Inexpensive video camera (<$400 USD) for 12 year old ...

Discussion in 'Video' started by stephen_ratzlaff, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. My son is beginning to become interested in motion picture
    photography and video. I have no knowledge of video cameras but would
    like to find a video camera capable of special effects such as single
    frame recording, and time-lapse capability, etc.

    My knowledge is in still cameras not video or motion picture. I'd
    like to surprise him for his birthday and give him a video camera
    where he can make movies of his own with limited special effects such
    as stop-motion video.

    He's expressed interest in doing movies.

    Any recommendations for inexpensive color video cameras with these
    capablilites?
     
  2. Keep in mind that you will need more than just a camcorder to do what you are describing.

    First of all, if you're looking for a camcorder in this price range, new, there probably won't be many choices. I would suggest looking around based on price, then once you find something, look to see if the camcorder has the features you want.

    Features like time-lapse, and "frame" recording are often omitted from low-end camcorders nowadays. To get these features at this low a price you might need to buy an older, used camcorder.

    In my experience, consumer camcorders don't have true single-frame recording. They tend to fire off about 10 frames with each press instead. If you need real single-frame recording with consumer equipment, you'll need to pick out single frames in post, or use a digital camera to capture single frames then string them together in post.

    For stop-motion, you will absolutely need a tripod.

    To "make your own movies", you'll need to be able to edit. In this day and age, that usually means on a computer -- you'll need additional hardware and software to do this -- more $$$. Look around, there might be some very basic ~$100 solutions available nowadays. You'll need a fairly modern computer to edit -- most computers from the last 2 years are fine. And you'll need plenty of hard drive space.

    Digital camcorders are usually easier to work with on a computer than an analog camcorder.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Some thoughts...

    When I was in high school over 12 years ago, I borrowed a VHS camcorder and tripod, and tried editing to a VHS deck -- which wasn't an editing deck so the results were awful. So I learned to shoot and edit in-camera, or do graphic sequences on my computer with a hand-scanner and shoot the screen in the dark. (There are tricks to making this look good! But it can be done!) I bought a few additional supplies here and there whenever I could afford it (cheap mixer, cables, adapters, mic) and I actually made some reasonable short videos with this set-up after a while. Both students and faculty started going after me to have videos made! (student council campaigns, graphics to run during Open House, fundraising drives, etc.)

    But that was then. Kids today are a lot more sophisticated and probably won't put up with jumping through hoops the way I did. In general, people expect to see high quality video, as this is no longer the early days of home videos.
     
  3. Thanks for the response.

    Lego had a basic stop-motion type video camera in one of their expensive Lego sets a few years back. You could create Lego videos using stop-motion.

    I was looking to get something a bit better and also something my son can carry around and record non-special effects type video (i.e. regular video) with.

    The cameras which shoot 10 frames per trigger wouldn't work too well, I'd think. Hmm, I remember doing this type of shooting with Super8 many years ago.

    I was trying to eliminate some post-production costs by using video. As for the editing station, we'd probably be using a Linux server with widely available (cheap $) video editing software.
     

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