View Full Version : Camcorder Recommendations???

Raycliff Manor
12-02-2008, 11:05 AM
Can anyone make a recommendation on a good camcorder with nightvision for recording inside our attraction? I'm hoping to get more footage of our attraction during our Spring Break event. I'm also planning to record some of my Fright Team Training Seminars with the camera. If you have any recommendations, I'd appreciate your insights! If anyone has a good used camera for sale, please let me know. ;)


12-02-2008, 11:12 AM

My advice:

-HD cam a must
-Manual white balance
-Mini-DV and/or 80GB Hard drive

Cams can get very expensive... but will pay for itself because you'll be able to shoot very high quality footage for your TV ads, web videos, etc. etc. -Tyler

12-02-2008, 11:19 AM
Also, just found this "pro-sumer" camcorder that is basically everything I mentioned above! hahaha...


I might go ahead and pick this up, it's a little on the pricey side... but like I said, it will pay for itself! -Tyler

Matt Marich
12-02-2008, 12:11 PM
I like the New AG-HMC150 from Panasonic, it's good in low light, has the same chipset as it's big brothet the 200. but best of all, it records on SDHC chips for a very low cost to you. You can edit in Vegas Platinum, which is AVCHD compliant.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/575992-REG/Panasonic_AG_HMC150_AG_HMC150_AVCCAM_Camcorder.htm l

Raycliff Manor
12-02-2008, 12:58 PM
Wow! These cameras must be incredible for the price they are asking! :eek: I had no idea they were so much. Thanks for the info though. I appreciate the help!


12-02-2008, 05:44 PM
For the cost of one of those video cameras you could get a home security system with a 4 channel DVR with CCD night vision bullet cameras that you could spread through-out your haunt.

Matt Marich
12-02-2008, 06:19 PM
Stonegate, not at that resolution! Another camera worth a look is the Canon HV-30, it's brother th HV-20 was camcorder of the year. It sells for about $ 900.00.

12-02-2008, 07:01 PM
Gotta agree about the HD - which will become very important next year once all the channels switch over. I personally prefer mini-DV to any kind of hard drive because it opens up the possibilities for editing... you can encounter all kinds of compatilbility options with the various hard drive formats, but just about everyone can handle mini-dv.

While the majority of our "A" footage for ScareHouse is shot with professional gear, I do find that the Canon HV20 works very well for point and shoot kind of stuff like this:


The YouTube compression obviously adds a lot of crud - but you can really see a lot of detail in those teeth considering that I'm just pointing and shooting at him with no real prep. You can see it in higher quality by going here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP278F2Q8z4 and selecting "watch in high quality"

Karl Fields
12-02-2008, 10:47 PM
I got a Panasonic AG-DVC30 prosumer camera a few years back - and still love it. It has since gone from the $4k levels down to under $1500. Sweet camera especially in low/no light situations. 3CCD, MiniDV, great manual modes or simply Auto. Internal mic is a little sucky but a Rode shotgun fixes that just fine!

Raycliff Manor
12-03-2008, 04:09 PM
Thanks so much for all the great feedback and suggestions! I really appreciate it! I'm definitely armed with information to help me make an informed decision now. Thanks so much!!!


12-05-2008, 02:10 AM

Let me tell you the more you spend the better the picture will look that I can tell you for sure... I bought a really nice high def camera and the images just look crisp! Larry

12-09-2008, 10:00 AM
Do the Cannon HC20 and Cannon HC30 give problems shooting in low light? I would have to believe that low light shooting would be key to shooting haunts. I've read reviews saying that low light is a weakness on these models, and that's really the one hesitation I have had with purchasing one of them.

12-09-2008, 03:32 PM
If you are really serious about HD and plan to have your video on broadcast / cable TV I would recommend a camera that records in 4:2:2 color space. The Canon XL H1 is a HDV and HD camera with true widescreen and can record to miniDV tape in 4:1:1 color space and to a HD recorder in 4:2:2. These sell new for about $7,000. used for about $5,000.

If your video will be for the web only I recommend a used standard def Sony PD150. You can buy these used for around $1,200. Sony no longer makes this model. They are one of the best low-light cameras you can get. To get that wide screen effect you can always letter box in post. Again, just my recommendation if your video is just for the web. Looks great on DVD too!

For all around general use (web/DVD/tv) there are lots and lots of cameras to choose from. If you can get a 3CCD camera or a new CMOS style then go for it. Just be careful. Most low-end video cameras that claim to have widescreen don't. They letterbox (Chop off the top and bottom). Stay away from any camera that records to DVD.

Finally, you can make some really good videos using some older Hi-8 and mini-dv camcorders. With editing software plugins you can be very creative. Don't hesitate to use that old camcorder. It's better then not getting any footage at all.

Tim B.

12-09-2008, 05:13 PM
What Tim B. says is very true, but I would advise against buying a 5 to 7k camera unless you've had some significant experience with video and production. If you've never really shot commercial footage before, don't think that buying a 7k camera alone with enable you to create something broadcast quality.

Standard mini-dv is still very good, particularly for night-vision stuff... and the audio quality is excellent. All of the customer reaction shots in this year's teaser and full-length trailer were shot with a standard mini-dv camera that's at least 6 years old.

With the exception of 2 shots, everything in this teaser was shot with consumer cameras under $1200 ... in fact, the quality of the source material was actually cleaner and clearer before I added all the grit and texture in post:


12-09-2008, 07:33 PM

First of all.... your videos are fantastic. I love your videos!!! This one is no exception. Great work!

Second, you are exactly right about buying a $5K to $7K video camera. The learning curve is huge. If you've only used a point and shoot you should be ready to spend a lot of time learning your new $5K camera.

We use a Sony Hi-8 to capture our night footage. It works great. I use a plugin filter in Premiere pro called Noise Reduction from a company called Neat Video. They make this plugin for other brands of NLE software too. It's a must have. The results are fantastic.

I suggested the Sony PD150 because it has a great reputation for shooting in low-light. It's not a point and shoot... but a great camera. I personally would spend the $1,200 on a PD 150 before I bought a HDV camcorder in the same price range. I know it sounds strange... but that's how much I think of the PD150. I've never owned one. But, I've seen what they can do.

I shoot with a Canon XL H1. It's brutal shooting in the dark. I mount a light that I can dim on the camera. It's really the only way to get color shots in the dark. I have to crank up the gain. I can reduce it in post with the noise filter. It works good.

Again, nice work. I like how you captured the action. Really gets you into the video and sets the mood.

Tim B.

Raycliff Manor
12-22-2008, 08:56 PM
Thanks again to everyone who posted and who emailed me with information! I still have to go through all the recommendations and figure out what I'm going to do. I may even just hire a professional to come in and do all the filming for me with their camera and it may save me money and hours of frustration. LOL Seriously though, I really do appreciate all the help!:)


12-23-2008, 07:34 AM
tim is right, what the human eye sees and what the camera picks up are worlds apart. you need to light a scene well to make it work for video. a good editor can always filter a well lit shot to make it look dark and grungy, but adding light to a dark shot is a nightmare and usually ends up in the trash can.

we over light our shots for customs and stocks commercials. hard underlights and a good back light to add depth seems to be a nice combo. use of gels (red /blue / green) give it a cool look as well. Kinda creepshow'ish.

we use a sony z1u these days. HD helps when you shot in those dark places....

last word of advice......movement equals great video. a truck in / out or a sliding left or right dolly shot really adds something to the scene. stay away from the camera zoom function, it confuses the human eye.

building a dolly is cheap, but will add $$$$ to the look of your video!

Raycliff Manor
12-24-2008, 10:36 AM
Here are a few camcorders I've found using the suggestions you all provided:

link to On Time Digital removed... reported as a rip off company

link to On Time Digital removed... reported as a rip off company

also deleted!

link to On Time Digital removed... reported as a rip off company

I'm trying to determine if I need to purchase a wireless lapel microphone and/or a wireless hand held microphone. I'm also trying to determine what editing software I would need or want for the camcorder. I reallly appreciate all the great advice and I'm close to going forward with a purchase. Any additional insights before I do would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks again!


Mike Goff
12-24-2008, 10:47 AM
I too, am interested in editing software. Any recommendations that don't have insane system requirements would be greatly appreciated!

Raycliff Manor
12-24-2008, 11:06 AM
I hear ya Mike. I was looking at Vegas Pro 8 and I'd have to update my computer to run that. All I want to be able to do is to do is minor editing. Once I did that I'd send my files to a professional like Jason at Elswarro to do the sophisticated stuff.;)


Raycliff Manor
01-05-2009, 02:08 PM
Someone saw my post and emailed me the following link...


I wanted to share it before anyone ordered from On Time Digital.


01-05-2009, 03:01 PM
THANK YOU... and just in time! -Tyler

Raycliff Manor
01-05-2009, 03:06 PM
Glad you saw my post before you ordered from them Tyler. In doing further research, it appears the other link in my post is none other than the same fraudulent company under a different name! Man, it's so hard to know who to trust on the Internet! This is one of the reasons I like to go to tradeshows and meet people in person! It's also the reason I put so much clout in feedback and referrals! :)


Raycliff Manor
01-05-2009, 03:16 PM
By the way Tyler, it was a close call for us too!:o


01-05-2009, 03:30 PM
Yeah, I really don't want to pony up the extra cash to buy through a company like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. etc.... but we may just have to! hahahaha... -Tyler