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#226566 - 10/23/08 09:48 PM New Camcorder Models?
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5316
Loc: Marion, IA
We've been wanting to replace our cutting edge digital camcorder for years now... OK, it WAS cutting edge in that it was one of the very first digital camcorders like 10 years ago or something...

Anyway, I like the idea of a hard drive based unit so that I can stop buying dumb tapes. I don't need HD quality, but don't want garbage either. Small camcorder size is important too as our current one (while small in its day, is HUGE anymore)...

I keep reading reviews of the sub-$400 hard drive camcorders and they almost all get "OK" ratings, but nothing great unless I jump up to $800 or so...

I would think that just about any current camcorder has to be better quality that our 10 year old model, but I haven't shopped for a camcorder in, oh, 10 years...

We currently have a Sony DCR-TRV520 with the following basic specs:
460k Max Resolution
0.25" CCD
Non-Progressive Scan CCD
25x Optical Zoom
Image Stabilization
NightShot (not needed on the new one)
PCM Stereo Audio

My wife likes the JVC Everio GZ-MG330 that she saw at Wal-Mart, but places like C/Net give it a rating of 3/5 stars or "good".
Its basic specs are
680k Resolution
1/6" CCD
35x Optical Zoom


Any recommendations?
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#226571 - 10/23/08 09:59 PM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: nickbuol]
myrison Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 1898
Loc: Denver, CO
Nick,

Since we just had our first baby, we went through the camcorder buying decision recently as well.

The first choice for me was HD video or not. I decided I wanted HD... No good reason other than that when my daughter is 18, video will probably have 3x the resolution and at least having recorded it in HD now will be one step ahead of having chose SD video which is already one generation outdated. The biggest downside to HD cameras a few months ago was that their optical zoom capabilities are far worse than non HD cameras (not a big issue for me, but it might be for you).

Second choice was digital video tape versus HDD versus flash drive. Tapes are aging technology and going out of style, so I ruled those out. HDD was my next choice, (and my original preference) but it added too much girth to the camera for my preference and a few of the models I read about actual said that they could hear the head on the HDD spinning on their recorded videos, which definitely caused me a little worry. I'm sure they're not all like this, but it was enough to make me think twice.

So, once I'd narrowed it down to Flash-based, high def cameras, there were only 2-3 from which to choose. The one I liked the best was the Canon Vixia HF100. For < $600, it had everything I was looking for. This model does not come with any onboard memory, so you have to buy the flash card separately. (I picked up a 16GB card)

The HF10 is another similar option that has 16GB internal flash memory and the ability to add another 16GB card. It was cheaper to get the HF100 + buying a card on my own, so I went with that one.

Since buying, we've been extremely happy with it. It's very compact, takes AMAZING video, and the file format it uses can be streamed to the PS3 to watch the 1080p videos over our main theater room system. The biggest downside of the camera is definitely battery life, which isn't great, but hasn't been a seriously limiting factor for us either (yet). The other negative is that it does not take nearly as good of video in dim/dark conditions, but I think this is a limitation in most consumer-grade cameras in this price-range.

Happy shopping, if there's more I can do to help, let me know.

Jason


Edited by myrison (10/23/08 10:01 PM)
Edit Reason: Add info about low-light recording
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#226583 - 10/23/08 10:44 PM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: myrison]
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5316
Loc: Marion, IA
Interesting about the HDD sound being picked up on the audio... I was originally thinking that I didn't want HD because of the sure size of the files, but I guess that I could just keep burning to disc the files. Of course until Blu-Ray writers, and more importantly their media, get more cost effective, I would most likely be double burning discs. One with the HD file, and one down-sampled so to speak to regular DVD for general viewing until the day comes to record on HD media.

Maybe we'll just have to suffer through another Christmas with the "beast" and wait until tax time to get something a bit nicer, plus costs will come down in 6 months too...
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#226586 - 10/23/08 10:54 PM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: nickbuol]
myrison Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 1898
Loc: Denver, CO
Nick,

The size thing isn't as much of an issue as I though it'd be, but our average videos now are < 5 minutes in length. I suppose if I were recording an entire recital/soccer game/etc., it would stack up more quickly. I bought a new TB drive at the same time as the camera that is dedicated to video storage. It still takes a long time to fill up (one 16GB card = 2 hours of 1080p video on this camera, which means that it'd take roughly 125 hours of video to fill up a terabyte drive). Considering my drive cost me ~$150, this comes out to $1.20 per hour of video archived, which is still pretty reasonable in my mind. Not as cheap as DVDs, but it's also a lot better quality.

The advantage to keeping them all on your computer is that they are always available for streaming anywhere you have a streaming capable device hooked up to your network and a TV. We have a lot of fun with this feature.

Why would you be burning? Do you make videos and give them to friends/family? If not, and you don't have a PS3 or another way to stream to your TV, you can also hook the camera up directly to your TV/receiver via HDMI out.

(By the way, I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other, just giving you some ideas on how I overcame the concerns you are mentioning).

Jason
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#226611 - 10/24/08 12:27 AM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: myrison]
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5316
Loc: Marion, IA
I want to burn them for off-site storage. Kind of like what I do with all of our digital photos. At the end of the year, I make a copy on a few DVDs for here at home (in case my main drive and backup drive BOTH get fried somehow) and then a set of DVDs for off-site (in-law's house) just in case of a major disaster (fire or something similar)... I'd want to do the same with the movies, or at least I THINK that I want to do the same.

No streaming media device at our house at the moment. I'd jump on a PS3 from SonyStyle for $250 after the $150 off the first purchase deal, but I was really looking for analog audio. Maybe I'll scrap that and buy a PS3 for Christmas, who knows.

As for "trying to convince" me, I am loving the ideas, so keep trying. I'd like to hear some other points-of-view, but so far, you've had some great, and very helpful information...
_________________________
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2-M60s, VP180, 8-M3s, SVS 20-39PCi, DIY Sub, 8-Shakers, JVC RS45, Anthem MRX-1120

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#226636 - 10/24/08 05:38 AM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: nickbuol]
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10415
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
I will just second all that Jason has said to keep pushing you.
I have not been much of a home video type of person other than the avi files the digital camera takes 30sec - 3 minute clips.

I have looked at the new HD camcorders, though, and I have not seen much reason to not buy one other than price, especially if you have an HDTV in the house. Secondary storage is very cheap these days(HDD's).
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#226652 - 10/24/08 09:46 AM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: jakewash]
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5316
Loc: Marion, IA
I remember looking into HD HDD camcorders last Christmas and they were running about $1100 for the cheapest, so they have come down almost 50% in a year, which is nice.

My kids are in so much stuff that we are recording pieces of dance recitals, vocal & choir performances, theater stuff, marching band (although that is now done for this year), etc... Everything is 15-20 minutes at a pop. We rarely break out the camera for little stuff because it is just a huge monster...
_________________________
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2-M60s, VP180, 8-M3s, SVS 20-39PCi, DIY Sub, 8-Shakers, JVC RS45, Anthem MRX-1120

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#226673 - 10/24/08 11:02 AM Re: New Camcorder Models? [Re: nickbuol]
myrison Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 1898
Loc: Denver, CO
<convince mode = on>

Nick - as far as burning for offsite storage and disaster avoidance, I use Carbonite backup. Unlimited backup over the internet to an offsite location. Costs $50 / year and is far and away cheaper than any disk burning or HDD copying solution could be.

The backup problem (the cost & the annoyance) was my biggest hang-up with going completely digital in HD until I found the Carbonite solution. I posted about it earlier here. PM me if you're interested in the coupon/referral.

Jason
<convince mode = off> ;\)

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