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Old July 7th, 2005, 10:22 PM   #1
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More Information and Opinion?

Please help. I'm frustrated and undecided and would really like some direction. I'm trying to purchase my own DV camcorder and want to get the most for my money. Here's the deal and what I don't understand.

I've been using a borrowed HDR-HC42 camera. It's been better than expected in low light and excellent in stable, non-moving bright light. It tends to get blurry at other times.

I understand there are "effective pixels" and "video resolution". I think (and correct me all over the place) that effective pixels are the number of pixels captured to DV. Video resolution is the number of pixels that can be outputted to the TV(?). It seems video resolution would be more important to the tv set and not the camcorder so I am sure I am missing something here.

I want something that will get me a sharper picture but haven't been able to justify price differences. I am also not sure that I understand what is really getting me a better picture (effective pixels?).

So, here are the finalists. Please help me choose. The data is from camcorderinfo.com and please correct anything that may not be correct.

Panasonic GS400 - $1300, 3 CCD x 1/4.7, 700k effective pixels, unk resol.
Canon Elura 90 - $650, CCD x 1/4.5, 690k effective pixels, 126,844 resol.
Sony DCRHC90 - $950, CCD x 1/3, 2050k(?) eff. pixels, unk. resol.
Sony HDR-HC1 HDV - $2000, CMOS x 1/3, 1.49 eff. pixels, 315,519 resol.

I've read nothing but glowing reviews on the GS400 but it seems like the picture quality would not be much better than the Elura 90 or HC42, based on effective pixels, and the night filming is not as good as Sony. What am I missing? Obviously the HC1 is the best choice but may be more expensive than I am willing to spend.

Any opinions or other options not presented here would be greatly appreciated. I really, really want to make this purchase already. Thanks for any help.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 10:54 PM   #2
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Quote:
I think (and correct me all over the place) that effective pixels are the number of pixels captured to DV. Video resolution is the number of pixels that can be outputted to the TV(?).
The DV frame size (resolution, if you like) is 720x480, and that is what all DV cameras write to tape, and play back. Effective pixels are the number of pixels on the CCD. You can read more about the topic of effective pixels in this thread: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=28907

As mentioned in that thread, there is more to the story than just effective pixels. The quality of electronics, processing, optics, and three CCDs (or a three color filter that does about the same thing on some newer DV camcorders) all affect the image quality. You can't just base your choice on effective pixels. (Sorry it isn't that simple.)

I'm sure there are others here that can give informed opinions on the camcorders you listed. Since I really don't know anything about them, I can't help you in that department, so I'll bow out and let the others take over.
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Old July 7th, 2005, 11:05 PM   #3
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The camcorder that *feels right* in your hands is the right camcorder for you.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 04:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help. I've read yet even more posts and done even more research and have narrowed it down to the following.

Panasonic GS400, GS250
Canon Optura 50, 60, Xi

These all give the options for external audio which is a key component from my readings. I haven't seen great reviews for the 60 and have seen great reviews for the gs400.

Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I've seen this question in a similar post but it went unanswered - What is justifying the extra price tag on the GS400? Is the picture quality better, more colorful, etc? Or does everyone think Canon is the way to go?

As many opinons as possible would be great. Thanks everyone.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #5
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Chris, I was in the same EXACT boat as you last week in deciding between the Optura 60, Xi or Gs400. Those were my three final picks.

My choice......the Optura 60.

Reason: I want to get some hands-on video work for possible commercial work in the future (weddings, live events, corporate, whatever). Having never worked with a cmaera extensively, I will need to learn the tricks of the trade. When my friend and I first considered all of our options, we wanted to jump in head first with a high dollar camera, like an FX1.

Thankfully, we were advised by more than one person to test the water first. Start out small, work your way up. So, taking that into consideration, we looked at lower priced 3CCD cameras, and I singled out the GS400.

That is when I found this fantastic forum. I read up for days on cameras and noticed the Optura 60 and Xi mentioned in good regard. They had all the features we wanted and true 16:9. We went back and forth considering both models only had 1 CCD, but the more I read, the RGB filter acted like a 3CCD camera.

It finally came down to price. We figured why spend twice as much on the Panasonic STARTING OUT when the optura would give us a good learning tool. The only downside we saw was the size of the camera compared to others, but now that I have it here, it doesn't bother me at all.

Just tried it out a few hours ago and will do more filming this weekend. This is jusy my opinion coming form someone new to the field. I will grow with my equipment. The more experience, the better the equipmnet. Hope I might have helped a little.
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Old July 9th, 2005, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thanks John. I had been keeping up with your posts and that is what made me consider the Canon line more seriously. I saw a question in your post that I also posted here but no one wants to touch it. So let me throw it back out there.

What am I gaining in the Panasonic GS400 for an additional $300-$500? Is the film quality better? Is it sharper, clearer, more colorful, better in low light?

From my research it seems that the picture quality is comparable and both are not very good in low light.

Anyone care to stab at this?
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Old July 9th, 2005, 01:45 PM   #7
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There seems to be some quirkiness with the GS-400 widescreen recordings ... might want to check out...

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=46581

Cheers,

-Matt
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Old July 9th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #8
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There's nothing quirky with the GS-400 widescreen recordings. The problems mentioned in the post occur with any camcorder, including the Optura series.

The problem occurs when anamorphic 16:9 interlaced video is proportionally resized to be viewed within a 4:3 frame, something you might do, if you want to distribute your widescreen video on VHS tape. Severe combing and shearing will show up on fast moving objects. The problem occurs because the interlaced fields don't match up 1-to-1 after the conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Ockenfels
There seems to be some quirkiness with the GS-400 widescreen recordings ... might want to check out...http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=46581
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Old July 16th, 2005, 11:55 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the help. Like I said, I am really new to the DV World. I feel I may have made a mistake. Can someone help?

I ended up finding the Optura 50 at a good price and bought it. Now I am trying to transfer digital video to my CPU and Windows XP has not recognized it when connected to my USB port. After checking the manual, it seems that only the Optura 60 can transfer DV to CPU. Is this correct?

I've looked all over for info on this and can't find it anywhere. Please someone tell me if I am screwed or if I am doing something wrong. All my USB ports have been verified operation by other devices.

How can I get my taped DV onto my CPU? If I can't I can still take the camera back but tomorrow is my last day. Please hurry! Thanks.
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Old July 17th, 2005, 01:04 AM   #10
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Chris, relax you made a good choice.

First, use the firewire port to download your video.

Second, do you have software to help you download the video? I believe the Optura 50 comes with some.
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Old July 17th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #11
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Thanks Michael. Unfortunately I am still flipping out.

I have installed the software and driver but XP is still not detecting my camcorder via USB.

I cannot find the Firewire port on my Optura 50 which is of monumental importance (and probably monumental ignorance). Not only can I not find the neat Firewire symbol on any camera ports but I also cannot find anything about a Firewire (or IEEE) port in my Optura 50 manual (which should also be the same manual for the 60).

There is also a "System Diagram" page that shows various items you can link/use with your camcorder. It includes S cables & USB cables and DV cables, etc., but no Firewire diagrams or mention anywhere.

I have not found mention of this anywhere on this site or another. Any ideas anyone? I have until 5 pm ET today to make these discoveries or return my camcorder. Please help. Thanks.
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Old July 17th, 2005, 11:54 AM   #12
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"I cannot find the Firewire port on my Optura 50 which is of monumental importance (and probably monumental ignorance). "

Well, I was correct - monumental ignorance. As I typed "DV cables" it didn't hit me that those were exactly what I was looking for. I found my firewire port and will be connecting to my computer. I am crossing my fingers that this will cure all problems and my camcorder will then be recognized.

I will post an update later today on my results. If nothing else, I hope some are finding some great humor in this.

Thanks as always.
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