What cams are good for gig videography?


New member
Recently, I've been asked a couple of times what are some good affordable cameras / external mics gig videography.

Imo, the most important aspect of gig videography is the audio quality. Most cameras don't have an inbulit or feature a poorly designed compressor on their stock mics and what usually happens is that the high dBs at gigs causes very ugly hard digital clipping that makes ears bleed.

Currently, apart from the offerrings from Zoom (Q3HD and H4n or H1), there are compact cameras that can capture great audio quality too.

I'm personally using a panasonic TZ10, which is a super zoom compact, for my vids and the sound quality is comparable to the Q3HD. Good thing about it is it can do optical zoom during recording like most handheld cams. Most of the current Lumix offerrings have similiar audio performances and are great for gig videography.

Below are some reference videos, i've done a lil audio editing to bring the audio levels up. Be sure to check them out in HD quality.


If you guys know of any other compact cameras that are good for gig videography (other than the zoom Q3HD, which was designed for this purpose), please share and post some video links! =D
I was just in KL for The Whitest Boy Alive and a friend was using the Samsung NX100. The audio turned out surprisingly good -- minimal clipping and none of the low-end rumble or cutoff that plagues most cameras. Granted the band was playing at very friendly club levels and the sound was excellent to begin with, but the recorded audio was easily better than any of the typical DSLR videos I've heard. Being a mirrorless / Micro Four Thirds type of camera, it's quite large but still smaller than DSLRs. Probably worth checking out if you want better-than-compact photo and video quality.

Also, considering that so many people carry DSLRs nowadays, there are many external mics that can connect to the camera and greatly improve the audio quality.
well in my opinion, factors for a good camera for gigvideography since I've been filming for pretty much 8 years now,
1) File Format Compatibility/DVW Software
2) Weight (filming method related)
3) Endurance/Overheads
4) Price
5) Warranty
6) Environment Adaptability (low light / extreme sunlight / rain etc)

I was using a Sony PC101e DV camcorder originally. the onboard mic on it was just kickass and could withstand pretty heavy volumes/moshpits/rain/sun. DV tapes costed me hundreds of dollars.1CCD colour film eventually phased out. weight was featherlight then again it could be cos of my youth back then haha. eventually cam died out as it starts to bite dv tapes easily if i don't clean after about...4 years? price was $1700 back then. the other downside is i gotta check make sure the tape limit of 1 hr and battery limit of 2. (bought a 5 hr) for portable setup.

now currently using Sony SR8E 100gb HDD AVCHD cam , mic on it sucked , so i bought a zoom h2 to use as a microphone into the audio input. it gets noisy but the mic input quality is still not too bad anyway skips the hassle of syncing in post. pretty heavy cam after a while, so it's more of a tripod cam. or I self-hacked a shouldermount for parties-filming so it has real steady shots. so I don't have "garang" chiongster diy hand held shots anymore with this one, but 100gb + 5 hr/2hr/2hr batteries gives me the overheads advantage (which makes SOFT Band Collective Gig filming nonstop from noon to midnight ever possible on AC power.) only downside left is the damn zoom h2's batteries (which i can power via 9v) but battery options are Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeables. the wallet damage in 2008 was $3K. but I earned back via videography jobs so it pays for itself. and this camera's been through a Parkway Drive gig, toured overseas exposed to sunlight/snow/rain/high altitudes (in japan) , birthday parties, gigs, etc. so far so good. a little technical glitch these days which sending back for minor servicing to prolong the further use of it to fully maximize the money I spent on it is all good to go.
AVCHD file (.m2ts) was hell to work with initially but i mastered the sony vegas video software that came with this cam because I'm super particular about getting full 50fps fluid progressive scanning PAL for my encodes. those who realised the videos on gigvideos.com are named in .avi , it's 25fps when i upload to youtube but the original file has full 50fps fluidity.

what could be next after this ? I don't know, 3D videocameras? but for now I like the Q3HD I tested it at citymusic , tested the low light in their storeroom. it's impressive. I'll most probably buy one at the next year end sale.

"Sound is 50% of the movie experience" -George Lucas

i won't say much about sound, zoom mics or direct mixer feed would always be my option. but some of us (e.g me) have an "unfair" advantage on the audio quality as we can do mastering on it etc in postproduction.
so consumer perspective. Q3HD has my vote cos of the sound.
hey ron! thanks for sharing!

i also do a fair amount of mastering work in postproduction in videos. i used to use multiband compressors and parametric EQ but i've made the effects line simpler ever since acquiring the BBE sonic maximiser plug-ins. i've set up templates for different sounce sources like my camera and my h4n.

i've done a lil research on the 50fps thingy when i got my cam a year ago, and according to super video converter, it showed that my avchd was 50fps on "frame doubling" mode. i went to search online and found out that this meant that video output was really 50fps, but it is actually flashing a single frame twice (or averaging the inbetween frame) so there are only 25 unique frames in that. not sure if it's the same format for your sony SR8E.

i'm currently following a rather basic workflow, first i convert my m2ts file into the highest possible quality divx encoded .avi file (9600kbps) on super converter. i also extract the raw audio file which is a 192kbps ac3 file into wav. i edit the audio with an audio program and then paste it back to the video on windows movie maker. syncing is no problem with one audio source cause the length of audio and video are the same. i then add in fade in fade outs and export the movie file into a customised format for youtube quality which is around 50% the size of the raw file.

maybe we should share and discuss over msn? =D
by the way I watched the videos again filmed by your panasonic, the audio is pretty good, like a notch below the Q3HD.
probably because of the lens the video quality should be better than the Q3HD's, how much is yours ? only issue is it does get a little shakey, too pampered with sony's antishake thing haha but the cost is justified i guess.

regarding the 50fps thing I uploaded something here when I filmed the NTU strings orchestra recently.
so after uploading that file to here...

see how the fluidity disappears to 25? does your panasonic has its original 50fps? or it's just 25fps (real frames) but duplicated to 50 ? recent new flash videocameras can support up to 60fps progressive scanning as well so it's not really an issue. to me it only matters when playing it on DVD interlaced standards.
japanese NTSC cameras run 29.97fps, so it's possible for them to output as 59.94 and this would be very important for shots that are for purposes of slow motion.

haha wow the m2ts file conversion to divx high quality is a beeetch eh , then you roughly know the pain I do for gigvideos haha. but like I said la I already mastered my DVW.. so I have a semi-automated process nicely setup now which explains the rate of my updates while still being able to do my audio work on the same compuer. I don't bother keeping it in HD because it's not fully the bluray age yet I had more complaints giving clients the file in .m2ts format than DVD.. so far people will usually be more particular about the audio quality.
i bought the tz10 for $540 when it was first released, it came with a class four 16GB sd card. It does have anti shake, i think the videos were shaky cause i didn't make a concious effort to keep it steady, but not sure how it compares to sony.

i think mine is the case of frame doubling, so what happens is that an average of the 25 real frames are played in between when playing in it's native 50 fps mode. i usually just down scale it to 25 fps for editing and uploading purposes because the size and format is easier to work with and considering youtube and facebook's current quality.

yea! i got a neat program to do that though, it's called super converter and it's one of the more feature-filled free converters out there for pc. my real hurdle is the merging of video and audio files in the windows media player. i try to keep my template simple but it still takes time as i can only process one video at a time instead of batch conversion.

m2ts is still not a very popular format i think. for HD with a more widely accepted format like divx in .avi, can just convert the file with super if you're using PC


so far i've used it and no spam or spyware and stuff from it. it also doesn't add any trial water marks, but it only works for windows
ah yes I used superconverter many years back, the only thing I didn't like about it is it does get a little unstable so I stuck to sony vegas.

m2ts is not a friendly format to edit because of it's really high compression codec to get the max quality min file size.
haha yea! it crashed my coms several times in one particularly buggy version! super frustration!

i've having a hard time syncing external audio with video manually. it gets confusing sometimes and i can't tell if the video is a split second faster or slower when i know it's out of sync. do you sync your audios / videos manually?
like the plural eyes ,it mentions clapping, but if you don't have a "clap" , then your best shot is watch out for any video that has attack. my cue is usually the drum cymbal crash.

the way I use to see if it's slower or faster is to purposely put it 500ms-1second slower, and then ask yourself which one came first? the sound or the video "attack" ? the speed of my hearing is fast from all the training I get from quantizing jobs.so probably that doesn't come much as a problem to me.

in the first place, should just cue everything nicely. make sure it's all standard 16bit 48khz audio recording etc for easy post job later.