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Subject: Video camera recommendation? rss

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Kurt R
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Not sure if this is the right forum or not, but I'm looking to get into videotaping my solitaire plays in some form or fashion. I'm currently using my iPhone 5 but figure I'll need to upgrade and I'm looking for advice. I'm a total newb to this kind of technology.

Context: I tried holding the phone and it's s-h-a-k-y no matter how hard I try. I then had to set it high up so it could fit the board in the screen, but this meant it was now farther away from the board than I'd like. I'd prefer to have the ability to hold the camera while I play but without the shakiness.

Question: should I get some type of proper video camera with a built-in stabilizer or should I get some type of iPhone holder that stabilizes the phone while recording? Or something else I haven't considered?
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Max Jamelli
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I don't know what your budget is, if you have one -- but http://gopro.com/ is a pretty cool camera that was designed to record activities .. maybe more active than gaming, but it would work.

I don't know of any iphone adaptations that would remove your shake as you played. Go Pros are designed for hand use though during activities.
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Kurt R
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sigtaulefty wrote:
I don't know what your budget is, if you have one -- but http://gopro.com/ is a pretty cool camera that was designed to record activities .. maybe more active than gaming, but it would work.

I don't know of any iphone adaptations that would remove your shake as you played. Go Pros are designed for hand use though during activities.

Thanks, Max. I'd heard of those. Will add to the list.
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Forty One
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Not cheap but high end Sony camcorders 2013/2014 that have balanced optical steady shot are unique in their excellent stabilisation. The lens and camera are on a stabilised gimbal within the camcorder

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-HDR-CX430V-Definition-Handycam-Ca...
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Brian
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Are you looking to do something like Rahdo Runs Through... Games!?

I believe he uses a Canon video camera for his new stuff and that used to use an iPhone. Perhaps you can contact him.
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Kurt R
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lankyb wrote:
Are you looking to do something like Rahdo Runs Through... Games!?

I believe he uses a Canon video camera for his new stuff and that used to use an iPhone. Perhaps you can contact him.

Yes, I tried that.

I've learned a lot in the past few days. I want to have two cameras, one for the entire board and then one for closeups (my iPhone), so I plan to get a camcorder. A friend is lending me one while I continue to search for the one I want to get. The one recommended above is expensive, but is certainly along the lines of what I'm looking for.
 
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Explosive 6
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Any modern camera that is capable of video should get you fairly reasonable results if you have enough available light.

I wouldn't spend too much on a camcorder if this is all you are using it for. As you've already alluded to shake is more of a problem so I'd look at getting a tripod or some kind of way to secure it somewhere (even resting it on shelf could work but is a bit restrictive in terms of placement.

Having multiple angles and editing will also give you better results than a single static pose from a more expensive camcorder. An external audio recorder could also come in handy, or if you don't want to go that route I'd look for a camcorder that at least has an external microphone input. You don't have to get an external mic right away but you will again get much better audio if you add this later. (Or don't bother with the mic input and go to the external sound recorder option later to save a bit more money right now).

Most will have some form of image stabilisation on them and personally I'd probably stick with either Canon or Sony. Though at the end of the day, like photography you will find the light is the most important factor. Having some manual control over the aperture may be nice to have as well so you can close it down to get more depth of field, again this is easier the more light you have available.

The other thing of starting out with a cheaper one is that you can gets used to it and then make a more informed purchase if you wanted to upgrade later as you will better know what it is you want. Then you can use the first one for capturing b-roll which you can edit together with the main camera footage. As you are able to borrow one you may get some idea of your needs from using that.

Hope this helps rather than confuses you even more!
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Chris K
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Tripods are cheap and will solve the stabilization question while leaving you free to use your hands. Consider one or look into the host of rigs available for iPhones. There are even rigs on wheels that let you dolly all sorts of cool shots with an iPhone. Google a DIY solution as well. If you are crafty at all you can rig anything up.

I've shot all sorts of news and corporate videos so here are a couple of extra things I wish I knew in the beginning:

If at all possible get two of the same camera. Trying to intercut between two different images sucks especially when the colour balance doesn't match up etc... You could be creative and use one, however.

Spend whatever you can on decent sound and lights. Even workshop lights with some diffuser gel can really improve the picture quality of cheaper cameras. The iPhone records decent sound if you can keep it near your body without it sliding around making noise. Crap sound really distracts from the product, don't ignore it.

You definitely want a camera that can lock its focus, especially if you're moving in and out of the frame to move pieces etc... There are apps for iPhone that give you greater control of the camera feature.

Good luck!
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Joshua Garrett
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The iPhone 5 actually has a really nice camera! I broke a broomstick in half, taped it to the chandelier over my kitchen table, and then taped a camera 'holder' to the other end.

Maybe you could try something like this to get that overhead shot?

I connect my camera to the broomstick using a Gorillapod tripod, and I think they make one for iPhones!

http://joby.com/gorillapod

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Starla Lester
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sigtaulefty wrote:
I don't know what your budget is, if you have one -- but http://gopro.com/ is a pretty cool camera that was designed to record activities .. maybe more active than gaming, but it would work.

I don't know of any iphone adaptations that would remove your shake as you played. Go Pros are designed for hand use though during activities.


You wrote trying to be genuinely helpful, and your heart is in the right place, but the gopro was created for a specific purpose, and we aren't it. Keep in mind that I was, like you, excited about the gopro and learned the following when I bought one for my students to film sports.

Some things to keep in mind:

The gopro has a very wide angle fisheye lens meant for wide open vistas, action sports, etc. it creates a visual parabola effect with some definite distortion.

The ability to focus in on a game board is nil. There is no zoom, and only very minimal controls. All the dead space at the edges would be distracting, or at least very odd.

Shaky footage for someone skydiving or riding a bike is acceptable, but filming a boardgame handheld will cause shakiness that keeps the viewer from being able to see/focus/read the detail of the board/cards/components. Again, the purpose is different.

Only the newer, more expensive models have a lcd view panel on the back and there is no viewfinder, so that you cannot see what you are filming. It is assumed that it is mounted on something where fine detail focus isn't the objective, and that the video will only be viewed after the fact.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but is it optimal? Now, if you wanted to take it larping....

Another post mentioned that any modern camera will do given adequate lighting, and to an extent they are right. Even the camera on an iPad is great these days.

If you have a bit to spend, as a creative film and broadcast journalism teacher (and video game design, do I have the best job in the world, or what?) I've found that the most beautiful video quality for the most moderate buck is the Nikon5200 or Nikon5300. Add an inexpensive lavalier mike ($25) and you are ready to go. Price range $400 to $550 or so for the camera including zoom lens.

If you aren't picky a $100 cybershot will do you just fine.

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Kurt R
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Thanks so much for all the posts. Here's where I am with things. I've been using my iPhone 5s and an older camera a friend lent me. As it turns out, the iPhone is better than the camera in terms of quality and ease of use. I bought an external mic that I clip to my shirt.

My phone is only 16GB so it fills up fast which means I do a lot of transferring; slightly inconvenient but doable. The bigger problem is the lack of constant autofocus which means I have to remember to tap the screen after I show something close up and then again after. Again, inconvenient but doable.

I bought myself a tripod specifically for my friend's camera ($18) then I got an adapter that screws into it that holds an iPhone ($12). At first I was all about finding a handheld way of doing the video without shakiness (a la Rahdo), but now I'm all about being hands-free with the tripod. I've learned to walk around the tripod when I need to get to the other side of the board, and being hands-free is one less thing my poor brain has to think about. I've found in doing these videos that it requires a great deal more multitasking than I even expected, and being hands-free works for this Italian!

I'm eligible for an upgrade so I ordered the i6+ because I've been happy with the quality for the most part of the i5 and it has a better camera, including constant autofocus. I'm surprised to find I don't think I need a proper camera, or at the least, I'm going to try using the i6+ until I feel the need for a camera. I'm not clear on what extra features a proper video camera will offer me at this point.

Starla, I appreciate you weighing in on the GoPro. I have been considering getting one with my tax return money and attaching to my head so I had the option of either using the phone/tripod or the GoPro depending on the nature of the video, but based on what you say, that sounds like it's not really an option. A friend's sister has one so I can at least try it first (which was my plan anyway). Though I'm not even sure I feel like trying it after what you posted; we'll see.

I'm learning and getting better at the whole process; I know so much more than I did a month ago. I think I may go write a blogpost on the subject.

BTW, here's my list of videos so far:

Heavy Lifting by Myself

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i just bought a sony cx240 for $128. my main reasons instead of using a phone or a camera for video recording, were for zoom purposes and ergonomic design.
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