The tyranny of choice.

My search for a DV camera is slowly driving me insane. Thanks to Basset for his tips in the comments a few posts ago, but I fear they’re of no help. You see, I want a camera that will handle not just home movies but amateur journalism — among my many hopes for 2008 here at NN.C, as we enter our EIGHTH DAMN YEAR of web-based mediocrity, is to bring an occasional video to the mix. And the problem is, I know just enough about video to know that nothing will do.

I want something in the upper end of the prosumer range, with lots of features but not too expensive. I make a list of no-negotiation features, then find a model that has everything I want except for one. Or it has everything, but costs $1,200. Or is too big. Or has a user’s review calling it a p.o.s. that underlays every clip with the high-pitched weeeeee of camera noise. John says get Mini-DV for quality, but the users say the format is entering its obsolescence. Hold out for 3CCD? An accessory shoe? Manual shutter control? High-def? AN EXTERNAL MIC JACK? THE ROOM, IT IS SPINNING.

What usually happens is, I read and shop online for 45 minutes, then throw up my hands in despair and go eat a cookie. And then I see something like this, and redouble my efforts. It’s a vicious circle.

This, by the way, is New York magazine’s roundup of the best of online video. I’m working my way through them all, but so far the one I want to recommend is The Jeannie Tate Show, a talk show in a minivan. Yes, really. It’s hilarious.

That was a quick jump to the bloggage today, wasn’t it? Well, yes, but it’s pretty good bloggage, and yesterday was tops in boring. I’m off to the gym. OK, one more:

Once it was scandalous to show too much of your bosom. Now it’s apparently de rigueur to show the world your nether cleft, and not the one in back. (Although I’ve always liked Sharon Stone, that crazy old bat, so I’m giving her a pass, just this once.)

More later.

Posted at 9:39 am in Housekeeping, Popculch |
 

13 responses to “The tyranny of choice.”

  1. alex said on November 13, 2007 at 10:10 am

    This is something new? I seem to recall lots of women in Spandex pants in the ’80s showing that cleft and the other one too, but more remarkable usually were their obese thighs, abdomens and buttocks. Hope that style’s not coming back.

  2. ashley said on November 13, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I’d almost go real cheap and go for a flip, for $160. Without a doubt, easiest way to put stuff up on da web.

    But you want to go top o the line prosumer, then no doubt, just go for a Canon GL2. It should have every single feature you want, and you can probably freelance video for your local TV stations as well. Just don’t bitch about it being too big.

    Oh, but you wanted HD. Fine. Canon XH A1.

  3. LA mary said on November 13, 2007 at 10:41 am

    There is a website devoted to the Cameltoe. I used to sit next to someone who had it on his favorites list.

    Another good online photo is Katie Holmes crossing the finish line in the NYC marathon. No sweat, jacket unzipped and flapping in breeze, no bra. Trust me, no woman who runs a marathon does it braless. I have discussed this with two marathoning women right here a the hospital, and as a group, we accuse Katie of not actually running the marathon.

  4. Sue said on November 13, 2007 at 11:20 am

    I wondered about the Katie Holmes picture too. She looked so… fresh… and who needs a jacket while running a marathon? Apparently she ran as a “celebrity entrant”, which was why she didn’t need to actually time-qualify. But golly, those boobs gotta hurt, no matter how far she ran.

  5. nancy said on November 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

    The GL2 is certainly a nice machine, Ash, but it’s a bit big and way out of my price range. I always think of it as the Choice of the Amateur Pornographer.

    I had just about settled on this one, until I noticed it’s out of production and has been replaced by a much simpler, but markedly inferior, model. Used ones are fetching close to the original asking price on eBay, which must be a testimony to something.

    The search continues.

  6. nancy said on November 13, 2007 at 11:28 am

    And as for Katie, from the looks of things, the damage has already been done upstairs. Pregnancy, followed by 26 miles of bounce bounce bounce? I guess surgery’s such a given for celebs these days that they don’t even care. Still, you’d think Tom would object to her showing her nipples to the whole world.

  7. ellen said on November 13, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Hurray! Working from home today and Season 3 (aka Hamsterdam) of the Wire is now available on demand.

  8. brian stouder said on November 13, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Good ol’ Nance! I knew if I waited, she’d link to the Holmes garbonzos, and voila! And what is the guy to the right doing? That looks like a cell phone, but he seems to be taking his heart rate with it. (imagine the phone call – THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK “What…[gasp]…time will…[gasp]…supper be?”[gasp gasp]THUNK THUNK THUNK etc etc

    Well, maybe after Tom’s movie tanks, Katie will dump him, and he will marry a dog as penance, like this guy –

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21768663/

    (an excerpt)

    The paper said an astrologer had told Selvakumar the wedding was the only way he could cure the maladies. It did not say whether his situation had improved. Deeply superstitious people in rural India sometimes organize weddings to dogs and other animals, believing it can ward off certain curses. The paper showed a picture of Selvakumar sitting next to the dog, which was wearing an orange sari and a flower garland.

    The paper said the groom and his family then had a feast, while the dog got a bun.

    (and there’s a picture of the uncomfortable looking pooch, too)

  9. LA mary said on November 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I injected the vicious attack on Katie’s credibility and tits, not Nancy. I take the blame for going the low road.
    From my female marathoning friends, I understand it’s not just the bouncy bouncy, it’s the shirt rubbing on sensitive parts for 26 miles and causing them to bleed. Even men can have this problem. Women runners use bandaids under their sports bras to avoid this.You just don’t run 26 miles braless.

  10. ashley said on November 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Nance, the GL2 is certainly a tad big. Perhaps you could get the “Bob Crane” model, with tripod and remote.

    I had looked at the Panasonic as well. At the time I was searching (before one of the kids was born), I found the prosumer predecessor to this model and thought “well, this is it”. Tiny 3CCD cam, Leica optics. So I was torn between the GL2 and the Panasonic. What did I do?

    I decided I’m not Bob Crane, so I got a $550 model Canon, and saved a grand and a half.

    If you can find one of those Panasonics with Leica optics and a 3ccd, just grab the sucker — I doubt you’ll regret it, especially at a $899 price point.

  11. basset said on November 13, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    a GL2 is too big? Well, if you say so. Here’s what I’d do, based on thirty-plus years of tv going back to the days of news film:

    Get a camera that is comfortable in your hands and learn to hold it properly. More on what camera later.

    Learn how to use the camera’s manual functions, particularly focus, white balance, and audio. Very important.

    Forget that the camera has a zoom control. You zoom with your feet – walk up closer to what you want to see, don’t just magnify it with the lens. You might occasionally have to rack way out for something distant you can’t get to… but you want to be in the action, not twenty yards back.

    Don’t rely on the built-in mic for anything but room noise. Spend $200 or so on a low-end directional (i.e. “shotgun”) mic that fits into the accessory shoe on top of the camera and get right up on whatever you’re shooting. A cheap wireless mic would be helpful too, although they tend to be fragile.

    Think about how the pictures are going to fit together while you’re shooting. Don’t just roll on something, stop the camera, and roll again – change the shot.

    About the cameras… the Panasonics with Leica lenses make a really nice picture but they’re heavy for their size and really meant to sit on a tripod, very clumsy for handheld unless you use a body mount that’ll let you rest it on your shoulder.

    Sony and Canon both make several smaller 3-ccd cameras which will turn out a good picture if you know how to adjust them and have the advantage of being almost pocket-sized.

    The Canon XL1 and the newer XL2, the GL2’s big brothers, are light and sit comfortably against your shoulder, much easier to balance and hold steady that way. Viewfinder is a little fragile for commercial use but for what you’re doing it should be fine. the 2 has connectors for real mic cords, the 1 has funky little RCA plugs like on the back of your dvd player. I have heard, no personal experience on this, that the XLs are the preferred cameras of the California porn industry and you can take that with however many grains of salt or drops of lube you find appropriate.

    I was spending my money and didn’t have to have a camera that’d fit in a coat pocket, I’d find a clean, low-mileage XL on eBay or Craigslist or something, there are lots of them around from people who started up small production companies which didn’t play out… and because Canon just brought out a halfass HD version for close to ten grand. Tons of accessories for ’em, you can change to other lenses, controls are weird but once you learn ’em they’re not bad. If I needed a smaller camera, I’d just go with whatever 3-ccd Sony or Canon fit the price point and buy an extra mic or two.

  12. basset said on November 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    just did a quick troll through eBay, the XLs may be a little more than you want to spend but if that’s your range there are lots of Sony PD150s and PD170s out there too… low-end professional cameras, lots of reality-show stuff gets shot on those.

  13. grapeshot said on November 13, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Hey, I’m not a video expert, but I have thought a fair bit about this same subject. My advice is to take Basset’s advice, and then just finally take the plunge. Recognize that for the moment no single camera will fit your bill. Besides, you’re going to have to learn a lot — and you’ll be learning it the right way, which is the hard way — so dive in and do it already.

    If Basset had not said it already, I would’ve suggested the same thing. DO NOT rely on the camera’s mic! In fact, I’d go so far as to say spend your money on a mic, and go cheap with the camera. In my opinion nothing is worse than crappy sound.

    I did a wedding video for friend. I borrowed a video camera from another friend, which used V8 tapes. Here’s what I learned — the hard way:

    1) the sound mic on the camera picked up everything real well, BUT without any ability to discriminate between what I wanted to have on the tape and what I didn’t. So absolutely EVERY noise ended up on the video. If music was blaring from the DJ at the side of the room, it overpowered all the dialog that I was trying to capture. In the final product I ended up stripping out all the sound and replacing it with some background music.

    2) another friend of mine suggested that I interview the guests about the wedding couple, and this was a great idea for a wedding video. What I learned was that this is best done with TWO people. One to handle the camera, and the other to keep feeding questions. I found that I absolutely could not focus on what was in the frame AND remember to keep asking questions. If I concentrated on having a Q&A conversation, then I’d find that the camera I was holding would slowly drift away from the subject. If I concentrated on holding the subject steady in my camera, then I’d lose track of the conversation thread. I came away realizing that there’s a reason why news teams have a cameraman AND a reporter. I realize that you may just plan on filming stuff and then doing voiceover, but if you ever plan to do any interviewing, you’ll probably have to solicit some help.

    3) I was awfully glad that I thought to throw in my camera tripod in my bag. For longer scenes it was nice to be able to set it up and leave it running without having to worry about standing absolutely still.

    Having said all that, I found that this simple Sony V8 tape camera created pretty good video. Plenty good picture for streaming on the web, that’s for sure. You might consider trying out your idea about video reporting by just borrowing a video camera first. It might just help you figure out what features that you may think you must have can maybe be sacrificed.