Cheap digital video-camera good enough?

I’m considering buying a digital video-camera to record some of my runs in training, but since money is tight I’m wondering if anyone has any experience using the type of cheap cameras that record to multimedia-cards? This would be mounted on a tripod and used for very short durations only. The aim is to get an overall picture of how I execute a run or certain parts of it.
Could this type of camera be used for this or should I convince my mom (I’m 31) that a more expensive camera would be good for my progress?

Here’s an example:

Send a PM to fjlee, or NumberTwo. I think they know lots about that sort of thing.

Thing is, you may be better to hold the camera rather than use a cheap tripod, which will make the picture jerk. A good tripod is very expensive.

I’m not much of the photographer/videographer, but wouldn’t the tripod make it more jerky? I do realize though, that manually you can get a picture of what you want the target to be; any multidirections instantly.

Here are the specs on the camera you listed:

“Digital video is captured in AVI format, and you can shoot 320 x 240 pixel video at either 15 or 8 frames per second (fps). A seamless 2x digital zoom allows you to capture those far away shots up close and personal.”

Full motion video is typically captured at 30 frames per second (i.e. a typical DV camera or even analogue camera). So 15 or 8 fps means you will be missing information. Charlie always says that even 30fps will result in missed frames of info that could be useful (“video tends to smooth out performances that the naked eyed can pick up”). I would suggest you stick with a DV camera that will yield 30fps. Even if you get a cheap DV camera (miniDV, digital8 or DVD ram) any of these formats are better than the type you listed.

You would even be better off buying a good Hi8 camera and then converting it to digital via a capture card on your computer. At least you would be able to review the Hi8 footage on your TV in slow-mo at good quality (30fps).

Additionally, the 2x zoom is useless. You need at least a 10x zoom to be effective at shooting athletics.

Just my thoughts.

What about getting a cheap coach with an expensive camera?

Thor, in my opinion I wouldn’t get a camera over 600$ if you arent going to be doing frame analysis. I bought a sony handycam which I believe I spent 2 much money on (900$). The good thing is that it came with a tripod, all adaptors, and it has so many options I don’t even use it. Best Buy has an option where you could pay like 30$ a month for a descent camera. But don’t listen to the salespeople, they work off commision, and they try to sell you something about 300$ over your budget that you don’t need. Look for pixel density. The higher the megapixels, the better still frame pictures you can get, but even that isn’t neccessary. Go within your budget, even the cheapest cameras nowadays will do playback for reviewing to see technique. Look for an option that will stabilize the picture too, this is an option that might be worth paying for. Hope this helps…

Thanx for the tips guys. I myself am looking to purchase a DV camera within the next few months. Im feed up with the crappy mini vhs one i have.
Any chance we can compile a list based on either cameras you guys have, ones you have used or ones you know about in the 300-500$ price range?

what do you guys think of that camera? And what sony models are best?

For osme reason that camera on that site is advertised for 360$ whereas everywhere ive seen it around here (walmart, circuit city, best buy, it is 450-500$) Anyone think that site is bullshit?

I would prob suggest one with higher optical zoom. I have one that is 10x and I’m not a big fan of it. When you zoom too close with the digital zoom it’s fuzzy.

does EVERYONE agree 10x zoom will not be enough? If so then sony is completely out of the question.

10x zoom is enough. I have a sony DV cam that shoots at 10x zoom (I disable the digital zoom because it’s useless), and I’m constantly filming my sprinters from the other side of the stadium. It looks fine. I don’t need to zoom in too much, as it impacts the context of the run (i.e. if you are in too close, you can’t get a sense of what is happening).

Would 20x zoom be better? Sure, but it’s not the most important quality. What is the image quality? Is the camera nice and light and easy to hold? What’s the battery life? What’s the view screen like?

which model sony do you have?

Im lookin at the SONY DCR HC 20 or 30. Besides the 10x the only other drawback which i am not even sure if its really even a drawback is the LCD touch screen which is the only way to playback on the camera. Besdies that picture looks great comapred to all the other cameras i tested out at the store. It is smaller than the rest and easy to hold. The battery it comes with i believe is 1.5 hr.

what are the best positions to capture footage of say a 100m. Im starting to use one at training but im trying to work out best place to put it ( by itself ) and also what position to operate it if using it by hand to video someone else.

im thinking either behind blocks or at the end of the straight and also from the side in line with the start to get the first 10-20 out of the blocks

I have the DCR PC101 Sony Digital Camcorder. It provides very good picture quality. It also has a very nice LCD view screen, which has the touch screen controls (which leads to lots of fingerprints on the screen - my main complaint). I bought the big ass battery that gives me about 4 hours of use - very nice.

It depends what you want to capture:

  • Block starts may want to be positioned right at the start line (profile) to capture block angles in you set and go position.
  • Acceleration technique - you could position yourself at 30m.
  • Max velocity mechanics - between 50 and 70m (maybe earlier for a developing athlete)
  • Body rotation at max velocity - directly in front of the athlete maybe about 60m down the track with the runner running on a lane line (used as a center line reference point) - remember to dive out of the way at the last second!

As far as filming an actual 100m race, I usually sit at about the 80m mark - halfway up the grandstand or higher.

Good tips to remember…

You think the sony dcr hc 20 or 30 is a good camera for me to get?

It looks pretty good for the price. I read the review on and the user comments were pretty good. I’ve had two Sony DVcams and I have no complaints. They have produced great results.

The good thing is that you can use the pass-thru function to save old vcr tapes by inputting them into the camera and saving them on MiniDV tapes for safe keeping (and then you can input them from you DV cam into your computer).

“Analog-to-Digital Pass Through The DCR-HC30 is equipped for analog-to-digital pass through allowing the user to connect an analog video source to the camcorder and convert the video to a digital signal.”

thanx # 2… ill let you know when i get it… im sure ill have questions since you’re the computer/camera whiz…

thanx again…

The price difference between the hc20 and hc30 is about 50$. The differences are listed below. Can somene explain it to me and what the drawbacks would be.

this is what the 20 doesnt have that the 30 does have…

  • Analog to digital pass through
  • Memory Stick Duo Stills
  • MPEG recording
  • Low Light performance
  • 3D menu system