The Perfect Online HD Video Production Kit For Less Than a $1000

As a media geek I am very excited with my new gear and setup. So excited that I’ve decided to share with you my enthusiasm with my latest purchase – the Canon HV30.

When I started building my little video production facility, camera and editing computer were my first concerns. I made two decisions – one was to buy a strong PC for video editing, and the other was to buy the Panasonic NV-MD10000, a great SD PAL camera with a lot of manual control of key parameters.

Panasonic NV-MD10000

When I moved to Mac, I’ve experimented with Final Cut Express, which quickly led me to buy Final Cut Studio and make it my only editing solution.

However, on the camera side I wasn’t happy with my choice. The main reason was size. Going to shoot an event became a hustle, I had no way to take the cam with me just for fun, and the whole process became too much work and not enough fun.

So, I went back to my imaginary drawing board and decided to so a short requirement list for my next camera. I came up with this:

1. Small enough to fit into my laptop bag

2. Expandable with a standard shoe

3. HD

4. Light weight

5. Under $1000

6. External mike jack

In my last visit to NYC, I met with my good friend Bill Cammack, who has a tendency to take pictures of himself with social media divas, and asked for his guidance.

Bill is using Canon HV20, which is a great camera, that has it all. It fits the palm of your hand, supports HDV format on Mini DV cassettes and has many additional features (24p, external mike jack to name two of the more important ones) that make it a great buy.

After a lot of research I bought this little piece of equipment – Canon HV30:


It is based on the same body and sensor of the HV20, but with two significant upgrades:

1. Support for 30p- meaning, the camera can shot HDV in 30 frames per second in progressive mode. This is the reason that it is so great for web video – many video distribution reduce video frame rate to 15 frames. Video shot in 24, or 50 frames per second looks choppy a bit when down-sampled to 15 frames. 30 frames works like a charm.

2. It has a black body – which is way cooler than the silver one 🙂

Audio is THE most important part of video productions, especially for the web. The external mike jack is not XLR, which means that it is not a professional interface. However, there is an amazing and affordable mike from Rode called VideoMic (not the most original name in the world….). This is shotgun directional microphone, that does not require phantom power, and has a standard shoe. One of the biggest issues with the Canon HV20/30 is that the motor noise is picked up by the onboard mike. If you are aiming at a decent production, on board mike is a complete no no. I bought my VideoMic a while ago, and it is a great supplement to the HV30. It costs less then $150. And if you are into interviews, take a look at Shure SM58 – a great handheld mike, with great audio results, and costs only $100.


I had a chance to check out my new setup at TWS2008. I brought the nifty little camera with the VideoMic, and had a blast. I shot several videos with ease, and even brought the cam with me on stage. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I also recorded some indoors videos with it, using a tripod, and a small lavaliere. So basically, this camera provides the full range of use cases – interviews, studio shots, outdoors shots and everything you need from a small camera.

Talkiing about expandability of this camera, check out this setup of a great guys in the HV20/HV30 forum:


It is in no way a professional camera. It doesn’t have an XLR input, and even the MD10000 has more manual control on key parameters. Also the menus can drive you crazy sometimes. But it works great in 99% of cases, and with some effort and expansion you can cover almost all your needs with this small but smart piece of equipment.

So, here it is, your HD production kit for the following:

1 Canon HV30 – $785

1 Rode VideoMic – $139


Total $924

And you still have some change for additional accessories (tripod is a must, so spend your money wisely….).

You can see some video footage taken by this little piece of equipment in this Vimeo group. Here’s one to note:

I will upload some of my videos soon.


5 Responses to “The Perfect Online HD Video Production Kit For Less Than a $1000”

  1. 1 Bill Cammack July 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Sweet review, Kfir. Glad I could help out! 😀

  2. 2 Adam Daniel Mezei July 17, 2008 at 3:07 pm


    This was very helpful — I’ve got to pass this off to my business partner to have a look at, since we’re in the market now for an upgrade as well…is the audio quality on the VideoMic as good as, say, the kind you’d get with M-Audio’s MicroTrack II ( at 48Mhz, which is what I’ll use for my audio-only interviews?


  3. 3 Blackhatseo July 20, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    I enjoyed your writing style and I’ve added you to my Reader. Keep these posts coming. Btw, my blog is dofollow, stop by and grab a link. Karen.

  4. 4 Video Producer September 3, 2008 at 12:52 am

    It is amazing to me how affordable this equipment has become. I think back only a few years ago and the prices were three times as much. Now is the time to get into video editing!

  5. 5 Steve September 17, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Great article, very helpful. I shot a doc in INDIA last year on one of canon’s low end camcorder (ZR200) SD and the picture quality was unreal! A preview of it is on my website. I’m going to south America in Nov and will be taking the HV30 with me.

    Thaks again!

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