Any camcorders with mic input and easy digital recording format?
October 5, 2008 4:12 PM   Subscribe

What currently available video cameras will record to a commonly viewable digital format (ie. something Quicktime supports with no additional add-ons) AND has a microphone input jack?

I'm in search of a video camera that will allow professors to record their lectures. I'm looking for a camera that will:
- store video in a format that can be copied to a computer quickly (so Flash Card or Hard Drive based)
- produce video in a format that can be played on most people's computers with software they already have installed (ie. Quicktime)
- in a format that isn't huge (likely some form of MPEG4)
- has a microphone input jack for attaching an external microphone (this is a must as the speaker will potentially be a significant from the camera.)
- easy to use. ideally there would be an automatic mode so that the person setting it up can just turn it on and press record, then drag a file to a file server for distribution.

It looks like the Sanyo Xacti HD2 fits the bill, but I believe it has been discontinued. Sanyo's newer models appear to record in AVCHD. I tried a Canon HF10, which also records in AVCHD format. The raw files will not play in Quicktime, and importing them through iMovie takes longer than real time (on a MacBook Pro).

VLC seems to be working on support for AVCHD, but unfortunately, I don't think it is ready for general use, and most student computers still don't have VLC installed.

The Focus Enhancements Fire Store products look promising as well. However, it would significantly increase the price of the system and I believe one of our professors previously used one and still needed assistance getting it set up.

Anything else is out there that might work?
posted by wuntu to Technology (1 answer total)
Does it have to be HD quality? I ask because, as far as I know, the standard-def Canon FS series records in MPEG-2 format, and has a 3.5mm microphone jack on the cameras. This is from the FAQ on Canon's page about the recording format:

Issue: What file format does the camcorder record in?
Solution: Canon FS series camcorders record video in MPEG-2 format

Canon FS series camcorders record video using MPEG-2 compression. The video files are stored on the internal memory and/or memory card as a file with a .MOD extension (i.e. MOV001.MOD). Once these files are transferred to the computer using the supplied Pixela ImageMixer 3SE software the files are renamed to a .MPG extension (i.e. MOV001.MPG) which can be played and edited with many software packages such as Pixela ImageMixer 3SE.

Copying the files directly to the computer using standard computer file copy procedures and then renaming the file extension to .mpg may also be possible.

Here's the FS100 model (uses SDHC cards) at New Egg. And the FS11 model, which has 16GB of built-in flash memory. Hope that gives you another option, at the least. Good luck!
posted by XcentricOrbit at 1:41 AM on October 7, 2008

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