Would love some help picking a digital camcorder, please!

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Frank_M, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. Frank_M

    Frank_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi all -

    I'm ready to jump into the digital camcorder pond... and would sure appreciate some advice. I've been doing some research and am unsure if I can actually get something I'll be happy with for a number of years at the price I'm intersted in paying.

    Here's what I know:
    1. I do not want to skimp on video quality. Does this mean if I don't get 3 CCD I'll be kicking myself in 2-3 years?
    2. I'd like a wide screen mode
    3. I'd like a good optical zoom
    4. I dont care about stills, I have an Olympus C700 for that
    5. I want an analog pass through to be able to take my old stuff off my old camcorder and convert it (can you do this from a vcr as well for old tapes?)
    6. I was hoping to spend $700 or so... but now I just want to find out what I need to spend to get something I'll be happy with.
    7. I'd like something that's small but I'm not concerned about it being as small as humanly possible. :)

    Here's the thing, though. I do not want to spend $700-$800 on something that in 2-3 years will be out of date. I know how fast technology advances... but what I mean is, I'm willing to pay (within reason) what I need to to get the kind of camera that I can use for a long time. So if THE camera is $1000-$1200? Well... then that's what it is. We'd just have to figure out if it's worth it right now or not.

    For example, my C700 has a 10x optical zoom, and shoots great photos. I don't care that they come out with 3 meg cameras, or later 4 or 5 megs. My camera is great and we'll be able to use it for a long time.

    We're taking our 4-year old (sorry, he'd get mad.. 4 and A HALF) to Disney in August, and if we could swing it, I'd like to get something for the trip. But if it's simply too expensive to get what we need to get now... I'd rather wait than get something I'll regret.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    My advice: Find a small camera with decent quality. A nice 3CCD with today's best quality is going to be closer to $1500-$2000. And rather bulky, IMHO. If you're going to tote this thing around Disneyland/world, you'll really appreciate a small camera.

    I just bought a Sony DCR-TRV33 @ Best Buy for $800. Got a free extra battery and a $75 Best Buy gift certificate with it, too. It's a very small camera, acceptable picture quality, and a real wide screen mode (that actually makes the field of view WIDER when you switch to it, AND uses all pixels, rather than just matting the image with black bars). I record everything in 16:9.

    Any camera you buy is going to be out of date in 2 to 3 years. That's just how it is. However, so long as you stick with MiniDV (Don't buy Hi-8, or Sony's proprietary MicroMV), you'll be able to enjoy your camera for several years to come. I won't be needing to upgrade mine for at least 5 years, as that's about the time consumer level HD cameras will be affordable.

    Panasonic makes a really small 3CCD camera (PV-GS70), not much bigger than the TRV33, for about $1000. However, reviews indicate quality between this and the TRV33 single-CCD cam are about equal (I did a lot of research). In other words, 3CCD does not always mean better picture quality.

    Anyway, for your price range, the TRV33 is a great camera.

    One more note: I highly suggest buying any camera at a local store. If you must buy online, do a LOT of research. 9 out of 10 camera sellers on the Internet are scams. You will see a lot of really cheap prices - several hundred dollars under MSRP. Do a quick Google search on the company's domain name with the keyword "review" and you'll find out why. I've also noticed that some of these scam artists have been pumping up their review ratings on the various review sites, so be wary. If the price is more than ~$50 below MSRP, make sure you do your homework on the seller, and buy with a credit card so you have some recourse.
     
  3. Frank_M

    Frank_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Ryan -

    Thanks for the info! First, regarding buying online... I've done a decent amount of it, and am pretty savvy as to where is ok, and where is not.

    But in this case, if we spend more than we were planning, I might prefer Best Buy with the $0 payments for 16 months deal they've got going.

    The cameras you mentioned were two I was looking into. I'd heard great stuff about the new Panansonic (DV953), but also about some Sonys.

    What's the difference between the TRV22, TRV33 and TRV70? Isn't there also a TRV38? If you looked into this already, I'd be curious as to what pushed you to the 33 over the others.

    Thanks!

    Oh, and do the Sony's allow you to take a feed from an analog camcorder?
     
  4. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    For a small amount of money you can gat a card for your computer with 'video in' to digitize those old movies. It often comes with fairly nice editing software. Probably easier than running it through your camera.

    As far as picking a camera, I would only suggest that you pick one that has a decent battery life. Some can really eat through a battery in no time at all. That defeats the whole point IMHO. What good is a great camera if it is out of juice?

    I'd make that a top priority in selecting a camera. I too will be shopping for a camera in the near future, though not quite of your caliber. I'll be watching what you get, so please keep us updated.
     
  5. Kyle-K

    Kyle-K Stunt Coordinator

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    We just bought a Sony too... the DCR-TRV22 actually.

    Very happy with it. I read that it is slightly (probably very slightly) better in low light situations than the DCR-TRV33...

    For the $100 difference in price between it and the DCR-TRV33, I didn't see anything that really made me want to go one more level up.

    Keep an eye on circuitcity.com as well as bestbuy.com for deals. The prices don't change but they will offen give you a gift card with purchase. Mine came with a $50GC. (and a $100 MSN wallet credit) through circuit city. I just recently saw that you could get $100 GC, but it may have already expired.

    These cameras don't seem to go on sale too often... so these extras seem the best way to get some deals...

    hope it helps,
    --kyle
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    Just a thought if you're hard on equipment , the Digital8 is harder to break , records in the same format (according to the service training manual) and you may have a local servicer who can repair it . MiniDV is technically a Factory Service only item from almost all the manufacturers (costly ; $260-$450). While a local servicer may be able to help you out , manuals and test jigs and parts don't always exist for field repair. For instance ,Sharp won't supply anything ; Sony will supply almost everything .
     
  7. Chris Clarno

    Chris Clarno Agent

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  8. Frank_M

    Frank_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the info, Chris!

    Of all the Sony's I like the TRV80 the best (bigger screen).... but I really think I'm better off going with a three chip camera right now.

    And since the TRV950 is just too expensive, that means either the Panasonic DV-PV983 (which no one can seem to find!) or the less expensive PV-GS70.
     

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