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  1. Member
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    Hello all, hoping you can point me in the right direction.

    I'm looking for a camcorder that will allow me to capture games played on a 9' or 10' pool table from above. Not necessarily straight above, although that would be nice, but generally the lights are in the way, or ceilings are too low to allow this angle without a crazy wide-angle lens.

    Generally, the camera would be mounted on a wall or tripod at the foot (racking) end of the table, as high as possible without losing either end of the table out of frame or behind the light.

    Light is generally fairly good on the table, but not necessarily great, so reasonable low light performance would be good. I need the entire table to be within the DOF.

    I'd like at least 720p, 30fps, but more of each would be nice, SD card storage, remote control. Obviously a standard 1/4-20 tripod mount.

    I would buy used or refurb without qualms and keep the budget under/around $350. Lower is better, but I want decent quality. (I realize these are generally incompatible.)

    I don't need 500x digital zoom, but the wider at the wide end, the better, actually. Adding a separate wide-angle lens would be OK, as long as the fish-eye distortion isn't out of hand. I want it to look like we're playing on a rectangle, not an egg.

    I don't know what other questions to ask or specs to throw out, so please, feel free to throw out ideas!

    Cheers, and thank you,
    Chris
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  2. You are probably going to need several cameras to do a decent job. Pool players will always be blocking your best shots so camera will have to be moved to see that shot. Overhead on a crane would be best but make sure the pool table light doesn't get in the way. Any good consumer video camera should do OK as there has to be enough light for the pool players to see the balls so I don't think lighting will be your biggest problem. Biggest problem is staying out of the way of the players and moving around fast enough to catch the shot.
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  3. Member
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    Generally one camera will do the trick. See example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg1Y-RPrPOg

    I'm not trying to get everything without interference from the players, but generally, centered on the end of the table is not a place where the player(s) will be in the way. Shooting up the table doesn't happen a lot in 14.1, most shots are into the near corner pockets and some into the side pockets, so players will be on the side of the table mostly.

    Also, watching the beginning of that video made me think of another feature that is required, focus lock. I don't want it to focus on the players as they walk between the table and camera.

    Thank you,
    Chris
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  4. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    What you want is manual control of focus and exposure. That takes you out of the any old camcorder category. Now you're a "prosumer".

    That's a buzzword for an upcharge in price.

    I recently purchased a camcorder, and there's a feeding frenzy on the Canon Vixia "G" Series, but all of them have gone up tremendously in price. You're looking at a grand plus. With accessories, $1500.
    Last edited by budwzr; 14th May 2013 at 21:58.
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  5. Member
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    Would this perhaps be a reasonable choice? Or something similar?

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800942530-USE/Sony_HDRCX160_B_HDR_CX160_HD_Flash_Memory.html
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  6. Member
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    Sorry I missed your post, budwzr.

    I'm not able to spend $1k, or even half that, at this point.

    How does the one I just posted look? That's more the price range I'm looking at.
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  7. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tenzip View Post
    Ummm...no.
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  8. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Hang a front-surface mirror at an angle near to overhead center, then your camera can be set on tripod off to side and not in the way but still get that great OH shot look.

    Of course, all this is moot hypothetical if you can't afford a decent camera. A $350 camera is ok for easy family stuff, but could be considered a toy (or a joke) for anything serious.

    Scott
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  9. Member budwzr's Avatar
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    I just spent $669 plus tax on a Sony HDR-pj710v, it was a floor model from 2012 at BestBuy. I bought it for the sole reason of manual control. That's critical. You HAVE to be able to stop the camera's auto functions.

    Maybe you can buy a display too, or keep looking for a good deal. Manual control is a lot simpler to use too. Just set it, and ferget it.
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  10. Member
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    Originally Posted by Cornucopia View Post
    Hang a front-surface mirror at an angle near to overhead center, then your camera can be set on tripod off to side and not in the way but still get that great OH shot look.

    Of course, all this is moot hypothetical if you can't afford a decent camera. A $350 camera is ok for easy family stuff, but could be considered a toy (or a joke) for anything serious.

    Scott
    Love the FS mirror idea. Thanks for that.

    At this point, spending more than $350 is not feasible. I'd like to start somewhere, soon. I'm not looking for broadcast quality, but something better than the video I linked to earlier, for sure.

    With that in mind, is the camera I linked to earlier a decent deal for the price, and for what it is? What I'm looking for now, since I'm not willing to get into the prosumer models, is, are there models or brands that would be better than others in the price range I'm talking about? The one I linked to says it has manual focus, so that tells me that I can lock out auto-focus.

    I'd love to spend a couple of k-bucks on equipment, but not going to happen. I'm paying my mortgage off this week, (debt free!), and wifey would go nuts if I spent anything I don't already have in my "play" money.

    So, with those limitations, are there brands/models that would be better than others?
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