Looking for good bang for buck MiniDV Video Camera

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Jon_Gregory, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Jon_Gregory

    Jon_Gregory Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been looking at getting my first video camera for some time now. My problem is, there are so many models etc... to choose from. I have been trying to compare all of them, but that seems almost impossible. So what I would like from all of you is suggestions on something that would be a nice first camera. I am someone that likes high end without paying for it, so bang for my buck is a must. Other than this, what features should I be looking for etc... I am pretty new to this field and would like some help.

    Thanks
     
  2. CaseyL

    CaseyL Supporting Actor

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    I purchased a Canon Optura Xi, which is an expensive model, but I have used several of the other models, and they have all impressed me quite a bit. Other models used: GL-2 and the Optura 400.
     
  3. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    1. Ability to record from analog line input. Makes it easy to transfer home videos from an analog camcorder or VCR. This feature is missing from a lot of camcorders.

    2. Ability to act as a real-time analog/FireWire bridge. Less important than #1 (if you have #1, but not #2, you can just record the analog source to a scratch tape and then import the video from the scratch tape).

    3. Three-CCD sensor. Supposedly produces better picture quality. This used to be super-expensive (when I bought my single-CCD MiniDV camcorder, three-CCD units went for $2,000 and up). Now even some $600 models have it.

    4. Good low-light ability. Check various ratings. (The last time Consumer Reports rated camcorders, they noted that none of the digital camcorders could match the top-rated analog camcorders for low-light handling, so 'good' is relative here.)

    5. Image stabilizer.

    6. Zoom -- Choose based on optical zoom range and on your needs. Optical zoom ranges run anywhere from 10x to 25x. 10x is enough for family videos, but if you plan on using your camcorder to shoot closeups of birds or of (amateur) sports events, you'll probably want a long zoom range.

    7. LCD size -- This varies; the larger LCDs are nice, but can also add as much as $100 to the price of the unit.

    8. Fluff to ignore -- Digital zoom (discards part of the picture data, thus reducing quality). Digital camera (still photo) features (just about all digital camcorders have these, but they're inferior to low-end cameras, so don't spend any extra money on the basis of this feature).
     
  4. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Second Unit

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    How about 16:9 mode? Is it useful to have?
     
  5. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    16x9 mode is really a user preference. If it's important to you then look for a model that has a full width widescreen CCD. Most cameras simply crop or squeeze the image and add format bars.

    Check out the Canon Elura 65. It's got pretty much all the higher end bells and whistles except for it's a single chip camera. That doesn't make a huge difference unless you're going to be creating videos for use with a projector. On a "normal" sized display the single CCD rivals DVD for quality. The couple of times I've played my tapes back on my projector, I'd compare the quality (on a 90 inch screen) to an analog type recording on a tube display. There's some distortion, but it's minimal.

    I got mine for about $500 a couple of months ago.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    AS Mike mentions, this completely depends on your preference. Right now the 16X9 chips cost more and (again a nod to Mike) when you shoot 16X9 on a ‘regular’ chip, you lose some of the detail (this winds up with the same problems as a digital zoom). However, just a few years ago, this was how even the more expensive video cameras worked.

    OTOH, if you buy a camera that will shoot 16X9 in native mode, anything you shoot in 4X3 will also be cropped and you lose some detail.

    16X9 native chips are more expensive than the 4X3 chips right now.
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    For 16x9 w/ a typical camcorder, you can get a lens converter, but they can be expensive. I believe Sony makes some for $300-400(?). Basically, you need an anamorphic lens converter to squeeze the light onto a 4x3 frame. Not sure how easy/doable it is to use a Sony converter on other brand camcorders. And of course, it does add weight to use a converter and might throw the ergo of the camcorder off balance.

    _Man_
     

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