Cheap but Really Great Camcorders For HD Video and Mic Input

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Avatar of Michael J. Nolte
Michael J. Nolte on May 6, 2012 at 4:30 am

A good one I found for cheap (and I even use) was a:
Canon VIXIA HF M500: $649.99

Feel free to post what you think is a good HD and Mic input Camcorder.

Avatar of Connor Justice Norvell
Connor Justice Norvell on May 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

My first Camera was the Canon Vixia HF21: $500
worked great!

Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire
O'Ryan McEntire on May 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Hey, Michael. Any reason you’d like to go the camcorder route?

While I have heard great reviews about the model you have listed, a camcorder in that price range is usually not going to give you very much control over your image. Many of the consumer grade camcorders are all auto. Which means that your camera controls the shutter speed, the ISO, and the focus. This can be awesome if you just want to be able to whip your camera out, turn it on and start shooting. But that also means that it can make it harder to get a cinematic look.

If this is what you have then it’s a great little camera. And understanding it’s weaknesses and strengths you can still get great cinematic images out of it.

However if you are looking to buy something else in this price range, then I would suggest taking a look at the DSLRs. If your going for cinematic images, then your going to get way more bang for your buck.

The Canon T2i and the LUMIX GH2 are both really great options at this price point.
Be aware however. That shooting with a DSLR, while may offer the potential for a more cinematic image, it does come at a complexity cost.

With a DSLR you are going to need lenses. Usually they come with a single kit lens which isn’t horrible. But buying lenses is where a DSLR can get expensive.

The form factor of a DSLR isn’t made for shooting video. So stability can be an issue. Rigs and lenses with Image Stabilization (IS) can help.

That being said, you can find amazing older lenses on ebay for fairly cheap. And Investing in glass is always a better idea than investing in a body. Lenses from Canon and Nikon can almost always be mounted on the next camera body you buy.

So it really depends on your intended use of the camera and where you are as a storyteller. If your just starting out then The Vixia is probably a great camera for you, because you won’t need to fuss with all of the details of a DSLR. But if your at a place where you’re shooting a lot with your Vixia and you feel your are being held back more than progressing then it might not hurt to borrow a friends DSLR or try one in a store to see if your like it.

Avatar of Michael J. Nolte
Michael J. Nolte on May 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Well, I have been saving up to buy myself a Canon EOS 7D Digital for about $1700. I also like camcorders because they are small, cheap, and can shoot great HD. As you said and you are right is that you can’t do much to get a great cinematic look and control the camera as I wanted but still, it is a great starter camera for anyone who is a beginner to film making and storytelling.

Avatar of O'Ryan McEntire
O'Ryan McEntire on May 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

The 7D is actually a harder DSLR to use for video. The 7D can’t be hacked so you have to deal with the horrible Auto Gain Control which messes up audio. So to get good audio you would need to have a separate audio capture device.

I wouldn’t really recommend the 7D for video. It is almost identical in specs to the T2i ($550), T3i ($750), and the 60D ($900) minus that the T3i and 60D has the flip out screen. All these cameras effectively have the same resolution and sensor. The 7D has a few better features in stills mode, but when it comes to video these cameras are almost identical.

The one thing that the 7D (and 60D) has over the T2i and T3i is that it has a Magnesium alloy body that is semi-weather proof instead of a plastic body which is not weather proof.

Comparatively the 60D is a much better buy than the 7D, and for the price the T2i is a huge camera in regards to what it can do.

Don’t get me wrong the 7D is a great camera but the ratio of price to video functionality isn’t really in it’s favor.

Avatar of Michael J. Nolte
Michael J. Nolte on May 8, 2012 at 3:07 am

Alright, thank you for that information. I didn’t know that the 7D was harder to use for video. I’ll definitely use your advice and look into buying 60D instead of a 7D. Once again, thank you for your information and advice.

Avatar of ben van holstyn
ben van holstyn on May 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I’m saving up for my first camera (while saving for my first year of college and a laptop). Yes, I’m a noob. I am wondering what would be the best camera for the money (as the title suggests). I’m looking for an all purpose camera but that does VERY well at video. I was thinking the Canon EOS Rebel T3i. Any suggestions?

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