Camcorder advice

    I'm off on holiday next month and looking to pick up a camcorder to partner my SLRs. I was browsing a supermarket yesterday and was very impressed with some of the small Sony HDD camcorders so I've decided to pick one up for my holiday this year...the problem is which one though. My head is spinning reading through specs and reviews so I'd appreciate some advice.

    My main priority is something small with reasonable image quality, I'm not really too fussy on manual controls or anything like that as I'm very much a stills person. At the moment I've been using my cameras to record video which is acceptable but I think it's worth considering a camcorder.

    The first argument seems to be HD vs non-HD - while I love the idea of High-Def recording it seems a bit immature to me at the moment. It needs vast amounts of space, editing tools are sparce and slow for AVCHD plus there's a fairly hefty price premium. The argument against non-HD is that you're spending money on outdated technology which isn't going to last is a strong one but the reality is I need this next month and I don't think much will have changed in that time.

    Going with non-HD that then gives the choice of storage format, miniDV, DVD or HDD. MiniDV still seems a strong choice offering the best image quality and cheap blank tapes but slow to get the data off. I like the idea of DVD as it's a format I'm familiar with but the DVD camcorders seem to be a bit bulkier to accomodate the drive. At the moment I like the idea of an HDD camcorder as it seems very neat with the issue being of course a hard limit on what you can record. I can't see myself recording that much but I'm not taking a PC with me, only an Archos 504 160GB with usb host capability.

    I really liked the look of the Panasonic S150 which is very small and offers good quality through it's three CCDs - I thought I could get around the SD card issue by taking a couple of 4GB SDHCs (which my L1 and LX2 can use as well) and backing them up to the Archos. However, despite some reviews being good for this device (aside from SD storage) Cnet in particular panned it saying the video quality looked like someone had taken a rake across it.

    So, any thoughts on a small, cheapish HDD camcorder would be welcomed or if any other suggestions which you think I should be considering. Budget at the moment is around 300-400 pounds although willing to stretch it for something worthwhile.



    Heres what I think about camcorders.

    HD - Its better to record in HD now as I think you'd regret it in 5-10 years time when HD is the norm as you simply cant go back and re-record it. Dont look at HD as a fad, its not going to go away.

    Harddrive camcorders - They are ok for small amounts of filming, but you'd need to take a lap top with you to take the film off when you fill the harddrive up.

    DVD recorder - Its not easy to edit the video as you'd have to re-encode the dvd video to AVI or MOV to edit it, which then loses quality.

    Ive got the Canon hv20, which is the best HD camera you can buy at the moment (and thats not just my opinion), the pictures are stunning. Have a look here at some examples of film [url][/url].

    Hope this helps you a little.

    Original Poster

    I've carefully considered HD but I've definitely decided against it - it's too immature right now and I won't have the capacity I need so I'm going to regret going HD as I simply won't have the video footage at all. I've worked with a friend's mini DV camcorder and I was more than happy with the quality.

    I am not a video person at all, I'm simply looking for something that offers better quality than my camera's video quality - I am very much a stills person and will be primarily using my SLR equipment.


    a year and a half ago, i purchased a Sony HC1E camcorder, 1080i bla bla (you can check the specs and reviews out). It records in HD ... and you can also purchase tapes that record better than on mini dv tapes (same size as mini dv tape, slightly more expensive for that special project) or record on mini dv. The recording chip gives really nice colours. i used several types of dvcams and this is by far the best i have used so far in terms of semi-pro. Final Cut Pro allows me to edit in HD version too, then straight to DVD when I finish. The camera looks great too, not bulky.

    The old 8+ year old handycam is now relegated to being a webcam hahaha :roll:
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