Video Camera Recommendations?

Admitting right up front my lack of tech sophistication, would anyone have the patience to shed some light on what I need for videocasts?  I'm ready to shop for a new video camera.  Ultimately, I would like to make videocasts of upholstery how-to's and other diy how-to's for web posting.  That's about as much as I understand other than downloading to the computer and uploading to the internet.  In a nutshell, what equipment do I need to have and what software, other than editing software?

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bruno on Feb 21, 2008:

Chris: I chose the Canon because:

a) Someone (a friend with video-editing experience) recomended the ZR line to me

b) It had a mic input

c) Picture quality is not as important to me, since I'll be posting these videos on the web (where you're pretty limited in terms of quality anyway)

d) It was cheap, and for a beginner I didn't want anything I might regret spending too much on 

A hotshoe would definitely be cool, but I think it'll push the price up.


Chrisjob on Feb 21, 2008:

I've been researching video cameras for the same purpose. I second Bruno's ideas about a microphone input. Other important issues are low light settings, white balance, autofocus, and the presence of an accessory show.

I think the biggest hurdle to overcome is to decide how much you wanna spend. In my research, I've found CNET's staff opinions and IndyMogul.com to be helpful. (IndyMogul did a camera gift guideAlso check out YouTube: alot of folks will post test footage with their cameras (especially prosumer models)...of course, that all depends on how they convert it once in the computer.

Bruno, what made you pick your Canon? Price and mic input? 

ModHomeEcTeacher on Feb 19, 2008:


Thank you!  Do you know how to do everything?  No wonder you are the DIY Master!!!

To Do:  1. Buy a camera

           2. Practice

bruno on Feb 19, 2008:

The easiest way to edit video on your computer is using iMovie (Mac only). There are some online (web-based) video editors available (Jumpcut, MotionBox, and EyeSpot come to mind), but they're pretty limited compared to the desktop options. Still, I think they're worth a look.

After that, uploading the video is the easy part (just upload it to YouTube, Blip.tv, revver or any of the other video hosting services). 

ModHomeEcTeacher on Feb 19, 2008:

Man!  Thanks for your researched info.  I needed someone who knows what I'm going to do with it to give me some advice.  Now, I need to figure out how to download, edit and upload (is that right?)

bruno on Feb 19, 2008:

My tips:

  • If you have more than $1,000, definitely get a 3CCD, maybe something like the Canon GL-2
  • For $500 - $100 you can get a nice 3CCD from Panasonic (the PV-GS500 looks good, but the now-discontinued GS-400 is supposed to be amazing if you can find it)
  • You can still get a good camera for under $500 (even under $300). I wound up getting the Canon ZR930 for about $289.

One final tip: for me it was really important to get one that has a microphone input for an external mic (very few of the lower-end camcorders have this). If you're ever going to want to produce really good sounding tutorials, an external mic can make your final product sound (and, oddly, look) much more professional.

 Good luck!

bruno on Feb 19, 2008:

That's great! I'd love to see some videos of your how-tos. Actually I just went through the process of researching cameras and I can give you some tips:

  1. http://www.camcorderinfo.com is a GREAT place for detailed reviews, specs and information.
  2. http://reviews.cnet.com is also very good.
  3. This thread on MetaFilter was helpful to me. A search of MetaFilter turns up lots of good stuff.

Things to look for: "3CCD" means the camera has much better image quality (these will also me more expensive). "Prosumer" is a word they use to describe cameras that are almost professional quality, but easy and cheap enough for a normal person. Ignore anything about digital zoom; digital zoom is bogus and crappy, you want optical zoom.

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