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Camcorder for slow-motion under $2000

Posted on 2012-04-03
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Last Modified: 2012-04-18
I'm looking for a good quality camcorder for everyday use, but I'd also like it to be able to capture a little higher frames per second so that I can analyze my son's baseball swing in slow motion.

I looked on the Internet and it got a little overwhelming so I thought the Experts could help guide me in the right direction.
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Question by:hrolsons
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 37804739
Hi hrolsons
no need to complicate this by buying an expensive camcorder, use any camcorder you currently have or digital camera works brilliant if it has record video features or even a mobile phone will record a short video in beautiful quality to record your son then bring it onto your PC using the USB to transfer it over
play it in vlc in slow motion by reducing the playback speed, same with windows media player or just drag the seek bar back and forth in pause mode
VLC media player
Media player classic home cinema
Hope that simplifies it for you, did you still want to look into a new camcorder?
VLC playback speedWindows Media player play speed
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by:hrolsons
ID: 37807007
Thank you so much.  I have been able to use our current camcorder(flip HD) to do exactly what you said above.  Works great, but I need more than 30 fps.  At the same time, I'm going to get a nice optical zoom so that I don't get hit by foul balls.  :)
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by:Merete
ID: 37808784
So true :P
Some of this processing is your video card's responsibility.
The choices are huge and I cannot honestly offer personal experience with high speed cameras  for slow motion analyses
 and which one is best for your purposes, stick with what you do know and upgrade on that.
About High Speed Digital Video Cameras
http://www.fastecimaging.com/support/resources/about-hsv
http://www.fastecimaging.com/gallery

Glad it helped
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by:hrolsons
ID: 37812086
Those Fastec cameras are cool, but I can't find any pricing information anywhere which means they are way expensive.

Is anyone out there in the Experts community doing slow motion analysis?
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by:Merete
ID: 37814528
Slow motion is not recorded in the camera. It is actually done in post processing.
Interesting line so I read up all about the capabilities of high speed capturing
Cameras and Editing
I'll just pick myself up off the floor after reading this
Fastec's DSLR-sized TS3Cine does 720p at 720fps for $30,000
http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/18/fastecs-dslr-sized-ts3cine-does-720p-at-720fps-for-30-000/
The idea of the zoom lense seems a good direction and more affordable
How about I send out a ping to an expert whom I think is very knowledgeable on this topic. D_Brugge
Lets wait and see if he responds.

Regards Merete
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by:David Brugge
ID: 37814916
Thanks Merete for your vote of confidence, but I have to pass the buck. I, myself, have never had to deal with slow motion since the world moved to digital. However I have a couple of friends who are videographers who are very informed. Let me rattle their cage and see what info I can come up with.  Being a holiday weekend coming up, it may take me a bit before I get a response.
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by:Merete
ID: 37814979
Awesome  D_Brugge any help you can offer is appreciated.
Yep It's Easter all over the world ,  happy Easter everyone   :P
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by:BillDL
ID: 37818515
According to this page the fastest pitchers can shift that baseball at over 100 miles per hour:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastball

Using the following conversion table:
http://www.unit-conversion.info/speed.html
100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour converts to 48 yards (44 metres) per second
Getting smaller, that equates to 1,75 inches/sec or 4,470 centimetres/sec.
That's just over one tenth of the speed of sound!!

The baseball bat I have (under my bed to deal with knife-wielding intruders) is about 32 inches or 80 centimetres long.
It's a Rawlings Adirondack 242J "Little League Power Pack" made of Ash, just in case anybody asks, although that may end up being compelling evidence for my prosecution some day if they ever analyse the indentations left on my intruder's forehead ;-)

Not being a Physics or Mathematics genius, I would have thought that a bat swing would have to be as fast or faster than the ball to at least stop it dead, but that's just a wild guess with no foundation.  I really have no idea how fast a player would have to swing the bat to defeat the momentum of the ball and propel it away at an acceptable enough speed to get a home run.

If we are to believe Mr or Mrs ID1206601365, it would seem that it is possible to propel the ball at around the same speed as it reached the bat:
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_has_the_fastest_swing_in_baseball
The ball is bouncy, so the bat probably doesn't have to move quite at the same speed though.

I am going to guess that a pro batter can probably move the bat at something like 75 miles per hour (measured at the thick end), which is 1,320 inches per second or 3,353 centimetres per second.

Oh, never mind, I found a page with charts that explains it all, and my guess was fairly well on target:
http://www.efastball.com/hitting/average-bat-speed-exit-speed-by-age-group/

My intention was to try and work out how many frames per second would be required to capture the ball and bat movement such that it would yield enough detail to analyse, but I'm crap at working things like that out and besides that, this guy analyses baseball swings using HD videos at 60 frames per second:
http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Hitting/ProfessionalHitterAnalyses/index.html

Hmmm.  So it would appear that you need a digital camera that can film at 50 or 60 frames per second.  I know little about digital cameras because I am too broke to justify the purchase of one, so I'm afraid that I would only be googling for answers the same as you would be.
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Accepted Solution

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David Brugge earned 500 total points
ID: 37845357
I showed your question to Dave Herron, at top video shooter in New York to see what advice he might give. He wrote...

If this person would like to do slo-motion and has $2000 to spend, they could get a Canon 60D body for about $800.  The rest could be spent on lenses if they're not too particular about playback speed.  We use a nice (but expensive) program called Twickster to change frame rate.  Apple also makes one called Cinema Tools.  Twickster runs for about $1000 (it's a program/plugin) and converts frame rate while maintaining integrity, mostly just useful for turning 24fps into slow motion, or handling very high speed shots (300fps+).  Apple's Cinema tools would also be great for converting 60fps to 24 fps.  It used to be part of the Final Cut Pro system, which now I believe is sold individually.  SO, this fella might be able to pick up the 60D for $800, a decent lens @$500, and Cinema Tools for the conversion for I'll guess @$300.  

Here is a video that his company shot on 60D at 60fps::

Victoria's Secret Swim 2012: Angels, Islands & Oh-So-Sexy Suits
(Yeah, he has a rough job, but somebody's got to do it.)

I might ad that you could start with a much less expensive lens and look for a refurbished camera such as Canon Factory Refurbished or Adorama Refurbished which gives you a bit more room for extras.
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 37845387
Not being a Physics or Mathematics genius, I would have thought that a bat swing would have to be as fast or faster than the ball to at least stop it dead, but that's just a wild guess with no foundation.  I really have no idea how fast a player would have to swing the bat to defeat the momentum of the ball and propel it away at an acceptable enough speed to get a home run.

I could try to explain it, but others have done if better than me.

In summery, as you remember studying simple machines in grade school (you were paying attention weren't you?) you can multiply your force with a bat, which in this case acts as a lever. The bat has a mass, so swinging this mass builds a lot of kinetic energy in the end farthest away from you. The more mass and the harder you swing, the more energy is stored in the bat.
On impact, a great deal of that energy is transferred to the ball. However the ball has a lot of kinetic energy of it's own. Think of what happens when you toss a baseball against a wall. It changes directions and comes back to you. Not with the same energy, but some never the less.
So you transfer the direction of the balls energy plus give it an extra boost by transferring the energy from the bat, and you have a hit!

You might also remember from trying to bunt the ball, that it takes very little forward movement of the bat (if any) to simply change it's direction-that is to say, it does not have to match the speed of the ball to simple stop it. (but you were on the right track)
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by:hrolsons
ID: 37846899
Interesting.  I didn't know DSLR cameras shot video.  I have a Canon Digital EOS Rebel XT, but I don't think it does video.  But I do have many expensiive lenses for it so I might pick up a newer body that can shoot video.  The Refurbished link above points to cameras with a much too slow fps from what I'm learning.
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 37847527
Yes, the new DSLR's are the way that a lot of video is shot now. You get a lens equal to the very best large format video or motion film cameras along with the logic and processing of the DSLR. The extra cost not mentioned is recording media, since video uses up a lot of memory fast.

Here are some other toys to use with your DSLR rig. (grin)
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Author Comment

by:hrolsons
ID: 37847605
I'm looking into Cinema Tools as mentioned above and it looks like that is just for Mac.
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 37847614
> looks like that is just for Mac.

Bummer!

Yea, that's what all those New York artsy types use. Just a PC guy myself.
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