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Under Water, Over Land
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Old March 19th, 2008, 05:06 PM   #1
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Lightest HD camcorder

I do backpacking videos and really resent having to carry heavy video gear...heavy meaning even 4 pounds (batteries, tape, tripod, camcorder, mic, etc.) I'm always looking to shave off a few ounces. And I'm wanting to now shoot in HD. I've been following the lightweight pocket-sized HD camcorders for awhile. What ones do you folks recommend or have had experience with? Recently I tried the Sanyo HD700 that was on sale over Thanksgiving for about $400 but was really disappointed when I looked at the image on a large-screen tv. I've been shooting with a Sony HC-3 for a few years but to be honest, haven't had the chance to see what that looks like on the big screen yet, as most of that footage was shot in SD. Opinions are welcome!!!
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Old March 24th, 2008, 07:53 AM   #2
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The Canon HV10 is an excellent little package. Small, light, beautiful, beautiful picture.

However, recording any sort of sound sucks with it. The mic is positioned on top of the matchbox style body and it really is poor (also have no mic-input). I shoot mainly landscape style stuff when I'm away, so this didn't bother me particularly, but if you need to record someone talking it can be a very hit and miss affair.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 08:14 AM   #3
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Lynne: I'm on the same hunt. I got the WP Sanyo last Summer as my very first vid-cam. I spend a LOT of time in the water, so it seemed logical. Now I want HD. I was led to the Canon HV20/30 ..but I'm a Mac user and fiddling with tapes or disks, when an SD card plugs into my USB ports almost directly seems retarded. The palm-sized Xactis is also a plus, given I'm not shooting for ABC News, or expecting to view it on anything larger than this iMac. The Sanyo HD1000 may be the one I get.

j i m
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Old March 24th, 2008, 08:50 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input. I'm aware of the sound limitations on the HV10. My Sony hc-3 has the same issues with no mic input. I think the Canon's weight is just a hair under a pound. My Sony's just a hair over a pound. So no dramatic savings there. Now, if the Canon was significantly smaller it might justify my making the switch but then again, my Sony's about 3" wide by 6" long and 2" high.
I also note that B&H no longer sells the Canon but I did see a used one for sale on ebay.
Maybe the bottom line would be if the picture of the Canon was much better than the Sony, no?
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Old March 24th, 2008, 09:51 AM   #5
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you should try a solid state camera (record video on memory card).
They are small,light, a memory card is smaller,lighter to transport. Battery life is usually great since there is no mechanic to move.
many models exist.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 07:55 PM   #6
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I'm in the same exact position (as are probably 100's of folks). I'm looking for a decent HD camcorder for backpacking, climbing, and backcountry skiing. I currently have a small Sanyo Xacti - it is really tiny, but the video quality isn't really something you could make a high quality video from.

Two relatively new cameras that might be worth looking at are the Panasonic HDC-SD9 and the Canon HF100. Compared to cameras like the Xactis, they are a little heavier and bigger, but not much and they have *far* better video quality.

They both record to SDHC cards in AVCHD format. The Panasonic SD9 is the smallest and lightest - 275 grams. The HF100 is around 350g. The SD9 isn't as good in very low light, but it has a significantly better optical image stabilizer. Personally, I haven't yet decided which way to go, but here is a short list of some of the pros and cons:

SD9:

-Better image stabilizer (about 2.5 times less residual shake).
-longer battery life with default battery (almost 2 hours).
-lightest weight and smallest of the two.
-Not as good in very low light (aggressive noise reduction reduces detail).
-Has built-in 5.1 surround mic and good manual controls, but no external mic input.
-No accessory shoe.

HF100:

-Better in very low light (more noise, but also more detail retention).
-Has external mic input.
-Has accessory shoe.

Sample video from both looks very good in normal outdoor lighting, so it's a tough decision. The main trade-off seems to be better image stabilization and slightly lighter weight vs. better performance in very-low-light.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 10:12 PM   #7
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I haven't shot with the SD9 but its weight sure caught my attention. Then I read a review where they complained about "trailing" video and my heart sank. I can just imagine the sticky sorts of images it might create, evidently even in good lighting.
Another deficiency I noticed about the SD9 was its lack of zebra. There's no way to know whether you're properly exposed or not.
As for the Canon, I guess the AVCHD format is what was scaring me away, as I'm not ready to edit in that format. (Of course the same goes for the SD9.)
Has anyone had hands-on experience with either of these that can contradict these admittedly second-hand observations?
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Old March 24th, 2008, 10:14 PM   #8
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One more thing--for long-distance hiking where you're only in town once a week, dealing with SD cards might be problematic whereas the convenience of tapes can't be beat.
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Old March 25th, 2008, 01:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden View Post
I haven't shot with the SD9 but its weight sure caught my attention. Then I read a review where they complained about "trailing" video and my heart sank. I can just imagine the sticky sorts of images it might create, evidently even in good lighting.
Another deficiency I noticed about the SD9 was its lack of zebra. There's no way to know whether you're properly exposed or not.
As for the Canon, I guess the AVCHD format is what was scaring me away, as I'm not ready to edit in that format. (Of course the same goes for the SD9.)
Has anyone had hands-on experience with either of these that can contradict these admittedly second-hand observations?
I don't have first had experience yet with the SD9, but reviews indicate that it does have zebra stripes. Best thing might be to download the manual to check for sure.

Regarding the trailing, etc., I've seen those comments regarding AVCHD. I looked around and downloaded several clips taken with an SD9, and didn't really see anything objectionable, at least not in these real-life situations. There was one clip taken in low light where there was a small trailing ghost, but the ghost was rather weak (starting at about 5% of the object brightness, and it decayed completely after around 5-10 frames).

You have to be a little careful reading some of the reviews. It seems they sometimes amplify small differences or defects. I've done some shooting with a friend's HG10, which one site said had significant AVCHD trailing and other artifacts, but the video looked quite good under the circumstances I was filming. I think the reviews are good for finding about features and getting a general idea of performance, but personally, I wouldn't eliminate any camera from consideration until you've had a chance to check it out directly.

I plan to get an SDHC card and check out both the SD9 and HF10/100 once the HF is available in local stores.

Editing AVCHD can be an issue. If you don't want to upgrade to a core 2 duo right away, you can always first batch transcode the AVCHD to something that is a little less cpu-intensive to edit.
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