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Old August 27th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #1
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HDV for non camera people

I have some friends who just had a baby and they want to get a camera. They know they want HDV cause everything is going HD and they know that. However, they are not camera people. So I'm trying to help them out by finding a few camera choices that would be good for them. I'm thinking they'll probably do best with an AVCHD camcorder that records to flash memory. Am I wrong? It seems like the easiest for them, cause they would just need to get a firewire card and then they can just copy the files over to their computer. Then it's just a matter of finding a good editing/DVD creating program for them.
So, assuming AVCHD on flash is the way to go, what are the best cameras like this, that don't cost a fortune. I'm betting they'll want to keep it below $1000 if they can. They do have a new mouth to feed after all.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 11:35 AM   #2
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No need for a firewire card if you go with AVCHD. All of that is transferred via USB. Only tape-based camcorders require a capture process over firewire.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 11:51 AM   #3
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My advice

I also have to often entertain this question. My answer is this: go for a hard drive, flash, or DVD based camcorder if you have no editing plans, but if you would like to do any editing on your footage, go miniDV. AVCHD editing is still living it's baby times - pun intended.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 12:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Skube View Post
I have some friends who just had a baby and they want to get a camera. They know they want HDV cause everything is going HD and they know that.
I would caution them about indoor performance. Don't say "low-light", because most people think that means candle light. I'm talking about the typical indoor lighting I see: three sixty-watt light bulbs for a 200 sq.ft. room. That's not enough for sub-$1000 HD units.

I would recommend they triple or quadruple their light output in every room where they want to video the baby. 100+ watt bulbs, extra lamps, etc.

If that's not palatable, tell them to get a standard-definition camera like the GS-500 (if they can find it) or shoot all their video outdoors or by a window.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 01:02 PM   #5
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I bought a SR7 AVCHD cam a few weeks ago ( also have FX1, HC96, TRV50, TRV740 plus older stuff) Reason was to go HD for my casual family shoots rather than use the FX1. Advantage of any of these "consumer" cams is that simple edits can be done "in Camera", lots of info is saved with clips such as date time etc, and backup to PC is also very easy with the Sony included software. Its easy to show people clips since they are all available to choose from not possible with tape based systems that need to be edited and transfered to DVD for similar ease of use. I have made AVCHD discs with the Sony software and also DVD's though this is very slow since the software only seems to use one core in the PC to encode to DVD MPEG2.
I would also recommend this approach for someone who is not really interested in editing but wants video for now and the future. I am sure editing of AVCHD will improve in the next little while but for the normal consumer its OK now( cuts editing and assembly with Sony Motion Browser software or get more elaborate with Pinnacle, Ulead or Vegas ).
HDD cameras of AVCHD have long record times as an advantage but need to be backed up frequently as would Flash memory based units.
As far as low light performance is concerned the SR7 is just as good as the HC96 miniDV cam ( not surprising they are both 1/3 imagers from Sony) and in normal lighting are perfectly acceptable. They tend to gain up too much in low light but in manual can be reduced and get a better picture more like reality!!! Taking shots of the baby in the dark will be a challenge for any camera!!!! Video cameras need light.

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Old August 28th, 2007, 05:31 AM   #6
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I disagree about getting an AVCHD or any harddrive/DVD/flashcard camera for a non-camera guy. I think the best camera for him is an HDV camcorder that shoots to tape. Better quality, better workflow for editing, and better archiving for holding on to those special baby moments are the main reasons to stick with HDV. I would recommend the Sony HC7, which can also double as a very nice still camera, or the Canon HV20. Both are around $1k and have decent low light performance. Sony has their night shot and super night shot for shooting in virtually no light. It's not pretty, but it does produce an image. I've actually shot acceptable images in a room lit with only a 20 watt bulb... a bit grainy and slow shutter engaged but acceptable.

The nice thing about tape is you can hold on to it, edit and/or record it to DVD. You always have a reliable backup of those once-in-a-lifetime video moments.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 07:56 AM   #7
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John, my thoughts on this matter mirrored yours until I got my daughter a Sony 505 DVD camera last year. She didn't want to edit, period. This camera allows her to delete clips she doesn't want , in camera, then copy the mini DVD with Nero to full size in her PC and store the min DVD. All info is now on the Nero made DVD with time date etc all preserved with reasonable DVD menus and mini DVD put by for backup!!. A tape based camera would require a lot of effort to get to this stage. Tape does have the advantage of reasonably safe backup, but it requires a lot of effort for someone not interested in the process to get the results they want. Whatever camera system chosen it will be necessary to make one more step to create DVD or a backup. The new AVCHD cameras make this step very easy, one button on the cameras base while attached to the PC pretty well does both, and very fast too for backup. As far as performance goes in reasonable light I can't tell the difference between my FX1 in HDV and the SR7. When light gets bad the FX1 is superior as one would expect but the image from the SR7 is still very acceptable. As you can tell I am impressed with the SR7. It too has night shot to get the green "see in the dark image" as well as slow shutter. Its really a HC7 with AVCHD HDD. With any camera its usefull to make a backup with AVCHD a AVCHD DVD backup is easy to make effectively preserving the original files( on cheap DVD media) in a watchable form on a BluRay player( like a PS3). I now know several people with kids who have moved from DV to AVCHD and like the change, no need to worry if there is enough tape in the camera is one point they make.

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Old August 28th, 2007, 08:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bosco Jr. View Post
I disagree about getting an AVCHD or any harddrive/DVD/flashcard camera for a non-camera guy. I think the best camera for him is an HDV camcorder that shoots to tape...
I think we need to define the term "not camera people" as the original poster calls his friends. To me that would mean people who don't know much about the whole video thing - no knowledge or either willingness of capturing to computer, editing, DVD authoring, etc.

So, John, how would a miniDV camera be better for people like this? Please explain.
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