This month I thought I would touch on another topic that I am often asked by my clients and prospective clients:  “Can you recommend a good video camera in the consumer price range?”  Since this is a popular question I thought it may be beneficial to give some tips and recommendations for those looking to shoot something themselves.
First and foremost, we must ask ourselves what are we mainly going to be using the camera for? Vado and Flip cameras are great for “point and shoot” when on the go but not practical for shooting a longer performance and don’t always measure up in low light situations.  Of course portability is key – that is, something lightweight and small that won’t take up a lot of space when set up. Quality is another important factor. Most any camcorder you buy now is capable of shooting in HD resolution but how does it measure up in low light situations. Will you mostly be shooting outdoors in daylight or will you be working with ambient light or even stage lights. Each of these situations pose different challenges.  Therefore the next thing you want to decide is how much control you want to have. The majority of consumer cameras are going to provide minimal manual controls over exposure, gain, shutter speed, and even focus.  For most people, filming their performance under stage or room lights do749842 not need to concern themselves with those manual controls. Therefore, one of the most portable, inexpensive, HD camcorders, capable of shooting in varying light conditions that I have used is the Panasonic SD80. I tend to use this as an alternate camera when I am shooting something specifically for the Internet. What makes this camera great and easy to use? In addition to being lightweight and great picture quality, it records to a memory card – no tapes. It records in 1080i and the video is already compressed in H.264 (the web compression format). It is certainly a good value for the money.
838768If you’re willing to spend a little more money, I would HIGHLY recommend the Canon HF M50. This has all the features you could really want in a consumer level camera, and then some.  Most notably, the camera has “cinema look” filters and can shoot in 24p mode to give your footage a real cinematic look. Furthermore, there is a mic input should you decide to connect an external shotgun mic or plug a line-in from a sound board mixer.
I shot the Late Night Live segments at MAGIC Live! with this camera’s (discontinued) counterpart and it is small but mighty!  The video quality is unbeatable!
Plus, it is the most customizable (in terms of functions) consumer camera I have found.
Again, depending on what you will be recording, you may want to get an external mic. And for that I w363083ould suggest the Rode VideoMic. This shotgun microphone will mount in the hot shoe on top of your camera, which will allow you to still plug in an additional line in the camera’s microphone jack. And the sound quality of a Rode is phenomenal.

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