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Thread: Mini DV camcorder for charity project use

  1. #1

    Default Mini DV camcorder for charity project use


    I'm working for a youth charity and we have recently received some funding to buy some film making equipment so we can do some film projects with the young people we work with. I have read that Mini DV is the best format for editing, so am looking for a mini DV camcorder. We will be using an Acer laptop for editing which I do not think will be up to HD as it has 2.0 processor and 3GB Ram. Our budget for a camera is about 400, so I am looking to buy the best mini DV camera I can for that amount of money, ideally one that:

    - has good video quality in good light and low light
    - has an external mic input
    - accessory shoe
    - easy to learn/use on auto modes

    I can't find any cameras that meet this spec, but there seems to be a big gap between SD cameras of up to about 250, and then HDV of about 700. Isn't there anything inbetween? An SD camera with all features and good quality for around 400? Or a cheap HDV (I'm guessing this is unlikely)?

    I have searched and searched online and found nothing, so any help would be appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Hi Whitescar, I see no-one has responded yest so I can only guess they've all come to the same conclusion that you (and I) have. That is - there is nothing currently manufactured in the amateur Standard Def arena between the point & shoot and those with all the facilities of the pro cameras.
    I think the reason is two-fold.

    Primarily its marketing, but it's also cost

    There is some assumption that amateurs who want to take their hobby beyond point and shoot will automatically want to go for higher definition. It's easy to come up with all sorts of meaningless or otherwise names for technologies which can be stuck on the camera and box. And it's much cheaper to add electronic technology per unit (ie after the development costs have been met) than to add a better lens, physical buttons etc)

    This is, of course rubbish, as many of us would prefer to have better access to manual controls etc. To say nothig of the fact that unless one has an extremely powerful PC, editing standard def is much less painful than (especially) AVCHD.

    However, just because you can't find anything between 250 and your budget, it doesn't mean a 250 cam will not be up to tyhe job. Having said that - I can't find one in a quick search that has bot a mic in and an accessory shoe.

    Another possibility might be going second hand. People are selling their MiniDV to fund their HD cams. A Panasonic NV-GS400 might set you back 400 and was one of the best higher end MiniDV consumer cams.

  3. #3


    Thanks a lot Tim, it's useful to know that that is the case, even if it is an annoying situation. At least now I can focus on the options available rather than looking for something that doesn't exist.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    There's a Panasonic NV-GS400 just come up on eBay.

  5. #5


    Just put my Sony HDR-HD3 on ebay. The camera enables both SD and HDR recording .... so best of both worlds. Records to mini Dv tapes.

    Sony HDR-HC3 Camcorder + Extras on eBay (end time 11-Aug-09 18:52:34 BST)

  6. #6


    also take a look at the canon HV20... it shots both HDV and SD.. Has the mic imput and an actual hot shoe.. The video on Walid Shoebot that I just posted was shot in SD with the HV30. That might out of your price range. But the diffrence between the 2 are minor..

    Canon VIXIA HV20 Camcorder - 1080i - 2.96 MP - 10 x optical zoom

    Software Used:
    TGV Edius 6, TGV ProCoder 3, DVD Lab Pro. 2

  7. Default

    im not a pro or anything even close but ill just talk about what i've seen

    my friend bought a cam 3-4 days ago, even its HD, the non-HD quality still rocks, setups pretty much automaticly so no too much work with the settings needed and the most thing i liked is that its feather weight so its uber easy to film without shaking incase you actually hold your cam.

    ill get you the cam model as soon as he gets on

    but the most important thing about choosing a cam corder is actually checking them. dont buy something you cant actually check inside the store.. everyone prefer different cams, so the best way is to actually find a cam that will fit you..

    but thats ofcourse only my point of view, ill stop by as soon as my friend gets online..
    edit: also forgot to mention that its great that you get your ass moving for charity, i guess not many good people left in our world.. hope this project will work good..

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