Camcorder needed

  MAJ 09:47 01 Dec 2008

Video is not my thing, beyond the basics, so I need some advice from our more video-savvy members. I'm going to buy a camcorder (is that the correct name for them?). Not a professional model, I don't want to have to do an apprenticeship to have to use it properly. I borrowed one on Saturday to use at a wedding I was at, the video came out well, I was very pleased with it. It uses small DVD-Rs to record the footage, then it can be downloaded to my PC, I've been playing around with it on the PC last night and this morning using AutoGK, DVDFlick, etc. But that's beside the point, I'm waffling now........

What I need to know is, which is the best type to buy, the HDD type, the DVD type, any other type? I was annoyed that the DVD-R's that I used at the wedding, only held 30 mins of footage at a reasonable resolution, is this the norm?

Could someone please give me some guidance on which type/one to buy at a reasonable cost. I look forward to reading your recommendations.

  laurie53 09:54 01 Dec 2008

Firstly, wait for the January sales.

Because, like you I wanted to keep it simple I bought a HD camera (Panasonic, but obviously that's a personal choice) recording to an SD card.

That means the disc is very portable, and I can play it back in a vast number of devices.

However, given your comment above, these might not hold enough footage for you (funny how we still use the term "footage" isn't it?).

  MAJ 11:19 01 Dec 2008

I probably will wait until the sales start, but I'll be looking around before that, just in case there are a few bargains to be got. I'm also a serious haggler, if I don't get what I think is a good deal, I wont buy, my quest for a good bargain far outweighs my need for a camcorder.

I was going to ask you how much footage (I know what you mean about that, give me 100 feet of SD card please, lol) you get on your card, but obviously that depends on the size of card and the resolution used, but can you give me an estimate of what you get?

I never thought about the memory card storage option, that sounds like extra cost later on, bigger and more cards, like my camera.

  johndrew 11:35 01 Dec 2008

laurie53 makes some very good points but misses one that I think is valid. The only type of camcorder that is fully integrated (batteries not included) is one with a HDD. Tapes, DVDs, SD cards and any other media have to be purchased, carried, stored and, perhaps lost. With a HDD you simply have all data in one place and download it quickly and simply to you PC HDD.

Worth considering I think.

  MAJ 12:01 01 Dec 2008

What are those like video-quality wise? How much footage do they store? Is it easy to transfer the footage to PC for burning to DVD? As I say, I'm a bit of a video newbie, I certainly have never bought a camcorder before, so I'm unsure of what to look for.

  muddypaws 13:28 01 Dec 2008

A 2Gb SD card holds about an hour of HD 'footage' on my cheapo Aiptek and the PQ on the HD Television is excellent. A 4GB would obviously be double and so on. Cards are fairly cheap on line.
I get mine here: click here
I consider the main advantage of SD over other formats is no moving parts.

  chub_tor 13:44 01 Dec 2008

Althiugh this click here# is an American site most of the camcorders can be obtained in the UK. It rates camcorders against a number of criteria and you can also select by brand and format. Surprisingly the highest ratings for video quality go to miniDV camcorders.

You can also find good information on this UK forum click here

After much looking at the lists and discussion on the forum I bought just over a year ago a Sony HDR-HC5 when I was in the States. Hi-Def, MiniDV and worth every penny.

  johndrew 16:34 01 Dec 2008

My son bought the JVC 30GB unit some while back and it was his first camcorder as well. He says he found it easy to operate and having seen the output myself it looks fine. Battery life is a bit low (it is on many, an hour is about average) but even at best quality the drive holds plenty of `footage`.

Prices of this and similar have dropped a lot recently, my son paid over £500 for his but you can get the same unit now for around £200. Additionally there are others - such as Sony - making HDD camcorders now which improves the range.

When you do choose, I suggest you go for a model with stabilisation built in to avoid camera shake. Although the built in microphones are pretty good, if you want to enhance your sound a separate mic facility is worthwhile as is a larger battery if there is one, if not a spare is a good idea. Some, like the JVC, have a built in `flood light` (I question the term because it`s not much good over about six feet), generally you are unlikely to use the facility but if it is there at least it can be used to help in reduced light.

  MAJ 11:25 02 Dec 2008

Sorry guys, I'm taking all onboard and am just about to out to look at some. Will report back as soon as. I appreciate the responses so far.

  JanetO 11:31 02 Dec 2008

IMHO you can't beat tapes for quality. They film in avi format which is the easiest and quickest to edit. I've had problems with HD, having to convert the file format which results in a degredation of quality. DVD videos in mpeg2 format is slower to edit. My other half is buying me a Samsung mini-dv camcorder for Xmas.

  chub_tor 12:50 02 Dec 2008

Your choice of miniDV tapes is in agreement with all the websites and forums that I have read and is why I chose one for myself. Editing is oh so easy and quick and you have the tapes as a backup if you need them.

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