What is the best low budget HD camcorder for Mac Users?
May 5, 2011 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Best Low Budget HD Camcorder for Mac Users?

Looking to buy a lower end HD camcorder. Been trying to browse the web and I am finding confusing reviews.
It seems like every camcorder records to an MPEG/AVCHD file, which is not compatible with a Mac. I have seen that you can purchase/download a Brorsoft converter to convert AVCHD files to an MOV file, which is compatible to Mac for editing videos in iMovie, AVID, Final Cut Pro, etc. Is this the only option for Mac users or is there another way? Is there a lower budget camcorder that is more compatible with Mac users?

Any experience/advice is needed.

Cameras I have been looking at: Sony HD-RCX160, Panasonic HD-SD60K, Canon HF-R20.

If you have experience with any of these camcorders, please give your comments.

Also, does anyone know if you can record video to the SD card on these cameras or does the internal memory record all video and SD card record still images?
posted by dbbaily to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't find any mention of the Sony, but both the Panasonic and the Canon cameras come-up as iMovie-compatible in this chart, when shooting in AVCHD format. The MPEG-4 list is quite small, though, and does not list any of your choices as compatible.

There are some caveats about shooting in stabilization mode and recording in digital cinema mode, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on May 5, 2011

Check out the Zoom Q3 HD. Retails for $300.

More of a high-quality audio recorder with a camera added, it will shoot 720p saving to the SD card as MOV files. It is PERFECT for recording concerts to make YouTube vids.

Re converting AVCHD/MTS to some useable format, I found a free converter on the PC side, but nothing for Mac.
posted by omnidrew at 8:41 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've used the Kodak Zi8 very successfully. $100 on Amazon. Records straight to the SD card. Will shoot up to 1080p.
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:19 AM on May 5, 2011

I wouldn't get any of those. For just a little bit more money you can get a Canon SLR that does video (see the Rebels).

This is a new revolution in video called HDSLRs. All wedding/independent film/video art videographers are switching over. The reason is that they make video WAY better than normal video cameras. Their sensors are MUCH better and their lenses are NIGHT AND DAY BETTER. Most cheap video cameras have TERRIBLE lenses.


Here's the bonus: you get a GREAT still camera too.

Check this out

Further: Also consider an Iphone 4. I kid you not. Really. Bonus: it's always on you. Takes better video than the legendary Canon XL1 (from 8 years ago).

The only people who buy old fashioned video cameras are the people who don't know better.
posted by Murray M at 3:55 PM on May 5, 2011

I don't want to start a flame war, but Murray's answer is the most ridiculous hyperbolic nonsense ever. Look, video DSLRs shoot great quality video, it's true, but it's a kludge. I've used the 5D extensively in production environment, and you're not going to get all the functionality of a proper video camera without serious extra investment that'll take you well over the $1K mark. Btw, I have an iPhone 4, and that comment is patently nonsense.

OP, what exactly do you want to do with your new camera? For instance, what do you want that the video mode on a compact digital camera can't do? If you lock off shots on a tripod and don't want to refocus, then a DSLR would be a nice, albeit budget-busting option. If you want to video your cats/kids/whatever, then I'd look elsewhere. Try browsing through camcorderinfo.com.

Last, but not least, you can very, very definitely edit AVCHD in Final Cut Pro. My colleague regularly shoots on the Canon HF11 (cute little camera!) and edits in FCP. Here's a link all about it.

Good luck!
posted by Magnakai at 2:27 AM on May 6, 2011

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