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Which Pro Video Camera for Flights Shot from the Ground?


Old 02-20-2018, 01:15 PM
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Default Which Pro Video Camera for Flights Shot from the Ground?

I love to record video of RC Airplane flights from the ground, but I need a MUCH better camcorder than my current Sony FDR-AX53. However, my fear is that I’d spend $2,000 to $4,000 and still have the same problems that I do now! Please let me know if there is a professional-series camcorder that will successfully do the following (my budget is up to $4,000).

NOTE: I am a “point and shoot” kind of guy. My camera needs to be smarter than I am. I want it to do everything automatically as far as possible! The list below is what is important to me, roughly in order of importance:
  • Ability to follow small, fast airplanes against any background without hunting for focus.
  • A viewfinder or screen that can be seen even in bright sunlight.
  • Optical zoom with SLOW-zoom capability.
  • An accurate Automatic mode to select the proper settings for me.
  • Really good stabilization!
  • Ability to shoot in 4K with 60fps
  • Compatibility with a good shoulder support rig to take the load off my hands.
If you are willing to read further, I will explain the steps I went through to arrive at this point...

I have a nice action cam that takes good video, but zoom is out of the question. I want to be able to zoom. I originally started out taking RC Airplane video using the camera that I already owned, a Sony RX100 III. When in focus, it records beautiful video at 1080p 60fps. However, the auto-focus on that camera gets confused with small airplanes in the air. It makes a mess of the video as it searches for proper focus. I tried to manually focus “on the fly”, but that was not practical. I found that the best solution was to set it to “infinity focus” and just leave it there. For that, I might as well be using my action cam. Other problems I had using the Sony RX100 iii camera for outdoor video was that I could not see the screen in bright sunlight and the pop-up viewfinder was too small to be useful.

THEN I UPGRADED! I recently purchased the camcorder that I just knew would make me an awesome videographer! It’s a Sony FDR-AX53 camcorder. FAIL! Once again, auto-focus gets confused with small, fast airplanes and, once again, manual focus “on the fly” is not practical. As before, setting it to “infinity focus” works OK, but that is not what I want! And finally, as before, I cannot see the screen in bright sunlight and the viewfinder is too small to be useful to me, even with a large, aftermarket eye-cup.

It seems that I have spent nearly $1,000 for a camcorder that is no better than what I started with! Sure, it will record 4K in 30fps and it has a BOSS gimbal. However, I’m finding that I wish for 4K with 60fps and I’m frustrated with the BOSS gimbal. It is not nearly as forgiving as I had hoped it would be. I enjoy the clear optical zoom of the FDR-AX53, but it zooms WAY too fast! It can zoom slower, but only with a very fine touch that is hard to provide under most conditions. Finally, my arms get really tired holding it up for extended flights, so I have created a make-shift shoulder support. That helps, but I’d like something much better! I figure that a professional camera can be mated to a better shoulder rig.

Last edited by MailManX; 02-20-2018 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 03-07-2018, 11:42 PM
Joseph Frost
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Location: Coffs Harbour NSW, AUSTRALIA
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How about visiting some camera pro shop, they will be more than happy to share some of your 4 grand you are prepare to spend.
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