Need Advice on MiniDV Camera

Discussion in 'Photography' started by JonS, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    I am in the process of looking for a new camcorder. I will use it to make short films with my friends and family, basically my own personal film school since I cant go to the real thing. I want to be able to film something, transfer it to my computer, edit it and then burn it to DVD or transfer back to tape. I have always been scared of using digital or even transferring video to my computer to edit because of pixelization/dropped frames/out of sync audio/etc. I would appreciate any explanations of this stuff, I have read a million websites on this stuff so far, so I am really just looking for personal opinions and advice.

    I know NOTHING about digital. All I have ever used was 8mm tape cameras. But, I have learned that MiniDV is what I am looking for.

    The camera that looks the best to me for my price range is the Sony DCRTRV19, then again I really have no idea about this stuff.

    Any advice on cameras, video cards, or anything else would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I cannot help regarding the camera to PC issues, but I do own the next model up (TRV22) from the one you are considering. One feature missing in the TRV19 that I really like in the TRV22 is the color viewfinder. This is the first camcorder I've owned with this feature, after owning 8mm and Hi8mm models with b&w viewfinders for many years. It's much easier to see what you are recording with the color viewfinder, and I generally prefer using it over the pull-out LCD screen.
     
  3. Jack Fanning

    Jack Fanning Second Unit

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  4. ClintS

    ClintS Stunt Coordinator

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    I am doing what you ask, taking MiniDV to pc and burning to DVD. I am still trying several software packages. Nero Suite seems fairly easy but basic. I also am having trouble with losing frames during the transfer. I have used the microsoft moviemaker with windows xp it is easy and worked flawlessly. I then took this movie and authored it to DVD using nero.

    I use a panasonic camera, so far its been really nice, very small and cheaper than the sony by a couple hundred dollars with most of the same features. Its the PV-GS50 [​IMG]
     
  5. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    I do quite a bit of video work. I use a Canon GL-1 (which you might look at on the resale market. It has been replaced by the GL-2, so you might be able to get a used on pretty cheap). I use Adobe Premier for video editing, although in the beginning I used Pinnacle Studio DV 7 (now replaced by Studio 8). I would highly recommend Studio DV for starting movie makers. It's very easy to use.

    If you have a good computer system (up to date), with lots of ram (it's cheap, so definately spend the money), a defragged hard drive (or even better, a 2nd hard drive just for raw video footage, to seperate the operating system from the video footage), and a firewire card, you shouldn't have problems with dropped frames. Your computer needs to be as "clean" as possible (with few running processes, such as virus protection, etc.).

    Here is a great website, with lots of articles and forums for videomakers.

    www.computervideomaker.com

    Enjoy your new hobby!
     
  6. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    I have the next step up from Scott's...the TRV33. Great camera! I love it. The camera is small and light, yet takes excellent video and decent stills. It does well under low-light conditions which is more than Canon's similarly priced cameras can say.

    I did the bulk of my research at www.camcorderinfo.com. It's a very informative site with not only reviews, but plenty of articles explaining different aspects of the camcorders.


    If you decide to purchase online, beware of grey-market retailers. While they have cheap prices, avoid them at all costs. I bought my camera from B&H Photo (www.bhphotovideo.com) and these guys were awesome. Not only was the camera much much cheaper than anybody else (online or off, save for the aforementioned grey-market), I also got a $50 gift card for more accessories. Wherever you decide to purchase, check out resellerratings.com.
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I'll second Leila's recommendation on bhphotovideo.com. I didn't purchase my Sony TRV22 from them (I got it at OneCall.com), but I have purchased other camera equipment from them and had very good experiences.

    I was initially drawn to the Canon's because of the more powerful optical zoom lens, but the better performance in low light and better lens was what sold me on the Sony. The image quality is great. I have not really bothered with the digital still photo feature, since I have a very good Canon PowerShot G3 digital camera already.
     
  8. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the help.

    It's a hard and frustrating process researching what camera to buy.

    I'm sure I'll have more questions in the coming days. Thanks again.
     
  9. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure if this is in your budget but I just bought the PV-GS70 the Xmas and I'm thrilled with this camcorder. I got it fron onecall.com for $637 shipped afer a small rebate. Go to your nearest Circuit City and it will cost you $1k!
     
  10. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    What you'll need:
    -Firewire card
    -Large HD - at least 100 GB (It's best to just buy an external that is used exclusively for your video footage)
    -At least a 7200 RPM HD
    -At least 500+ MB RAM
    -Recent processor
    -Editing software (What you buy, rather spend, comes down to how much editing you plan on doing)
    (Any computer purchased within the last year will probably be good enough to go as is).

    Unless you plan on making lots of copies of the films you make, there really isn't much need to burn them to DVD - an outputted video on a DV tape will look much nicer than a DVD.
     
  11. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    Thats the camera that has been recommended to me a few times now. It sounds great, but is a little out of my price range. I cant spend much more than $600 at the very most, and even that is pushing it.


    Seth,
    Thanks for the list. Now I have a good idea about what changes need to be made to my computer.
     
  12. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    JonS,

    I should also add that you will need a recent processor and video card. The editing software you choose will be the major determinate here.

    If you're currently enrolled in school, be sure to take advantage of educational discounts on software and hardware. Checkout JourneyEd
     
  13. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    What impact exactly will the editing software have on things? Odds are I would get something cheap, I dont need to do anything too complex, just cut scenes together and add sound effects/music.
     
  14. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Some software makers come off as being very picky about hardware. That's all. The newer your equipment is, the less of a chance that they'll be any problems. And in general, the better your processor and video card are, the smoother the software will run.
     
  15. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been doing some heavy research and the camera that seems the best fit for me is the Sony TRV38. Nothing sounds perfect, but this one seems like it would be what I need.

    Any comments on this particular camera?
     
  16. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    The TRV-38 was also on my short list and has gotten good press from the user community. I also have a friend who owns one is very pleased with it - like most sub $2000 camcorders, you will find that low light is ok but don't expect any miracles. You can always add a video light on the 38's hot shoe.

    I thought your budget was less that $600...the 38 is priced very close to the gs-70. If you can afford the 38 you should seriously look at the gs-70. I thought the 38 looked a little dated with that big 3.5" lcd screen.
     
  17. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I believe the main differences between the TRV38 and my TRV22 are higher resolution still pictures and a larger LCD screen. If you do not plan on using the camcorder to take digital still photos, you could probably get by with the TRV22 and save some money. I purchased the TRV22 for less than $600 early last summer.
     
  18. JonS

    JonS Stunt Coordinator

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    My budget was miraculously highered to no more than $650.

    I can get the TRV38 for just about $650, but the PVGS70 is closer to $750-$800.

    There are some major differences between the 38 and the 22. Things like a manual focus ring and color viewfinder. And some other minor improvements. The ability to shoot in low light is slightly improved, but your right, there is very little difference in overall image quality.

    I have been looking this camera over and over again and I am starting to think that this might be the one.

    Any last comments on this particular camera, I am going to probably let everything sink in a day, so there is plenty of time to talk me out of this model.
     
  19. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    go to www.camcorderinfo.com and see what they have to say about those camcorders. I was also considering the 22 but read that it's poor mic placement picked up some of the camcorder operations. But my brother in law has this camcorder and I thought it had great video...though I had nothing to compare it to.

    As for the Gs-70, like I said, I got mine for $637 shipped...check the forums for the best prices, usually they are better than pricegrabber. If Ihad picked Sony I would have gone with the trv-22 or trv-70.
     
  20. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I've done all my editing on Macs using Final Cut Pro or iMovie and dropped frames has rarely been an issue. In fact it's happened so rarely that I can't even remember what the cause and solution were!

    I have a friend who has experimented with various apps on the PC side. There's certainly more to choose from, which is the American way, but if you're at all comfortable with Macs having a quality limited option like iMovie is not a bad way to go when you're first starting out.

    I just spent some time at camcorderinfo.com and the TRV22 is probably what I would go with myself given the budget. Dream camera of course would be the Canon XL1 or GL2; nice compromise would be the Sony TRV950. Three chippers all the way baby!
     

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