I’m hoping that video experts among the readers will be willing to share their knowledge. I want a consumer-priced and compact HD camcorder that has a built-in wireless microphone system.
I have a Flip HD, which I love for its ease of use. This is my first camcorder that makes native digital files and I find myself much more willing to use it than a tape-based camcorder that requires a conversion operation. I like to make 1-minute videos and simply do-over rather than try to edit. My complaint with the Flip is that, in common with all other camcorders using on-camera microphones, it captures room sound rather than the voice of the subject.
I have an HDV tape-based Sony HDR FX-1, which yields excellent video quality from three CCDs. Unfortunately it is bulky and requires an additional set of boxes, each with its own 9V battery, to capture video from lav mics on the subjects. So now I am charging multiple batteries for the camcorder and perhaps lights as well as keeping a stock of 9V batteries for the mic system. Then when I get home I need to read from the tape onto a hard drive and divide up into clips using desktop video editing software. The effort required here is simply too great.
I have a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, which has near-Hollywood video quality, but the interface is not designed for camcording (is that a word?). I don’t know of any practical way to focus while rolling. Off-camera microphone use would require the same bulky additions as the Sony HDR FX-1.
So… how about a camcorder that has a built-in receiver for some kind of wireless microphone? I think Sony comes pretty close to this with a Bluetooth-based system (pictures). The receiver slides into a powered shoe on the camera. Still at least one too many boxes (the receiver is almost as big as the camcorder!), but the only extra battery is with the microphone itself.
I’m surprised that this isn’t a more active area of competition for camcorder manufacturers. The creeping featurism between the $500 and $1500 models does not seem nearly as useful as higher quality sound. What am I missing? Are more skilled videographers able to do great things with the standard on-camera microphones? Is there some company besides Sony that has put the receiver into the camcorder itself? (I checked Canon and Panasonic and they did not seem to have any kind of wireless mic systems for their consumer products.)
Incidentals: I would prefer not to pay more than $1500 for the system and I don’t want it to be any larger than a Canon Rebel.