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Thread: Advice on purchasing a camcorder

  1. #1

    Default Advice on purchasing a camcorder

    Hi folks, I'm looking for some advice on purchasing a camcorder. I've never owned a camcorder before but have some experience of using one. I am not a professional and am only looking to use the camcorder for family videos and the like. My list of requirements are below:

    - Around 300-400 max, lower is always better though!

    - I wish to edit my video but nothing fancy, the convenience of DVD appeals to me over DV tape however the ideal of finalizing DVD's does NOT appeal. Am I right in thinking DVD-RAM doesn't need to be finalized before it can be played?

    - I have no use of manual controls, the majority of my videos will be "point and shoot" full auto, I'm not a gadget freak and will not have the time to mess with settings

    - I have no use of still photography: I have a DSLR for that

    - Image stabilization is a must, my hands are NOT steady! (maybe too much booze in my earlier life?)

    - Future proof would be good, it must last at least say 5 years before I throw it away as obsolete.

    - I would rather pay for optical quality than a brand name, if it says skoda on the side I still wont mind driving it (oh wait wrong forum)

    Any advice on fulfilling these (simple?) requests would be greatly appreciated. I'm hoping to make a purchase over the next week so advice on where to purchase would also be appreciated.

    Thanks and regards

    Gordon Copestake

  2. #2
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    For future proofing, I would initially suggest a High Definition camcorder, but this is both out of your price range and not necessarily future proof for the next 5 years given the state of change. Prices start at just over 1,000 for HDV and just under this amount for HDAVC.

    DVD camcorders are fine and dandy if you don't want to edit your footage on a PC, but things tend to get complicated when you want to. It's not impossible, but harder to edit than miniDV footage.

    Which leads me to miniDV cameras. Now a mature technology, you get the benefits of ease of use and low prices for what is now a proven, reliable technology.

    I would therefore suggest a Panasonic PV-GS300
    Last edited by Marc Peters; 01-07-2007 at 12:56 AM.

  3. #3

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    How does the panasonic gs300 compare to the Sony Handycam DCR DVD403?

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    One is a DVD camcorder (the DCR DVD403) the other is MiniDV.

    There are also reports of the DCR DVD403 auto-lens cover breaking,

  5. #5

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    I'm aware that they are different formats, but was wondering how they compared in image quality. I dont need to do complex editing and am leaning towards the DVD camcorders as I feel they will be quicker to work with. The maximum I would probably be doing re editing is topping and tailing clips, arranging them, and then burning to DVDR

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    The other downside to the DCR-DVD403 is that the image is not as crisp as we see in Panasonic's PV-GS400 or as it is in a lot of other MiniDV camcorders. This is likely an artifact of the heavy compression which the image goes under. Mind you, the compression and lack of crispness isn't drastic, and it's unquestionably better than any other DVD camcorder we've seen - but it's still not on par with the $1,000 MiniDV camcorders out there....

    ...The bottom line though of the video performance on the DCR-DVD403 is that the image coming in through the lens, and onto the sensor is truly excellent, it only gets degraded when it gets compressed down for DVD, and that comes with the territory on any DVD camcorder.

    Editing on DVD camcorders and with DVD media is difficult, and the user gains much more editing compatibility by using MiniDV tape. The DVD formats can usually be rudimentarily edited using the on-camcorder options or the supplied software, but all in all these options are jokes compared to the versatility that MiniDV gives you.
    source

    It's good DVD camcorder. Just be aware that DVD camcorders have their down sides, and you can't really compare to miniDV.

  7. #7
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    I'm maybe reading this a bit late, but I see you want the camcorder for 'family videos and the like'. Well so do I, holidays and so on, but I dump about 75% of what I film, though it varies depending on the subject. You may think you only want to top and tail, but if you film one thing, then another, then the first thing gain, you'll want to group like stuff together, reshuffle. Also, the sound would be jumpy, much better to add your own while editing.

    Once you start editing, the whole thing grabs you, (it did me) you want to produce the best you can, and you could end up wishing you'd gone for mini dv to start with.

    Gillian
    Win XP, Athlon 1.8, G force 3 T, 1 60gig drive + 1 250 gig, Pinnacle Studio 9 plus mostly, Premiere 6, and Vegas 5 sometimes, Soundforge, Cool Edit.

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    " Once you start editing, the whole thing grabs you, (it did me) you want to produce the best you can, and you could end up wishing you'd gone for mini dv to start with. "

    SPOT ON !

    The only good thing about dvd cams is that you can watch the disc in a dvd player - but who really wants to watch all that unedited footage?

    DVD cameras have a much lower bit rate, and this directly effects picture quality, dvd compression gives a noticably softer image - 6mbit/s versus 24 mbit/s for DV.

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