Which video camera do you use?

Hi all,

I have taken small videos with my digital camera and with a webcam. The results were, em, really bad. Especially for dark environment or close-ups. So I am thinking about buying a mini-dv camcorder.
What do I need:
  • usable for beginners
  • cheap, max. 300 euro
  • good for indoor

Example: Panasonic NV-GS80EG-S

Which camera do you use for taking an instructable video?
And which software?

Kind regards,

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trebuchet0310 years ago
Canon ZR-500 -- it does mini DV tapes and it is less than $300USD I got mine just before it was taken off the shelves because the new (read: more expensive) model just came out :P

But I didn't buy mine with it's purpose being video instructables :P But, I have been using it to document lots of things :D

I'm editing video with windows movie maker.... It's a bit fidgety - don't add more video once you put in text as the video moves without the captions :/ But it works well for simple stuffs. iMovie also works great for the mac crowd ;)

But as said -- don't buy it for video instructables :P f you're going to buy it - have another reason. You can get great results with a cheap tripod (even homemade) and some clamp on lights. When I do food photos, I have two clamp lights, an overhead light and I use my cameras timer while it's on a tripod in macro mode ;) And my camera is 3.1MP and cost me $75 - again, bought (this was a floor model) as it was taken off the shelves to make way for the new models.

I for one have discovered how expensive DV tape is... Luckily, I found a source for 1 hour tapes that costs $3 each :D
alex_weber (author)  trebuchet0310 years ago
Hi trebuchet03, do you have a link for a video taken with your Canon ZR-500? BTW: Seems as if the ZR-500 has another name in europe. Or at least in Germany. Kind regards, Alex
Sites like Deal Mac tend to track deals on DV tape. Less than $3/tape seems to be a pretty common "sale" price. Eg $24 for 10 tapes(expired)
LasVegas westfw10 years ago
I really got tired of DV Tape. It seems to only work reliably about 3 times. That's why I'm so pleased with the new cameras that use memory cards. Nothing to wear out and the cameras are so much cheaper! My friend just bought a HDDV Solid state video camera w/32MB built in and accepts 4GB SD memory (2 hours HD/ 4 hours SD) for... Get this! $160US!
westfw LasVegas10 years ago
You're losing a lot of (something) to lossy compression to get 1 hour/gigabyte. MiniDV tape is about 12Gbyte/hour, and even "DVD quality" is 2+ Gbyte/hour. That's a bit academic if you're happy with the final quality, I guess. Compression HAS gotten a lot better over the years. Which model do you have? I couldn't find a Sanyo digital recorder (on amazon) for as low as $160... The direct-to-disk recorders are temping as well (but not cheap.) I'd expect the consumer market to go solid state eventually; even sacrificing quality for time, there aren't a lot of things to video that use up a full hour of recording time. Hmm. One thing I thought of is that for my next DVR I am going to look for something that connects easily to external microphones. The canon I have now does a good jobs of picking up its own motor noise in relatively quiet conditions...
LasVegas westfw10 years ago
The camera records in MP4 format. A lot better quality for compresion than previous formats. It's not HD, but most of my video work is for podcasting.
The canon I have now does a good jobs of picking up its own motor noise in relatively quiet conditions...

Mine does that too! I put some thin foam inside the tape door - there's extra space in there so it fits without interfering with anything. That cuts down on the motor noise significantly. I think motor noise is the largest complaint for these cameras :P

The only concern is heat - it does get quite toasty in there.... Insulation probably isn't the best thing for it :P
wow, thanks for the tip :D I've been going to BJ's (a wholesale place - like Costco or Sam's) and getting 8 for a little less than $24 after tax... But less than $3 is good to know :D
alex_weber (author) 10 years ago
Hi all, thanks for your comments. Maybe it was misleading, I do not want to do the whole instructable as video, but document the final result. I think a video gives you a good impression what its all about, especially if it is an electronic-LED-microcontroller-thing. Regards, Alex
westfw10 years ago
Video is over-rated, IMO. Unless you plan to spend some time editing it. If you're doing video for instructable-type things, you might try improving your setup (lights, tripod, tent?, manual focus) instead of improving your camera; as LasVegas implies, a reasonable digital camera ought to produce "ok" video. I'm on my forth video camera; none have been less than $300 :-( I'm a big believer in small; dragging around and dealing with a big thing is too cumbersome, and requires that you be "videographer" rather than participant, and since a lot of what I wanted to video was my kids... I had the early Sony PC1, which had lousy battery life, and some mid-range canon (the first of which got dropped at least once to many times and had something about its tape mechanism fritz out, though the camera still works ok.) The current one is a ZR-400, which I'm pretty happy with. IMO, the inexpensive minidv cameras are "consumer" models, and they're ALL going to be pretty easy for a beginner to use, and ok for indoors; those are just too important for the consumer market to be neglected.
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