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Old December 24th, 2006, 04:20 PM   #1
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Confused: What is the current CONSUMER camcorder recommendation?

I've been asked by two friends lately. However, when looking at consumer cameras things seem very confused:
  • Some high end units are dropped: Canon Optura, Panny GS400. What are the good consumer cameras?
  • DVD and hard drive cameras using MPEG2 seem to have replaced DV to tape, both in the product line and consumers minds. At the highest resolution recording times are short. How does the quality compare to DV?
  • Using solid state memory, like the Panny SDR-S150, seems very limited. Isn't it as good as the others?
  • While HDV seems to have a difficult workflow, the AVCHD from Sony seems to have part of the workflow missing. What can a consumer really do with an AVCHD file?
  • With DVD cameras, it seems the video is divided into little 20 minutes segments. Is that true?
  • With hard disks and SD memory cameras there seems to be no archival in the work flow. DVDs are too small. Hard disks would quickly be used up. What is the solution?

Is the Canon HV10 sort of in its own class now?

Thanks,

David
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Old December 24th, 2006, 04:28 PM   #2
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Now, I don't know what kind of answer you are looking for. But if you want a specific model, I would say the Elura 100. IMHO, it has better picture then a GL1, lots of manual controls, very user friendly, and is dirt cheap ($300).

I have this camera, and it is the best thing I have ever touched (thats not saying much, but I'll say it anyways). It takes still, its very small and light, I think it only ways about 9 oz. Very nice to hold, and long battery.

I hope I helped.
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Old December 25th, 2006, 02:06 PM   #3
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It's a common question

David, this is a common question lately - I get it as well about once a month. It is truely confusing for the average person to make a good decision with all the variety of camcorders available on the market. Certainly, every format has its own advantages and disadvantages. Having tried to deliver DVDs from different sources myself, I made up my mind and this is what I recommend to those looking into buying a camcorder:

1. If you intend to edit your footage and you need to deliver the final product on a variety of media forms (DVD, CD, web), your best option is miniDV. Both Mac and Windows have a good workflow for editing DV-AVI and to encode it into pretty much any compressed (more compressed I should say) format.

2. If you need to have the final product ready at the end of your filming, or all you need is an unedited DVD, go for a DVD or hard media camcorder. There is no good known (at least known to me) workflow for decompressing MPEG files in order to make them into something else.

I hope this helps,
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Old December 25th, 2006, 07:15 PM   #4
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However, it is worse than that. It seems that most manufacturers are starting to or already have dropped their high-end miniDV cameras.

And that is sort of the problem. The interaction of recording media, recording format, editing tools and the cameras available seems to be much more problematic than 2-3 years ago.

Even with the straight to DVD option, there are quality issues and those are small DVDs. Many people are used to 2 hours on a DVD...much longer and higher quality than the straight to DVD option.

David
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Old December 26th, 2006, 01:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Ziegelheim
However, it is worse than that. It seems that most manufacturers are starting to or already have dropped their high-end miniDV cameras.
Many of the newer HDV high-end cameras also support miniDV (SD) and (for Sony) DVCAM. So, in a way, high-end miniDV still exists - just with added electronics to support recording HDV....(some pre-HDV cams already had CCDs with the necessary resolution but could only be used for still imaging to flash memory etc).
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Old December 26th, 2006, 02:51 PM   #6
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Yes...however for Canon that is only the HV10 without audio input, and for Sony its the HC3 at a hefty $1200, or $1100 for a grey market unit with a B&H warranty.

There used to be several Canons, Sonys, and Pannys in the $800-1000 range. Are you saying the HC3 or HV10 are the only real choices?
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Old December 26th, 2006, 03:19 PM   #7
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Have you checked out the Panasonic GS line ?

See, for instance, GS500 below:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=10&Submit.y=5
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Old December 26th, 2006, 08:46 PM   #8
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Don't bank on HDR-HC3

Even though the HC3 has been out less than a year and seems inferior to my trusty HDR-HC1, it would appear the HC3 has already been discontinued. It has disappeared from SonyStyle.com. I hope there is an DVtape/HDV camera to replace it that isn't $3500!
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Old December 26th, 2006, 09:37 PM   #9
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I agree! I want DV-AVI, manual focus, mic input, headphone out, and exposure control. I can't find a consumer MiniDV with the featue set above. I am curious about what John F Miller said about SD on the new HDV cameras. What are the record times on a hard drive model (for example?)
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Old December 26th, 2006, 10:50 PM   #10
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We had a nice simple system...MiniDV via Firewire to disk, supported by all editing programs, then MPEG2 to DVD or one of the lower res computer outputs. Once editing support was available, HDV was only a small twist on that.

The Sony HDR-SR1 records SD in 3, 6, or 9 Mb/sec MPEG2 with 7 to 20 hr record times. No idea about the quality.

It would have been nice if the AVCHD and MPEG2 was at 25Mb/sec and the hard disk was removeable. However they aren't.

That is interesting about the HC3 being gone from the site. I wonder if the A1U is about to follow.

Chris, the GS500 generally gets so-so reviews, and the Canon has dropped all their high-end DV stuff.

If only the HV10 had audio input and audio gain control.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 11:26 PM   #11
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Dave:

I have GS120. Not a VX2100, of course, but a small package, with decent picture. I assumed 500 over 120 would be quite an improvement.

Looks like use VX or GL might be what you are looking for.
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Old December 26th, 2006, 11:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
Dave:

I have GS120. Not a VX2100, of course, but a small package, with decent picture. I assumed 500 over 120 would be quite an improvement.

Looks like use VX or GL might be what you are looking for.
Not for me...for people who keep asking me...

I'm more an A1/V1 class of camera.
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Old December 29th, 2006, 09:03 AM   #13
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I'd also like to get a new MiniDV cam, but I need headphones and mic inputs. What are my options? Do I need to "pony-up" and get an HDV unit?

Thanks...
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Old December 30th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #14
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Dan, there are a number of current consumer camcorders that have what you're looking for. One of them is the Canon Elura 100. It has a mic input jack and an a shoe for attaching a mic holder. The A/V output jack can be configured in the menu to function as a headphone jack to monitor audio while shooting. And it's a top-loader.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 09:21 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info Chris. I keep hearing good things about the Elura, I need to go handle one and see for myself.
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