View Full Version : Which Camcorder?

Little Jem
02-29-2008, 01:10 PM
Hello All,

I recently bought Fujifilm F50fd camera & housing and whilst on holiday found I prefer the video to the still pics. However this camera cannot white balance in movie mode so I'm thinking of buying a true camcorder.

Can anyone recommend something compact, similar to the compact still cameras, as I don't fancy lugging something else around whilst diving (isn't the necessary kit sufficient to carry?!!).:D :D

I don't want professional or broadcast quality, just something I can edit together to make a short dvd to show friends and family what we saw whilst on the diving trips. I only dive in warm, clear water too 'cause I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to cold water!!:o :o

I've been looking at the new Sanyo Xacti HD1000 - anyone know anything about this camcorder?

Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Thanks for your time.

Little Jem

02-29-2008, 01:46 PM
Hi LJ,

Do they even make a housing for that little videocam?

Little Jem
02-29-2008, 03:00 PM
Apparently so. Housing retails for 180 and camcorder for approx. 420.

Little Jem

Jon Shaw
03-03-2008, 01:43 AM
I actually know someone with the Xacti, it produces ok results but nothing fantastic but it is at a great price point. But as you are shooting in good conditions you may get better results.
The next jump up really would be something like the single cmos chip cameras like the HV20/30 from Canon or the Sony HC9/7. But you would be looking at $1500 US for camera and another $1500 for housing, which is a fair amount more but you will see significant picture quality.
I believe that you can add a WA wet lens onto the Sanyo too, not sure whether you would get any distortion though.

Little Jem
03-03-2008, 10:43 AM
Hello Jon,

Thanks for the info. Still investigating and researching at this stage. It's mainly the compact size that attracts me to the Xacti (big isn't always better?!!!!!!).

Little Jem

Jon Shaw
03-03-2008, 09:01 PM
Well if you want small and compact then the Sanyo is the puppy. The mate I know who uses it actually shoots stills with a D200 and has the Sanyo to shoot video on the same dive. He just puts it in a BCD pocket when not in use.

Papa Bear
03-05-2008, 04:08 AM
It all depends on your budget and what you want to do! If you can afford it get a three chip HD camera! HDV will be within the normal budget for this kind of camera and look for a HDMI connection and a Fire-Wire. HDMI will get you HD right to your TV and if you have the right connection uncompressed HD video to your Computer and editing program! Brands and Housing are up to you, but remember one chip cameras do not do well in low light and good lights can run over $3000! If you can afford it go with the AU-1 0r FX-1. HDC-7 is also a good camera and Canon makes some great three chip cameras! Be sure you can also afford the housing!

The Publisher
03-05-2008, 04:24 AM
The Sony FX1 is the beast in my avatar photo. The Xacti sure is small!


Papa Bear
03-05-2008, 05:08 AM
White balance control is another factor and is why I was asking what you wanted to do? Size maybe a consideration? But the smaller so far means you lose quality and controls, but you gain portability! ;)

Jon Shaw
03-10-2008, 12:17 AM
Bit of a dfferent league Sanyo Xacti to FX1

03-10-2008, 02:34 AM
This weekend's Boston Sea Rovers showed a film by Jill Heinerth that she filmed in remote Russian underwater caves using an Xacti. She did joke about quality and "graininess" but it was all she could bring due to luggage restrictions.

The excerpts from her film were excellent - mainly because it's more about skill, perspective & presentation than it is about the camera. This was an excellent example of making full use of what you've got & requires more care & skill. & often, the results are better than with a high-end $$$$ that you don't know how to fully use properly :)

If the xacti is within your budget and is the perfect size then get it :) The best camera/video is always the one you have handy when you want to shoot.

Little Jem
03-18-2008, 02:01 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to read and post replies on here. Still doing the homework but we have a holiday to Maldives coming up at the end of June & I'd like to have something to take with me. Budget would be up to GBP 1,200 for both camera and housing. Main features I'm looking for would be compact size and ease of use for someone who knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, ZERO, ZIP about taking stills or movies underwater. Nothing too complicated or is that too much to ask for?!!! :confused: :confused:

Don't want broadcast quality but I would be disappointed with something which gave results not 'worth watching' which is what I got from the Fujifilm f50hd I bought just before our last holiday. Stills were VERY grainy if viewed any larger than 4" x 5" (but that might be operator error :o :o ) and it's not possible to white balance in movie mode so movies don't have good colour.:mad: :mad:

Thanks again for your time.

Little Jem

03-22-2008, 10:25 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to read and post replies on here. Budget would be up to GBP 1,200 for both camera and housing. Main features I'm looking for would be compact size and ease of use for someone who knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, ZERO, ZIP about taking stills or movies underwater. Nothing too complicated or is that too much to ask for?!!! :confused: :confused:

Don't want broadcast quality but I would be disappointed with something which gave results not 'worth watching' ... and it's not possible to white balance in movie mode so movies don't have good colour.:mad: :mad:

Little JemHi,

I'm on hold so was browsing and saw your post. So this may be really long depending on how well my celphone cust. service actually is.

Now to really confuse things. (hopefully not...LOL)

The FX1/A1U previous suggestion is well out of your budget. The cameras sell for between $2500-3500 U.S. and the housings will be another $2-8K depending on manufacturer and port options. The least expensive FX1/housing I've seen is $5199 with an Equinox housing.

My personal opinion is that you should also get an HD model. Even if you don't currently own an HDTV, the quality is so much better and most (all?) HDV camcorders also output a down-converted SD signal. IMO it's a better quality image than all but the best 3-chip non HD cameras produce. It should be, the video is being captured at about 4x greater resolution.

Not sure how things are there, but broadcast is going digital here next February and I really don't know many people who don't have at least one HDTV now.

1200GBP is roughly $2400 US so here's some options in that range, not sure about what VAT and all that does to your price. Plus at least here in the US PAL format camcorders are slightly higher. What is the television standard there? PAL or NTSC? Most housings work with either format.

I've no experience with the Xacti so no comment about it other than it seems kind of limited. But for the price it may do all you want.

The first consideration is housing type, mechanical vs. electronic. Both have their benefits.

Electronics are plug in, seal and go but they require the purchase of certain Sony cameras - only those models equipped with LANC jacks. (all the higher priced ones of course...LOL)

Mechanical housings house other camera mfr's. models but they are usually camera specific so future upgrades typically require a re-fit or re-purchase of a new housing. Another point to consider about a mech. housing is that the controls are located near the function they control so you'll have to move your hands around the housing during filming. Electronic controls are typically on the handles so all functions are within reach without having to look for them. (but there's exceptions to that also)

Another option is do you want a tape or HDD (Hard disk drive) camera. The HDD models store a lot more footage but once full the footage has to be downloaded somewhere. Tapes can just be changed after an hour's footage is shot.

There's a further difference in that tape is stored as HDV vs. HDD models that use AVCHD compression, both work well but AVCHD currently requires more computing power for editing. Both need to be burned to DVD to be played other than on the camera.

Jon's suggestion of the HV-20 was a good one but his estimate of the cost was a bit high. B&H Photo Video in NYC bundles it in a package for $1800US.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/523362-REG/Canon__Underwater_Video_Housing_Kit.html The HV-20 was camcorderinfo.com's camcorder of the year last year.

Should you want a HDD version, they bundle the Canon HG10 with an Ikelite housing for $1689. I just bought this camera for my sister of all the current HDD models it seemed to have the best feature set for the price ($660).

Nice thing about Ikelite housings is that they're essentially bulletproof. Also the handles remove for easy transport in a carry-on. Downside is that their viewing options are limited to either the viewfinder or a side mirror option they sell for some models. However the mirror option pans backwards on anything but certain Sony housings that have their correction circuitry installed.

For electronic housings your're limited to certain Sony camcorders. Here in the states they're a little higher priced than similar models from Canon, JVC etc. so housing options within your budget will have some limitations. Typically it will be a lesser depth rating or limited control set.

Ocean Images sells their HC-series housing for $1295 base price, with an add-on MWB control ($200). Add the HDR-HC5 ($700) and you're just under budget.

Another option is the new Top Dawg Standard housing with 3.5" LCD monitor back. The trade-off is that NO MWB is possible with this housing. But at it's price ($1300) you almost could buy a Sony HDR-HC7/9 ($969/999) or the new HDR-SR10 HDD model (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/537983-REG/Sony_HDR_SR10_HDR_SR10_40GB_Hybrid_HDD_Memory.html )($799 on sale at B&H) It's also the housing that I mentioned earlier that's the exception to the controls on handles rule, there's are mounted on both sides of the housing near the handles.

You can also get the TopDawg without monitor for $900 but the view through the back port is slightly obstructed. I know two people who've done that then added a small monitor soon afterwards.

Another option would be to get a SD resolution camera - any # of Sony's, Canon's JVC's etc. for less money and then find a housing from Ikelite or Equinox for around $8-900US. Could easily put something together sub $1500 or less. Personally I wouldn't though as image quality seems to be a concern of yours.

gotta go, I'm finally talking to a real person - only 22 minutes later.

PM with other questions, I'm not often on this forum.

03-22-2008, 10:32 PM
Left out a couple links:

Ocean Images HC-series housing: http://www.oceanimagesinc.com/products/housings/hc_series/hc3_series_housings.htm

Top Dawg w/LCD back:

Jon Shaw
03-24-2008, 01:08 AM
Yeah sorry just found out that the HV 20 is a heaps less everywhere else other than Australia. Same with Ike housings too.

Love living in Oz but there are definately disadvantages!

Vancouver Rassy
03-27-2008, 05:32 PM
I would love to see some underwater footage from the Xacti. I wonder if it would compare to my sony hc3/Top Dawg setup?

I used my sony cybershot 10 megapixel camera w/ 8gig card for video before and it worked well.. (with a blue cast on everything).

here is the footage.

cheers.. Russell

YouTube - Diving in the Philippines. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=FEaaKyEuwHQ)

04-03-2008, 10:21 AM
Hi Publisher,

What housing do you use with the FX1?

Little Jem
04-14-2008, 07:24 AM
Hi All,

Still wrestling with this decision. I used to be indecisive but don't know if I am or not now!!!!

Maldives holiday rapidly approaching and not really sure where to go to get some good advice and get my hands on some of the camcorders to get a 'feel' for which might be best. Here in the UK there seems to be only 1 retail outlet dedicated to underwater photo/video and that's in London which is quite a long drive for us.

And the camera shops can only comment on camera/camcorder performance in normal above water conditions and have no experience of underwater performance.

I'll check out the canon HV20 though and let you know any 'developments'.

Thanks for your comments.

Little Jem

04-15-2008, 05:11 AM
A couple of other options in the UK:


The Publisher
04-15-2008, 06:20 AM
I use the Amphibico Phenom housing and an external Amphibico 16:9 HD monitor not shown in my avatar photo an dual HID lights.

I also have a Sherpa on retainer to carry the entire thing when we can't get a crane to the dive site.

The entire camera setup is more expensive than the Sherpa.

To the rest of you guys, you're sportin some really good advice, thanks for adding your considerable expertise. :)

06-15-2008, 03:12 PM
Just so you know: My Epoque EHS-1000HD housing flooded after only seven dives, thereby totally ruining my Sanyo HD1000 camcorder. On a subsequent test dive the housing remained dry... Just bad luck or is Epoque's underwater housing prone to leaks? Your bet is as good as mine. But it sure looks like I'm not the only unlucky one judging from posts in other forums. FYI I've done hundreds of dives with a Sea&Sea DX8000G, so I'm not new to taking a digital camera underwater.

I've thought of two possible causes for the leak:
(1) An unseen impurity on the main O-ring? Even though I didn't see any before (obviously) nor after the fatal flood.
(2) An improper closure of the housing? All clamps were properly closed but the housing being made of plastic it could actually have been slightly bent out of shape... e.g. by a silica bag causing a pressure point somewhere?

Other points to be considered:
- Despite its relatively compact size, the Epoque EHS-1000HD is rather bulky and very uncomfortable to hold.
- Fitted with a WAL this housing becomes very front-heavy.
- Inside the housing, the HD1000's auto-focus becomes very noisy, rendering any underwater tone almost useless (unless you shoot in locked focus mode).
- Epoque's screw-on WAL is a pain to remove & replace underwater. Personally I much prefer e.g. Sea&Sea's quick & easy bayonet system, but alas that's not an option in this case. Still, I recommend using a WAL.

As for the actual video quality, I think it's quite acceptable for such a small camcorder. (sample video while cave diving (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wnC6VXaShXE))

YouTube - TillyTec HID35 & LED1000 (demo) (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wnC6VXaShXE)

The Publisher
06-15-2008, 03:59 PM
Sooner or later everyone I think everyone will have a flood in a housing with a single o-ring main seal.

My video rig has dual o-rings which gives me some peace of mind.

I had a small pocket digicam flood out.....had I been paying attention I could have surfaced in time as the case was clear. I cleaned it up, worked the next trip, and this time I bought a replacement digicam for it on E-bay that was only $80, something I am far more willing to part with.

Join the club!

Oh, nice video!

06-18-2008, 07:48 PM
I start with a housing I like and work backward to the camera. Current is a Sony PC120 in an Ikelite housing. Ikelites run USD 1000-1500. There web site will tell which models they support.

Ikelites are mechanical, so you can't swap cameras. The controls won't match up. That's why I keep using an out of date camcorder.

That said, try the housing. If it works for you, then get the camera.