Want small digital camcorder, under $1000, that allows editing on Mac and will be used for filming around London.
September 21, 2007 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy a small, Mac-compatible digital camcorder. My budget is under $1000. I will be using the camera to shoot videos that I will project when I play gigs with my band. I will probably also use it to film other people's gigs.

* I have a Macbook Pro that I want to use to edit the footage I shoot. (I presume that I need a Firewire-enabled camera for this.)
* I want to be able to put the camera in my rucksack so I can wander around London videoing stuff.
* From reading around, it seems that MiniDV media is the way to go.
* I want the ability to shoot in low light.
* Port (XLR?) for connecting an external microphone.

* How good can I expect image quality to be?
* Do I want/need a HD-enabled camera?
* Do I want/need manual white balance, focus and exposure?

I've read through a lot of related threads and these two were particularly helpful.
posted by pollystark to Technology (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With that budget, you are on the edge of the consumer / professional markets ("prosumer" territory). You can get a tiny MiniDV, firewire camera for under $300 these days. Sony's handycam DCR HC96 is about $500.
posted by mattbucher at 8:22 AM on September 21, 2007

You're asking for a lot for under a thousand. To answer your specific questions:
1) Your picture can look pretty good on a cheap 3ccd panasonic, but don't get your hopes up for film. It's video and the sooner you get used to the look of video, the sooner you'll begin to realize it's possibilities and limitations. With an eye for lighting, a good attitude, and smart framing, you can get really good image quality and you can do a lot of fun and neat work in programs like FCP and AE to improve it that much more. But things will probably go downhill fast if you're planning on filming in the dark.
2) Don't sweat the HD.
3) Most cameras, even the cheap crappy ones, have manual modes. For the most part, autoexposure is usually fine, especially on a camera without dedicated controls (i.e., you don't have to wind through ten menus to get to change the setting, there's just a physical button or knob). Autofocus is sort of the devil though. The computer looks for motion so if you're filming bandmate Historyisaweapon in front of a crowd, it doesn't know if it should focus on Historyisaweapon or on the crowd waving lighters behind him. So the focus will bounce back and forth between the two. And white balance is important unless you don't mind everything looking real blue or red.
posted by history is a weapon at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2007

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