Tech Talk / video

Video camera recommendations?

The Canon Vixia HF200

The Canon Vixia HF200

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails asking for recommendations for video cameras. This post is for those who might be in the market for a new video camera for your media outlet. I’ll give my experience, but I’d appreciate input from others out there who have experience with other cameras.

Last year, Eastern’s journalism department was equipping new mojo packs, and Jerry Mennenga of the Sioux City Journal recommended the Canon Vixia HF100. It cost around $550 at the time, included mic input and headphone input, shot in hi-def, and recorded to SD cards instead of tape.

I’ve used the camera for two semesters in classes, and dennews.com uses one to shoot videos for the web site, and they are really good cameras.

Here’s a fun piece the students shot with the sports editor:

Shootout Challenge: Soccer / by Sam Sottosanto and Dan Cusack from DEN Online on Vimeo.

The disk-based recording saves time ingesting video onto the computer, which is an added bonus. The downsides were that we had to use “log and capture” in Final Cut Express to convert the video files from .mts format to .mov for use on Macs. That has been fixed in iMovie ’09, which also handles the native Canon file format. And if you mess up the file structure on the SD card, the software won’t recognize the files, in which case, you will want to invest in a third-party conversion software (do a Google on “.mts to .mov conversion Mac” for some of the software out there, usually about $30-40 price range).

Since then, the HF100 has been upgraded to the HF200, which is basically the same camera at a similar price point with a few added features. The HF20 is the same camera with a built-in flash drive.

Canon also now has the Vixia HF-R10, which is a little less expensive and still comes with the mic in/headphone out. I have not tried out this camera.

Previously, we purchased the Canon ZR800, which was about $200 with a mic input and headphone output, and they work well for the most part, but don’t shoot in HD.

I know I sound like a Canon fanboi, but I shoot Nikon still cameras, and I’ve used Sony in the past. These are recommendations based only on my experience.

Any other suggestions for price-conscious shoppers who want a camera with a mic input and headphone out?

Or other types of cameras? I know a lot of people like the Flip. Drop a comment and let me know.