Ultra-low-end shootout: broken higher-end S-VHS camcorders vs. lower-end new mini-DV

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by mousie, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. mousie

    mousie Guest

    thanks, all, for advice on an earlier question (on live recording of
    church service to DVD, just a little step up from current
    one-camcorder-does-VHS-setup). based on the idea of doing a very basic
    two-camera setup, i studied up and have obtained a used panasonic mixer
    WJ-AVE5. looks to be in pretty good shape and will spend some time
    familiarizing myself with it.

    but as with all things . . . i'd like to get as much quality as
    possible out of the setup. i'd like to go with the s-video all around
    (cameras in, and also out to the dvd recorder). so heres the question:

    for *this application* would it be better to get used s-vhs camcorders
    with broken tape drive mechanisms (like panasonic AG series seen so
    often on ebay) or new low-end mini-DV camcorder and use their s-video

    i guess the question really is how much the technology has advanced.
    does today's $350 low-end mini-DV camcorder outperform the full-size
    s-vhs "prosumer" camcorder of 10 years ago on the s-video out?

    i would appreciate your opinions. and yes, this is an ultra-low-end
    question. best regards to all who have the budget to do such a project
    right. i dont. :)

    mousie, Feb 15, 2006
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  2. mousie

    dcasperson Guest

    It is my opinion that camcorder technology advanced up to about 2001.
    Since then it has been a "Every year poorer" situation.

    If low light performance is important, then using prosumer older S-VHS
    or Hi8 camera sections is the best way to go. I used Canon L1 and L2
    and Sony TR81 feeding Panasonic AG-1980 S-VHS decks for several years.
    Today I would probably use a D8 tape deck or camcorder instead of the
    AG-1980. MiniDV tape decks or MiniDV camcorder tape recorder sections
    should work just as good.

    There is no way I would consider a low-end MiniDV camcorder with their
    sucking low-light performance.

    dcasperson, Feb 15, 2006
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  3. mousie

    Steve Guidry Guest

    I've been doing church video for over 20 years. My company currently does a
    local worship service every week.

    And it never ceases to amaze me that folks always want to do the Lord's
    work on the cheap. That is a false economy. No offense intended, but you'd
    do well to heed this advice.

    I know the "do it cheap" reasoning - - we'll start out small and then when
    folks see what we can do, they'll fund it at a decent level. Baloney !

    The most common scenario is that they'll do one of two things :

    1) See your half-baked efforts, NOT like them and decide not to pursue
    doing video at all. Or,

    2) See your half-baked efforts, LIKE them and think that you're doing a
    fine job on what you've got, and then spend the money on something else.

    The truth is that most churches can afford most anything that they believe
    is worthwhile. What you really should be doing is trying to convince your
    deacon or elder board to fund your efforts at a decent level to begin with,
    BEFORE you shoot the first frame of video. Show them some shows done by
    churches doing programs at the level you aspire to, and if they like what
    they see, go about doing your research to see what it will take to get to
    that level.

    It's a sell job, man . . .

    More later, if you want. Just ask.

    Steve Guidry, Feb 16, 2006
  4. Maybe you could try and learn to light. That would help you!


    Martin Heffels, Feb 16, 2006
  5. mousie

    David McCall Guest

    Then there's the third option where se see the merit of what you are
    trying to do, but feel like they might want something better and go to
    a completely diferent vendor to spend the real bucks.

    It's the same deal with doing projects on spec, or low budget, with
    the promise that they will give you the world when they make it big.
    Unfortunately, once they make it big they can afford the expensive
    stuff and leave your cheap ass in the dust. They no longer want that
    budget look that you gave them for almost free. They want the good stuff.

    David McCall, Feb 16, 2006
  6. mousie

    Ven Hawkins Guest

    There are lots of situations where you're basically stuck with the
    ambient light. I'd imagine taping a church service would fall neatly
    into that category.
    Ven Hawkins, Feb 16, 2006
  7. dcasperson wrote ...
    I don't think you can generalize to that extent. Sure there are likely
    lots of junky consumer camcorders that have worse camera performance
    than some older cameras/camcorders. But there also some which
    have better camera performance. It is a matter of doing due dilligence
    to identify them.
    There were camcorders of EVERY generation that were mongrel
    dogs, and some that were standouts.
    Richard Crowley, Feb 17, 2006
  8. mousie

    mousie Guest

    thanks for the advice all.

    so that i wont be misunderstood:

    this is a church with about 100 attendance weekly and a big heart when
    it comes to helping out in the community. example: soon it will be
    helping with disaster child care training, for people who go to
    disaster areas to take care of kids while the adults clean up. the
    volunteers do this at their own expense and they are specifically
    trained not to evangelize. just lend a helping hand to all in need. the
    church doesnt spend much on itself, apart from the pastors salary where
    it is fairly generous and doesnt begrudge a penny.

    the church currently uses one full-size vhs camcorder to do video.
    that's all. doesn't even get sound from our p.a., just the built-in
    camcorder mike.

    so to me the question is not whether we'll do great video with a
    two-camera setup and p.a. audio but whether we'll do better than we're
    doing now.

    the donor picking up the tab for this little video venture already
    donates thousands to the church and local charities such as the food
    pantry for the needy and community programs for children. if i went and
    made the pitch i think i could get the donor to put some of that into
    better video equipment.

    so here are the alternatives

    1. stay with full-size vhs camcorder just as things are.

    2. two-camera setup and p.a. audio experiment

    3. ask the friendly donor for upgraded video equipment, likely to get a
    "yes" and realizing that the money will probably come from funds
    otherwise headed to local charities.

    puts a different light on it, doesn't it? i think reasonable people
    could disagree. but i have only good will for everyone who answered and
    thanks for those who provided perspective on whether to go "new low
    mousie, Feb 17, 2006
  9. mousie

    Tiny Tim Guest


    FWIW I took some amateur footage of a friend's wedding with my Sony
    DCR-PC110E DV camcorder and the built in mic. I got the camcorder when
    it was first launched in December 2000 or thereabouts and the wedding
    was held the following summer (good lighting!).

    There was also a "Pro" sporting a full size VHS camcorder (I don't
    think it was S-VHS). Being the hired professional he had the benefit
    of choice of viewpoint and I had to make do as best I could without
    stealing his patch or otherwise getting in the way of things.

    When it came to viewing the final edited output the picture quality of
    my footage complete blew his away. His was soft/fuzzy/grainy while
    mine was razor sharp and yet smoother too. I guess that being analogue
    his quality suffered pretty badly in the final editing stages but even
    so my friends were pretty disappointed in the £600(ish) results from
    the pro compared to my freebie.

    They got me back to do the first Christening as well, without
    bothering with a "Pro". That was in january last year and the lighting
    was no problem at all.

    If you want something small and digital (and cheap) that might do OKl
    in low light take a look at the 3CCD Panasonic NV-GS75 which I saw in
    Comet (in-store, not on the web) for £330 a couple of days ago.

    Other prices and availability here....

    Review of what I understand to be the NTSC equivalent here....

    Alternatively, for even less money, the new and very budget conscious
    Canon ZR500 got a pretty good review regarding low light here (I think
    this is known as the MV890/MV900 in the UK)...

    Prices here - http://makeashorterlink.com/?C2BF228AC

    Tiny Tim, Feb 17, 2006
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