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TripleB
01-01-2006, 05:02 PM
I'm looking to purchase a new camcorder - my current model was 10 years old on December 25th (used 8mm tapes), my daughter plays in her first basketball game this Saturday, and I'm looking to get something quick, but after being away from camcorders for 10 years I'm clueless.

Just from about 30 minutes of reading and previous experience with various brands I'm probably looking to get a MiniDV version from either Sony (my current camcorder brand) or Canon.

Can anyone offer some advice on the EXTREMELY important characteristics I should be looking at when purchasing a quality camcorder?

My price limit is around $500. Some of the models I've seen locally in that price range from these two brands are the: Canon ZR200 ($307), Sony Handycam DCR-HC21 ($350), Canon Elura 80 ($450), Canon ZR300 ($450) Sony Hanycam DCR-HC32 ($475).

Thanks for any advice or recomendations you can send my way.

TripleB

35ft6
01-01-2006, 05:54 PM
Get the one with the most optical zoom power. For example, 10X is better than 5X optical zoom. Digital zoom greatly compromises image quality. Also:LCD and viewfinder: Most camcorders now come with at least a 2.5-inch color LCD display which lets you view and playback the video/images you have captured quite comfortably. Those with 4-inch LCD screens provide a better view but they usually cost more and are generally bigger in size to accommodate the larger display.



Color viewfinders are now commonly found on most digital camcorders, although some of the older or entry-level machines still use monochrome panels. However, viewfinders aren't the objective since you'll probably end up using the LCD display most of the time.

Digital still capture: Virtually all digital camcorders let you capture still shots and store them on the tape or directly into a flash memory card. These images may be low in resolution compared to what the current batch of digital still cameras can capture, but they offer the convenience of just carrying one device for both video and still capture purposes. Eventually, future models of camcorders in the next two years will be able to capture image resolutions which can rival that of digital still cameras.

Other features to consider

3CCD: Usually employed in semi-pro or professional camcorders, 3CCD cameras tend to produce better and clearer images due to the use of three CCDs instead of one to create the full image. However, cameras with one CCD are often good enough for most consumer purposes.

Built-in lights: These lighting systems allow you to record video in low-light conditions but are generally not regarded as a good substitute for fine lighting.

Image stabilization: You will most likely find this feature on most of the latest digital camcorders available. This helps correct image blurring due to hand shakes during recording.

Progressive scan: This feature allows the camcorder to capture a full frame of video rather than alternative lines of pixels (as in most standard camcorders), resulting in better-quality videos in fast action sequences. The difference is hardly noticeable in normal recording modes.

Video inputs: With these, you can convert video footage from your video recorder or another analog camera into a digital format for editing instead of using a video capture card. I think firewire/eee 1394 interfaces are pretty much standard now, but look for a camera with a firewire connection. If your computer has a EEE 1394/firewire port, than you can digitally edit your videos on the computer. You can get editing software for under $100. Seriously, if you're going to be showing off your videos, you're really doing everybody a favor by editing it down to the best parts.

Also, keep in mind that you're probably going to want at least one spare battery, and if I'm not mistaken, those cameras you listed probably won't come with a battery charger, so figure that into your cost. Get one spare high density battery, the most you can afford, and a stand alone charger.

But mini-DV is the best format for you probably. It's relatively cheap especially if you buy online in bulk (I mean, don't go crazy, but it's cheaper online). And even if you spend over $500, the fact that you'll have good footage of your daughter playing basketball, well, in 30 years it'll seem priceless and I'm sure you won't beating yourself over the head for going $100 over budget. :)

Aykhan Mammadov
01-02-2006, 04:30 AM
I recommend u only Sony. Neither Canon, no JVC and etc.. Because apart of lenses there are such things as immediate focusing and etc.. what Sony-s do always better.

TripleB
01-02-2006, 06:49 AM
I recommend u only Sony. Neither Canon, no JVC and etc.. Because apart of lenses there are such things as immediate focusing and etc.. what Sony-s do always better.

I've heard that there are problems loading your videos onto your computer with the Sony camcorders...have you heard of this?

TripleB

Masamusou
01-02-2006, 08:06 AM
Problems with Sony huh? Never heard that one, but I do like my Panasonic PV-GS31, does exactly what it's supposed to do, now if I could ever become motivated enough to actually set it up while I play tennis. I agree with everything 35ft6 said. The spare battery is a must, MiniDV is the best option if you may want to do any editing. Also, my camcorder and all its accessories (lenses, tapes, spare battery, case, tripod, etc.) came to about $460 with shipping.

nViATi
01-02-2006, 09:46 AM
I've heard that there are problems loading your videos onto your computer with the Sony camcorders...have you heard of this?

TripleB
Nope.. My dad uses all Sony camcorders and he has no problem getting them on the computer.

TripleB
01-02-2006, 12:01 PM
After a ton of reading and researching I've narrowed down my new camcorder purchase to several models:

Panasonic PV-GS150 (with 3CCD) $480
Panasonic PV-GS65 (with 3CCD) $429
Panasonic GS35 $350
Sony DCR-HC42 $460
Sony DCR-HC32 $410
Canon ELURA 85 $470
Canon ZR400 $395

What would be your pick?

Thanks for your help.

TripleB

Masamusou
01-02-2006, 12:24 PM
Are those prices just for the camcorder? If so, and you have a $500 budget, you may want to look towards the cheaper end of those. A high capacity battery costs quite a bit, usually at least $70. There are a few websites that offer package deals on camcorders. Usually something like the camcorder, tapes, high capacity battery, carrying case, lens protecter, and some cleaning supplies. These things usually save quite a bit of money. For an example, check out www.buydig.com

Matthew Lin
01-02-2006, 12:40 PM
I have an older Sony DCR-HC65 mini DV camcorder, it works pretty good for what I'm using it for. I modified a quick connect to grab on to the pole on the fence and using an adaptor to mount the camcorder. I can set up the camcorder to video tape my kid playing in less than 5 minutes. Since the mini DV's are about $5 a piece, I bought a JVC DVD recorder and I would transfer the tape on to DVD after each practice when I get home.

LafayetteHitter
01-02-2006, 01:10 PM
I use the Canon ZR45 to record myself playing tennis often with great results. All around I would say it is perfect for this purpose. It functions great indoors and outdoors and has great color even in dim light outdoors. The Carl Zeiss lenses on the Sony cameras should be second to none as well in this department.

Scott

Aykhan Mammadov
01-02-2006, 01:32 PM
TripleB, by the way I forgot to advise u that there are a lot of different DVD-cameras now available ( including Sony 703, 803 and etc...), they are not comparatively much more expensive, say DVD-602 Sony is around 550$. They record directly on small diameter DVD-disks playable in ordinary DVD-players ( u put them onto inner circle of the tray).

I still consider mini-DV more secure because if u scratch DVD-disk it becomes useless.

nViATi
01-02-2006, 02:13 PM
After a ton of reading and researching I've narrowed down my new camcorder purchase to several models:

Panasonic PV-GS150 (with 3CCD) $480
Panasonic PV-GS65 (with 3CCD) $429
Panasonic GS35 $350
Sony DCR-HC42 $460
Sony DCR-HC32 $410
Canon ELURA 85 $470
Canon ZR400 $395

What would be your pick?

Thanks for your help.

TripleB
I'd go for the ones with 3CCD. And btw, don't get a dvd one like Aykhan suggests.If you get a dvd type then you won't be able to edit your videos unless you rip it off the dvd which would give you a ton more work to do.

Return_Ace
01-02-2006, 02:30 PM
heh trippleB, spendin a lot of money lately ;)

advice on rackets, advice on pc's and now advice on cameras!! i wish i had as much money as you!!.

also, you should have a look at what type of media they use, since diff companies use diff. media.

35ft6
01-02-2006, 03:32 PM
Make the level of optical zoom a big factor. Depending on where you're sitting during the game, you're going to want to zoom in on your daughter, and optical zoom is MUCH better than digital zoom.

Also, the guy who posted earlier about looking for a package deal -- tripod, cleaning stuff, spare battery, free bag, etc. -- is right on. That's what I did when I bought my camera. Plus, if you buy from a store that's out of state, you probably won't have to pay sales tax.