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Are the days of consumer camcorders coming to an end?
  • I hadn't looked at what options there were for camcorders in a long time because even 2 years ago m4/3s had surpassed them at a lower price. So I decided to see if the camcorders had progressed at all since then.

    I looked up the latest consumer camcorders from Canon and Panasonic. It looks like the HF G10 is the latest from Canon and the HC-X900M is the latest from Panasonic. Both cameras are well over $1100. The HC-X900M has 1080p @ 60 FPS but lacks true 24p and the G10 has 24p but lacks 1080p @ 60 FPS as far as I could tell.

    Canon claims that they have significantly increased the pixel size at the cost of high resolution photos. However, their 2.75um pixel size is well short of the 3.75um pixel size that m4/3s can offer. Even their lenses are not really that special when you consider how small their sensors are. They are fairly bright wide open F1.5-F1.8 but neither of them goes wider than about 30mm.

    So why would anyone still buy a camcorder? I just don't get it. My friend just bought an FZ200 for stills and absolutely refuses to even try the video because she is convinced that it could never be as good as a camcorder. I guess that is why these camcorders are still around. The perception of the general public is still that a camcorder is best for video.

    So am I missing something. Are there things that a camcorder does that a GH3 can't?

  • 84 Replies sorted by
  • Progressive 1080/24p (NTSC)/ 1080/25p (PAL)*

    Set the HD camcorder to Digital Cinema mode to shoot in the progressive 1080/24p (24 pictures per second) format for NTSC area, and in the progressive 1080/25p format for PAL area. Progressive scanning captures clear, vibrant images with intricate detail. You also get faithful images with an appealing film-like quality.

    From X900 page :-)

  • Thing is that for average amateur person camcorders are better options. As they are also much better option for many serious things.

    You also removed Sony camcorders with their gyro stabilizer from the list for unknown reasons.

    Also check Panasonic HC-V700 or previous SD90 model, they are smaller and have 28mm lens.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    From 1080i I assume? It doesn't indicate that it does 24p in the spec page so I can only assume that it is like the old GH1 1080p @ 24 FPS mode. They sure haven't come very far in the last 4 years.

    It is strange too because 1080p @ 60 FPS started in camcorders first. However, it still is only in a handful of them while it is quickly becoming standard on stills cameras.

  • They sure haven't come very far in the last 4 years

    They use AVCHD. Period.

    As for me, I do not need 24p or 25p in camcorder. All I need is proper 60p and they have it.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    Yes I didn't check the Sony offerings yet. I will look at those now. However, the Canon camcorders are still extremely popular and I simply don't see why. For that kind of money I can't fathom buying that camcorder.

    I imagine that a lot of people that bought these camcorders before would just use their phones now. However, I still see a lot of my friends show up to events with a brand new $1000+ camcorder that they use once and then never use again.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    Does the Canon have 60p? I couldn't figure out if it was 1080i or 1080p @ 60 FPS.

  • @mpgxsvcd

    Really, go and try. As all this words about "not really a match:" is just flame.

    All of this camcorders are much better than m43 or even FZ200 if you need to do usual stuff.

    As for Sony stab, it is not matched by anything alse.

  • In the age of cell phones that can take "good enough" video of people protesting something stupid or the kids playing in the yard or whatever, PLUS being in your pocket wherever you go, I believe that YES camcorders are going away.

  • @svart

    Dream of cell phones taking over is so common :-) Sadly, won't happen.

  • bet you 1$ that in 5 years camcorders are gone. :)

  • @svart I can't say we are in a good enough age. I think the opposite actually. Not long ago, audio was king in Doc's and video was just there to look at while you listen. That has gone a full 180 degrees and Docs are becoming real productions.

    Camcorders do things like auto focus that DSLR's aren't even close to. You mentioned the HF G10. I have one that I bought along with it's Prosumer Big Brother the XA10. It's the same camera with the XA's XLR inputs. It has beautiful autofocus and I use it on my Jib/Crane. I've tried DSLR's on it and it ain't pretty.

    Camcorder stills suck and for the same money, a DSLR will give much better video results assuming you have time to set the shot up. Despite the fact that people use them, a DSLR is not an ENG camera and doesn't work well for it.

    A cellphone is just a cellphone. Some news people like Shaky Hand Productions are using them, but they only get mediocre video. It's a device of opportunity, not choice.

    We're seeing more attempts at breeding camcorder/DSLR hybrids and that may be the future...but, technology does not travel in a straight line, so who knows.

    I think camcorders and DSLR's will have their places for a while yet.

  • @svart I'll take that bet.

  • Thing that I want to see is called sensors with uneven density.
    So, big camera sensor will have more density in the central area (double density in 1/4 center area, and next doubling again after 1/2).
    All that you need is just special ENG lenses that you could snap on m43. :-)

    Big advantages of camcorders is exactly small sensor size. So stabilizers are working better. AF hunting is hardly noticeable.

  • I think the camcorder era is about to be reborn, if only to try to get people to buy more expensive 4K TV sets, as 3D has been a commercial failure...

    Picture quality (sharpness and brilliant colors), image stabilization and Easy handling with 1 hand and are likely the 3 key things to most "consumers" who want video outside of a cell phone.

    The era of the small chip 4K camcorder with 60p for $1000-2000 is coming pretty soon (we already have the JVC prosumer 4K camcorder at $4999), and this type of camcorder will be ideal for the average person or elderly person that wants a simply high quality image with DEEP DOF for good still extraction. I'd give that to my parents/grandparents and tell them to point and shoot, and zoom at will. NO WAY they'd get the same results so easily with a DSLR- too much to fiddle with...

    The sharpness of video and stills extracted from 4K h.265 video will surpass that of every current DSLR video mode on the market, and a cell phone would have a tough time keeping up at that resolution and framerate.

    So, I think a rebirth is coming to the camcorder segment in the next 2 years at the latest, if not showcasing this CES 2013, definitely by CES 2014... and after all- it's a way better method of displaying 4K TV's anyway...

    I'm sure we'll see some "4K FUTURE-PROOF" your video memories with 4K push, or something like that...

  • as 3D has been a commercial failure...

    LOL. It is not commercial failure :-)

    Idea of 4K consumer camcorders coming very soon is slightly strange.

  • I sent @mpgxsvcd this link

    I think it is very good option is you want camcorder. It is sharp, 1080p60 machine, with all features you need.

  • @mpgxsvcd I originally picked up a GH2 from an Australian filmmaker that had both the GH2 and then the HF-G10 and found that the latter (with a 35mm adapter) was much faster to use for what he wanted to do.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev Yes, "Soon" and "commercial" are relative terms. But, In my neck of the woods, I don't see clients asking for 3D content yet though it is available, and 3D camcorder sales have been a bust commercially. No new 3D camcorder and lenses have been announced for a while. 3D computer displays are infrequently released now. TV's have the tech, but the lack of standardization hasn't helped adaptation- upcoming 4K vs OLED won't make the choice any easier on consumers either, further segmenting the market. Many people watch movies in 3D here at the theaters because there are no 2D screenings- for example, I had to watch the last Spiderman in 3D even though I really just wanted to see it in 2D. If I do buy new movies in collector sets that include the 3D Blu-ray for like $5 more, but that is pretty infrequent and normally because they include extra content and a play anywhere license...

  • No new 3D camcorder and lenses have been announced for a while.

    I think it is false, both Sony presented TD20 this year, as well as Panasonic renewed 3D option in their camcorders line (it has better 3D lens option now and recording is now 1080p frame packed instead of SBS).

    3D computer displays are infrequently released now

    All exact in reverse, as many new 3D displayes had been announced and available now (LG, Samsung, etc).
    As I am fan of big screens, also big amount of cheap and very good LG 3D TVs are available also.

    Many people watch movies in 3D here at the theaters because there are no 2D screenings

    I asked personally many people, never had such answer.

    In fact, I am watching home 3D films and docs now more than 2D :-)

    upcoming 4K vs OLED won't make the choice any easier on consumers either, further segmenting the market.

    In fact, in reverse. Natural choice is 4K 3D OLED screen using passive technology. LG showed such screens and they are amazing. Only thing that stops this is OLED production issues.

    Idea of many professionals on how cool it'll be to have same shooting approach (instead of difficult adoption of 3D approach), just in 4K, could result in disaster. :-)

  • From someone that uses both DSLR and conventional camcorders for clients, i can safely say that right now and for the foreseeable future camcorders are an absolute essential for the ENG videographer.

    I'm watching the VG30 from Sony like a hawk and if they fix some of the issues of the VG20, then this camera could bridge the gap for what I need.

    Ergonomic handling = check Professional Looking = check (I still get people laughing at my GH2.... it still hurts) Shallow DOF = check Reliable Auto Focus = check 50p footage = check Low Light capabilities = check Stabilisation = check

  • Depending on the model of camcorder used, you may have better control of audio levels, motorized zoom in multiple speeds, far less CMOS jello than is present on large sensor cameras, much better video image stabilization, better auto focus while shooting video, and a form factor that may be more readily usable for continuous shooting over time. And I am thinking of low end camcorders!

    I've shot events with both dSLRs and camcorders - and the camcorder features and form factor almost always win. Of course dSLRs will get better too.

    Are camcorders dead? No, but the market is shrinking - the consumer camcorder appealed to parents of young children. Many of those parents are shooting video using their point and shoot - or worse, smart phone - and do not seem to mind the bad results (especially jello).

    4k - most people (not us photo fans!) do not notice the difference between 720p and 1080p on a typical home TV. Most people over age 45 have eyesight limitations making the resolution less noticeable on a home TV. 4k displays provide for true 2k 3D (2k each eye) versus today's half resolution 3D.

    Consumer 4k? Hard to see that becoming a consumer item for a while yet - editing is a pain.

    3D? I have shot mostly 3D video and stills during the past 10 months using dual Lumix GH-2s and dual Canon HF M301 consumer camcorders. While the home market for 3D TVs has not taken off as hoped, the online distribution of 3D (Youtube) is growing nicely. 3D is not yet large enough for traditional fat pipes (cable/satellite) to support much 3D content. But niche content does well online. 3D is a niche but it is growing.

    Ed (personal site on 3d)

  • 4k displays provide for true 2k 3D (2k each eye) versus today's half resolution 3D.

    Btw, it is common misconception arising from wrong understanding how our eyes work.

    While the home market for 3D TVs has not taken off as hoped

    Btw, it is interesting statement, as here most TVs bough has TV option (bot from LG and Samsung as major players). 3D premium dropped to almost zero this year.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev "In fact, in reverse. Natural choice is 4K 3D OLED screen using passive technology. LG showed such screens and they are amazing. Only thing that stops this is OLED production issues."

    I'd love to buy a 84" 4K OLED 3D screen right now, but it still seems maybe 3 years off at anywhere near "affordable" prices ($5000 or less). The closest thing to that we have today is the Sony Personal 3D Viewer at 720p OLED/eye for $800, but it's not practical for long-term video viewing at all.

    Worldwide, I don't doubt there's a sizeable audience of gamers and sports fans and die-hard movie fans that insist on 3D, but mass audience hasn't adopted 3D use into their daily lives though the options are there.

    As for 3D, might check this article from last week that was published by AP

    "Sluggish demand for 3-D on TV has caused programmers to hit pause on rolling out new shows and channels. In June, DirecTV turned its 24-hour channel, n3D, into a part-time network that only shows special event programming like the Olympics, in part to avoid the heavy use of reruns caused by a lack of new material. Last year, AT&T dropped ESPN 3D from its lineup, saying the $10 per month cost to subscribers wasn't justified given low demand."

    I wish it were different, but this trend has cooled off my plans for investing in developing 3D content, and instead focused on generating higher resolution content instead for the future ...

  • Before I bought a GH2 I was looking through camcorder offerings, and the main reason why I did not end up buying one was that the form factor of all camcorders with acceptable image quality was just way too bulky for me. I need an additional housing for under water shooting, and the housings for the typical "fold-out-display camcorder" are usually too big for cabin luggage.