Choosing a camera or camcorder can be pretty time consuming and I would suggest that you base your decision on a few key facts, budget probably being the main one. I have loved owning a Nikon camera D5100 and it suited my needs for stock photography with shutterstock, but it was not long before I was hankering after something a little lighter.
If you are thinking of upgrading your equipment I would consider the following questions.
What will you be filming? Are you looking for aerial shots, night time, adventure, sport, wildlife or general everyday use. Once you have worked out what the camcorder will primarily be used for, it is easier to narrow your search.
Photo credit lou Armor @ shutterstock
Obviously aerial shots you are looking more at drones, adventure & sport, may be more suited to GoPro. There is an amazing array of accessories for stabilising Go Pro and often you can buy theses online in bundles. Point to note, approaching Christmas there are great bargains on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in November. After Christmas the novelty of GoPro gifts wear off and you can snap up bargains on resale websites such as Ebay and Facebook Market.
Other tools: I also like reading reviews from Digital camera world, Tech radar and places like amazon, John Lewis and Jessops. Click on the equipment you like, then read the reviews or buy a photography magazine and look ups the ads on the back pages and read the reviews online. It does take some time, but really if your spending up to £1000 on equipment, then make sure it serves your purpose.
Canon & Panasonic.
I started making video to keep up with my children in this new digital era and after many, many mistakes I started making youtube videos of my travels which is great fun. I then realised that people need video stock clips and I decided to attempt to make some cash from stock videography.
I started with the Panasonic 4K HC-VX980 which is a little gem. Easy to fit into a hand bag, no worries about taking abroad as it is so light and very easy to use. The battery life is reasonable, just under the 2 hours, easy to recharge and has an LCD-(liquid crystal display) flip out touch screen. It has both camera and camcorder mode and is pretty robust. The Panasonic also has intelligent automode, (iA) which will stabilise the image, correct ISO, do the autofocus and scene detection. I mean someone at Panasonic has put a lot of technology into this piece of equipment, don’t be overwhelmed trying to work everything out. This camcorder can do it for you.
The Leica Dicomar lens seemed to great rave reviews and the 2O Optical zoom suited my needs. Totally love this little piece of equipment and I especially like the way the lens screen opens automatically when you want to start filming unlike the Canon which you have to flip open manually. Both camcorders have tiny buttons on the side which is easy for me but could potentially be a nightmare for men with big hands.
As I mentioned earlier the Panasonic suited my needs initially but after uploading several short clips to iStock, an online video agency, I realised that the clarity on my video clips compared to other peoples was poorer quality. I filmed in good daylight conditions, so that was not a factor.
Upgrading was my next option and price was my biggest factor. It is easy to go mad with these things but set a budget and work to it. The Canon XA11 is lightweight and has better zoom and clarity. For serious film makers it has a double mic point and carrying handle. Easy to record and photograph with, giving you the option of complete manual control.
The recording of sound is good and the battery life reasonable but possibly because you are filming in HD it swallows the battery life quicker. A back up battery probably is a good idea.
It does recharge fairly quickly and offers video output in AVCHD or MP4. 20x Optical Zoom lens. HD CMOS Sensor. (DIGIC DV4 Image Processor).
Dual SD slots. Wide DR and Highlight Priority Modes. I love it. You can remove the handle which makes it much easier to fit in a bag.
I mentioned early that in an ideal world I would love a GoPro and a Drone but the new drone laws in the UK are definitely putting me off the ideas as the stock agency are getting strict about video footage. Getty and Shutterstock are very strict on their criteria and it’s not going to be worth my while as a hobbyist. Some are looking for commercial drone licenses which are not cheap.
New rules published on May 30th from the Dept of Transport and Civil Aviation authority specify that drones will NOT be able to fly above 400 feet and within 1 kilometre of airport boundaries. I am not particularly keen to film near any airport but I certainly would love some aerial shots over Edinburgh. This will become more difficult with the stock agencies now listing drone laws from around the world and paying more attention to them due to legal implications.
The new laws will also require owners of drones weighing 250g or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and for drone pilots to take an online safety test. Great idea – as I have seen drones fly over packed beaches before and that is just crazy. These requirements will come into force on 30 November 2019.
Drones with cameras should not fly within 150ft near people and buildings. Drone owners will also be encouraged to use apps that help you plan your route and verify whether it is a legal flying drone area. This will also help other drone owners avoid collisions. All sounds like a lot of common sense but for a hobbyist its just too expensive to justify.
To summarise, with both camcorders, there is not much difference in size, the Canon is obviously heavier and has some serious tools but as I said, it really depends on why you need or want a camcorder. I bought my camcorder online and I would recommend that you do take the time to register your product with the manufacturer. The canon serial code can be found under the battery pack and comes with a one year warranty.
I have uploaded some footage to youtube, a 30 second clip, comparing both camcorders. Can you tell the difference? Click here to view.
I hope you have fun with whatever equipment you have. If visiting Edinburgh the popular film/photography locations include, outside Waverley train station next to the Tourist information centre. Don’t be put off by rain, it gives the buildings in the Old Town a richer tone. To see my stock footage click here
Enjoy your equipment whatever you choose and keep your precious moments alive. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time.
For more on Drone regulations in the UK check out www.gov.uk