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March 17, 2011 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone sell an HD camcorder without touchscreen controls anymore?

I spent an hour in the camera store yesterday, and another online, and I'm coming up empty. I need to spec a cheap (< $500) camcorder for remote viewing of a machine we're building. Unfortunately all the cameras I looked at were touch screen controlled, which won't work for us because the people setting up the camera will be wearing rubber gloves. Does anyone know of an alternative I haven't seen? My requirements are:

1) HDMI output
2) 100mm (35mm equiv) focal length (zoom is OK, but not required)
3) 24" minimum object distance at 100mm focal length
4) Manually controllable exposure (or exposure compensation +/-)
5) A/C adaptor included or available (not just a battery charger)
6) powers up automatically when plugged in*
7) NO TOUCH SCREENS! (unless the zoom and exposure can be set with real buttons as well)**

* Every Canon camera & camcorder I tried failed this test except for their SLRs. Sony camcorders worked, but not their digicams or SLRs.

** Absolutely every 2010 and 2011 model camcorder in the store was touch screen controlled. Frustrating! So far digicams and SLRs have been spared this fad.

The only cameras I found which met all 5 criteria were the Canon and micro 4/3 SLRs, or the professional video cameras. All of these solutions cost over $1000 or 2-3x what I could pay for a camcorder.

So do any of the camera buffs here know of a solution I'm missing? I don't really even need this thing to record to memory. I'm basically looking for an HDMI webcam.
posted by Popular Ethics to Technology (11 answers total)
Would a Flip work for you?
posted by therubettes at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: Would a Flip work for you?

Maybe. I tried it and it failed the "battery out, power off" test (criteria #6), but it can be connected to A/C with the battery inside (unlike many SLRs), so this is less of a dealbreaker.

The bigger problem is that the lens is fixed at about 50mm (35mm equiv), which doesn't give me a very close view of my target. Any other ideas?
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2011

No ideas I am afraid. I know very little about cameras but have a Flip, I was just taking a chance that it might be the answer to your question as it is not touchscreen and has a HDMI connection.
posted by therubettes at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here's a bit of a self-follow-up. I spoke with a rep at BH Photo Video. He confirmed that *every* camcorder manufacturer is switching to touch screens in 2011. Sigh. They do have a couple of nice 2009 models in stock (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/682488-REG/Canon_4060B001_VIXIA_HF21_Dual_Flash.html), but that's going to get harder to source in the future. I'm considering this option, but I would still love to hear of any other ideas.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:48 PM on March 17, 2011

As you said, in the prosumer and pro models, there are plenty of choices -- by limiting yourself to such a low price, you're also limiting yourself to the consumer product lines. I suspect that for that level of product, touch screens sell cameras.
posted by sharding at 4:09 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about a normal camera? A canon s95 takes hd video, you can do tons of stuff changing exposure and stuff, and if you want there is a huge community of folks who mod the firmware
posted by rockindata at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2011

So you could almost certainly set up a power on at plug in situation.
posted by rockindata at 7:11 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Could you use a stylus for the screen?
posted by InkaLomax at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: rockindata: What about a normal camera? A canon s95 takes hd video ...

I tried some. It's hard to find an A/C adaptor for most, but I think the Canon's were available. I'll look into the firmware, thanks!

inkalomax Could you use a stylus for the screen?

There's an interesting idea, thanks! Do they make capacitive styluses? (I'm actually not sure if the screen is capacitive or something else. )
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2011

Veho VCC-001HD-KUZO 720p with no mention of touchscreen in the spec
posted by gallagho at 3:54 AM on March 18, 2011

Response by poster: Oh hey, I just checked and the Sony I had my eye on must use a resistive touch screen because it can be operated with any stylus! (I checked with the back of my pen) If they change to a capacitive touch screen in the future I can get a special stylus. Problem solved. Thanks all.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:13 AM on March 18, 2011

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