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OT Suggestions For a Live Video Cam Upgrade?

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:44 am
by Boy_Narf
Hello Everyone,

So we started recording audio with a Zoom H2N a few years back, and then upgraded to a GoPro Hero 4, and now use a Sony AS50 Action Cam. The GoPro by far had the best sound quality, but was a buggy disaster. Frame dropouts (causing video renders to fail), overheating (causing the camera to turn off), the infamous helicopter noise, inconsistent battery life, terrible customer support, it was a serious PITA. I ended up adding a battery backpack (3+ hours of battery!!!), but that caused even more issues with overheating. We sold it off and replaced it with a Sony AS50. The Sony is WAY more reliable and has nearly 3 hours battery life on 1080/60. Issue is that the sound quality is pretty bad, and doesn't come close to the buggy go pro. For a while we were running a dual mount with the Sony, and the Zoom, but it's just too much of a pain to set it all up, and the devices quickly go out of sync with each other once it comes to editing time.

Wondering if anyone has some recommendations for a camera with solid audio quality in a live environment? I'm looking at the Zoom Q4/Q8 but the reviews aren't glowing. I also thought I might give GoPro another try with a Hero 7 White (people are saying the audio is way better than the gen 6), but the reviews on that unit are terrible.

Any suggestions would be great. Looking to stay under the $300 CAD mark. Also open to camcorders if there is one with decent audio.


Re: OT Suggestions For a Live Video Cam Upgrade?

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:17 pm
by misterfolkertsma
I think the Zoom Q2n might be a good option for you, around that budget.

Otherwise look around for a secondhand Sony A6000 with the Sony ECM-XYST1M external mic. Less easy to use, but the 1080p footage is still really solid. Battery life might not be as great, considering the larger sensor. So you’ll definitely want to hook it up to a larger power source.

Re: OT Suggestions For a Live Video Cam Upgrade?

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:16 pm
by Boy_Narf
Hey, we actually picked up the Q4N due to the flip screen and rechargable battery. Haven't used it at a show but have done some testing. Low light performance is terrible. Everything is grainy. In bright light however it's much better than our old camera. Singer even mentioned how the colors are more true to life. Audio is good of course but it seems there is a low mid cut even with the low cut setting off (I did a shootout with the old camera and the Q4N is quite thin sounding in comparison). We will be testing extensively when we hit the road in a few weeks.

Also on 1080/30 96khz 24bit we got 2:25 of battery life. Better than both of our old cameras.

So funny having to go back to mini usb. This truly is tue old generation of video camera. I would expect a refresh soon, considering they just released a Q24K.

Re: OT Suggestions For a Live Video Cam Upgrade?

Posted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:05 pm
by Boy_Narf

So I filmed a friends gig last night and here are my thoughts.

- The video quality is horrible (so grainy). I can't remember a time when I saw video this bad. I would use a phone 100% over this camera. Really a shame. I had the video mode set to auto, but once we head for tour in a few weeks I'll be testing a bunch of different settings.

- The audio quality is amazing! I set it to max quality 24/96 wav and it came out excellent. Could easily be used for live album. Everything is very clear and defined. The auto gain is horrible but I had it set to 3 on the gain dial (little low but still sounded great once boosted in the DAW).

- The flip out screen is not representative of what's getting captured. Extremely washed out in comparison. Good for setting up a shot but that's about it.

- The screen has "auto flip" for when the camera is upside down, but the camera still records upside down haha. Easy to flip the footage in sw, but I had a chuckle.

- USB Mini B? Eww... I'm getting transfer rates from an extreme SD card at 10 megs (30 min transfer time for a 45 min set @ 1080P). Terrible. External dongle will sort this out but worth mentioning.

- Zoom function is useless. Insane wide angle lens on this unit. I was only about 20 feet from the stage and even zoomed in on the max setting (1.5) the band looked mini in the center of the shot. This camera has to be VERY close in order to get a tight shot. You could zoom after the fact in sw, but the image is so grainy it looks awful. With our old GOPRO/SonyActionCam we had much more control over the zoom. I'm thinking this camera would do great clamped on to the edge of the stage and pointed towards the band. I will say that the non zoomed video is much less grainy, but it would have to be a few feet away from the band to be close enough.

- I really miss the wifi control. With the GoPro we could set it up in a weird spot before everyone got there then right before the show connect remote and start the recording. The Sony has the same functionality but the remote camera on/off isn't as elegant. With the Zoom I was awkwardly standing on a chair in the middle of the bar with folks looking at me crazy. Took a good few minutes to get the shot framed and everything setup. Then right before they started I had to hop up there again and hit the record button. With the gopro I would have rolled in early, centered the shot then done the rest remote at show time.

These Zoom cameras are seriously due for a refresh. The Q24K just came out, so I'm hoping that means some new models on the horizon. I love the audio quality that's for sure. We also consider ourselves as a "lo-fi" band so the fact that everything looks like a 90's camcorder doesn't bug us haha.

My suggestion for hq video and audio? Use whatever phone is in your pocket assuming it's from the past few years. Get a multi mount with an adjustable arm and a Zoom H4N (the H2 isn't amazing, we used it for years). Mount your phone and H4N to the mount and enjoy the best of both worlds for less money than the Q4N. Most of us have phones anyway so it's no money out of pocket for that. If you don't care so much about audio quality then pickup the cheapest/latest iteration of GoPro (Superior picture quality). We were looking at the Hero 7 White, but for around the same price (at the time) we went for the zoom due to it's better battery life.