HD Video Camera Recommendation

I am a novice videographer.  I've read the basics and sat in on some lectures, but my understanding of the hardware and how to use it best is limited.  I have been using a Canon HV20 for several years, but now I want to make the shift from tape media to files as the technology is finally fast and cheap enough. What camera do I want?

I've looked at the Canon XA10 and the XF100.  I like the fact that the XF100 can record at a higher data rate than AVCHD will allow using Canon's XF Codec, and I don't mind spending the extra money.  But is this camera too much for a novice like me to "get"?  I need the camera to be mostly automatic for now, until I can finally get around to learning about proper white balance, exposure, etc.

Of course, it need not be Canon.  Any other ideas?  The keys are reliable auto-focus, good audio on the built in mic (I'll spring for an external if needed, though), image stabilization, and good performance in low light.

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I guess everyone likes a specific brand or model, and a recomendation may be biased, so I'l just tell you about this brand I like and why I like it and you can check out and make up your mind.
I guess all brands and models have pros and cons, and it really depens of what you want to do... what is it btw??

JVCPro Camcorders - All models

For you I would recommend:


GY-HM150U - This one is the new version that will eventually substitute the HM100. you may want to check it out too.

An overview of GY-HM100U - Video overview of the camera

720p Sample test for GY-HM100U

In a nutshell...

- You have native MOV format (Mac) and native MP4 and do not need any conversion for your professional editing software
- It uses 2 SDHC class 6 and 10 cards instead of the classical CF card (I recommend MB-SPAGA for best performance).
- It uses Fujinon lenses. one of the best in the market (in my opinion)
- Uses 2 XLR for professional audio with phantom power
- Uncompressed audio 2 channel recording
- You can unmount it for a smaller footprint like a stealth job or even to take it on vacation as a normal camera like your current HV20.

This is in fact a great camera. Just search for this model on youtube for some sample videos or reviews and I'm sure you will love it too.

Hope you find your camera and consider this one when looking for it.
Camcorders have significantly progressed in both quality and ease of use to meet the average to medium user market, buying a camera/camcorder/mobile phone iPhone does pose a lot of choices and which camera would suite depends on what you need, the point and shoot , or long video captures, do you need the accessories to go under water, or the macro for those incredible close ups.
USB connect or disc.
What software will be required to edit the video  is another area you need to consider into your budget  you also need the video editing software, some cameras have their own,  I like the Cyberlink products  Power Director 10
Brand names don't help much these days as the new products regardless their parts don't seem to last as long like in the old days so replacing parts can be expensive,   believe me I went for brand names only to find the reliability in small areas fail, many other brand names camcorders have improved and it is difficult to keep up with it.
Now you have more in one place than ever before.

 for example I prefer Panasonic and JVC brands
to give you some of my tips what to watch out
My rather expensive old Lumix which seems to have a slow shutter response when needed for point and shoot. Other than that it takes great photos.Short videos
I also have a JVC GZ MG20AA
The problem with this is the battery life you need to always carry two batteries,  but takes beautiful perfect video. Transfers video easy by the USB cable no capturing required.
I find more and more often I just go for my iPhone which is in my pocket or in my car for quick point and shoot or even my mobile phone which have awesome photo shoot abilities.

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Does it still make sense to buy a camcorder?

 Since you have a Canon HV20 I suggest you  look into the upgrade from here that way you already have the basis of experience
go to a store where you can have hands on and touch it. Handle it and ask questions.
Canon HV40 upgrade
Now all you need to consider into your equation do you want it all in one place?
 and what video editing software will be required.
shachoAuthor Commented:
Thanks for you comments!  Opinions along the lines of "I like ___ because ___" is precisely what I had in mind, because they're probably all pretty good at that price range.

Basically, it's for taking unscripted family and miscellaneous events - nothing creative or professional.  I place a high premium on image and audio fidelity and am happy to spend a lot on this purchase if it means better quality.  I just don't want to get over my head with a camera that I can't operate because I don't understand it.

What I DO understand is what comes out of the camera.  I'm well up to speed on video encoding paradigms and how to re-wrap, cut, transcode, etc. the resulting media.  I went with tape in 2007 because at the time flash media could not keep up with the data rate, so you had to dump from the camera every time you wanted to take new footage.  Plus, I liked that MPEG-2 is uses less aggressive compression.  But I gather the technology is there yet, so to speak.

I'm off to the camera store in this afternoon.  I'll have a look at the JVCs.  Seems the model has been upgraded (150 now).

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Sounds good shacho I used it for the same purposes  you can do wonders with the right video editing software
I posted the wrong link for my JVC if you wanted to look at it

shachoAuthor Commented:
Nice that it can wrap up EX into a quicktime container.  But it does not support 1080 60p by the looks of it.  I've had it with the inconsistency of playback devices to render interlaced signals on progressive displays and by the looks of if 60p will become the new standard.  I'll see what I can find later today.
Did you see the video where they unmount the camera in 3 parts?

I still think this may be one of the best options for you. It's easy to work with, have some pro options, or you can just use it as you use your HV20 but with better quality.

This is the best quality/price camera you can get for non professionals. If you go up a notch, cameras go to a 4000 USD price range. Are you willing to go there?

Actually, this 1600 USD camera is at the same quality level as some canon or sony on the 3000 USD price range.
The choice is almost unlimitted these days:

Choose your price range / media storage type (flash memory vs HDD vs mini DVD & your required memory size) / required zoom range / lense changability if required / required battery life / size & weight preferences / & finally what looks good for your needs.

Also you can see some comparison reports such as:

Hpe ths hlps.
shachoAuthor Commented:
I'm almost there with this decision.  I was planning to up a notch to the low end of the professional range, but the high-end prosumer handhelds seem to be capable of great video now, and they have a lot of hand-holding features that I'll need until I have time to learn how to take advantage of manual controls.  Right now the Panasonic X900M is what I'm probably going to go for.  My only concern is that there is a mid-body cooling fan, and I've seen posts that indicate some people can hear it in the footage.  That's bad.  The Sony flagship looks good too, but I'm not keen to pay an extra X-hundred dollars for a projector I'm never going to use.  As for Canon - a new release is well overdue.  So maybe I'll wait until it comes out and then decide.
I use JVC (Victor)
Although it has tons of manual features... just pressing play / adjusting the zoom / pause / stop ; All on the remote control ....I get fantastic results.

Hpe ths hlps.
There's a lot of bling with this model do you really need that 3D, and touchscreen stuff your paying a lot for the bling side

Other superb tools of the HC-X900M include a very generous 3.5" touch screen 3D LCD display.
Is this professional use?

If it helps some reviews on the Panasonic X900M

High reviews on these
Panasonic’s High Definition HDC-SD80 camcorder Price (RRP) - $599 Australian
I agree with Merete. It's not for professional use but then again, shacho isn't a professional is he?
Yes, you pay a little more for the touch screen and all the bling, but for a prosumer it's got great quality and features.
I believe he can have some fun with that camera too. If he is not a pro, he should be having fun while using it.

I guess both the X900M and the GY-HM100U would fit in the prosumer range, but the Panasonic tends more to the consumer side and the JVC to the Professional side.
shachoAuthor Commented:
Thanks all for your comments.  Any JVC's on the smaller side that do 1080p60?
Yes, many models to choose from:



Hpe ths hlps.
shachoAuthor Commented:
I've decided to wait until Canon replaces it's top prosumer and bottom pro cameras.  They both came out over a year ago so it could happen soon.  If IS catches up with the Panasonic and the operability is good I'll go with that.  Haven't had a chance to look at the JVC's yet, but by the looks of it only the flagship supports 1080p60 (the others have built in deinterlacers that can output 1080p60, but can't record at 60 fps progressive.).  I'll check that one out tomorrow.

Thanks for all your comments.


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shachoAuthor Commented:
Was only seeking opinions (not a "solvable" problem).
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