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Video Gear and Software, recommendations?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Retief, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. I was asked by our HR director today if I could give her some advice on Video gear and software. Her 20 year old son has just built a Windows PC and wants to learn to work with video. I know about RED, wow what a camera, but that is a bit too spendy :biggrin: Any suggestions on on camera/software setups? Ideally I'd like to give her a Low/Medium/High end recommendation, with the High end being considerably lower than a good RED system.

    And don't bother with trying to convince me to convince here that a MAC is the best platform, that is a horse I'm not willing to beat up on :eek: 

  2. There are a bunch of very cool and well priced HD camcorders out there now, go to www.cnet.com and see ranking.

    As for software:
    1. The cams come with something, and that is a start.
    2. Nero is surprisingly good
    3. King of the hill: Adobe Premiere, and its little brother Premiere elements!!!
    4. What not to buy: Pinnacle Studio. I absolutely hate it! I have had to use it for years, because my father in-law has it and I'm the one having to teach him to use it, very buggy and crashes a lot!
  3. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    I use the Canon XH-A1, a high def camera in their pro series. It comes with Canon L glass, image stabilization, 1080i, 3CCD pickup. The cost has dropped nearly 50% since introduced in late 2006, if I recall the date correctly. It is in your High end category, and priced MUCH lower than RED.

    Here is a link to the B&H listing:


    As for software, I like 3:

    1-Apple Final Cut Studio for Mac, only. It is #1 by a wide margin in my book. It is good enough to switch to mac on its own merits. No learning curve. Completely intuitive layout. Enables you to edit still photos of any resolution with high def video and std def video throughout the timeline. Unheard of flexibility.

    2-Adobe Premiere Pro. Part of CS3 (Master Collection and 1 or 2 other well equipped CS3 collections). PC and Mac. Just about the best PC software you will find. Premiere switches back and forth with PS, so you can do many neat things - a great choice, but as tricky to learn as PS.

    3-Sony Vegas. Excellent program for PC only. Strong Sony studio support, includes very nice collections from Sony productions to clip to your movie - adds pizzaz. Easy to learn, excellent, less pricy than Premiere.

    I used Premiere and Vegas together until I switched to Mac. Now that Final Cut has become so easy to use, I use it exclusively, and leave premiere alone.
  4. Well, when the RED Scarlet finally hits the scene, that'll be THE one for more than casual shooting. Meanwhile, I'm pretty partial to Canon's lineup.
  5. How about the new Nikon D-90?
  6. tintingkc

    tintingkc Guest

    This is the one area I tend to like Canon the best on. I have always used the XL2 and Avid Liquid Pro software. I like the fact that you can switch lenses with the camera bodies. Was great when I was a canon shooter. :biggrin:

    All the new upper end units from canon, jvc and sony are real nice. I look at it like camera bodies. Find one that fits you needs and is comfortable. Same with software. They all do a pretty good job. Some just make it happen more efficient or will better suit your style. Most have a trial period so that makes it easy to test drive. Don't forget plenty of hard drive space and ram. It is a must have when playing with video.
  7. Hey, Bob, I actually thought of that idea, but my guess is that the "movie" mode quality just isn't going to be quite the same.

    Thanks to all, can you folks quantify for me how you would classify the gear you have mentioned, as to "Low/Mid-Range/High", both in terms of use and price? For example, I would guess that the cameras, such as the XL-2 that was mentioned, with interchangeable lenses are going to be both more "high end" in price and function, correct? I'd like to be able to give them a few "sample" ideas.
  8. Nchesher


    Jul 7, 2006
    I don't know how serious he is but look at the Panasonic HVX-200 P2 camera. It's a great semi pro camera. We use a couple in conjunction with our soon to be had HPX-500's. (The real cams)

    ETA Avid HD software for editing is the way to go.
  9. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    Mostly posting so I can watch this thread. I used a camcorder a few years ago on a construction project, and am toying with the idea of getting one for personal use. I made a 27 minute video out of 8 hours of tape using Pinnacle 8.0 for software, and really liked it, but I’ve heard the recent versions might be a little buggy, but I don’t think I’d hesitate to purchase it, but I’d take a close look at Adobe Premier also. Pinnacle is the only video editing software I’ve used, other than what comes with the Windows OS.

    The two cameras I’ve narrowed it down to are in the Mini-DV format. They are the Canon VIXIA HV30 and the Canon GL2

    The Canon GL2 looks like an extremely nice camera, but since I don’t really think I’ll use it much, the cost of the Canon GL2 may be a little rich for my blood, specially since I procrastinated for two years on the 105 VR before picking one up.
  10. Would it be safe to say that the P2 would be in the "upper-mid" class?

    Gary, you bring up another interesting question, for me, and that is format. How important is this? How much benefit do you get from the different formats? Can then all easily be imported and processed to a common physical form?

    Man, this is just as bad as "regular" cameras, and even more expensive :eek: 

  11. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    Format was something I wasn’t expecting when I did the research for purchasing the video cam at work, and there are even more choices today. I settled on the Mini-DV because they are small tapes, fit in your pocket, and easy to carry around and change if you run out of tape in the field. They are about 2.8 inches wide x 2 inches high x 0.5 inches thick. The ones I have can record 60 minutes in SP and 90 minutes in LP.

    Downloading to your computer should be the same with all formats. Most, if not all camcorders, will plug into your computer via a USB and or a Firewire port. I used the external power that came with the camcorder to power the cam while I was downloading to the computer. The tapes can be erased and used again and again and again, and if you want to save the tape, just stick it in a drawer or safe.

    One thing you want to think about is hard drive space. You will be amazed at how large of a file just a few minute video can be. I purchased a video dedicated hard drive when I did the construction project. I ended up with about 8 hours of unedited video, and a 27 minute movie, plus other small things I did with the cam, and I used up about 200 GB of a 250 GB drive.
  12. Cougar8045


    May 25, 2007
    If you are downloading video into RAW DV file format, the rule is 2 gig of harddrive space for every 9 mins 54 secs approximately. That means if you have a 1 hour video to download, you will end up with 6 2gig files plus 1 several hundred meg file minimum just for the uncut files.

    I also like to use Final Cut Studio. It does sound editing. It does video editing. It does special effect. You can even create a DVD with menu and animation. Basically, the whole nine yard.
  13. Since you wanted to know some low end recommendations...

    Can't recommend a cam, but for software, there are many, many free, or low cost programs out there which cover the whole range of video manipulation. Typically, they are dedicated to one aspect of video (editing, converting, encoding, authoring, etc), but in some cases perform that aspect better than the same function on some of the all-in-one programs.

    If he really wants to "learn" video, I suggest he visit http://www.videohelp.com

    The forum there covers all the different aspects of video, and is a good place for a beginner to start. Lots of professional, as well as amateur videographers hang out there.

    The site has a good library of links to video software of all kinds. You can search the database for software that can do specific things (e.g. "Convert MOV file to AVI file").
  14. Sony Vegas is THE software to use on PC. Buy DVD training videos. It's professional software, includes HD support and is so much easier to use than Premier.

    Sony Movie Studio is a beginner program that can be upgraded to Vegas.
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