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Need advise for a video camera to record my piano clients Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 14th May 2018
Lives for gear
Need advise for a video camera to record my piano clients

Hi everyone,

I record clients on my Steinway B grand piano from time to time. Some of these clients need video for college auditions. Im wondering what is a super cost effective solution's to recording video. 1080p is cool but 4k would be cool in a budget way. In the past I had a canon hg21, then when phones got better i was using my lgg4. I feel like when clients are looking at phone camera it feels kind of amateurish. Also the lgg4 phone was vbr and it sucked to sync in pro tools. Im not a apple iphone kind of guy. I also think go pros seem overpriced for what i need. Also what sort of viable options would you think there are to just be able to give a client a fast copy with the video and Pro tools audio together? Maybe just send a audio feed from pro tools to the camera so i dont have to use plural eyes or sych by hand? If i did grab a phone camera what would u pick for this line of work as a down and dirty method.

Budget is like 200-300 used is cool too.

Thanks in advanced for any suggestions
Old 14th May 2018
Look at these Canon M20 or Vixia HF M30. M20s no longer made but there are a lot on the used market. A little above your price point but well worth it,

Old 14th May 2018
Gear Addict

You could try a used Sony RX10 (original version). The main advantage of the original over the later versions is the lens: f2.8 over the entire zoom range. Very handy if you don't have "proper" video lighting.
Old 14th May 2018
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by 4ccmusic View Post
1080p is cool but 4k would be cool in a budget way.
Just be aware that if you do any editing of these videos (it sounds like you won't, but just in case), editing 4K requires more processing power than 1080p and you'd need to be sure your computer and its GPU are up to the task.

If you go with a phone camera, spring $15 for the Filmic Pro app (available for iPhone and some Android phones, mainly more recent ones), which gives you a lot more control over video. Several feature films for the big screen have been made with iPhones, even the iPhone 7, which is old now and can be obtained for a reasonable price used or refurbished and you could use it as a dedicated video phone. I have a Google Pixel 2 which takes decent video but not at the same quality as the iPhone; in contrast its still photos are better than those of the current iPhones.

I agree about the Sony RX10, and you can also get pretty good video from any of the tiny RX100 cameras (older models would be available for good prices used; new ones are expensive), although they heat up and I think there's a maximum length you can record (around 30 minutes, I believe) before they shut down to prevent overheating.

You could also consider a regular camcorder; the Panasonic ones are highly rated and I think you can sync timecode.

One simple tip for syncing video and audio if you don't have a way to do timecode sync: just clap your hands twice when you're ready to record audio and video. That'll be the musician's cue that recording has begun, and will allow you to easily match up the claps in the waveforms from the camera's audio and your recorded audio. If you're in a reverberant room, just be sure there are no remaining echoes from the claps before the musician starts to play! ;-)
Old 14th May 2018
Lives for gear
Bruce Watson's Avatar

Originally Posted by 4ccmusic View Post
I feel like when clients are looking at phone camera it feels kind of amateurish.
What makes *any* video "feel amateurish" is lighting, or the lack thereof. OK, it's almost always the lack thereof. Control of light and shadow makes all the difference in the world.

Learn to light; learn to understand the difference between what your eyes see and what the camera sees -- those two can be amazingly different. Use any camera that you want, but learn to actually use it, including how to make a manual white balance, how to use manual focus, etc. There's really no reason not to use a smartphone camera if that's what you want, as long as you light within the range the camera can record -- cell phone cameras typically have a stunted dynamic range, and you've got a great big black box in the frame.

As to 4k vs. 1080, there's really no point in shipping 4k video for display. The fact that nearly all TVs sold today are 4k doesn't mean that people can actually see all that resolution. In fact, the average person's eyes have to be about 3.5 feet from a 55" diagonal screen to see all the resolution available from a 4k video. That's with knees less than two feet from the screen -- who watches TV that close? They certainly won't do that if a committee is sitting around a table watching audition vids. Unless they project your video onto a 100" screen they won't likely be able to see any more than 1080 resolution even if you ship them 4k. Or 8k. Or 16k. Or whatever crazy number the corps try to convince us to buy into next.

If it were me, I'd look for a full HD camera (1080) on the used market, a used SD MixPre-D (excellent micpres, excellent meters, excellent limiters, and all the options to connect to whatever camera you can find). Use the MixPre-D to replace / override the camera's crappy micpres. Recording to camera gets you out of syncing in post, and using an external preamp like the MixPre-D gets rid of most of the problems of recording to camera (noise, etc.).

Alternatively you could record to a decent recorder like the Zoom F4 and sync audio / video in post. Depends on how much work you want to put into it, and how much you are willing to pay (the F4 is new enough that there are few available on the used markets).
Old 14th May 2018
Lives for gear
i have a rme ff , i can just send a mix out to the camera.

Thanks for the advise , some interesting thoughts.

Last edited by 4ccmusic; 14th May 2018 at 11:03 PM..
Old 14th May 2018
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Lenzo's Avatar
If you buy a used camera, check the pixels carefully. Shoot it against something dark or put the lens cap on and check it on a monitor if possible. Too many dead pixels can leave bright white spots all over your video.
Old 15th May 2018
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jnorman's Avatar
I used to use a GH4, but now I use this little video rig for my iPhone 7+:
Old 15th May 2018
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hbphotoav's Avatar

I'm oldskool, and like the Sony Z5/Z7 series (I also still have a pair of Z1s). I record to AtomOS Ninja or Samurai, edit in FCP. You'd be looking at maybe $1000-$1200 US plus a tripod... but if you ever need to do more than "lockdown", these are really nice options for SSD recording from legacy gear.

MMV. Works for me.

Old 15th May 2018
Does a college audition video really NEED more than 1080p Video and very good audio? Back when I listened to audition tapes (before video) we didn't pay much attention to production values, unless they were so bad we couldn't detect talent or lack thereof.
Old 19th May 2018
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Alternatively you could record to a decent recorder like the Zoom F4 and sync audio / video in post. Depends on how much work you want to put into it, and how much you are willing to pay (the F4 is new enough that there are few available on the used markets).
Plus the Zoom F4 has dropped to the insanely low price brand new of only US$450! That is just plain flat out crazy great value for money.
Old 19th May 2018
Lives for gear
Look for a Canon camcorder in their refurb store. You can find something under $200 with a 1\8 stereo mic input to take a feed from your audio recorder. The camera may have f2.8 on the wide end of the zoom, but will decrease as you zoom in. So you will need to position the camera carefully and adding light will make a world of difference even if just an led light with daylight color temperature. It will look better if you at least use a reflector with a diffuser on it or a small softbox with a white diffusion screen. You may end up spending $75-100 on the lighting depending on how well you shop and what you buy.

Edit, if you add a grid to the softbox, you will have more directional control over where the light falls.

Last edited by 2manyrocks; 20th May 2018 at 02:34 PM..
Old 23rd May 2018
Gear Addict
There are niche video cameras I call "music cameras" because they emphasize audio quality over video quality and flexibility. Sony HDR-MV1 and several from Zoom. Other competitors seem to have faded away.

I've done a few shootouts between some of these:

Zoom Q4 vs Sony HDR-MV1 with iPhone 6+ :

Zoom Q4 vs Sony HDR-MV1 | Homebrewed Music

The audio subsystem of consumer video cams and many point-and-shoot, DSLR, or mirrorless cameras can be marginal in quality. Here's the Sony HDR-MV1 vs a Canon HF-R500:

Look At Me Play Guitar – Sony HDR-MV1 vs Canon HF R500 | Homebrewed Music

I haven't tried any of the newer Zoom music cams but the very inexpensive Q2n is getting positive comments. I understand that they've reduced the fish-eye effect, and there appears to be an audio input for external sources.

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