole bunch of
    slo-mo/stills or whatever>
    twobirds, Jun 23, 2004
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  3. As other people point out, Sony VX2000 is a great choice in the
    price range.
    First thing, no matter what the CCD resolution, the video frame
    resolution is fixed (720x480 in NTSC). Extra resolution for video is
    used for image stabilization (steady shot etc.) and digital zoom,
    neither of which improves the actual image resolution one bit.

    Still pics are affected -- anything 1 megapixel and above is
    obviously intended for that, because it is overkill for actual video.

    A 3.3 megapixel 1/3" CCD has as much space per pixel, roughly, as
    800k 1/6". If the camera uses one CCD pixel per video pixel, then
    both will be identical (all else being equal) as far as light
    gathering, sharpness, etc.

    Using 3CCDs doesn't improve resolution. What it does is simplify
    separating the colors, which is necessary in order to get good color
    response. 3 CCDs also has three times the area for light gathering,
    so 3 1/6" CCDs is almost as much area as one 1/3", and when you take
    into account how much of the CCD space is not used for actual video
    (much is stabilization area), you can come out ahead.

    In general, a good 3CCD camera has better low light imagery, and
    better color, than a single CCD camera -- any of them. As well, it
    isn't just the CCD, but the optics and other electronics, so a more
    expensive camera tends to be better overall in picture quality, even
    if the CCD is otherwise similar to a cheaper model.

    Light *always* matters when doing video. If you are shooting in
    daylight, most cameras will give you decent color.

    If you're doing sports action, light is even more important, because
    one way to get good freeze frames is to increase the shutter speed.
    Rather than video's default 1/30 second, you can run up to 1/1000 of a
    second or even faster on some cameras. When you do that, of course,
    it cuts into light gathering. But in daylight, most modern
    camcorders, even cheap ones, can do a decent job of this sort of

    Another factor is that if you're comparing digital to analog -- it
    sounds like you're talking an older analog (hi8 or VHS or SVHS) -- the
    digital format stores accessible frames. You can save individual
    frames out of the video by selecting them. Perfect freeze frames are
    thus trivial to generate, whereas analog tends to lose quality if you
    use "pause" to get a freeze frame (and of course, the transfer to
    digital is more complex).
    If you use DV, capturing to the PC is simply downloading it. Sony's
    Pixela can do that, but there are many other programs with more
    features. You want to work in DV format throughout, so you don't
    recompress the video.

    Enlarging a video frame always costs you resolution. Doesn't matter
    how you do it, there is no way to blow up the image to twice its size
    without halving the resolution. If you want more detail, take the
    pictures zoomed in closer, or move the camera closer. If you don't
    mind losing resolution -- and half DV resolution (360x240 NTSC) is
    better than many older TVs will do -- it is OK, and you can usually
    get by with 2x without being too noticeable. More than that, and the
    pixelation is hard to ignore.

    Fast and slow motion are easy in principle but difficult to do
    smoothly. Good software will generate interpolated intermediate
    frames, rather than just dropping frames to generate the speed change.

    How long it takes to edit things depends on two parts -- how long it
    takes for you to pick out the pieces and put them together as you
    like, and how long it takes for the computer to generate the new
    files. Edits which just cut out bits with no other changes take
    little time, because all of the retained material is simply copied,
    not changed (in DV editing). If you change things, such as zooming in
    (especially motion pan and zoom) and playback speed changes, it will
    take time to process. Faster CPUs do this faster, but the better the
    quality of the processing, the more time it takes.
    Jeffery S. Jones, Jun 24, 2004
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