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Old May 22nd, 2006, 02:57 PM   #1
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New Camcorder Question.....Please Help!!

Hello everyone. This is a great forum. Some of you have helped me out before and I really appreciate it. I am wondering if you guys might help me with a question regarding my new camcorder purchase.

I am wanting a camcorder good in low light (I shoot as much indoors or more than out), excellent quality video (I'm an artist and am very sensitive to visual quality), and compact size. I really don't even know if this is possible!

The camcorders I'm considering are: Sony DCR-PC96, Canon Elura 100 (very inexpensive), Canon Optura 50, Canon Optura 600 (can get on Ebay from Japanese dealer) and Panasonic PV-GS300. I even considered the Sony HC3, but that seems to be way too much...

I was wondering your pick between these and if there is a real VISUAL/PERFORMANCE difference (advantage) between them. I know some will perform better than others in low light--any significantly so?

Thank you so much for your help--I really appreciate it! James Dormer
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 04:39 PM   #2
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All the camcorders in that range will have similar performance in low light. The main differences are going to be ergonomics. Another minor difference, out of the box each manufacturer sets their camcorders to have what they consider the "best look". Thus you'll hear people preferring the Canon, Sony, or Panasonic look, all very subjective.

For better low light performance, look at the Canon GL or Sony VX/PD series. You're going to spend at the very least around US$1,500-2,000 for that added performance. Haven't used them yet, but the HC3 and A1U look like they have better low light performance than the camcorder range you mentioned.

If you want to save money, you could go with one of the lower end camcorders, and buy a starter lighting kit.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 09:42 PM   #3
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Hi Michael--thanks for the reply.

I haven't seen either of the camcorders you've suggested. I suspect they are larger than what I'm looking for. I really want a camcorder that I can take with me--one that's quite portable.

The HC3 seems nice and I think (according to camcorderinfo.com) has better low light capabilities. The issue there is the price--$1200 best price I've seen. I have to wonder at that point if it's worth getting over say, the Optura 50 for around $400.00--or the Elura 100 at around $300.00....

Do you think one has noticeably better video quality overall (if low light is similar) or again, are they all fairly similar?

Thanks!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 02:55 PM   #4
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Anybody have any opinions on this???? I'd really appreciate them!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Dormer
Hi Michael--thanks for the reply.

I haven't seen either of the camcorders you've suggested. I suspect they are larger than what I'm looking for. I really want a camcorder that I can take with me--one that's quite portable.

The HC3 seems nice and I think (according to camcorderinfo.com) has better low light capabilities. The issue there is the price--$1200 best price I've seen. I have to wonder at that point if it's worth getting over say, the Optura 50 for around $400.00--or the Elura 100 at around $300.00....

Do you think one has noticeably better video quality overall (if low light is similar) or again, are they all fairly similar?

Thanks!
The image quality in HDV mode will be miles better than the image quality of the the other two-- hands down. On tape, you will just have a superior image.

However, if you are going to do DV output, then they get closer, and really becomes what you need. Most are buying HDV today because they are getting ready for the future. Some are actually using it in distribution, as the medium because more acceptable to the general public.

The nice thing about the HC1, which was forerunner of HC3, is that there were a lot of available ajustments. You also could shoot in HDV, and downconvert to DV right in camera, and have your image preserved as HDV for future use. I assume that has been retained in the HC3, though it has lost a lot of controls that came with the HC1.

here is an HC3 review: http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content...der-Review.htm


Hope that helps.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 10:59 PM   #6
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Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. I wanted to ask what you meant when you said:

"However, if you are going to do DV output, then they get closer, and really becomes what you need."

Could you give me an example to illustrate the point? Sorry, just trying to clarify.....

I really like the HC3, I just don't know if I can go that route financially. I'm trying to get the best I can afford--any suggestions? (good low light/compact/excellent video quality)....Thanks!!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:21 PM   #7
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What I mean is that HDV is beautiful, even in the lower end cameras, but if you are going to remain with working in standard definition DV, you can get as good a quality with less expensive alternatives.

3 years back when I bought my first 3 chip camera, I went with the Sony VX2000- a prosumer level camera that is the low light champ, along with its sisters the VX2100 and the pro version PD. These are the cams that lowlight output is measured against. New, those cameras are still in $2k, so I assume that is not where you are going.

In the under $1K area, I haven't been looking closely lately, so I can't tell you about low light capability. I do have Panasonic GS120 which is a 3 chip camera, and it provides alright performance. I think it is limited due to the quality of the "glass". Three chip Cameras do provide a richer color rendition. I haven't actually seen the Panny GS 500, 400 or 300 output, but I understand they are better than the GS 120, and they are all under $ 1000. Other than that, look at lux ratings as a guide. The Sony DSR(?) 950 had good play, and is a single chip camera. Still available out there too. In regular room light, they all to all right, but if you get into dark corners, there will be the inevitable grain and loss of color rendition. Its just hard for small chips to gather enough light.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 11:39 PM   #8
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Thanks Chris--I understand what you're saying.

I had initially thought about going with a larger 1 chip camera--something like the Canon Optura 50 or 600 or the Sony DCR-HC96. Actually I had seen a review between the DCR-HC96 and the 3 chip Panasonic PV-GS300 and the Sony actually received higher marks regarding color reproduction. I would imagine a large chip camera like the 600 would hold its own well.

These cameras are between $600-800. The Optura 50 is around $400. I think the best price I'd seen on the HC3 was around $1250. I'm just wondering if I should jump up to the HC3 with much better video or if I'll be happy with one of the other cameras for a year or so.....

I guess side by side--no comparison? (HD to standard DV) Thanks again!
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Old May 25th, 2006, 08:59 AM   #9
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What are shooting for? If it's family stuff and juniors birthday, and you want an image that will hold up over the years then HDV is for you. That was my opinion. I still shoot and produce in DV. My XL1s is much better in low light than the HC1. I fully intend to replace that with the either the Pany HVX200 or the Canon H1 in next years budget. However, in the home front, I wanted an HDV cam as I already have HDTV. Years from now, when my son is graduating, I'd like to put together a video of his important moments (his first birthday is on June 6th). I can't emagine cutting DV25 material, when HD should be the standard format by then.

The HC1's are drying up. Someone on this forum said you can still buy them in Japan for $850, (maybe from Ebay or reputable online dealer).

Go to Best Buy, pick out the HC3 and your desired DV cam. Ask the sales rep if you can hook them up to both a standard TV and an HDTV set.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 07:48 PM   #10
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Hi Peter. Thank you for reading and responding to my post.

As far as the standard dv camcorders, I've kind of narrowed it down to the Optura 50 or the Elura 100--both somewhat inexpensive camcorders.

I definately considered the HD camcorders--mainly the HC3 because of its size. I still am--I just don't know if I can afford something 3-4X the cost of the others. I know the Sony video quality is excellent and I am very concerned with having excellent video quality. I'm just not sure if I should jump on the Sony now or wait and see what Canon had to offer as far as HD later in the year, and stick with a less expensive one.

I'm really using it for family outings, sisters kids, etc--basically memories.

Thanks!
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Old May 25th, 2006, 08:35 PM   #11
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I understand. I still use an old Optura Pi every so often for cramped places, and when I'm shooting lab/engineering tests for documentation. It depends on what your after, and I'm a little biased for professional reasons anyway.

I know a DP whom thinks that taking any cam on a family outing is like taking ones work home. He refuses to do it. Maybe because he also biased and would not dare touch a miniDV anything, but can't justify a 30lb cam for a trip to disney land either.

The HC1 and HC3 cams will require some manual control and effort, and may actually interfere with the moment when your trying to have a good time. After all, the bottom line is capturing memories, not grammies. In which case, the HC1/3 is not the best option.

Take care.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 08:39 PM   #12
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Thanks Peter. Is there a different camera you would suggest I look at? Excellent video quality and compact size are important to me. Thanks!
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Old May 25th, 2006, 10:36 PM   #13
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I'm looking to replace the Pi and found that camcorderinfo.com has a bunch of reviews and they seem to focus on consumer/prosumer cams. The reviews are detailed. I was taking an interest in the 3-chip panasonic GS300. It has a microphone input jack, manual controls (white balance, etc... ah, I'm thinking pro stuff again).

The native 16:9 widescreen chip of the optura 600 was another.

You might want to do some reading up on that site and see what appeals to your needs.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 11:07 PM   #14
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Thanks Peter. I was looking at exactly those two cameras. I really liked the Optura 600, but it's hard to find. That camera seemed to me a perfect mix of video quality and size.

Would you be satisfied with the video quality of either the PV-GS300 or the Optura 600?
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Old May 26th, 2006, 04:21 AM   #15
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If you can find an Optura 50, try looking for the 60. They both have OIS whereas the 600 does not.
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