Is it possible to make a documentary with a Panasonic HDC-HS80 Camcorder?

by Doles
(Miami, FL, USA)

Visitor Question: I'm really what you'd call a newbie. Basically I know nothing. I am going to a third world place of birth...and since I want to start working on a documentary there, I bought a camera to start the gear assembling.

Unfortunately I didn't do quite a bit of homework on the camera, thus I just found out it doesn't have an external microphone plug in input. It's my first visit there since I left 25 years ago.

Although I plan on going back thereafter, I would like to make sure I catch some good shots and perhaps with a bit of quality sound as well.

I would appreciate any advice as to where I should start with anything.

My budget is less than $ I'm not sure I can afford a different camera. But it doesn't mean I'm not opened to sound advice even if I should just take some pictures this time and record whatever is available.

I really appreciate any assistance.


Answer | Desktop Documentaries

Hi Doles, first of all, you can pretty much make a documentary with any camera (or no camera at all!). Even if you just have some archival photos/footage or even graphics, plus narration and some music, it's amazing what you can make with a little imagination!

So that's question #1. As for the Panasonic HDC-HS80 Camcorder, I am not familiar with that particular camera, but just a quick look on B&H shows me it's a decent little camcorder which will be fine for a simple web documentary. For something more professional, you'll definitely want to upgrade.

Your main issue is professional quality audio which you can get with a separate audio recorder such as the Zoom H1. You'll just have to sync the video and audio together during editing which can be a bit of a headache, but it's a work-around to get professional results on a very low budget.

Using a tripod will also help raise up the professional level.

Whatever you do, don't wait for the perfect gear to shoot your documentary. Get the best you can afford and move forward!

As for a camera below $1,000, our friend Matt James Smith recently posted a couple of great articles which may be of help to you as you move forward.

Best Documentary Video Camera for (under) $2500

Cinematic Documentary Gear Package for (just over) $1,000

Please let us know if this was helpful in the comment section below or if you have any additional follow up questions.

Comments for Is it possible to make a documentary with a Panasonic HDC-HS80 Camcorder?

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Nov 11, 2020
Best camcorder
by: Isabella Jason

It is a great post because this question is asked frequently by bloggers and camcorder users. It is best to talk about this. Thanks for sharing this valuable information and your point of view. I think Panasonic HDC-HS80 Camcorder is the best and possible way for recording documentation.
Regards: Best Cameras Hub

Feb 17, 2016
by: Michael Raab

I shot "The Disappearing Church" documentary on a Panasonic HC V770 and saw it blown up on a giant Carmike screen. Still looked pretty decent. The HC V770 has an external mic in jack, and a headphone jack out. Used an M770 set of headphones (blocks out all external noise), a Shure lav mic, and a Bogen tripod I've had for decades. Had a Takstar SGC-598 shotgun mic but didn't use it. Used The Red Pod bean bag on my car dash for the opening traveling segment. Take my still shots with a Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS
(great little camera - shot video from the back of a motorcycle heading into Washington DC with it at Rolling Thunder XXV). All in all, total is under $1,000. Great equipment is great, don't get me wrong, but people are more concerned nowadays with what you have to say rather than what you said it with.

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