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One thing that we're looking at doing at work is having Live webcasts of classes & instructional sessions. I've been able to prototype a website with video+audio of the live feed from a USB webcam (a ~ $70 Logitech) and Expression Encoder.

The thing is: webcams are crappy cameras. So I was thinking that a decent camcorder + tripod be purchased for shooting the classes. It would give much better low-light performance & color, decent zoom, and have features like image stabilization for when the camera has to move.

Now most camcorders today have USB and no longer have Firewire. But the impression I'm getting is that the USB port is just for straight data transfer from the camera storage & doesn't really let the PC use the camera has a live video feed (which firewire-equipped cameras typically did) - or if they do, it's never listed in the camera specs/features nor mentioned in the online reviews.

So do any of you fine folks know if these modern Firewire-less camcorders can be used that way over USB, or does one have to use the video out (usually HDMI) along with a capture card to have that kind of functionality? ie. what would it take to use one as a webcam with videoconferencing software like Skype?

Recommendations appreciated if you know of a particular camera that would be suitable for this without needing a capture card. I was eying something like the Panasonic HC-V700MK, or the lower-end HC-V500, but I can't tell if they allow live capture over USB.

If not, then as I mentioned, we'll either have to pick up an external HDMI->USB capture card (for use with a laptop, I've seen some at reasonable prices, say ~$100) or go with a more upscale for a firewire-equipped camera (our laptops do have FW).


- Sri
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