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Old May 15th, 2004, 03:08 PM   #1
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Consumer/Prosumer 3CCD cameras?

I'm still shopping around for a DV camera for personal use. I've got access to nicer equipment through my university's DV club, but I can't take it into any sort of adverse/uncontrolled conditions, or use it for personal stuff. I'd like to get a 3CCD camera with decent image quality and an external mic connection (hotshoe preferable); I'd really rather avoid bells and whistles. my price ceiling is about $1,000.

So far, options seem to be the Panasionc PV-GS120 and maybe the Sony DCR-TRV950 (I've been told it's available for under $1,000, but I've never seen it for less than $1,400). What seems ideal would be a camera with that Sony's functionality, but without the gimicky Bluetooth and touchscreen menu. Does anyone have experience with either of these cameras, or a similar camera that might fit the bill? I've done a lot of googling but the options for 3CCD cameras under $2,000 seems very limited.

I'm willing to go for a single CCD rig, so long as the image quality is at least reasonable -- this is a casual use thing, but I'd rather be able to get good video out of it.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 04:58 PM   #2
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Try and find a good used TRV-900. 3-CCD, good in low light, reasonably small and fairly rugged (as camcorders go).

You really don't want a hotshoe-only microphone setup. Very limiting. You can only buy microphones from the camera manufacturer. Another bonus for the TRV-900 is that you can control audio level IIRC. That is quite important.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 04:59 PM   #3
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I don't know of any 3 chip cameras under $1,000. I think that Panasonic 953 (is that the right number?) has three 1/6" c hips.
Anyplace that sells a TRV950 for less than around $1400 could be one of those scam places, and I would be very wary of them. If you can find a good, low mileage used TRV900, you might be able to get within your price range.
I think for casual use you might be better off getting a good quality single chip camera.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 11:25 PM   #4
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I would suggest a Canon Optura XI. I have one and love it. I also use a Sony TRV 950 and the image quality of the XI is just as good, based on my experience. The Optura XI is a single chipper and I bought mine locally for $1299. Online they can be had for less but be careful of broadway photo and other scam photo sites.

The XI has a nice lens, excellent 3.5" LCD, and native 16:9 mode as well.
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Old May 16th, 2004, 09:54 AM   #5
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The TRV900 is getting extremely long in the tooth and you run the risk of buying high mileage equipment.

If you are definitely set on a sub $1000 3CCD consumer model then run out and get a Panasonic PV-DV953 (they are selling out fast).

I wasn't too impressed with my Optura Xi and only kept for a month. The build quality and other small quirks had me missing the PV-DV953. Low light is about the same on the two even though the Xi has a much larger CCD. This is due to the two million pixels on the Xi.
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Old May 16th, 2004, 12:18 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tommy Haupfear : The TRV900 is getting extremely long in the tooth and you run the risk of buying high mileage equipment.
-->>>

Not long in the tooth at all. It will keep up and surpass most of the current body of near-$1,000 camras.

And if you buy it 'right,' not high mileage either. Lots of 900's out there, some with almost zero time and up for sale.

Next to a 2100, the 900 or it's prosumer version with XLR inputs (what was the model number of that one?) would be my camera of choice, having used one in a few weddings and other events.

We have several in our inventory at the local college and they are the cameras of choice for almost everyone since we don't have 2000's or better available.
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Old May 16th, 2004, 12:29 PM   #7
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The TRV900 is a great performer but for the price of a used one you can get a brand new 3CCD cam from Panasonic (with a warranty).

I guess I've been burned too many times by buying used.
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Old May 16th, 2004, 05:20 PM   #8
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The Panasonic PV-DV953 is great cam for the buck right now, if you can still find one. The PV-DV120 is a lot less cam than the DV953. I wouldn't consider a TRV900 today, as Tommy said, the mileage could be a concern with buying used.
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Old May 17th, 2004, 11:05 AM   #9
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Thank you for the informative replies! I've been able to find some pretty good prices on the DV953, and I'm fairly sure I'll sink the cash and pick one up ASAP. Thanks much, again.
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Old May 17th, 2004, 11:23 AM   #10
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I agree about used--you'd have to be very careful. I, personally, probably wouldn't buy a used camera unless I knew the person selling it and could find out how many hours it had, which is very difficult to do with the non-pro cameras. But, if you could find a really nice used TRV900, it would be excellent. Problem is, when the 950 came out with smaller chips, lots of people preferred the 900, and for awhile when they were still in stock new, the dealers jacked the price up. I remember I bought a new one for $1550, and after the 950 was on the market, I saw prices for some remaining 900's go up as high as $1850. Newer doesn't always mean better (often it means a better profit margin). On the other hand, now that the dust has settled, people seem to like the 950 OK, and the DVCAM version, the PDX10 does very good 16:9, allegedly.

How is the 953 compared to cameras like the TRV900? I've never seen one in person. I'd assume the smaller chips would be less good in low light, but how about normal use? Do you get the increased vertical smearing from cramming in too many pixels into a smaller chip (like the 950)?
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