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Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

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Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby stefanaalten » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:58 am

[Follow-up on my question about recording our concerts (community concert band playing in a church hall) https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=67470) but I'm now asking a more specific question regarding the video aspect, so started new topic.]

I'm considering a Zoom Q2n-4K as an option to record our concerts: budget price, compact form, records audio very well and that is the main (>50%) consideration, but I'm concerned about compromising too much on the video aspect, specifically the Q2n-4K's lack of optical zoom and camera settings (the manual indicates there are only "video quality", "field of view" and "scene type" settings).

However, as budget is limited (say, £350, though possibly could splurge up to £600), I'm still tempted to go for it. Are there any other options I should look to before I take the plunge? The venues we play in are generally church halls, so lighting is not great but it's not dark and dingy either.

Many thanks!
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:26 am

For what it's worth, in the last couple of years I've bought two secondhand prosumer camcorders and have been very pleased with the video - and sound - quality from both. They were Canon Legria G10, bought for £250 from EBAY and Canon Legria G40, £500 from a dealer/shop. Both worked) fine. I upgraded from the G10 because I wanted a better zoom range. (Sound quality is based on using external mics, although internal mics are pretty good.)

Particularly with the G40, you name it, it can be adjusted! Record to SD cards.

They both have good image stabilisation, but I'd recommend getting a decent video tripod with a proper fluid-head arrangement. Otherwise, however careful you are you'll end up with jerky pans.

I also use locked-off Go-Pro type cameras for different shots, cutaways etc. I was fortunate to get a good one with many accessories secondhand for £30.

That's me... I prefer camcorders. Others will be here shortly to advise you to buy a DSLR... :lol:
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:58 am

I use a Canon XA25 which is a few years old now. Good camera with XLR mic inputs. If you could pick something like that up second hand you could get excellent audio straight to camera.

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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby blinddrew » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:17 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Others will be here shortly to advise you to buy a DSLR... :lol:
Not me! Whilst I use DSLRs and they're perfect for what I do, if you're after something you can set up and leave running the 29min take time becomes too much of a hassle.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Wonks » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:19 pm

Just go mirrorless.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:42 pm

I've just got rid of 2 x Canon 20D bodies (nice one sold battered one given to #1 son) and bought a couple of 50D bodies to replace them. Thankfully neither do video :D.

My Vfx mate has a 60D which does, plus he has all the focus pulling/steady camming kit. He says the quality is very good but it still doesn't match up to 'proper' video camera stuff when it comes to handling. A cameramen on his current job has bought a Sony mirrorless rig (moving from Canon so all new, expensive, lenses too) and says it is brilliant for video.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:29 pm

blinddrew wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:Others will be here shortly to advise you to buy a DSLR... :lol:
Not me! Whilst I use DSLRs and they're perfect for what I do, if you're after something you can set up and leave running the 29min take time becomes too much of a hassle.

Yup; that's what I thought too, Drew. But according to CS70 the modern cameras don't have this restriction - I paraphrase what he actually said so may have over-simplified. However, he definitely has one in which there is no 29 minute barrier.

I have friends who produce very high quality videos from their DSLRs. Interestingly, my £350 mirrorless DSLR-lookalike produces decidedly average video, but good stills.

I am neither pro nor anti using DSLRs for video work... it's just that I prefer to work with camcorders.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:18 pm

stefanaalten wrote:[Follow-up on my question about recording our concerts (community concert band playing in a church hall) https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=67470) but I'm now asking a more specific question regarding the video aspect, so started new topic.]

I'm considering a Zoom Q2n-4K as an option to record our concerts: budget price, compact form, records audio very well and that is the main (>50%) consideration, but I'm concerned about compromising too much on the video aspect, specifically the Q2n-4K's lack of optical zoom and camera settings (the manual indicates there are only "video quality", "field of view" and "scene type" settings).

However, as budget is limited (say, £350, though possibly could splurge up to £600), I'm still tempted to go for it. Are there any other options I should look to before I take the plunge? The venues we play in are generally church halls, so lighting is not great but it's not dark and dingy either.

Many thanks!

If only cameras came in such discrete strata.

You need to decide what quality you will accept for video and sound.
And what your budget really is.

Then check reviews of cameras on multiple sites along with checking the specs vs your needs/wants.
If the price is less than the budget then pick the one you like best if more than one.

If nothing meets your needs/wants at your price then decide if you could live with lesser features or specs, or if your budget can be stretched and repeat as above.

Depending on frequency of use you might do better renting than buying.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby Peevy » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:32 pm

You may find the lens on the Zoom Q2n-4k too wide and ‘fisheye’ for video. If you go to the product page

https://www.zoom-na.com/products/field- ... o-recorder

and go down to the video of the chap playing a harmonica against a lamppost, you’ll get a sense of the type of lens. Bent lamppost, buildings curving at the sides.

(Actually play the video, because the still shot isn’t taken with the Zoom by the looks.)

I have a Zoom Q8 and find it good for an ‘unnatural’ look, but as a main camera it might be too fisheye.

I'd go for a camcorder.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:49 pm

stefanaalten wrote:I'm considering a Zoom Q2n-4K as an option to record our concerts: budget price, compact form, records audio very well and that is the main (>50%) consideration, but I'm concerned about compromising too much on the video aspect

My $.10 is that "if you have to ask".. :D

In all seriousness, at the stage where you have these questions, you don't yet know what you want (or what you are missing). Like we said in the other thread, it's much better to get cracking with a couple phones for a gig, so you'll be able to answer the question "what would I have liked to do that I couldn't?". Missing a gig, go film a rehearsal, or simply set yourself to film something in similar lighting conditions. That will tell you more than dozens of forum replies.

The question you want to make yourself is where your primary interest lie: if it is only about taking concert shots without learning that much about filming, from what I read the Zoom is a good offering. The only limit I'd see is that the battery time is very limited especially in 4K (a common issue with most cameras) and since it's consumer level, it doesn't use the many solutions which exist for more advanced kit. There's a separate power supply to buy but that means being connected to a power outlet, which can be complicating things.

If not.. a full manual control camera is the way to go of course. But it comes at a cost, but surprisingly not to your wallet: to do better than the automation present in most cameras, you have to get pretty good: the software in modern camera is very, very smart. And for normal video, most of the result comes down to lighting and cinematic techniques more than the kit; advanced camera features come in play only when you want to do specific things like heavy slowdown, extra long exposures etc.

It's mega-fun to learn and get better and better, but not a short term thing.

When it comes to quality, it really depends what you mean by it. You can have the same sensor in two 4K cameras, for example, but the more consumer oriented may be using a simpler codec which results in lower grade footage. The best camera footage often looks pretty "meh" (even ugly) out of the box, because it's made for processing: if you do process it, it becomes fabulous.

Better quality, as we discussed, means bigger files, faster and (way) more expensive memory cards or storage and much more performant hardware to process it.

All this said, quality camcorders as Mike says are an option.. but unless you go quite a bit over your max budget, you have small sensors and more modest codecs, so not sure how much a step up from the Zoom it would be (besides having a zoom :).

The advantage of a zoom lens is that allows you to change the shot proportions and/or have to move around less, but you pay in quality: unless you pay serious money (way more than your camera budget) fixed lenses have better quality overall (which is probably why the Zoom camera is what it is).

I would avoid a "proper" DSLRs - if your aim is primarily shooting video, the mirror-based design is just a nuisance (and imho, also for stills.. :)). Mirrorless cameras are the way to go for video. For mirroless, I would absolutely recommend to buy used (mirrorless cameras generally dont suffer from "click count" issue, as you often use an electronic shutter, not a mechanical one).

However, with £600, you're looking at a Panasonic g80 or an Olympus EM10 with kit lenses - which are absolutely great cameras with which, with a little effort, you could shoot a full cinema feature film :D

These are MFT cameras, so the main downside is low-light performance. Important to understand what that means tough: concerts aren't usually a problem as stage lighting is plenty enough and, if you know what you are doing, you can get pitch-black blacks and real shiny instruments and footage and get very cinematic shots. As said in the other thread, the main advantage of the format is lightness and lense size (small!) which allows you, in time, to build a lens park giving you lots of options and carry it around easily. I usually go around with no less than a dozen primes and a couple zooms so I can choose what's what on the field.

Step up, ASP-C ("crop") sensors are a little larger and it's moderately easier to get shallow depth of field (when something is in focus and the background is blurred) but it's not something particularly useful for concerts (actually it's a nuisance).

"Full frame" cameras have a sensor the same size of the old 35mm film and the undisputed king is Sony, but your budget wouldn't strech far at all.

In conclusion, if you go the "full control" way, the Panny or Olympus MFTs would be the logical choice.

One feature specific to the Panasonics that makes a huge difference in the field is battery life - the pannies simply go and go even with the basic included battery, and you have all sorts of aftermarket items that help you shooting for as much as you need. Both brands have remarkably good intelligent modes, and autofocus. At your price range you don't get double card slots so you have to factor in the cost of a good and large SD card - especially with 4K, they get expensive!

As of quality: kit lenses (most often zooms) are perfectly usable, but keep in mind good lenses are hugely expensive and really good zooms even more. A favorite of mine is the Sigma 18-35 (for which you need an adapter) and the cost of it plus the adapter is easily £1000.. used.

If you really want to learn filmography, I would also recommend to have a look at the Pocket Cinema Camera. The 4k version costs a third more than your budget new, but you can try to find a bargain used (you never know), and the HD version as I said before is usually a steal, used. The camera is a bitch and the footage unwieldy and requires great hardware, but it's worth every bit of effort.

All in all tough, if your aim is to simply shoot gigs and reheasals with a static camera, the Zoom seems like a good machine. Or even a GoPro - you can easily correct the barrel distortion in post and the overall quality, form factor and robustness is really good.
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby stefanaalten » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:54 pm

Some fantastic replies with lots of helpful info / food for though there - thanks to all!

I have also started to realise I have a further requirement, which is that the devices (audio, video) need to be able to be left unattended & remote controlled (say, from a distance of 5 metres, but further would be even better). Reason is simply that we don't have folks available who could help (just now at least), so it will be largely down to me ... and I play in the band so can't really be ducking in and out!

I think I'm going to have to up my budget quite a bit.

I'm now thinking of getting a dedicated audio recorder (e.g. Zoom H4n) to be positioned centrally behind & slightly above the conductor, and a dedicated video recorder to be positioned on the gallery at the back of the church, zoomed in on the band (same as per our current recordings on YouTube). This means that I would like to be able to control the video recorder from the floor of the church (standing below the gallery), so I don't have to climb the stairs up to the gallery, and also means (as each set will be approx. 45mins-1hr long) that I need both audio & video to be able to record for a long duration.

Suggestion to rent some equipment is also a good one - thanks.

Definitely will be using our rehearsal sessions to try out the setup first!
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Re: Concert recording camera "one level up" from Zoom Q2n-4k? (better optics, zoom?)

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:07 pm

Don't know the Zoom. but most modern cameras support wireless remote control for start and stop and viewfinder, etc.

For what you say, your budget is perfectly fine for used camera and lens. You can easily find a Panasonic G6 used which has wifi remote control and for what you want to do is perfect - simply pair it with a good tele lens on a tripod, download the app on your phone, link the wifi and you're good to go. The G6 is HD. If you want 4K, go for a G7. You really don't need anything more advanced than that.

You download the free app on your phone, connect it to the camera wi-fi and you're set. If the venue is very large, the only issue could be the wireless range but if you have line of sight however shouldn't be a problem til, say, small theater size. Since your application is only a fixed frame, all you need is really the start/stop button.

As of lenses, something like the DG Vario Elmar 100-400mm f4/6.3, or the incredible G Vario 35-100m f2.8 II and you're set. Unlike the camera body, the lenses are a true investment - should you not need them anymore - they can be easily resold. Check the used market and try the lens before buying. Btw, these lenses have stabilization, but since the camera will be on a tripod you don't really need it.

A 128Gb fast SSD card gets you about 1.5hrs of 4K footage, but over 10hrs in HD of recording at 24bps.. so chose your format wisely. :-)

Also, a word of wisdom: by experience, I would discount the idea of controlling anything while you're playing. Either you have a friend who does the start/stop for you, or you just start the camera right before hitting the stage, and then you leave it rolling.

If you decide to go 4K, you'll probably need to buy two cards and go up and change it in the break if you have a long set, but that's the nature of 4K - it eats memory. There's cameras with dual slots, but they cost way more. To avoid that, you need an external video recorder and a capable SSD hard disk and money starts to pile up.

As of audio, unless you want a multitrack, why not getting a stereo feed from the mixer desk?
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