Looking for a new camcorder (Lower end)

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
477
195
6
Colorado
My current camcorder is Panasonic HC-V180 has been fine for daytime stuff(general use, not just weather/storms)...but in low-light/night its just not very good. That fact was a disappointment. I've been wanting to eventually get an upgrade - mainly for better night performance.

Recently I've noticed a little bit of flakeyness happen occasionally with the current camera, so I'm thinking the time has probably come to go ahead and get something new.
Maybe sometime around the 'Black-Friday' sales period.

A some 'must haves':
* Camcorder (not still-image camera that can also do video)
* Infinity focus (something the current Panasonic lacks)
* Stereo microphone (current camera has & its one of the reasons I went with it)
* 1080p resolution (30fps minimum, ideally 60).. I do not need 4k(& nothing I have computer or software wize for editing would work with it anyway)
* Decent low-light video quality (at night it would be used for lightning in the summer and Christmas Lights n Holiday season - both things that are notoriously hard to photo/video)
* Good zoom (current is 50x optical, I'm gonna say I want atleast half of that)
* something I can get at a local store (Walmart/Target/Best Buy/etc)

This is one of the bigger things(obstacles?) my ideal price-range is $200(around what the Panasonic cost), though I might have to go up to $300, but thats the top limit.
Note for that price range: new only.

I know I'd asked about camcorders on Discord at some point.. this spring? last year? I don't remember...and at this point I can't even get on Discord(it either comes up as a blank screen or gives an error - no matter what browser I've tried)
I know these were mentioned somewhere...I can't remember if it was here or the discord or some other site..
Canon Vixia HF-R70
Canon Vixia HF100
Panasonic V770
Panasonic VX981K
(I have zero interest in brands like Sony or Jvc because of the fact their home stereo equipment is such crap)

Looking online:
first one price-range still exceeds the $200, (but is less than $300) and I have yet to find if it has a stereo mic... plus not sure if its any better than what I have.
2nd one exceeds my high-price range (I'm not really sure what the difference between it and the R70 is)
both Panasonic's far exceed my high-price range.. the 2nd one looks like some sorta larger-size more professional unit (and is 4k anyway)

-------
I guess one big question is: is there some website where I can fine meaningful camera reviews, particularly on things like low-light performance?
And on if it has little features like a stereo microphone?
 
Low light ability in most cases comes down to sensor size, the larger the sensor usually the better low light capability, but don't expect full frame low light capability.

I did pick up a used Sony PJ790 off E bay for around $500 AUS ($300 US). It has a useless gimmick projector, but ignoring that it does really good 1080 x 60p. I am more than happy with the footage quality. I know you say zero interest in Sony, but there are lots of storm chasers out their shooting with Sony Mirrorless and Camcorders.

The killer for 99% of video, either Mirrorless, DSLR or Camcorder is rolling shutter. If you can find one that does 1080 x120p you will reduce, but far from eliminate it.
 

Drew Terril

Staff member
James,

I have the HF-R70 and it's done well for me. My main complaint is the form factor. The lack of mass means I REALLY have to weigh down my tripod if it's on it, and I have difficulty keeping something that light steady when shooting handheld. The only notable low light shooting I've done with it (I tend to focus on stills more than video) was 5/17/19 and it did fine despite it being dusk when the Minneola EF3 was on the ground.

Unfortunately, it's been out of production for a few years now, as is the somewhat newer HF-R80. But it does have infinity focus, and because of that I will use it as a dash cam when I replace it with something that I'm more comfortable putting on a tripod. I think it will be more than adequate in that role for me, and it's something that I can just fire and forget. I did pick mine up at Best Buy years ago, but a quick look on their website tells me that they've gone almost all in on the GoPro style camcorders now. I didn't see any camcorder offering that wasn't that style.
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
477
195
6
Colorado
Thanks guys:

@Michael Thompson:
Yep, I've seen other chasers mention using Sony & being happy with them! My bias against the brand really does stem from their audio equipment which (like JVC) is of pretty poor quality. But maybe cameras being a completely different product line, that issue doesn't apply?
And yeah rolling shutter can sometimes really be an issue (in some cases with lights in particular, the 60hz AC power & 60fps on a camera don't get along at all!) and as you'd know lightning...

@Drew Terril:
I personally like the small light-weight camcorders for hand-held use (but thas's all I've used (well unless you go back to the old VHS-C type .lol))
When/if I do make it out chasing, I've actually considered putting 3 bricks in the trunk of my car to tie one to each foot of the tripod - since I don't think it'd take much wind to blow over.

The HF-R70 & R80 are 2 that were on my 'maybe' list...HF-W10 & W11 are something I recently found out about as well, but looks like both of those are discontinued too.
I've over the past 2 weekends went to Best Buy, Microcenter, Target, & Walmart ... not counting GoPro type camcorders: Best Buy had a $99 Vivatar (pure crap brand I wouldn't even give half of that for the thing .lol. ), and then couple high-end over $1000 Camcorders(don't remember brand since I took one glance at the price & looked no further at them)
Microcenter & Target both had nothing, Walmart had only a $99 Vivatar (probably same one as Best Buy)
I'm very disappointed in the local stores total lack of selection (even still-image cameras there wasn't much...I did notice empty spots where cameras obviously at one point had been, so I'm guessing a big part of it is the whole microchip supply-chain thing)
 

Drew Terril

Staff member
Yeah that's the sad part. Now that cell phone cameras suffice for most regular people's needs (that don't have to worry about zoom or Infinity focus, etc.), the big box stores have found that camcorders are something that they can't sell enough of to keep in stock. Funny part is I just looked at my old video from Minneola 5.17.19 the other day and I had forgotten how well the R70 handled that. It was a low light, low contrast environment and it did well for a relatively inexpensive camcorder. I know Sony gets all the praise for low light, but that R70 held its own.

I would check B&H and Robert's Camera (Used Photo Pro) and just keep an eye out for anything that pops up on the used side. I know I saw an HF-R80 pop up on Robert's not too long ago that didn't last very long. Also saw a very nice XF100 that I really wanted but couldn't swing at the time. It also didn't last long. Just be ready to pounce if you see something you like. As long as it's rated in Good or better condition, they'll typically offer a warranty with it.
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
477
195
6
Colorado
@Drew Terril:
I meant to reply to this back in Dec..but forgot.

Yeah phones have pretty much killed the camera market for "general public"

Using your idea of an actual camera shop, I had planned to check out a couple local places on that week between Christmas & New-years since I had it off... was busy Mon & Tue, then it snowed & I couldn't even get out of the neighborhood for a couple days (due to the county's lack of plowing). before I knew it holiday break was over. .lol.

Still might check out a local shop at some point & those sites you mentioned.. but for now I got a HF-W10 on order from eBay. I'll see what I think when that arrives.....