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Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by ChrisHeflen, Dec 12, 2003.
Is there such a thing as a good camcorder for $350.00 or less?
OneCall has a Panasonic PV-DV103 MiniDV open box special $339. Nice unit ... but it is quite small. I would expect low light performance to be slighltly grainy (typical of MiniDV format with small image sensor). It's a good deal and a perfect match if you have a Panny DVD recorder with firewire input.
Should I stay away from the Hi8 and digital 8? I'm not gonna be using it that much. Mostly for my 10 mo. old.
MiniDV will provide a higher quality image than Hi8mm, so if you can afford the cost it is a better format. Digital8 is comparable, but it's a Sony proprietary format. From a cost standpoint, Digital8 is no cheaper than MiniDV. It's biggest selling point is that the camcorders can play back 8mm and Hi8mm tapes, providing backward compatibility for people transitioning from those formats. I have owned 8mm, Hi8mm and MiniDV camcorders. MiniDV is a major improvement in video quality over those analog formats. Since my Hi8mm camcorder still functioned, I decided to avoid the proprietary Digital8 format and went with MiniDV.
So what would you guys recommend? If I HAVE to spend more money then I will. If I don't have to, (I'm only using it for filming my kid mostly), then great. I'm mean if I'm being unrealistic at that price range then tell me.
It's really a trade off on cost vs. how much you feel you will use the device. The Hi8mm format will provide decent video quality, but the newer digital formats are better quality and you can transfer video via digital connections to your PC or DVD recorder. I have seen advertisements for Hi8mm camcorders at under $200, so if cost is your primary concern then that is the best solution. If you are more concerned about video quality and integration with your PC or DVD's, then MiniDV is the better (but more expensive) option. Also, some MiniDV models are quite small, so they are really easy to carry around. I purchased a Sony TRV-22 MiniDV camcorder this summer before a trip to Yellowstone. This replaced our old Sony Hi8mm camcorder. I was very pleased with the improved recording quality, and the compact size and light weight of the camcorder was great for all our hiking trips in the park. However, I spent over $600 for the camera and an extra battery, so this compact size is considerably more than your stated budget. The less expensive MiniDV cameras are generally a little larger.
Spend some more, get a DVD camcorder. They are just to cool... I have seen the Sony DCR-DVD100 for under $600 on sale. Seems like a lot, but for the convenience, and long term permability, and video collection archive poitential, I'd say it makes much more sense. Good luck with your purchase.
My biggest concern regarding DVD camcorders is the current lack of reliability of recordable DVD media. With my standalone Panasonic E80 DVD recorder, I have experienced several disc errors that have resulted in DVD-R's as useless coasters. Since that unit has an internal hard drive, I do not lose any recorded material, just the time and cost of re-dubbing to another blank disc. With a DVD-based camcorder, I would be concerned that a disc would fail during the recording process and I would lose valuable, irreplacable video footage. I have never had an 8mm, Hi8mm or MiniDV tape fail in a camcorder. Once recordable DVD media becomes more reliable, I would agree that format would be an attractive option for a camcorder. Right now, though, I think it's a risky format for this type of use.
What sort of failure rates are you see'n on media? I read a ton before ordering my DVD Camcorder, and I had not read that as an issue in a ton of reviews....
you might think any advice I would give you might be overkill. I work at a fully digital HDTV transitioning tv station. What I can tell you from a consumer point of view is that you are better off with a miniDV camera. Don't bother spending the money on a lot of effects or extras that you won't bother using in the long run anyway. You can find miniDV's for the $400 USD range from JVC, Panasonic, etc. Although I own both DV and a Digital8 which I have used for years, I would recommend miniDV because unless you need an "8" for backwards compatibility, why bother? Also, stay away from anything at the moment that is recording using blank media *other* than tape. There are just too many variables involved. It seems you don't want complications, you want simplicity and good value. That pretty much leaves miniDV. In the future, you'll perhaps discover that you will want to edit the video of your kid (s) or any number of other things. Buying something like a DVD Camcorder - you aren't paying for a better picture, or a better lens, you are paying for the technology to record directly to DVD. You are better off sticking with tape, until this or *any* other format matures. If you have more specific questions, drop me a line, and happy hunting *and* shooting!