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Camcorder?

Is that what they are still called? :) My spouse and I are wanting to record our adventures for when we get old and are looking for a great camcorder or video recorder for the adventure that is light, easily transportable, and super high quality. Does anyone have suggestions?

Thank you so much in advance!

Nate Erickson

Posted by
8 posts

I will add to my post we are going on 2 month-long Euro adventures and want to capture as much of our travels as possible for upload to Youtube.

Posted by
5041 posts

First you need to decide if you want a camcorder or a video camera. The most common video camera now seems to be the GoPro.

The GoPro records to memory cards, so make sure you have enough of those. Is that 60?hours of raw footage or 60 hours after editing and ready for upload?

Posted by
961 posts

Have you looked at a GoPro? Great quality imagery. I don't think there's a limit to how much footage you can take as long as you can upload videos to a laptop and/or the cloud as you go.

Edit: Credit to CJean who said it first. :)

Posted by
1251 posts

Smartphone is very convenient option. The videos use up a lot of battery and storage memory. Buy a powerbank to recharge your phone on the go. I also suggest that you have a laptop to download the videos and to organize and edit them on the go.

Posted by
23430 posts

.... I am wanting to capture about 30-60 hours of record time...... As the old cliche goes -- Been there, Done that !!! In '93 for our 25th anniversary we and another couple spent about 3 weeks in Greece and the Aegean Sea including a 10 day cruise. It was our first return to Europe since 72. Had a true video camera and shot fifteen to twenty, hour long, 8mm cassettes. Have always plan to edit the tapes into a couple hour or so for the family record. To this date, we have never viewed any of the tapes -- hope they still work. We have retained 8mm analog equipment to play the tapes. Need to tackle that project soon. And, of course, all the 8mm tapes of the sons growing up.

Posted by
6788 posts

As someone who spent the past few decades deep in the trenches of the digital transformation of photo and video, I'll add a few things to keep in mind...

You can capture very high quality video (like, big-screen Hollywood cinema quality, if you want) with either a phone or a dedicated camera. There are oodles of options.

In the old days (pre-digital), we were all limited by the cost of film and processing/printing. Now, those limits are gone, you can shoot as much as you want. But instead of shooting lots and lots of film, you'll be generating lots of very big digital files. Those have to go somewhere. And these video files get huge.

Shooting with a phone, they'll initially go into the phone's internal storage space (which is generally surprisingly large, but not unlimited). Shooting on a dedicated camera, they'll initially go on some storage media (typically a memory card, again, large but not unlimited). You can shoot happily for a while, but eventually your phone or stack of memory cards will fill up, and you will need to think about managing your digital video files: offloading from your phone or memory cards to someplace else (maybe a cloud storage system, maybe to your home computer, a laptop or tablet or dedicated storage device while you're on the road). No matter where your files go, you'll need to ensure you have those files backed up (ideally in 3 places) - and by the way, the same is true for your photos, if you care about your stuff (because all hard drives fail eventually). This file management can become a non-trivial task, especially while you're traveling.

Then, you need to figure out what (if anything) you want to do with that video footage. It takes some effort and knowledge to turn your raw footage into something resembling a Rick Steves TV show episode starring you, compete with theme song, narration, special effects and credits. This can be a lot more time-consuming than you may expect. And for the best results, you may need a capable computer (you can do some editing on a phone or tablet, but there are reasons professionals use powerful desktop machines with fast processors, lots of memory, big screens, and gigantic storage drives). Mostly you will need time and dedication.

The good news (and there's lots of that) is that with today's consumer gear, you can do things that not long ago were only possible with million-dollar studio setups. Now you can do (and overdo...) lots of the same things, even on your phone or tablet. The bad news is that this definitely takes time, editing videos is among the most "demanding" in terms of requiring good, updated hardware/software, and there's a serious learning curve that may be daunting. It's a very deep rabbit-hole you can disappear down if you want to really pursue it.

In the old days, the limiting factor was paying for all the film and processing. Now you don't have to pay for that, but you "pay" with your time: turning your raw footage of your trip into a nice presentation that tells a story can take a lot of it. You get to decide how far from "quick 'n dirty" to "slick and beautiful" you want it to be.

Before you commit to one piece of gear (a phone or a dedicated camera), give a little thought to what's going to happen after you have shot all those hours of video footage -- what are you going to do with it? Because the answer to that question will drive many other questions, answers and choices about how you will store your footage (while traveling, and once you get home), what software (and hardware) you're going to use to edit your videos, and more. It's worth thinking it through a bit before you jump on one piece of gear and think you're done.

Pressing the "record" button while pointing the lens at something cool is the easy part. It's what comes next that's the real challenge. You'll see. Have fun (and don't stay up all night). 😎

Posted by
805 posts

Keep in mind that zoom functionality on most iPhones is digital, not optical. So resolution is lost as you zoom in. There are many choices beyond GoPro - you should try them out and see what feels right for you as you're using it. DSLRs offer both superior still images as well as HD video.

Posted by
1259 posts

Retired photographer and video producer here. Decades of working in the craft have prejudiced all of my opinions and recommendations.
The problem with shooting with your phone is it contains your entire life. I wouldn't wave my wallet around like that so I carry a dedicated travel camera and leave my phone safely tucked away. Which camera? Only you can know what you actually need or want. There are dozens of "what to buy" sites, in-depth and qualified reviewer sites (many more sites operated by shills hawking bad information), and thousands of yootoob clips to help you decide (and hopelessly confuse you). If you are only interested in shooting video, that narrows your choices by eliminating hundreds of still cameras with video capabilities to just the dozens of video cameras. [Small and compact are good form factors for traveling but the controls become difficult to manipulate. A camera such as GoPro that requires a phone app to operate well is useless to me who keeps his phone safely tucked away.] Start by searching for "best video cameras for travel" and begin your long journey down the rabbit holes that will be generated. Expect to pay $250-800 depending on your needs and desires.

Whatever you decide:
1. Get it several months ahead of your trip so you can learn how to use it, understand and cope with any limitations, and how to transfer your movie files to your computer for editing
2. Consider a protective case, extra battery, storage cards, card reader
3. Learn how to edit before you upload and establish your channel long before you start shooting
4. Decide early what type of documentation you're aspiring to and learn how to do it well enough to satisfy your criteria for quality and viewability. Do you really care about viewership or are you just shooting for yourselves and family?
5. Limit the accessories you are forced to carry but you will need some basics to support the type of shooting you are aspiring to: proper microphone or wireless, headphones, windscreen, gimbal, tripod, &c. These are absolutely necessary for some styles of VBLOGs but they represent expensive baggage and a total PITA if you're just shooting for fun
6. Look around town for shooting and editing skill development classes if you're a beginner.

Try to have fun shopping.

Posted by
917 posts

I will add to my post we are going on 2 month-long Euro adventures and want to capture as much of our travels as possible for upload to Youtube.

I get the feeling that you are going to spend a lot your trip shooting, editing, prepping etc. in order to upload to Youtube. Most of the people that upload videos of their trip are doing it as business. My wife and I only carry an iphone unless we are on an expedition or safari. We have learned to enjoy the sights, sounds etc. and only take a few pictures / videos. Boglesan is spot on with his post if you are going to go forward. Good luck.

Posted by
2460 posts

In a now deleted post the OP indicated they are planning to film this much footage to share the trip with a terminally ill parent. Just a FYI to those who didn't see it.

Posted by
713 posts

LATER EDIT: I just saw roubrat's post, which went up as I was writing this one. I'd recommend that if there's a camera store around, Nate and/or his spouse should visit there to get some tips. Also, they could check meetup.com to see if there are photography groups in his area, or go online to see if there are camera clubs nearby. In my experience where I live, he could connect that way with someone who might be willing to work directly with him on getting and learning to use a camera to take video, so he doesn't have to waste time learning by trial and error. I'm thinking they'd want to start with a small and simple to operate camera.

ORIGINAL POST:

I'm a hobby photographer, to a fairly serious degree, but definitely not a pro. I'm a stills photographer but now and then set the camera to video mode and hit the red button. :-)

I just want to thank David and bogesian for their thorough, informative, and very wise posts here.

I think that Nate (the OP) and spouse's wish to record their adventures in video for the future, is wonderful. I hope that if they have a big trip coming up, there's enough advance time for them to find a camera and get comfortable using it, and getting a system in place for storing the media files while traveling for later editing and sharing.

Nate, if there's a camera store in your area, I encourage you to contact/visit them to talk about this. If not, you can check https://www.dpreview.com/ - look for the drop-down "buying guides" menu on the home page as a place to start. And although you can land pretty deep in the weeds since the place is heavy with gearheads, the site also has a very active forum you can find from the home page.

DP Review has this article which gets into the weeds of the tech: https://www.dpreview.com/articles/5481327930/buying-guide-beginners-guide-to-buying-a-camera-for-video

ZD Net has this: https://www.zdnet.com/article/best-vlogging-camera/

I'm aware of these two cameras because I shoot mostly with Sony cameras, but I have no experience with them. Sony's ZV-E10 camera, released 18 months ago, is designed for video (although it can shoot stills) and has been well received. It's an interchangeable-lens camera, not as small as some of the others. An all-in-one small option: the Sony ZV1. Also well-reviewed.

As to buying online, I'm a repeat customer of both B&H Photo and Adorama. Once you find a camera you want to buy, be careful that you're not buying a "gray market" version, i.e., one intended for sale in another country and not supported by the manufacturer's US warranty. There are online 'bargain" stores that won't tell you that you're getting a gray market item, and the price looks tasty, so you may be tempted to grab it. Just be careful about that.

About buying at Amazon: I used to buy camera gear from them. But be careful who they say it's "sold by." If it's sold by Amazon, great, if not be wary. Sadly, I'm unlikely to buy any camera gear from Amazon again, because the last time I did, they shipped a new lens in a plastic bag. Not padded, just the lens box dumped into a large plain white plastic shipping bag in which it rattled around. (Fortunately the manufacturer's box and internal packaging was sturdy enough that the small lens arrived unharmed, and it does have a warranty. But - never again will I risk that. So no more Amazon.)

Posted by
6788 posts

Lots of really excellent advice and insights above, especially from bogiesan and Suz (every one of Suz's suggested links is spot-on).

As several of us have suggested, this can be a very, very deep rabbit hole, if you decide to jump down it. For someone completely new to it, it can (probably will) feel quite intimidating. But lest the OP feel immediately overwhelmed and run away with their hands covering their ears, fear not: you can go as deep as you want (and that can be v-e-r-y deep), or you can just dip your toes in a little, so if you find the choices, options (and costs) beyond reasonable, you can simply limit your investment (in both money and time) to relatively simple, more introductory gear. You will need to keep your expectations in check, but there are decent entry-level options for every part of the chain.

Not to promote any one technology stack over another, but all the big names in the industry have entry-level, consumer options; you may be more comfortable with some rather than others. Apple has become the worlds biggest and richest company for a lot of good reasons, one of which is they they often do "minimalism" well. They have a pretty accessible set of basic options for consumers (pros and experienced tech-savvy users may cringe at the thought of using iProducts, but they are often "good enough" for many people). All the other big names in video, cameras, software and other technologies offer their own entry-level options, too.

That said, even at the most basic level, you are still going to need to climb a learning curve for most components (given the OP's innocent questions, they would appear to be at Square One, or maybe Square Zero). Start this climb up the learning curve ASAP, and don't underestimate the time you'll need to just get very basic things sorted out. The technology is nothing short of miraculous, but it's a lot to process if you're completely new to it all. You can produce really amazing results. Don't allow it to become drudgery, and don't forget to have fun (it should be).

Posted by
4543 posts

I would vote for a DSLR or a Go Pro, and as noted find somewhere locally to take lessons. Or find Youtube tutorials, or perhaps Master Class? And for your purposes, get as big a storage card as you can get or stock up on several (and then try very hard not to lose them since they are quite small).

If in fact this is to share the vacation with someone back home, perhaps video isn't even necessary. A well shot still of the Eiffel Tower is just as informative as a video walking around the base.

Posted by
1625 posts

My Husband still brings a Video Camera/camcorder on every trip due to being comfortable with the capabilities and not really liking using a phone to capture video due to the small size, just a personal choice. It is older but really powerful and semi-compact, but not too compact, because he has big hands. He carries it in a photography sling bag because he does need multiple batteries and sim cards.

He does make a full length movies using editing software Sony Vegas pro using my still shots from my phone and the video, adding music, fade in' etc. It is his hobby and he loves doing it. The Videos are for our memories and to distribute to a various family members. But this is not some "family home trip video"...no, no, no..it tells a story, takes you along on our vacation, uses slow motion for effect and music that adds to the flavor and mood.

Funny story, my husband had given a copy of our London Trip video to a co-worker who went on a trip and had a house sitter. When he returned the house sitter asked where he could get a copy of "That London Movie" because he enjoyed it so much.

It is fun looking back and seeing how young we were. To capture a moment in time that we can never get back.

I always say my biggest regret in life is not getting a camcorder to document my life and my children's baby years, to hear their little voices and thoughts and movement. Now it is at your fingertips and I use it every chance I get, because life can change in an instant.

Posted by
1251 posts

Frank

Do you still have a working 8mm player/camera? Magnetic tapes can last for over 30 years. However, they are not much good if you don't have a compatible machine to play them. You might still be able to find a used one in working condition in a garage sale. It is a pretty labourious process to convert to digital. You need the player, the correct connector between player and computer and the conversion software to render the video into digital format. If you have a 4 hour tape, you have to play it in real time for 4 hours to transfer to a computer and there is additional processing/conversion time. Your computer will hit its max speed and heat to process the conversion. If you want to add titles, chapters, music etc, you need to add another 35 to 100% in time. Editing is how you make an Oscar worthy movie or even a half decent video to upload to youtube. You can still find services which will do it for you, but they are expensive!

I stopped taking videos after my kids finished elementary school and converted the 8mm tapes to digital almost 20 years ago. My 8mm camcorder had been repaired several times under extended warranties and Sony was no longer making those camcorders. I still have the original 8mm tapes, only 10 cassettes, about 15 hours total over about 12 years. All have been converted to DVDs (which I am told will start to degrade after 10 years!) and backed up on the home computer and two portable hard drives.

I wanted some action videos of my kids when they were young, but I kept the video clips short. I only pulled out the camcorder to videotape special moments. Baby's first steps was only about 30 seconds. A whole birthday party may only be about 1-2minutes, shorter as they got older. Learning to ski may only be about 1 minute. A one week vacation in Hawaii may only be about 10 minutes. A single 8mm cassette lasted about a year which would be converted to one or two continuous digital videos for the whole year. I used editing software to put in titles and chapters to make it easier to find individual clips in the long video. The only time I viewed the videos was when I did the conversion almost 20 years ago. I figure I will pull them out again when I am an invalid in a care home.

I enjoy taking lots of photos, but am not a fan of videos. I won't shoot video anymore, unless it is an Elvis or UFO type situation. Most of the time, I feel like a hostage when I watch somebody's vacation or baby videos. A 60 second clip of the Leaning Tower of Pisa feels like an eternity. A five minute video of a baby sleeping in a crib makes me want to poke my eyes out. Learn from the youtubers; short 5 second clips are usually enough. A slideshow of still photos in a video can be very effective and entertaining.

.

Posted by
6551 posts

There is a lot of great advice in the thread, but as an amateur photographer that has sort of ended up doing photography part time I might have some advice.

Gopro has been mentioned many times, but in my opinion that would not be the ideal choice for you. They are aimed towards the "action" market and are very good at that, but a fixed wide angle lens would not be my choice for a trip. There is also more than just a camera you need. First of all you need memory card(s), and a computer/hard drive to store the files. 30 hours of full HD takes a lot of space, we're talking hundreds of GB. And if you want to film in 4K, you need a lot more space. And a proper microphone is very important, but they are not that cheap.

I would not recommend a DSLR also, for travelling a mirrorless camera would be my suggestion. Slightly smaller and easier to carry around. Something like a Canon EOS M50 maybe? And there are many other similar cameras from other manufacturers as well.

Posted by
691 posts

Over the last couple years one of the big changes I've experienced in my career is that I'm now involved in the administration of my museums YouTube channel and producing quite a bit of the content.

Personally I do all of my videography on my phone, my last one being a Samsung Note 10 and my current being a S22 Ultra. The capabilities of the cameras on phones are just absolutely amazing and the storage capacity can be huge. Current phone has 512 gb storage and I can carry a couple hours of video data that only amounts to 10-15 gb of data. But these capabilities are not only available with the flagship phones.

I originally learned to edit on Filmora Wondershare, and one thing I liked about the program was how intuitive it is coming at it without editing experience. And I use a 2 terabyte external hard drive to store now thousands of raw video files amounting to about 400 gb.

But that's just me.

One thing I would suggest is to jump at any local hands-on educational opportunity for videography and getting the most out of what ever camera you choose and the same for editing. It's always very helpful.

Posted by
22 posts

I think a phone or GoPro may be OK options, but how much capacity you have - and how difficult it is to move the data anywhere else - should be carefully considered. My family are on iPhones, and I am a holiday photographer. I love the camera on my phone but the quality is nowhere near what my camera can do. And I dread the transfer process, since I don't use Apple for any other technology. Gettting photos off my phone and onto my laptop is torture. And there is also the possibility of loss - it's difficult to attach your phone to your person, and if you drop it, you just dropped a lot more than some pictures/videos.

A small camera is a good option. Someone mentioned a DSLR. Do NOT use a DSLR... they are huge and heavy and expensive. There are more compact camera formats out there and any good camera will take stellar video. Just buy a few good-size memory cards. Panasonic and Olympus both make tiny camera bodies with tiny lenses to match - but excellent quality. Fuji, Sony, and Panasonic make good travel cameras with integrated lenses and long zooms. A camera can have a wrist or neck strap, which makes portability easy and risk of loss low.

The benefits of a compact camera on such a trip cannot be matched by a phone. Cameras have low-light options that make the interiors of churches and other dark buildings bright, colorful, and crisp - depending on the lens, the photo may still be a bit grainy, but so much better than a phone. Outdoors, say, on the ocean or at the beach, a camera will have a filter to help maintain contrast. Phones do okay in such settings, but it's still easy to overexpose. One thing to watch for: my camera is limited to 30 minutes of video. I can take many hours on my current media card, but it will be broken into 30-minute segments.

Every trip i take, I debate whether the extra 1.5 pounds for my camera is worth it (including batteries and charger). Most of the time, I decide yes, mostly because the quality will be so much better than my phone.

Edited to add: My photo setup is a mirrorless micro 4/3 format Olympus EPL-7 (Olympus is now named "OM System"), purchased with the 14-42 EZ lens (24 to 84 mm equivalent) - this "starter" lens has an automatic cover, so I wouldn't need to take the cover off or possibly lose it. It's a little bigger than the comparable-spec Panasonic from the same year, but I have shaky hands and I thought the Olympus stabilization would be better (they both have stabilization - just different). I added a couple spare batteries, a neoprene sleeve, a couple media cards, and a battery charger. Total cost 10 years ago was around $600, and you can find the same model for a fraction of the price on eBay today. I like the mirrorless 4/3 format a lot (including the array of interchangeable lenses from Oly & Panasonic), but the newer technologies are absolutely worth looking at too. Also consider getting a weather-sealed setup so you never have to worry about rain.

Posted by
802 posts

WOWSER!!

Those are some wonderful replies from experienced people. I leaned a lot and I am not even doing any of that stuff, but it is very interesting.
Aside from the technicals of the OPs endeavor, might want to think about what one person write about. Your travels and using a camera to record everything.
Lots of time spent just doing that and actually not seeing what you are recording. I am just a regular guy who travels and now I find myself taking less and less photos. Even simple photos I was spending more focus on that and not on what I was seeing or doing. It all seems to be about the camera.
So I had to dial it back.
Even making a simple 20 page photo book from Shutterfly had me spending hours composing what I thought I wanted. OPs project is daunting and a full time job, during and after the trip.
If OPs desire is related to documenting this for a terminally ill friend, I can see a point there. However, your desire can become their burden. They have to watch it.

In some respects this post is akin to the crazy itinerary posts we so often see on here. Sure, it is possible but is it fun?

Posted by
32244 posts

You've received lots of great suggestions so far! A few thoughts to add.....

I've been an amateur photographer since the mid-60s and I can certainly appreciate your desire to capture some memories of your trip to enjoy in future. Looking over travel videos is something I always enjoy.

Given the fact that you're planning 30-60 hours of video, a smart phone is not the best choice, especially if it only has limited memory. Apple says a one-minute 10-bit ProRes video is approximately 1.7GB in 1080p and approximately 6GB in 4K with the new iPhone 14. The "form factor" of smart phones is not the most convenient for holding, so some type of steadycam mount or whatever would be helpful. On older smartphones, the screen is not always too visible in bright sunlight so you may not have a clear idea on what you're shooting. Some smartphones only have limited optical zoom and using digital zoom will degrade the quality of the images. Finally, it's sometimes a bit challenging to transfer large video files from a phone to a computer. Another consideration is that mobile phones are one of the most desired targets of thieves so if it's accessible, you may lose it very quickly.

I'm not sure that a GoPro is the best either. As someone else mentioned they're mostly intended for action shots and while they take great video, they do have limitations.

As previously mentioned, some of the devices you could consider are....

If you have a couple of larger camera stores in your area, you might stop by and have a chat with the experts there.

As someone else mentioned, hopefully you won't spend your much anticipated European holiday with your eye glued to a viewfinder. Try to enjoy the travel experience as well.

Of course, don't forget extra batteries and memory cards. Be sure the memory cards are capable of fast data transfer and make sure the battery charger is capable of operation from 100 - 240 VAC. Don't forget to pack plug adapters.

Good luck!