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Old Nov 25, 2009, 8:54 AM   #1
ecb
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Default looking for inexpensive flash-based video camera for recording live music

Hi, I'm looking for recommendations on an inexpensive (<$200) flash-based video recorder. The primary purpose of the camera will be to record live music (I'm learning the drums and would like to record myself for learning purposes) though I would also occasionally use it on trips and general shooting in life. Therefore, my primary concern is with audio quality but I want something that is OK at video as well. At this point I've narrowed down my search to the following:

Sanyo VCP-GC10
Apparently it has stereo audio input built in via the mics, but I don't think it has audio in. I like how it has a lot of manual controls for video and generally seems to get good reviews.

Kodak zi8
Also gets good reviews. As best I can tell I'd have to use an external mic though.

Aiptek Action HD GVS 1080
Also gets good reviews and I'd expect to use an external mic.

I know about the Zoom Q3 but it's a bit too pricey and I would prefer something that can shoot at 720p.

My questions are:

1. Are there any uncompressed (non-youtube/vimeo) samples of the Sanyo recording a live concert? Does the Sanyo support adjustable mic sensitivity or use some automatic gain compensation?
2. Is there a compelling reason to pick the kodak or the aiptek? They both seem to have their fans though I can't tell why one is better than the other.
3. Are there any other models I should be considering?

FYI I don't need the most pristine audio; to date I've been using a Canon S3 IS to record video (it has decent audio via stereo mics) and it's been OK. However, I now don't need this camera and more so I figured I would sell it and upgrade to a dedicated video camera with better audio and video quality.

Thanks a lot!

Ethan
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 9:10 AM   #2
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Well you can rule out the Aiptek GVS for a start. I love my GVS but recording loud music is something it ain't any good at. It distorts badly. Sure you can use mic input but it's mono only despite giving the impression it's Stereo.

Fishycomics here will give you all you need to know about the Zi8 and might be able to run some audio tests for you.

Sanyo's are definitely better with loud music than the Aipteks. I will leave that up to any CG10 owners to tell you whether that's true or not for this particular model. I have a old Sanyo C40 but it's still not great with loud music. I also have a HD1010 but I've not had a chance yet to try it out with loud music. I suspect it'll do a much better job than my GVS though. It also has a true stereo mic input as well. It's outside your budget though.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 10:16 AM   #3
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Default sound and concert videos

I don't have a link to a Sanyo concert video, but here is one to a "concert" shot by a Kodak zi8, which also shows low-light capability and sound quality from just the camera mic.

http://staging.vimeo.com/groups/kodakhd/videos/7628362

You may want to consider an external stereo mic anyway - the best location for a camera and for a mic are not the same. One other important point: the Kodak zi8 has manual audio control - you can set the levels, and there is a meter. Almost all other camcorders, including those costing in the $1,000's, use autolevel: they compress the audio, so soft sounds are loud and loud parts are not louder. Manual audio control is an incredible feature for a low-cost camcorder.

If you are interested in concerts, shouldn't sound be importnat?
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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A Kodak Zi8, a $5 imitation Sony ECM-DS70P stereo microphone from eBay, and a right angle adapter from Radio Shack is your recipe for success. See fishycomics' YouTube videos on this setup. For the price, nothing else comes close. The next best thing would be a Canon FS200 standard definition flash memory camcorder, which is on sale for $199 at Best Buy and also has an external stereo mic input (as well as a good quality internal stereo mic).
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 10:34 AM   #5
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When the next best thing - sd video and non-manual conttrol over audio - is actually more expensive then the better thing - HD video, including 1080p, and manual audio, what is the point? Amazon has the Kodak zi8 for $149.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 10:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgvcam View Post
Well you can rule out the Aiptek GVS for a start. I love my GVS but recording loud music is something it ain't any good at. It distorts badly. Sure you can use mic input but it's mono only despite giving the impression it's Stereo.

Fishycomics here will give you all you need to know about the Zi8 and might be able to run some audio tests for you.

Sanyo's are definitely better with loud music than the Aipteks. I will leave that up to any CG10 owners to tell you whether that's true or not for this particular model. I have a old Sanyo C40 but it's still not great with loud music. I also have a HD1010 but I've not had a chance yet to try it out with loud music. I suspect it'll do a much better job than my GVS though. It also has a true stereo mic input as well. It's outside your budget though.
Thanks for the info on the GVS. If it can only be mono even with a stereo mic then it's out of the running for me.

Do you know if there are there any other simple flash-based recorders I should be looking at?
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 10:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
I don't have a link to a Sanyo concert video, but here is one to a "concert" shot by a Kodak zi8, which also shows low-light capability and sound quality from just the camera mic.

http://staging.vimeo.com/groups/kodakhd/videos/7628362

You may want to consider an external stereo mic anyway - the best location for a camera and for a mic are not the same. One other important point: the Kodak zi8 has manual audio control - you can set the levels, and there is a meter. Almost all other camcorders, including those costing in the $1,000's, use autolevel: they compress the audio, so soft sounds are loud and loud parts are not louder. Manual audio control is an incredible feature for a low-cost camcorder.

If you are interested in concerts, shouldn't sound be importnat?
Sound's definitely important! That said I'm not looking to make bootlegs, just do some basic recordings. If I can get away with the internal mic most of the time then I think I'll be happy. And yes, I know I don't want something that does the compression for me. I'd must rather have manual controls and a way to monitor levels. Cool that the zi8 supports this.

The video quality on the zi8 is quite nice. Little hard to tell about the audio on that video since it sounds pretty compressed. Do you have any unprocessed sample videos you could upload?
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 11:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markr041 View Post
When the next best thing - sd video and non-manual conttrol over audio - is actually more expensive then the better thing - HD video, including 1080p, and manual audio, what is the point? Amazon has the Kodak zi8 for $149.
The Canon FS200 gives you 41X optical zoom with autofocus. The Kodak Zi8 only gives you 4X digital zoom with fixed focus. If you're sitting back in the audience and want to get a close-up shot of the performers, then that extra zoom will definitely make a difference. The Canon also has *much* better image stabilization that the Kodak. I know, as I bought and own both of these cameras so I am giving you the honest differences between them!
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 12:30 PM   #9
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I'm really torn right now between the zi8 and the Sanyo CG10. The ZI8 will obviously be able to get much better audio with the mic input, but beyond that the CG10 seems like it might be a better complete product. Having an optical zoom and manual controls is nice and might make it good enough as a 2nd digital camera for when my wife and I are traveling together (we have a DSLR & a G11 as primary cameras).

Basically it's a question of whether or not the audio on the CG10 is bad enough that I couldn't use it for live recordings. Does anyone know if you can manually adjust the gain on the mics on the CG-10? I haven't found a user's manual for it online yet. Does anyone have some uncompressed live music footage I can watch/listen to?
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 1:57 PM   #10
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Default No good audio on CG10

From camcorderinfo.com:

"The CG10 does not offer any alternate microphone inputs, an accessory shoe, headphone jack, or level control."
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