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  1. #15
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    Unfortunately camera zoom is not what we think it is. It is the ratio of the maximum focal length of the camera to the minimum focal length. I think camera manufacturers deliberately use it to con people.

    What we think is zoom is actually the magnification and that is related to the focal length of the lens. Humans have a focal length of about 50mm so if you set your camera lens to 50mm focal length the camera takes what you see. If you set the focal length to 300mm (which is pretty big) you would still only get a magnification (not zoom) of 6. So what we think is the zoom is actually this factor of 6. You are unlikely to get any camcorder with a magnification therefore of more than 4 to 5. What you will find when you have a high zoom stated is that the minimum focal length is very small and all this does is allow you to get more in the picture (like wide angle shots). In summary the more expensive camcorders are unlikely to actually have lower magnification and in fact might have higher. Look at the focal length range of the lens.

    What the more expensive camcorder will give is more features, potentially a better sensor and better optics in the lens. They will probably give better quality but you may not notice this much.

    It is similar to compact still cameras vs DSLRs. DSLRs have really good sensors and a tonne of features and very high quality lenses that you can interchange. This will get you much better pictures. However, you need to develop experience to get the most out of them. These days if you want really good video then get a DSLR and not a camcorder. However, you need to take the hassle as well and also the expense is much more.

  2. #16
    Senior Member Mark D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjdodd View Post
    Unfortunately camera zoom is not what we think it is. It is the ratio of the maximum focal length of the camera to the minimum focal length. I think camera manufacturers deliberately use it to con people.

    What we think is zoom is actually the magnification and that is related to the focal length of the lens. Humans have a focal length of about 50mm so if you set your camera lens to 50mm focal length the camera takes what you see. If you set the focal length to 300mm (which is pretty big) you would still only get a magnification (not zoom) of 6. So what we think is the zoom is actually this factor of 6. You are unlikely to get any camcorder with a magnification therefore of more than 4 to 5. What you will find when you have a high zoom stated is that the minimum focal length is very small and all this does is allow you to get more in the picture (like wide angle shots). In summary the more expensive camcorders are unlikely to actually have lower magnification and in fact might have higher. Look at the focal length range of the lens.

    What the more expensive camcorder will give is more features, potentially a better sensor and better optics in the lens. They will probably give better quality but you may not notice this much.

    It is similar to compact still cameras vs DSLRs. DSLRs have really good sensors and a tonne of features and very high quality lenses that you can interchange. This will get you much better pictures. However, you need to develop experience to get the most out of them. These days if you want really good video then get a DSLR and not a camcorder. However, you need to take the hassle as well and also the expense is much more.
    Interesting thanks for the explanation Tony. That reminds me I must post that footage of you and Chris at high tide at Fraisthorpe. Got skunked again at Frais, perhaps should have tried on Saturday.

    Mark
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  3. #17
    Senior Member paul2010's Avatar
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    yeah, interesting stuff, tjdodd,
    don't think I buy a dslr with a big lens, I prefer to spend the money for a new board/sails or travel.
    a cheap or a slightly more expensive camcoder with big zoom (magnification) will do the job,

  4. #18
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    Paul, I think crop factor can partially explain how come more expensive cameras have less zoom. Is has to do with image sensor size. E.g. a professional DLSR is full format i.e. 35 mm sensor. The semi-pro cameras has a 24 mm sensor.This means a crop factor of 1.5, and in effect you'd get a close to the object with a 300 mm lens and semi-pro camera, as you would with a 450 mm lens and the professional one.

  5. #19
    Senior Member overthehill's Avatar
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    Again, no expert here. I bought a video camera as a result of wanting to capture my son's early years.

    I did my usual and bought something end of line at discount (in this case a Panasonic HC-V500) it got decent reviews and most importantly decent (non-digital) image stabilisation. The image seems very good and it has decent low-light performance for use indoors. Although I got this for family stuff, I also figured that I could use the zoom, low light and good stabilisation to capture sports.

    Review: http://www.trustedreviews.com/panaso...mcorder_review and I paid 210 at Park Cameras. If you're in the Sussex area (Burgess Hill, nr A/M23), they are a very good shop and worth a visit.

    I use a sturdy Manfrotto monopod for the still camera and figured this would also be good for videoing at the beach on a windy day, when you'd have to be quite talented to hold anything still! This is under your budget, but I did also get a spare battery and a decent case; you also need to budget for a big, fast SD card.
    My Flickr Windsurf collection: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bsideth...7622592103903/
    Hayling Windsurf & Kitesurf Photographers: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1993863@N23/

  6. #20
    Senior Member paul2010's Avatar
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    thanks Herald for the link
    now it makes some sense to me,

    Quote Originally Posted by Harald View Post
    The semi-pro cameras has a 24 mm sensor.This means a crop factor of 1.5, and in effect you'd get a close to the object with a 300 mm lens and semi-pro camera, as you would with a 450 mm lens and the professional one.
    So what is the gain to buy a 36mm camera if I need a 450mm zoom to see what a semi-pro camera can see with a 300mm zoom?
    Of course picture quality will be different since the pro camera has a bigger sensor but is it only this?

    I did some reading and an other factor to consider is the pixel size which unfortunately companies do not reveal, so in fact there is no possible to have a direct comparison between camcoders.
    Last edited by paul2010; 18th March 2013 at 05:07 PM.

  7. #21
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    I am still trying to understand the sensor size thing but I think your reasoning is correct Paul. I did some reading around on this but was not confident enough to post on it. Re pixel size, yes this is also important. You can sort of work it out since you should be able to find out the sensor size and will definitely know the number of megapixels. For the same size of sensor the less megapixels the bigger the pixel size. Again, it is interesting when you look at the DSLR explanations that more megapixels is not necessarily better. By having less megapixels and therefore bigger pixels you get better noise averaging. Very megapixels can give you more noise if the camera does not have good in built filtering. So if you are into 12MP or above then you need to trade-off resolution with noise to some extent.

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