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Camcorder advice?

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by MNuTz, 9 Jul 2006.

  1. MNuTz


    Joined: 17 Mar 2004

    Posts: 4,935

    Location: Market Drayton, Salop

    Hi all,

    the g/f is currently looking to upgrade our old camcorder (3 years old, hardly used but too bulky :confused: ), anyway, i have a few questions:

    Ive read that recording onto MiniDV gives the best results, is this the case?

    Is it really worth stretching to 3CCD over 1CCD if it is only going to be used for home videos?

    Is there anything we should look for in camera? and anything we should avoid?

    Our other main concern is she would like to get into video editing and then copying to a HDD/DVD to view them on the telly. She hasnt got Firewire on her PC, is there other ways to connect a MiniDV camcorder to her computer, and will it effect the quality?

    Also, can anyone suggest some good editing software (pref free) that is easy for noobs but has enough advanced stuff for her to learn.

    Any really good guides or tutorials would be great, as would any other info i may of missed out.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. nomore

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 19 Oct 2003

    Posts: 1,112

    Location: Olympia, WA, USA

    I used to have a Canon mvx150i single CCD camcorder. I've just upgraded this week to a Panasonic GS500 3CCD camcorder. The image quality is fantastic, but I would say that Canon's RGB digital processor does almost as good a job on Canon's single CCDs as the Panasonic 3CCD. So it's probably not worth the extra cash for occasional use.

    Take a look at the Canon mvx4i. This is a great single CCD camcorder, and it's little brother the mvx460 which is half the price (about £350), but offers almost the same picture quality.

    I found the GS500 at an online UK retailer for £649 inc. VAT. Most retailers sell it for £999.99.

    Also before making your decision, decide if you want to film in 16:9. Many of the cheaper camcorders which offer 16:9 just crop the top and bottom of the image off, and then stretch it on to the screen giving lower resolution/less detail.

    Example, the Panasonic GS300 does the crop method, where as the GS500 uses the full resolution of the CCDs to get full resolution 16:9 video.

    I would avoid this year's Sony camcorders. Most of the controls are done via a touch screen which takes too long to navigate the menus. They also have poor battery life.

    Some camcorders have USB2 output, so you can use that to get video to the PC, but most will output the video as MPEG4 which is not good for exiting. You'd be better off getting a cheap PCI Firewire card.

    Windows XP includes a video editor called Windows Movie Maker, which although free and quite easy to use, is very limited. But it'd be okay for starting out.

    Check out http://www.simplydv.com and look on their forums (bulletin board) as there are lots of knowledgeable people on there.
    Last edited: 9 Jul 2006
  3. wsurfa


    Joined: 16 Mar 2004

    Posts: 547

    Location: Surrey

    Minidv is imho thebest option for quality and storage, as you can keep the original tapes or export back to the tape an edited copy. Tape is better .long term storage option than dvd and even big HD fill up quickly with dv files
  4. nomore

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 19 Oct 2003

    Posts: 1,112

    Location: Olympia, WA, USA

    Another thing I just thought of is to consider where you will be using the camcorder most of the time.

    If it's indoors, then you should try to get one with a large CCD. This will capture more light and make the video less grainy than camcorders with smaller CCDs.

    Both the mvx4i and GS500 mentioned above have good low light performance.

    I agree with wsurfa, definately get MiniDV. DVD and HDD are just gimmicks IMO.
  5. fergie666

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 28 Dec 2004

    Posts: 1,351

    Location: Northern Ireland

    hey guys

    i will be buying a new camcorder soon also

    i use minidv tapes at the moment and i WAS going to get a HDD camcorder

    does the minidv give better picture quality over the hdd ?

    i can't understand why it would, maybe the hdd camcoders compress the video as it captures it ?

    could some kind person give me more info on this please ?


  6. philio16


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 158

    Location: Manchester, UK

    If you wanted to record DV quality on a HDD camera then your not going to get very long recording basically....go for miniDV
  7. rickyt


    Joined: 26 Sep 2005

    Posts: 617

    I do quite a bit of video editing myself . I have two camcorders , 1) Sharp VL-WD450 & 2) Panasonic NV-GS11 . There both miniDV ,but the panny quality is superior to the Sharp . I was going to invest in a Panasonic 3CCD camera , until I read on a forum that the picture quality is great when viewing on your TV but when it comes to editing and putting it onto a DVD , the extra quality is wasted .So,I'm keeping what I 've got. Yes , I agree about the DVD & HDD camcorders , I recon there not worth buying as people are having problems with them , and they haven't got decent write ups in the mags.One of the reasons for this is there is a higher degree of compression needed for these models , so the picture quality can be poor.If your buying a replacement ,go for MiniDV, good optical zoom and definetly DV out and possibly in too. Your PC should have a Firewire card in and you should start with software like Pinnacle 9 . This is excellent for capture ,good editing with the ability to add transitions , audio [background music ] and good title grahics and once done this software will write directly to DVD.I also use Sony Vegas 6 ,Serif MoviePlus5 and lots of other good software .You can build on this as you progress.Hope this helps
  8. fergie666

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 28 Dec 2004

    Posts: 1,351

    Location: Northern Ireland

    hey guys, thanks for your advice

    i already use minidv and transfer it to the pc via firewire

    i had just assumed that the newer tech (hdd) would be best

    i don't mind at all staying with mini dv, as i have no complaints with the format

    thanks again, i will start looking for a minidv camcorder

  9. lmfy2k


    Joined: 12 Feb 2004

    Posts: 6,918

    Location: Manchester

    let us know what you go for mate, im in the market for a miniDV cam my self, have been looking high and low for decent yet affordable models and yet to come up with the perfect one!

    the panasonic GS180 looks good with the 3ccd, but they dont offer true widescreen and in their 16:9 mode the electronic stabiliser is disabled! how silly of pana to do that!

    other models i have seen are the Canon MVX940 and Sony HC44