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View Full Version : Which digital movie camera?



rwm
06-19-2006, 08:26 PM
My friend that is going to purchase a new/refurb Mac - also wants to buy a digital movie camera? I know squat about this.

I am lost here ... I have seen them. Can you use it like a movie camera and put it into your computer? Software needed?

unclemac
06-19-2006, 11:00 PM
It's been a couple years since I looked at this......but the old guidelines were:

Be sure it is digital and has firewire out. Older low end video cams were analog so no way to get video in a computer without a seperate analog-to-digital converter, which cost almost as much as a cheap vid cam.

I think probably everything is digital now, but if you see something really cheap, watch out.

Firewire is usually just called IEE 1394 by most brands, Sony called it ilink last time I checked. All the same. Except....

Some firewire just didn't work. Sony always did. I assume it would be the choice of the FW bridge board in the cam, just like in any FW storage device: bad/flaky/old FW bridge = trouble mounting the device.

imovie (http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/features/importing.html) is your friend.....as long as we are talking about doing video on a Mac!

Leighgion
06-20-2006, 01:21 AM
My friend that is going to purchase a new/refurb Mac - also wants to buy a digital movie camera? I know squat about this.

I am lost here ... I have seen them. Can you use it like a movie camera and put it into your computer? Software needed?

This, I know something about.

Yes, you use it like a traditional camcorder, but can load the video into your computer via firewire for editing, if desired, with no loss of quality. iMovie will come with any new or refurbed Mac purchased, so no worry about the software for general home use. You can actually do quite a lot with iMovie.

What you're wanting is a miniDV-format camcorder. There's plenty of them out there and what's best all depends on the age old questions of budget vs desired features/performance as you can get a miniDV camcorder for as little as $200 for the most basic economy consumer models or spent over $3000 for gear like a Canon XL-1, which is the eye behind many low-budget indy films you can pick up from your local DVD shops.

There are digital camcorders that record direct to DVD. I would avoid these like the plague as while DVD is a nice final delivery format, it's a terrible format for any editing (essentially MPEG2 is not editable in a real sense and needs to be converted to another format, adding generations of recompression quality loss). Stick with miniDV. Beyond that... it's hard to make any specific recommendations without more parameters to go on.

kaye
06-20-2006, 07:52 AM
This site http://www.dvspot.com/ used to be great but at least it will give you some ideas about what to look for and what else might be important to your friend. k

rwm
06-20-2006, 01:20 PM
I am a Video idiot. :o

That was enough and plenty good enough info to get me going. This probably won't be bought for a month or more - who knows.

Looks like she will get the new CoreDuo 17" or 20" iMac .. or at a minimum a refurbished G5 iMac. And better get the Biggest HD she can.

A Storage ?How much video or "time" or say if you had 4 hours of grandchildren - how many GB of hard drive space is needed?

Leighgion
06-20-2006, 01:55 PM
DV, or more precisely the DV25 version that's standard on consumer camcorders, has a constant data rate of 3.6 Megabytes per second (3.6 MB/s x 60 seconds x 60 minutes = 12,960 MB per hour, divided by 1024 = 12.66 GB per hour), so call it 13 gigs per hour. Four hours of grandchildren (or anything else for that matter then) would safely fit in 52 gigs.

With modern hard drive capacities, casual DV editing isn't really a big burden and while a bigger internal drive is always nice, it's easy and economical to add external firewire drives too for extra stash space. An iMac has two firewire ports, so one for the camera and one for a hard drive works out well. So, it's not absolutely necessary to immediately throw down for an internal hard drive upgrade, though just storing to one device I guess is the most simple for a casual user.

Maybe this belongs a bit in the original thread on choice of machine, but if video is going to play any significant part of the computer's use, I strongly recommend going for the Core Duo. There's nothing wrong with the G5 processor, but I can't emphasize enough how much better it is to have a dual when working with anything video-related so for the money spent, the Core Duo is a much better deal in this regard since all the iLife apps are now Intel-native and can leverage the full strength of the Core Duo. Personally, I use a dual G5 for the same kind of work, but your friend's not aiming for that strata.

rwm
06-20-2006, 03:21 PM
but if video is going to play any significant part of the computer's use, I strongly recommend going for the Core Duo. I agree and am advising her to go for it... thanks, The FW drive setup sounds good too.

liveitproduction
07-22-2006, 04:23 PM
I have 4 video cameras and shoot 1 to 2 hours a week. Any thing less than HDV which is the lowest form of HD video is just disappointing. 3 of those cameras are paper wieghts now. By the time the footage of a typical DV camera gets to the DVD burn stage it looks bad. Always try to start with the highest resolution possible. $1000 will get a Sony HDR HC1 or HC3.1080i These are very small excellent cameras for any one not really "pro". The data rate is 25 mbps so a tape which FCExpress or Imovie is going to convert so it is useable takes up 40+gigs of space. FCPro will do native, less gigs, but then more CPU is needed. If you have HD TV set then the quality is more apparent. Also direct from the camera to HD tv set is just as good as Dicover channel HD. Remember to always make one copy of your movie back to miniDV it is the ultimate archive format. Burnable DVD only last 2 to 5 years. Do not be fooled into believing anything else about burnable DVD. P.S. The Stedicam Merlin makes shooting video shake free. It is the one must have tool for shooting video. Best of luck