Good bang for the buck camcorder for recording launches?

Discussion in 'Photo/Video Tips' started by TNmike, Oct 17, 2017.

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  1. Oct 17, 2017 #1

    TNmike

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    Title says it all. Any recommendations for camcorders that do a great job recording launches without breaking the bank?
     
  2. Oct 17, 2017 #2

    ksaves2

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    Tough deal. I think the best remedy is also the most pricey. It's a video camera with an enclosed viewfinder so one can really "see" what they are filming out in the open. All the cheap units with a small deployable viewing screens
    are not viewable well in sunlight. Just my 2 cents. Kurt
     
  3. Oct 17, 2017 #3

    mccordmw

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    Everyone will have their favorites. For me, the Matecam 808 is a good compromise between price and quality.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GQHA744/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

    It costs $30. Looks and weighs like your typical 808 keychain camera, but it does have better configurable options. What sold me is that it comes with a decent 120 degree wide angle lens and records in 1080p at 30 fps. Video quality is pretty good; not GoPro quality, but not GoPro cost.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2018
  4. Oct 17, 2017 #4

    jdbwizzard

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    I agree you cannot see the viewfinder very well or at all sometimes in the sun. It has become more of a skilled guess tracking rockets on video. I just 3D printed a fixture that resembles a gun sight to try to track better. I will see how it goes at my next launch.

    I have a Canon HF R70. Its have a decent picture (if I keep it steady) and good zoom. It cost about $200. You can view its quality from my videos in my signature if you would like. Most phones have great cameras too but the biggest downfall for me is no zoom.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2017 #5

    mccordmw

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    Oh! Cameras on a tripod to record, not onboard cameras. :facepalm:
     
  6. Oct 17, 2017 #6

    Bat-mite

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    You absolutely need TTL (through the lens) viewing, as others have noted. And those aren't cheap. Sometimes I strap a Go Pro clone to my head, but that hasn't proven satisfactory.
     
  7. Oct 17, 2017 #7

    woferry

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    It's not a camcorder but I use it to shoot lots of video at my launches. I like my Olympus SP-100EE. It shoots 1080p/60 video, and has a 50x optical zoom. And what I think really helps here is the dot sight, you don't actually have to use the viewfinder when recording, you just look through the dot sight window and keep the target on what you're tracking, so long as you can see it with your eyes you can keep the object in-frame (my problem is usually that I lose sight of the rocket, but I keep the sight pointed where I think the rocket might be, sometimes it turns out I had the rocket/event even though I couldn't see it myself). It has both a (fixed) LCD screen and a closed viewfinder, but if you use either of these you're taking your eyes off the dot sight which I find more useful (I'll occasionally glance at the screen to check my zoom level but quickly go back to the sight).

    Olympus does apparently sell the dot sight separatly as a hot shoe add-on at this point, though in the camcorder space I think you have to go to pretty expensive cameras to have the hot shoe option.
     
  8. Oct 17, 2017 #8

    TNmike

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    Yeah, handheld or tripod mounted, not on-boards. Thanks
     
  9. Oct 18, 2017 #9

    afadeev

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    That depends entirely on the size of your piggy bank, and what else you might want to shoot with the camera.
    For action sports beyond rocketry, definitely get GoPro.
    It will work well for recording rocket launches, as well as any skying, sky-diving, or scuba diving trips you might have in the off season.

    For in-sky rocket searching, consider a camera with high optical zoom and manual focus.
    Once the rocket leaves the pad, I try to switch my Nikon DSLR into manual focus mode to (and crank focus distance max right/clock-wise towards infinity) to avoid auto-focus "hunting" and confusion when direct sunlight gets into the viewfinder.

    a
     
  10. Oct 22, 2017 #10

    LithosphereRocketry

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    I have somewhat of a solution for the view finder issue: When I film on my phone, I just line it up with the pad before launch using the screen and then take my eyes off the screen and sight over the top of the phone during flight. I've never been able to pick out a rocket on a screen well, but I can usually see it in the sky fine.
     
  11. Dec 13, 2017 #11

    Eyesinthesky

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    I shot this footage with a Sony X1000 although I did change out the fisheye lens with a more traditional lens. Sorry for the lack of editing, the action starts about half way through the footage and there is no sound since it is slow motion. There is no viewfinder or even a screen to look at the rocket. The camera followed the rocket automatically since I was much further away.
    [video=vimeo;224983471]https://vimeo.com/224983471[/video]
     
  12. Dec 13, 2017 #12

    stealth6

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    I was going to, somewhat tongue-in-cheek mind you, suggest something along the line of Doug's setup (see "Eyesinthesky" above).
    His camera rig is simply outstanding in every way. Pretty unbelievable in fact.
    But "without breaking the bank" is not a phrase that comes to mind when I think of it.....he's got a LOT of bucks tied up into it. And hard work, and dedication to craft at the highest level. But cheap it ain't.

    That said, keep in mind that he uses many many cameras simultaneously. I'm sure he would have lots of great advice on what works best in a more scaled-down, or less ambitious, setup. He would absolutely be the first guy I would go to for guidance. If you are looking for a suggestion on what camera to buy/use, I would most likely do whatever he suggests.

    For those who don't know him, google around and check out his work. It's awesome.

    s6
     
  13. Dec 13, 2017 #13

    ksaves2

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    Looks like the rail guides got toasted a bit. AKS
     
  14. Dec 13, 2017 #14

    jlabrasca

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    https://www.clearviewer.com

    Actually, how would you prioritize the specs on a camera for shooting a rocket launch from pad-side?

    Long focal length, fast lens, high frame rate, big image sensor, fast response on the auto-exposure (for when the rocket crosses the horizon), auto-focus that won't get confused by a polarizing filter... seems like it would be hard to find all of that in value-priced package

    I am guessing any DLSR or mirrorless of recent manufacture, with a decent telephoto lens on a well-weighted tripod with a good fluid head, will do a good job if you know the camera and take time to plan the shot.

    Disclosure: In previous employment I shot and cut training videos under less-than-ideal conditions, often with "out dated" or inadequate gear. The best camera is always the one that you can actually use. As the 4K-capable cameras roll out there may be deals on 50p/60p 120p/240p HD cameras. (fingers crossed)
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  15. Dec 14, 2017 #15

    Eyesinthesky

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    Thank you for the kind words but but you do not need my entire set up. And 'breaking the bank' is ambiguous. I was trying to point out that a simple action camera can take some incredible footage. The minimum set up for automatic tracking is the motor, motor controller, timer, camera, and mount. There might be $100 plus the cost of the camera and there are ways to cut corners. Others have tried using some method if sighting the rocket to point the camera without using the optics or images from the camera. This could be as simple as using Christmas wrapping paper tube with an action camera attached. Look through the tube to follow the rocket while the camera records the launch.
     
  16. Dec 14, 2017 #16

    Bat-mite

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    Have you used this thing? Is it any good? I love my camera, but can't see the rear screen worth crap.
     
  17. Dec 14, 2017 #17

    jlabrasca

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    Yeah. I've got one for my Samsung NX300. It works well and I recommend it for those with presbyopia -- nice not to have to fumble with glasses looking between the subject and the screen. Only complaint is that it is one more thing to pack when I take the camera someplace. An EVF would be better -- but no such exists for the NX300.
     
  18. Dec 15, 2017 #18

    DinoAP

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    It’s an older model Canon HV30, you can find them used for a good deal. True HD record, uses mini DV tapes (no worries about hard drive failure) broadcast quality, good battery life, optical zoom plus digital zoom, HDMI out. Was pricey in its day, and its day isn’t over yet.
     

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