I am a complete newby to the world of video so I am hoping that if I explain my application someone out there can give me some advice or direction.
I want to be able to mount a camera in a fixed position to record the play on a billiard table. I want the table to fill most of the field of view without distortion. I tried with a sports action camera and it did not work because if I was close enough to get the table filling the image I got tons of curvature distortion.
1) needs to be light enough to allow for easy mounting
2) should have the connection for a tripod
3) wireless control or remote control would be a plus but not a necessity
4) at least 720p video
5) clear sound and picture
6) and this is the most important: inexpensive.
Most of the cameras I've looked at have all kinds of features that I really do not need. I want to get the best quality video I can get for an application that involves no changing light condition, no movement of the camera, nothing tricky. I just want to put it in place and leave it there and just be able to turn it on and off, and have a way of recording (or transmitting to a computer for recording) the video, with good clarity.
Preferably for under $100, but if I have to go higher I might.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
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To have "pro" result for $100 is unrealistic.
You might take a look into surveillance cameras that you can control with smart hone over wi-fi that can record video. If lots of light they might be ok. They have wider lenses, but no manual exposure (guessing, perhaps it could be fixed in settings), so you'd need to make sure light is not going to change.
Understood. I'm not really expecting to get to "pro" quality. I'll be thrilled if I can get to "good enough" quality. A security type camera is one thing I've thought about. If I can find a way to try it out, or can find enough info about the performance to give me confidence, I may just give it a try.
Would something like a Sony HDR-CX190 be a plausible option? I ask because I think I can get a used one for about $85 and might fit into that "good enough" slot.
You should have lens wide enough to get a frame, but 36mm focal length equivalent for that camcorder is not enough, it depends on how high it is going to hang. I do not know how to calculate it now, there is 1/5.8 chip in that camcorder. Guessing, I could be way off, perhaps you need something about like 25mm focal length with wide angle for 35mm equivalent and about 6-7 feet high? So you might need wide-angle at the end of that camcorder. I could not see any thread for wide-angle at the end though. Others may provide more accurate data. If there is ceiling really high, it could be enough without wide-angle. Not sure about remote control, if sold with that camcorder. Chip is very small, you'd need lots of light.
... double post
Wide angle lenses that (mainly) correct for curvature distortion cost thousands of dollars. You can try to correct in post with a squeeze distortion, but that will bring black edges into your frame.
BTW, the Sony HDR series cameras are natively nice and wide when zoomed all the way out -- but not without distortion.
I found a set of specifications for the camera which indicates that the minimum focal length is 2.5 mm and the maximum focal length is 62.5 mm (25x optical zoom). How does that fit into the context of what you said above? The 25 mm focal length you mentioned is within that range. And at what point do I need to worry about straight edges getting distorted?
I really appreciate your sharing your time and expertise on this.
1) To get all of a 5x10 billiard table without distortion, when it is zoomed all the way out, how far would the camera need to be from the table?
2) And then, if I position the camera at that distance and then use the optical zoom to zoom in so the table occupies more of the field of view, will the distortion re-occur?
Thanks again to both of you for your patience.
A front-silvered mirror could be real beneficial to you. I wrote about this very situation on this site years previously...
Those mirrors, might be a nice idea.
For $100 your only real choice is a webcam.