Is the Camcorder Dead Yet?

For over 20 years, photography as been a passion of mine.  Recently, I indulged myself and bought a Canon T3i DSLR.

I love the thing, and I’ve taken some really great shots in the past year.

The incredible result  that I never expected is that I shoot almost zero video footage anymore.  I physically can’t do it- because  have the gosh darn DSLR in my hands like it was surgically attached.

So I’ve been asking myself often lately- is the camcorder dead?

Not yet.  The camcorder is still a very useful tool.

I still use my camcorder for shooting long family events.  Things like a play or recital.  I can put the camcorder on a tripod, and let it do it’s thing.  It’s like a reliable buddy shooting along side me as I fire off hundreds of stills with my still camera.

Camcorders are also still useful because they’re so reliable.  Setting up a video shoot with a DSLR is not easy.  It takes planning and practice for every shot to get it right.  This is because holding a DSLR is more awkward for video shooting, it’s not really designed for that. It’s also because the DSLR (most of them, anyway) don’t provide great focusing ability while video is being recorded.

Here’s the key pros and cons of shooting video with your DSLR vs. your Camcorder.

Camcorder Pros

    1. More portable and easy to transport
    2. Provides longer continuous recording durations
    3. Far better auto focus and automatic exposure capabilities than DSLRs shooting video
    4. More confortable to use (shooting video)
    5. Almost always has better Audio Recording capabilities

Camcorder Cons

    1. Image quality is limited by the built in lens
    2. Won’t snap satisfying still images (no matter what the manufacturer tells you.)
    3. Ease of use leads to overzealous video taking (Just ask my kids- they’ll confirm this)
    4. Creative options may be limited (again, because of built in lens)
    5. Less Depth of Field because of smaller image sensor (Not a big deal unless you like cinematic looking footage)


    1. Superior Imaging quality
    2. More Cinematic feel to resulting footage
    3. More control over creative effects
    4. More substantial weight can lend itself to more steady footage
    5. Ability to change lenses for different situations
    6. It’s just more cool to have a big camera body and a big, heavy lens!  I mean-come on.
    7. You always have the option to take great stills


    1. Difficult to lug around
    2. Not convenient to just reach for and start shooting video
    3. Fidgety video controls- video is an afterthought on most models, and controls are not easy to figure out
    4. Requires much more care and knowledge of camera systems (This could be a pro if your goal is to learn how cameras work)
    5. Smaller continuous running times available
    6. Audio is often poor to moderate in quality
    7. Can be very expensive to rig a DSLR for your specific needs

So there it is a nice little nut shell.  I love my DSLR, but I’m not ready to get rid of my trusty old Canon HV30, either.

Let me know if you’ve been using your still camera more often or your video camera.  If you really want to make me go nuts, you can tell me that you shoot everything with your smart phone.

Go ahead, please let me know what’s up.

How To Get A Living Record Of Your Kids Achievements

As a kid, my parents were proud of the things I had achieved, and they liked to tell visiting friends, relatives, and random strangers all about them.  The problem was they weren’t very good at telling stories.  

Lucky for me I was a great story teller- even at a young age.

“Scott.  Tell Mr. Schwartz about the time you made your own comic book.”

My Father would strategically wait a few sentences into my telling and then he would enthusiastically interrupt with a quick compliment.  A few more sentences- another compliment.

“Scott’s a very creative kid.”

Then, they would proceed to tell the story anyway by interrupting every other sentence of my retelling.  Are you seeing the irony in that?


Why the heck do you need to know any of this?  I’ll Tell You.

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FCPX Rendering Bug. Plus- How to Fix it!

In FCPX 10.0.8, there is a problem rendering out composited clips if there are still images in your main storyline instead of normal video footage.

I have a work-around that will allow you to accomplish your complex composites without too much inconveinence.

To duplicate the Rendering Bug:

  • Edit a full frame graphic element into your main storyline in FCPX.
    • a jpeg picture, a tiff, or a PSD file
  • Add graphics or a generator above a portion of  your main storyline as a connected clip
  • Select both clips and make a new compound clip
  • Animate transform properties or crop settings over the length of the entire Compound Clip.
  • The Rendered video will have a motion glitch in it where the graphic element ends in the middle of your clip

How to Fix It

  • Double click your compound clip to open it up in the timeline viewer
  • select the graphic element in the main storyline and “lift it” from the main storyline
    • <Option><Command> Up Arrow – this will “lift it” and make it into a connected clip- leaving a gap clip on the main storyline.
  • Select video footage that matches the project (or timeline) settings in your event browser
  • Perform a “Replace From Start” edit to replace the gap clip.

Now, step back so you can see your compound clip again.  It should still have the animation keyframes that you made earlier.

It should also NOT display glitchy motion when rendered out.


Edit On, righteous dude(ette)!

Powerful Consumer Editing Software Comparison

Muvee Reveal X, Adobe Premiere Elements, Cyberlink PowerDirector, and Sony Vegas Comparison from a Pro Editor.

I’ve been a professional editor for 20 years.  I’ve seen and used just about everything that has been created for the purpose of juggling picture and sound into a meaningful sequence.  One observation I can honestly make is that there has never been better options to the amateur videographer for editing than there is right now.  If you want to edit your home movies, make content for YouTube, or showcase your small business with video demos, then you’re in luck.

If you would like to make your own videos, but don’t want the expense of full-featured professional software, then here’s the list of applications that i recommend. (In alphabetical order of publisher)

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Fix a Broken Quick Release Plate For 25¢

If you’re at all like me, you’ve invested your hard earned cash on some camera gear.

If you’re really like me, then you can’t really afford to throw money away either!

I was very upset when I broke the quick release mounting plate on my Manfrotto Travel Tripod.

These tripods are light weight, but incredibly sturdy.

I purchased it on clearance when Manfrotto introduced a replacement model for it.  Checking Amazon listings, I saw that replaceing it with a comparable new model would set me back $250!

Ouch.  That was not going to happen- not while I had other bills to pay!  So I put the tripod on a shelf for a while and thought about how to fix it.

After a few months, a solution came to me.  Using just a few wood screws, I knew I could get my tripod back to active duty.  The best part, is that it cost me only about 25 cents in parts.

Check it out!

If you like the “Magic Wand” transitions in this video, you can buy them for your own projects!  They are for FCPX, so you need to have a Mac and FCPX to buy them.  If that sounds like you, please buy your set today!  They are priced to move!

Canon HF S30 – My Top Pick

For the non-professional shooter, I think the Canon gets my vote as the best bang-for-the-buck.

This nifty camera has the Canon optics that make almost anything with a decent light source look rich and buttery. It boasts a pretty wide f1.8 aperture opening that produces some very nice Bokeh. (The highly sought-after bright discs of light that appear in an image that has either the distant background or near foreground out of focus.)

I really like the control surfaces for the aperture and focus controls.  It’s not a professional camera, but you can really dial in the looks you’re after with practice.  I also love the big lcd screen, and the ability to focus using the touchscreen.

As a video editor I really appreciate the true 24p or 30p recording modes.  This goes a long way in making your videos look more filmic.  Yes, that is a word.

Other exceptional features that doesn’t get much mention in other write-ups is the Auto Gain Control Limit.  This allows the user to manually balance the image sensor’s light sensativity.  This allows you to balance how much noise will be introduced into your image during low-light situations.  Other cameras would just crank up the gain automatically to try to expose for as much of the darker areas as possible.  This usually leads to poor low-light imagery- so it’s really nice to be able to control this yourself.  It’s almost like being able to dial in manual ISO if you’re familiar with DSLR lingo.

This camera also boasts a 28mm  wide angle lens.  Much wider than most of Canon’s offerings.  This lens at it’s widest setting is plenty wide to shoot indoors in cramped settings.  This has been a complaint for many other Canon models, but they sure got it right on the HF S30.

Kudos, Canon.

Nice Glass!
Nice Glass!















Don’t forget to check out this camera, and my other top picks at the new Gear Garage.

Oreo Cookies Make the World A Happier Place

For nearly 35 years, I’ve kept a secret from you.

You see, I spent months of tireless research as a young boy to come up with the most perfect junk food combinations.

For the most part, my research ended in failure and pain.  (Ding Dongs should never go in a toaster.)

But my work paid off- in a huge way.  I developed a recipe for the most amazingly scrumptious junk comfort food combination.

I’ve selfishly kept the recipe a secret for nearly 40 years.

My daughter has reminded me that the world is a mess right now, and I need to help by sharing my discovery.

She’s right, of course.  How could I be such a meaner?

Here’s the best way to eat Oreo Cookies ever devised by man.

If you like it, please leave a comment and let me know.

Peace on Earth.  Oreos to all!

DSLR vs Video Camera

Are DSLRs Better than Camcorders for capturing video?

Is it really better to use a dslr for your home movies?
Camcorder vs. Still Camera that shoots video

You may have noticed that a lot of people are switching their video production to DSLR cameras.  Many hobbyists and prosumers are contemplating a switch to using DSLRs for their own video productions.  So what’s the deal?

The answer is yes.  The answer is also no.  Like most big issues in our world, the true answer really just depends.

Image quality is the most important thing for pros and semi-pros.  In this area, the DSLR is capable of providing a superior because the image sensor is much larger than prosumer camcorders.  The problem is that to take advantage of the larger sensor, you have to invest in high quality DSLR lenses.  You can expect to pay between $700 and $3,000 for a good quality lens that is suitable for video work.  If you decide to go this route, you want to look for a lens that has a wide aperture opening and a long focus throw.

The other draw back to using a DSLR is the body design.  They’re purpose-built to provide a still photographer the tools he needs to take excellent still photos.  Most videographers will find it awkward to shoot video with a DSLR camera body.  You can expect to pay another $600 to $3,000 (or more) for a camera stabilization platform.  These camera rigs make the camera controls more accessible to the videographer, but they do add significant weight and are unwieldy to transport from place to place.  Many home movie makers will build their own camera rig.  I built the one pictured here for about $30.  I would, by no means, use this on a professional shoot.  I  think such a camera platform is terrific for shooting quick things for your own use, but it would not instill much confidence in your clients if such a thing were to be used on a paid shoot.

my home-made camera stabilization rig

 What about a camcorder?

The camcorder is a better choice for most casual videographers.

• They are lightweight

• Zoom lens is built in

• Easy to transport

• FAR more economical

The negatives of a camcorder vs. a DSLR

• Image quality is not as good as DSLR

• The shooting system is not as flexible because you can not change lenses


The bottom line is that a DSLR is a good option for pros and semipros.  It’s also good for the experienced hobbyist that has a deep understanding of photography/cinematography.  It’s not the best choice if you want to shoot the occasional family event or quick video.  Camcorders still provide the best combination of video quality, convenience of use, and economy.

If you’d like me to answer any specific questions, go ahead and leave a comment.

Until next time- Go out there and record something you love!

Get Ready to Write a New Chapter

Pretty Girl Looking Mad
People Don’t Like it When goes dormant. It creates crankiness in the world!

It has been several months since my last post.  I am both apologetic, and glad all at the same time.

Obviously, I want to apologize to anyone who has been checking in to see new content and have been disappointed.

However, I have good news… is nearing a time for a serious reboot.

I think that it’s time to close the chapter on the old format for my blog.  I’ve learned that I need to get more in tune with the spirit of YouTube, and make my blog more of a community thing.  I want you guys to help me write the next chapter.

In a few weeks, there will be some very exciting new content, and a new attitude from your humble host.


and stay tuned for more details.