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Best Camcorder for Lessons

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  • Best Camcorder for Lessons

    I am looking at getting a camcorder to record lessons, clinics, etc. I am definitely on a budget, but want something that takes a decent picture. I am interested in the Flip Ultra, but don't know how well it would perform in lower light situations, like an indoor arena. This camera also doesn't have a great zoom on it...

    If you have this little camcorder, I would appreciate any feedback you are willing to share.

    Also, for users of other options out there, please share the camera you use and why you like it.

    I thought it might be a good idea to tap the collective wisdom of COTH members and see what other posters use to film lessons, etc.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  • #2
    I have the flip

    I love it. It is difficult to video in low light, although it shows up on your computer/big screen just fine--it's just difficult for the video-er to see.

    It doesn't zoom really well, but does a dressage ring just fine--again, much easier to see when blown up on the computer screen.

    EASY to use. I saw a girl have a big-time clinician clip it to his belt and so the flip recorded her lesson and his voice (albeit, probably not very steadily, but hey, it's for learning presumably).

    I put it in my pocket (compact!) and ask bystanders/friends at shows to video rides.

    You can replace AA batteries easily, hook up to tv or computer immediately, upload to youtube/photobucket.

    You can get "still shots" from them--good if you want to sell a horse. This was difficult on my laptop (2004) but probably wouldn't be with the newer model. You can also edit very easily (especially if you have a mouse, not the finger dragging laptop faux mouse)

    Affordable. Very affordable. I got mine from walmart, the 60 min version (the one that was "outdated" because it was white and used regular batteries) for under $100.

    I'll attach a link to my photobucket site--all videos were taken with the flip--PLEASE DON"T JUDGE MY RIDING! I'm volunteering at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and we've been trying to make/post videos of the good ones this summer, but they're very green and I'm no pro, just volunteering, and this is my first time aboard most of these horses. I'm just being quiet and soft and encouraging with their limited training. Thanks.

    The delays (if you witness any) are probably due to my old laptop, for I think it messes up the timing on videos. The timing, visually and auditorily (SP?) are perfect if you play them through the FLIP.


    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by HollysHobbies; Jul. 29, 2009, 09:30 AM.


    • Original Poster

      Thank you so much for responding Holly. The videos are LOVELY - I think you are a lovely, sympathetic rider and the horses are beautiful. The image quality is super! What version of the Flip do you have? I have been looking at options on Amazon and frankly my head is reeling. I am not a techie and so I don't get a lot of the lingo. There appears to be the Original Flip, a Flip Mino, and the second generation Flip Ultras and HD's.

      I was a little concerned about the zoom. I am glad to hear that it will work fine for a dressage arena.

      Very novel idea that clinician had - sounds like a great idea actually. I bet there wasn't as much "movement" to the picture as you might think. Clipped to his belt, it was probably more stable than if he held it in his hand for an hour lesson. Good idea for capturing his voice/instructions. In reading reviews of the Flip, I have come across several positive comments about their sound quality.

      The "still" shots - are they very good or do they tend to be grainy? Is it difficult to capture the stills?

      I have a Dell PC and a Mac Book laptop. I imagine the Flip would be fun to combine and work with i-Photo and i-Movie on the Mac. I have tons of fun playing with the i-Photo.... lit has lots of really neat editing features.

      Again, thanks for responding. You have been very helpful! Good luck with those pretty babies!


      • #4
        Thanks, those particular horsies aren't mine. Just some TRF rescue OTTB babies, so if anyone is interested in adopting...let me know! I'll put you in touch with Kim at Montpelier in Orange, VA (shameless plug for great horses in need of a rider of their very own ). They need great volunteers too!

        I have the MINO. I selected b/c I wanted to replace batteries easily, although I think they have rechargeable ones now? And it was cheaper.

        Capturing shots were grainy-er than if you had done it with a real digital camera. I doubt it would be sale quality for Dressage Today or for a desk shot, but good enough to show movement, reach, stretch, faults? I don't think I used this feature much, mostly b/c laptop makes it hard to drag stuff since you don't have a mouse, so I'm not the best expert there. They might be better than I remember.

        You can mix movies/clips/videos together...I just ran across a sale video last year I did in an indoor with a TB I was on...the picture quality was quite good...I actually did this on my friend's MAC, which was giving me less glitches than my desktop (I get annoyed if a computer gives me 15 sec of trouble and turn it over to someone smarter than me--I have infinate patience for horses, none for technology) and she's good (but not a super techie--just more MAC friendly) with that stuff. It fades in and out on cue, has a little intro with the horse's name...very cool looking...

        There IS a zoom feature...hit the up button. Red button records and stops recording. It's easy to use for the basics--recording, zooming, putting on the web, watching on tv/computer...trust me...I'm no tech-ie. Still shots and movies are probably best done on a MAC by someone with half a clue about technology...but I could still probably figure it out in 1/2 hour if I had to. But since I have dial up at home, I can't load videos unless at a friend's house in town, and they are all far more tech savvy, so I let them do it.

        I think FLIPS were made for MACs, so I'm sure the videos transfer to the web much better using the MAC.

        Good luck! Feel free to ask any more questions. If you're dying to see an indoor video, I can probably load an old one...just pm me or add to this thread.


        • Original Poster

          I am curious about how well the Flip will record in an indoor. An instructor that I trailer out to has an indoor. It isn't totally enclosed - it is, of course, covered, but the walls are "open" from the top of the kickboards and up (if that makes sense). It allows for natural light, but at certain times of the day, it can get a little "dark" for photos - unless you can position yourself to get the light behind you. If the indoor lighting is on that can be helpful to taking a better photo. You can see what I'm talking about by looking at this sales video:


          All the videos on this page [American Dressage - Youtube Channel] are taken in the same arena. In your opinion, do you think the Flip could handle this sort of situation?

          I would love to see your indoor video, but I don't want you to go to a lot of trouble to load it. If its convenient, post it. If not, just your personal opinion about taping in the indoor would be sufficient.

          Again, thank you so much. This is very helpful.


          • #6

            I have the Flip and posted about it on page five of the rather long video camera thread. Short version - found it really easy to use (actually handed it to a kid and told her which button to push), upload videos to the computer, and then upload to YouTube. Use a Mac but haven't played with iMovie or any sort of editing program. My flip was $50 and is the 30-minute version that run on AA batteries. You can buy a rechargeable battery pack for $25.

            Not sure how well it would do it a situation like your indoor where you're going from shaded to more well lit areas. You can get an idea of what it's like going from bright to brighter on the video I linked to above. It looks grainier than the other poster's videos--probably a combination of zooming in more and I think it was focussing on things other than the horse from time to time.
            The Evil Chem Prof


            • #7
              Here ya go!

              Yep, I'll upload it to the same photobucket site. I believe the sound has become "chickenlike" in the 2nd video...we were switching b/w a Dell and a MAC and somehow, the sound/picture got a little messed up. I suspect the newer models have worked out these kinks though. I'm also on a horrible, unsteady wireless connection right now, so although the video plays perfectly on my laptop, it looks rougher on the internet. Not sure if that's the software, the connection, or my pc.

              But the indoor set up is the same as you describe...a covered ring with walls. Again, my video-ers complain they can't see a thing, but it winds up looking fine.

              Note: The first horse is an Andalusian who was in 30 day trial (but had only been ridden 10X when I got her!) with me...she didn't vet, so I didn't keep her.
              Second horse was a personal rescue headed to local auction who knew nothing, so I tried to give him his training wheels and find him a home-- he is now a jumper with a pro in Richmond, VA and loving it much more than dressage...
              Last edited by HollysHobbies; Jul. 29, 2009, 09:35 AM.


              • Original Poster

                Peggy - thanks for joining in, and for the link to the other discussion. I will have to read through it later on today. Your video, however, is pretty good! I am really impressed with the quality of the "picture" that the Flip produces. I went to YouTube last night and did a search on FlipShare. It allowed me to look at a variety of videos - not just horse "topics" - so that I could see if there was any consistency to the filming. It looks pretty good. Not movie or instructional video quality maybe, but to review a lesson, clinic, or show ride - well, it ain't half bad! LOL!

                Holly - thanks for posting that video of you in the indoor. The quality, for a lower light situation, isn't bad at all. The arena you were in really is similar to the one I work in.

                I noticed on the research for the new generation of cameras that the viewfinder screen thingy is larger. I wonder if this would be more helpful for the person filming in the low light situations?