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Help buying a camcorder.... (1 Viewer)

Mike OConnell

Second Unit
Jun 14, 1999
Overland Park KS
Real Name
I am in the market for a camcorder and am not sure what to buy.

The main use will be for filming my son during sporting events and school events. I want to be able to make VHS tapes from the camcorder to my VCR to send to Grandma and Grandpa's (who only own standard VHS VCR's).

Should I go digital? MiniDV, Digital8?

Should I go 8mm? 8mm, Hi8?

I would also like a digital camera for still photos to e-mail, but it seems that you have to spend alot of cash to get a digital camcorder with resolution high enough for good digital photos. It would seem cheaper to buy a lower cost camcorder (8mm, Hi8) and a decent digital camera (2-3 MB) and you would come out ahead...

Any suggestions would be helpful. I am new at camcorders, as I have never owned one.

Oh yeah - budget.... I would like to stay under $600, if feasible for one or both, but am prone to stretching my budget a bit if necessary.



Nov 21, 2001
I just purchased the Sony TRV - 27 and am too new to it to pretend to be knowledgeable, but I don't feel MiniDVs transfer to standard VHS, although the Sony allows for the transfer of analog sources to digital.
A good place to research the issue, as well as gain access to a multitude of reviews is:
Also, and perhaps just as important, is getting the best deal you can get. Your $600 will go a lot further then. The cheapest price I could get at places like Circuit City, Good Guys, and Best Buys was $999. Nonetheless, Sears was more than willing to match ANY internet price I could find.
Their only qualification is that the shipping price be included and that you bring a print out of the cost including shipping as well as stating that it is a new-in-box unit. The price I received was $772, and I might have even reduced it more if I spent more time at it. A good source for internet sellers is:
This site also includes very in-depth reviews by customers of the products. Just find the video cam section under electronics and go to the models you are interested in. They will have links to internet sellers as well as their most recent prices. Even if you go to a seller not listed for the video cam you're interested in, follow the links as they might well sell that individual model at their site.

Thomas Newton

Senior HTF Member
Jun 16, 1999
Real Name
Thomas Newton
Oh yeah - budget.... I would like to stay under $600, if feasible for one or both, but am prone to stretching my budget a bit if necessary.
$600 is not enough to buy a decent digital camera and a decent digital camcorder. Digital camcorders seem to start at around $500 (retail); digital cameras with at least 2 megapixel resolution and an optical zoom go for $300+. That's not counting accessories, which add up.

You might be able to make the $600 limit by buying a Hi8 camcorder ($300) and shopping carefully for a 2 megapixel digital camera with optical zoom (another $300).

You could also just buy a digital camcorder with a still photo feature that you know is less than optimal, and use the camcorder as your digital camera until you are able to purchase a separate camera.

Models to consider:

Hi8 -- Sony, Canon.

Digital8 -- Sony DCR-TRV340 (about $700). Bulky, has a black-and-white viewfinder, but has a 25x optical zoom lens and a large lens (suggesting good light gathering power). Probably has a still photo mode using Memory Sticks. Sub-megapixel CCD.

Digital8 -- Sony DCR-TRV740. More $$$ and smaller optical zoom (15x), but you get a megapixel CCD, which might improve still photos a tad. There doesn't seem to be much else to recommend this model over the 340.

MiniDV - Canon ZX-45 (about $700) and -50 ($800). Compact, have 18x and 22x optical zooms (although lenses appear to be smaller than with the Sony => a possible indication of reduced ability to shoot in low light). Still photo mode using MMC flash cards. Sub-megapixel CCDs.

MiniDV - Sony DCR-TRV27 (about $1000). Mid-sized, has a 10x optical zoom, a megapixel CCD, and a still photo mode using Memory Sticks. Color viewfinder -- like the Canon ZX models. 3.5" color LCD.

Scott L

Senior HTF Member
Feb 29, 2000
For that matter, seriously consider avoiding any camcorder that can't serve as a VCR (recording video from line input / S-Video input).
VERY important advice for the savvy DV editor like yourself. I wish I thought of this feature when I got a JVC MiniDV. It's a great little camcorder but I wish I could use the line inputs to convert VHS --> Firewire --> capture clips to the computer.

Adil M

Supporting Actor
Nov 21, 2001
Go to CC and grab one of their yellow camcorder pamphlets.
It has all the camcorders they have and their features ina nice little chart.
A. Camcorders can't do digital stills for shyte.
B. Digital is clearer and better, but if you're recording by analog to a VHS tape you're losing the added digital resolution.
C.The new Hitachis can record to mini DVD's.
D.Need a firewire card for transferring to your computer.
E. On the pamphlet judge video quality based on CCD pixels.
F. You pay for size.
Good luck.

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