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Video Camera

Video Camera
Video Camera
How do I find a video camera that can record live music?

Most video cameras - the sound will be horrible, because the mic is peaking out. Control for microphone sensitivity is not available, so the sound overdrives the audio. It will sound distorted. So - what can I look for in a digital video camera that I can control the sensitivity, by viewing a monitor level indicator, OR it has a automatic adjuster for loud sound ?

"Audio control"... or specifically, Manual audio control.

There are four ways.

1) Some (not all) low-end Sony camcorders have a "MicRefLevel" control. This is an option selected in the menu. "Normal" or "Low" for low mic gain for loud audio environments. Not very granular, does not work very well, but does provide some protection form audio clipping and the muddy audio caused by way-loud sound.

2) Some low-end Canon camcorders (ZR900, ZR930, FS10, FS11, FS100, HF10, HF11, HF100) have a mic jack - but no built-in manual audio control. There are external XLR adapters from BeachTek and juicedLink that have audio gain knobs. Plug the XLR mic into the XLR adapter; plug the XLR adapter into the 1/8" (3.5mm) mic jack on the camcorder. In the camcorder menu, you can select a "mic level" that will show the audio going into the camera - When you plugged the XLR adapter into the camcorder's mic jack, you are bypassing the auto mic gain. Use the knobs on the XLR adapter to control the audio levels going in.

3) Use a camcorder with manual audio control. The least expensive camcorder - of which I am aware - with manual audio control are the Canon HV20/HV30/HV30 and the Sony HDR-HC9. They also have a 1/8" mic jack if you want to use an external mic. When you drop into manual audio, a couple of meters pop on the screen. The audio level is not convenient to adjust.

4) Use an audio Field Recorder like those from Zoom, Edirol, Tascam, M-Audio, Sony, Marantz, Fostex... among others... When you edit the video just mute the audio captured with the video and add the audio captured by the Field Recorder.

Prosumer or pro camcorders like the Canon GL2, XL, XH, XLH series, Sony DCR-VX2100, HDR-FX1000, HVR- Z1, Z5, Z7, Panasonic DVX100, HVX200, etc, all have manual audio controls on the OUTSIDE of the camcorder.

In the cases of 2, 3 and 4, the meters should be around 3/4. Adjust the audio gain if it is higher or lower than this.

Please not that I listed ONLY miniDV tape and flash memory consumer camcorders. This is because consumer hard drive based camcorders have KNOWN issues with vibration. Loud audio environments as you have specified can cause enough vibration to have the camcorder sensors park the hard drive heads and not record video. This is to prevent the hard drive heads from scruffing the hard drive and crashing the camera. HDD camcorders are NOT recommended for high vibration environments - says so in their manuals. (They will also park their heads in low air pressure environments - so high altitude, anything over about 9,800 feet - will also cause the heads to park and no video will be recorded. MiniDV tape and flash memory do not have this problem, either.)

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