Buying a Mini-DV camera

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ryan Wright, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    Looking for advice! I prefer a very small camera. My folks have a nice Sony, but it's fairly large and bulky. When I was in NY earlier this year, I only recorded ~40 minutes of footage because the camera was too much to lug around. I need something that fits in the palm of my hand easily, otherwise I won't carry it with me and it will see little use.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Chris Hovanic

    Chris Hovanic Supporting Actor

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    Ryan.

    In my research about a year ago It was a toss up between the Sony (don't recall model) and the Cannon ZR series. I ended up going with the Sony. It is not a small palm size camera.

    My wife and I decided for the larger camera because of:
    1. Ergonomics - With my larger hands, the palm sized were too hard to operate.
    2. Harder to hold the camera steady because of the light weight.
    3. My wife liked how the Sony felt.

    As far as the features went the Canon's and Sony were pretty much neck and neck. I think the cannon had a slightly better optical zoom and the Sony had a better night/low light recording. I would bet the palm size cameras would be about the same as far as options go.

    My best advice would be... go with a camera that fits your hand and is comfortable to operate. Can you zoom in and out with out stretching your fingers out of whack? If its uncomfortable you won't even want to get 40 min. of footage.

    Optics are important. Get the camera with the best optics. Sony uses a Carl Zeiss lens which are pretty good from what I understand. Remember that digital zoom is all hype (which you prob. already knew).

    Not sure how battery life is on the palm size camera but that would be important to me.

    Go hold/fondle all of them.... if you can go to a specialty shop that does not have all the cables holding them down would be best. That way you get the best idea of the way it feels.

    Good luck on your search. [​IMG]

    **EDIT**
    I have the Sony TRV18
    **End EDIT**
     
  3. millercv

    millercv Second Unit

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    I've had one of the JVC mini-dv cameras for a couple of years now and I love it. It is one of the more rectangular looking ones.

    The best thing about it is it fits in a camera case w/ a beltloop so on vacations its just as easy to carry as a normal camera.
     
  4. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Ryan,

    I've used pretty much every camera that Sony makes, and a few of the other brands too. I like the Sony models over all other brands due to the camera construction, the ergonomics, and the menu and button placement. The Sony models make the most sense.

    They've switched over to touchscreen menus on most (all?) of their new miniDV cameras, so if that bothers you I'm sure you can get one of the older ones still.

    The PC105 is absolutely miniscule, it's a great camera to use when you don't want to haul anything with you. I've used it for location scouting because it's just so easy to take around. The PC120 is a slightly larger model with a few more features.

    If you need a 3CCD camera, the TRV950 gives a great picture and the camera is still pretty small. I just shot some auditions on this camera and I was impressed with the size. I'm not sure how small you consider "small" to be, so if size is the most important thing you might want to stick with one of the PC models.

    The Sony stamina batteries are great, but to keep size down you probably don't want to get the biggest battery. If you put it on the PC camera it's almost as large as the camera itself and it sticks out the side a bit awkwardly.

    The TRV 19/22/33 models are the newest ones, and I believe (you should double check this though) that the tapes load in the side. I think the 38/39 models were the ones that load in the tape from the bottom, which is something that can be a pain. It's not always a big deal, but if the camera's on a tripod, you need to unscrew the quickmount before you can swap tapes.

    Obviously you know that going with MicroMV or some other format is a bad idea... MiniDV is the only format.

    If you need something with more kick, the Panasonic 24P DVC80 is a nice camera that allows you to shoot a type of 24p on MiniDV - it's unnecessary if all you're shooting is home movies, and it's probably too bulky for your purposes. It's about as big as a Sony VX2000 which is getting into the "too big to use it casually" range. Same goes for a Canon XL1.

    The Canon GL-2 is about the same size as the larger Sony cameras, and it's got 3CCDs. Personally, I don't like Canon cameras as much as Sony. I've also experienced a few problems with tapes recorded on Canon cameras playing back on other miniDV decks, which might be an issue.

    If you have any specific questions relating to any particular model, let me know and I'll do my best to help you out.

    Bob
     
  5. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  6. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Be sure to get one with a higher pixel count. You'll enjoy it later!

    My father just recorded my sister's school chorus concert with our JVC MiniDV. When we got home and played it we were very disappointed. Getting big scope pictures with it is crap because there's no detail. The model we have has the lowest possible pixel count, so just keep that in mind.
     

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