Can I use my camcorder as a webcam?

Episode 1003

Rick from New Jersey

Rick has a Panasonic camcorder and would like to use it as a high quality webcam. Leo says that it depends on the camera. Most new ones are able to do it via HDMI. Some have live HDMI.

Rick needs is a live component or composite. It has to be able to pass the video stream out of the camera and into the PC. HDMI makes it easy. If it doesn't have that, then Leo says a capture card is likely needed. Also, camcorders will time out after a set time, so he'll have to turn that off in the settings or "pop" the cassette to keep it going. Firewire will work as it is always live.

What video camera should I upgrade to?

Episode 983

John from Prescott Valley, AZ

John is looking to upgrade his video camera and wants to know what to do. Leo says that camcorders have almost been replaced overnight by smartphones and DSLRs, which can provide as good or even better quality. Especially DSLRs, which offer exchangeable lenses. The slight downside is that DSLRs have a limited recording time of about 29 minutes. That makes camcorders still beneficial for long form recording.

What video camera do you recommend?

Episode 961

Liza from Ontario, CA

Liza wants to get a new video camera and wants Leo's recommendation. Leo says it depends on what she's planning to use it for. Camcorders are disappearing as more people rely on their still cameras and smart phones. Both of which do really good video these days. Liza says they don't shoot for very long, though. She wants to record soccer games from beginning to end. Leo recommends the Canon Vixia HF-R300 for under $300.

What's a good camcorder in the $600 to $800 range?

Canon Vixia

Episode 897

Mark from Australia

The cameras that TWiT uses are Canon Vixia camcorders, which are consumer grade HD camcorders. Like most digital camcorders though, they do best when there's lots of light. In a studio where light is controlled, they work great. Leo's not sure how well they'd work in the field though. If it's going to be used for shorter video in the field, a lot of people are using DSLRs now.