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Reviews for Digital Camcorders?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the can-a-ccd-steal-your-soul dept.

Movies 278

bluprint asks: "I've been looking for information regarding digital camcorders. Googling for 'digital camcorder reviews' (and other variations) of course brings up tons of results, but I thought I would get input from the slashdot crowd. Does Slashdot have any suggestions on these camcorders considering price, features and quality? I plan to use it for my summer vacation, but also intend to keep it for many years (possibly even after I have kids, in a couple years), so I'm willing to spend a little more for something high quality, which uses media that will be around for a while. I'm not interested in fancy/artistic things like video editing on my computer, I just want high quality video, preferably keeping it under $1000. Are there suggestions on where to read some thorough, quality reviews of different products, and maybe even educate myself about what to look for in a digital camcorder?"

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hello friends (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243613)

COCKSUCKER MOTHERFUCKER SIS-BOOM-BAH
BUGS BUNNY
BUGS BUNNY
RAH RAH RAH

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic.
Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
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Re:hello friends (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243696)

Bridget is hot

Re:hello friends (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243766)

Forget the tired Wayne's World joke about finding Bugs Bunny hot when he was dressed as a woman. That's too common.
I used to masturbate when seeing Bugs all dolled up. And I'd shoot my load into a tea cup. Ah, good times.

Re:hello friends (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243922)

What do you do these days?

Re:hello friends (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8244044)

I sell my antique collection of tea cups on Ebay.

I'd recommend... (-1)

ziggy_zero (462010) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243642)

a "prosumer" type camcorder for that price range, probably something like a Canon GL1 (or I guess they have GL2's nowadays don't they)...

Re:I'd recommend... (2, Informative)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243925)

He wants to spend $1k for a camera. Why recommed a $2k camera?

Re:I'd recommend... (1)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8244045)

No, I prefer the Mars Rover type where everything come out shitty brown, rather like life on Earth.

dvspot (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243643)

i've found dvspot.com [dvspot.com] to be a wonderful resource

Re:dvspot (5, Informative)

Malk-a-mite (134774) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243733)

Another one to add to the soon to be growing collection of links:
http://www.camcorderinfo.com/

I JUST TOOK A BIG SHIT ON YOUR MOTHER'S FOREHEAD! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243810)

MOMMYPOOP!

Re:dvspot (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243862)

www.supervideo.com usually has some good information on digital camcorders (if you can get past the UI of the site)

Absolute must have (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243647)

price, features and quality? I plan to use it for my summer vacation

You need the most powerful zoom you can find. The bigger the zoom, the further away you can be from the nudist beach.

Re:Absolute must have (4, Informative)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243701)

And on the subject of zoom, don't worry too much about the digital zoom. Go for one that has a high optical zoom. Digital zoom will just pixelate everything beyond a certain point, and all you'll see is huge pink squares on your screen where the nipples should be.

Re:Absolute must have (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243758)

and all you'll see is huge pink squares on your screen where the nipples should be.

My TV seems to be really bad then, I saw a big star-shaped thingy instead of a tit during the Superbowl.

Re:Absolute must have (5, Informative)

teutonic_leech (596265) | more than 10 years ago | (#8244030)

Actually, using a lot of 'prosumer' and consumer cameras myself, I would recommend to find a camcorder that does NOT have a lot of zoom. Zooming has totally been blown out of proportion by the marketing drones (typical: more zoom = better) but guess what - you won't need it for 95% of the shots you want to make. When's the last time you watched a movie that showed a lot of zooming? Did you know that film camera lenses don't even have zooming capabilities? You need a special zoom lens for that - or you just dolly in. Really, all this MTV-style zooming has become the hallmark of non-professional video and if you can - stay away from it!
Based on all that confusion related to zooming, many consumer cameras have a minimum focal length that's the equivalent of 50mm or more! Yeah, now you can stand in Santa Monica and film some bug crawling around on a boat in Catalina Island, but make sure you don't fall out of the window when trying to film your newborn's crip on the other side of the room! LOL
I would also recommend a used GL2 - it's an excellent camera, the focal length is relatively short (43mm equiv.) and it's got great optics - which is the most important aspect of a camera. It also got three 1/4'' CCDs and you won't believe the quality you will get for relatively little money.

Re:Absolute must have (4, Informative)

Phil1 (723762) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243715)

Depending on what you're doing on holiday, you might also want to consider getting a tripod. If you're using zoom for nature shots (ahem) digital cameras seem to handle camera shake pretty badly.

Re:Absolute must have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243823)

or get one with the x-ray see-through-clothes feature. download a couple of clips from kazaa to see what the effect is like.

Re:Absolute must have (2, Funny)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243824)

When he said that he wanted to

... educate [himself] about what to look for in a digital camcorder?"

I don't think that 'T&A' is what he meant. Then again, looking's as close as I ever get, so what do I know :P

I JUST TOOK A BIG SHIT ON YOUR MOTHER'S FOREHEAD! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243850)

SHITBROWS!

Re:Absolute must have (1)

PixolMaster (750410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243886)

Hah! Everyone knows that the amount of clothes a person wears is inversly proportional to how hot they are. Hot chick will wear snow clothes in June, ugly chick will be butt naked during ski season.

LUX Rating (5, Informative)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243653)

Get one with a low LUX number. The lower the number, the better it will record in low light situations like indoors.

A lot of camcorders ***cough***Sony***cough*** advertise having things like "Night Vision", but have a really crappy LUX rating, which makes them useless unless you are outdoors in the bright sun or in total darkness.

Re:LUX Rating (2, Informative)

tyroney (645227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243756)

Indoors, my sony digital8 camcorder, (similar to some other digital imaging devices I've seen,) often shoots things a little too well for my taste. Usually when I use it to film something, I go in and turn down the "brightness" to get a result I like. (btw, that's a smaller screen Sony digital8. The night vision is kinda cool, but I have yet to think of a legal use I could put it to)

I have no idea what the lux rating on my camera is, so feel free to set me straight if I'm missing your point. I just figured I should say something since you mentioned Sony specifically.

Re:LUX Rating (2, Informative)

forevermore (582201) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243768)

Um, the sony camcorders do have nightvision. Real nightvision - the infrared kind. The built-in illuminators kinda suck, but with the 8-irLED attachment (which also happens to have a normal light) I get awesome nightvision up to a hundred feet or so, just like they advertise.

I love my sony dcr-trv27. Took it on my honeymoon, where the IR let me take some pretty incredible pictures of an active volcano [arenal.net] (obviously not the ones in the link), and of all kinds of nocturnal animals on jungle walks. Sony uses Zeiss optics, which are virtually unparalleled, and unlike many of their digicams, the camcorder ccd's are pretty decent (don't expect to rely on the 1.3Mp "still" features, though - they're mediocre at best). Sony doesn't pack very many video editing type features into their cameras like JVC, etc. but really, if you get a digical camcorder, you'll have a lot more options in software (and trust me, even if you think you won't play with video editing software, once you start wanting to burn dvd's for family/friends, you'll appreciate it). Sony cameras are a little more expensive than others, but imho the quality shows in both the manufacturing and the recording quality.

Re:LUX Rating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243857)

"Real" nightvision? Hah.

Re:LUX Rating (4, Informative)

jafac (1449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243815)

On the other hand, I got a Sony mini DV with the Carl Zeiss lens.

The Lens is important.

I'm the only guy in our Cub Scout pack with a modern Macintosh - and I've done videos (iMovie/iDVD) for about a dozen other parents, with mini DV camcorders, via the fire wire port.

I'm absolutely stunned at the poor image quality that comes off these other camcorders, ESPECIALLY Toshiba. The Sony with the Carl Zeiss lens has, by far, the best image quality. The zoom lever is really touchy though. And mine's a couple years old, so it's like 4 times the size of the typical camcorder these days.
Pretty much every other Sony product, I'll boycott, but damn, they've got a nice camcorder!

Re:LUX Rating (0)

sjwt (161428) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243967)

And remebre, it may also be the person useing
the cammorder..

theres crap and theres crap,
sometiems its the fualt of the product,
sometimes its the user.. sometimes its both.

Re:LUX Rating (0, Offtopic)

ryanjensen (741218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243987)

Wow, kids and technology these days. Cub scouts? The poster must be, what, between 7-10? Not only can he work a DV camera and edit home movies, but he has such nice grammar!

I like canon (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243655)

I'm a big fan of the canon line. The quality is great, the image stabilization is amazing, and the form factors are way more usable than the other major brands. I always felt like I was going to accidentally flip switches and press buttons with everyone else's cameras. Anyways, my humble opinion. It's a place to start looking.

Three CCDs (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243656)

I've heard from pros that you really want a camcorder with three CCDs. They pick up more detail in the darker parts of the image. I think the cheapest are in the $1,500 range, though.

Re:Three CCDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243708)

Panasonic makes a few sub $1000 3 chip cameras.

Re:Three CCDs (1)

spun (1352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243755)

Coolest! My wife has been wanting to get one, and we can afford this now. She's in theater and wants to get into making independent films. Are the sub $1000 3-chip cams decent in other respects?

Re:Three CCDs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243813)

Let me know when she films some "independent movies." I need something new to masturbate to.

Re:Three CCDs (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243858)

If you were thinking you would offend my wife or myself with this comment, you don't know us very well ;-) You posted as AC, how am I supposed to send it to you? Do you live in San Francisco? Are you well hung? Maybe you could be in it.

Re:Three CCDs (0, Troll)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243883)

I don't think there are any sub $1k 3 chip cameras.

Re:Three CCDs (3, Informative)

stephenb (18235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243911)

Actually, Panasonic has two sub $1000 3 CCD camcorders out (or soon-to-be out): check this camcorderinfo.com article [camcorderinfo.com] for details.

Canon GL-1 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243661)

Best camera for the price. Flourite lense. Small form factor, better quality picture and sond than anything for less than a Canon XL-1.

It has FireWire out as well as super video. The picture quality is breathtaking and Canon has better red tones than anybody. Enough features to do about what ever you want. Absolutely intuitive user interface, great battery life.

It Rocks.

Re:Canon GL-1 (3, Informative)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243901)

It's also costs twice as much as he wanted to spend.

SLASHDOT SUCKS, CLIFF SMELLS FUNNY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243665)

CLIFF SUCKS, SUBJECT LINE TROLLS SMELL FUNNY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243681)


SUBJECT LINE TROLLS SHITTED ON MOM'S FOREHEAD! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243869)

SCATMOMMY!

It's all about Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243670)

Despite the proprietary memory stick technology, you can't beat the features and quality.

The coolest feature of course being the IR nightshot. When I was DV camcorder shopping last year, I wasn't able to find any other brands that had it. Don't be taken in by "lower shutter rate colour night mode".

Hahaha (-1, Offtopic)

miketang16 (585602) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243672)

I misread $1000 as $100 and I'm thinking... yea.. ok..

Capture analog, convert to digital? (1, Offtopic)

girgit (314584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243677)

A followup question: Does it make sense to capture analog (Hi8) and then convert to digital? Is that better value for money? Some digital midrange camera I saw (can recall the brandname) was rather slow at auto-focus etc.

Re:Capture analog, convert to digital? (1)

rco3 (198978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243836)

Ack! No. The quality of 8mm - even Hi8 - while superior to VHS, falls FAR short of DV quality. Depending on who you ask and what's important to you, DV as a format is almost as good as or slightly better than BetaSP.

However, you WON'T find a camera whose optics and CCD's are broadcast quality in your price range. If you get a DV camcorder (or digital 8, same basic thing on different tape stock) you will be limited by the quality of the optics and suchlike. If you get ANY other format, you will be limited by the format itself, and drastically more so.

Here's your shopping strategy: get a DV camcorder. Pick the features you want. Don't consider other formats unless you're planning to drop it off of a tall building and don't want to waste any more money than absolutely necessary.

Disclaimer: I have worked for years in live sports television production, as a truck engineer among MANY other positions. My opinions are based on my experience with the equipment, not on reading a website.

thoughts (3, Insightful)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243679)

I'm not interested in fancy/artistic things like video editing on my computer, I just want high quality video, preferably keeping it under $1000.

Not to be a troll, but wouldn't this question be better suited for a consumer electronics discussion board? I find it odd that you would ask the slashdot crowd about a product whose computer interface capabilities you care nothing about.

That being said, I have a $499 Sony digital-8 handycam. It works great, uses the ubiquitous digital-8 tapes (same form factor as hi-8), and has USB and firewire connections to boot!

I JUST TOOK A BIG SHIT ON YOUR MOTHER'S FOREHEAD! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243889)

SCATFACIAL!

Re:thoughts (2, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243942)

Not to be a troll, but wouldn't this question be better suited for a consumer electronics discussion board?

Two things

  1. Often these sites are confusing to the non-initiated, and biased to boot (even if it's just because the reviewer can only get demo models from certain manufacturers). Slashdot is effectively an unbaised third party in this respect
  2. Slashdot has recently had a lot of product placements posing as articles. Compared to those, this kind of article is useful and interesting to me.

epinions.com (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243971)

I find epinions.com [epinions.com] to be pretty handy for getting reviews of consumer electronics.

Camcorderinfo.com Worked for Me (4, Insightful)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243682)

Ended up buying a Panasonic 3CCD camcorder on their recommendation and haven't looked back. They never seemed to give it a proper review, but it was still named their camcoder of the year.

Now I'm lusting after the JVC HDTV camcoders which record MPEG/2 to miniDV.

My computer fears my disk space requirements.

Re:Camcorderinfo.com Worked for Me (2, Informative)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243961)

Here's a Review [camcorderinfo.com] of the model I have.

You can probably find it for under $1000 if you look around, but remember on top of this you need to buy extras to get the best out of it.

Some important highlights are....
* 3CCD optics
* Leica Dicomar lense
* 30p non-interlace mode for that film look
* 3.5 inch video display
* Proper manual focus control
* Optical Image stabilisation
* 10x Zoom
* Firewire and USB2 connections
* Video Pass trhough - Direct video to DV

It's also a 3 megapixel still camera, it has a load of onboard effects which I never use. I bought this for the image quality and it's done me well.

forget the bells and whistles (2, Insightful)

dubiousmike (558126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243688)

you don't need hardware based effects.

best thing I can tell you, find one with analog pass through. Most of the lower end dv camcorders don't have this, but many Sonys do. It will allow you to play analog footage through the camera allowing you to capture firewire in real time without using the tape (which I find crazy that a "digital" camcorder still acts in a linear fashion). Anything that makes your camera's moving parts 'go' will reduce the life of your camera.

zooms (1)

dubiousmike (558126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243784)

the one that matterrs is optical, not digital. My experience is that digital zooms are as useless as tits on a bull.

Re:zooms (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243845)

Tits on a bull? Now that would give me something to hold on to whilst ass fucking it. Good idea.

Good Video Camera (1, Informative)

slmcav (240021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243692)

If you are looking for a good video camera to just take good video then try the Mustek DV Series of Digital Camcorders. They are only $200. They are small and too the point. They take great video. 640x480 at great quality.
MPEG 4 Real time video recording frame rate - 30fps (352 X 288 )
640 x 480(VGA) video setting provides you
better resolution than VCD (352 X 288 / PAL ; 352 X 240 / NTSC)

With a 512MB SD Card you can record 2 hours of 640x480 video. This thing is great.

Limitations: It's not built for low-light.

It's also a still camera and mp3 player(?).

For $200 you can't go wrong.

Re:Good Video Camera (3, Informative)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243805)

The guy can spend up to $1K and you recomend a toy?
the lens is garbarge compared to a real camera, and it doesn't zoom. see http://www.dansdata.com/cooldv350.htm

Many of the midrange DV cameras have a still mode, and can take flash memory cards

Re:Good Video Camera (1)

slmcav (240021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243979)

Just because someone HAS $1000 to spend doesn't mean they want to. He didn't specify 'Professional' and he didn't specify his needs...

For someone who wants good video to play around with...for cheap..this is a good device.

MOD PARENT DOWN FOR SUCKY ADVICE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243894)

For the love of god, how the fuck can you come on here and recommend that someone buy what is little more than a toy??

Hell, for $200 I'd rather have a Hi8 analog camcorder than the crap you're talking about.

Re:Good Video Camera (1)

rco3 (198978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243899)

I must respectfully disagree. There is nothing 'good' about a video camera whose resolution is limited to 352 X 288 at 30 fps, which is what you've described.

This is a nice inexpensive digital recorder, yes. But is does not produce anything even remotely resembling "something high quality, which uses media that will be around for a while".

For $200, I'd be REALLY tempted to get one for casual personal use - mp3 player? Cool! But it's not what the poster asked for.

FUCKING SAND NIGGERS!!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243700)

if hitler had massacred muslims instead of jews, we would have helped! (+1, Patriotic)

Just remember (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243711)

that the answers you get from camera *owners* such as "I think XYZ is the best" are biased, simply because either they love their camera (with good reasons surely), or they don't like them so much but they'll never tell you "yeah, I bought that but I got had".

Things to look for (4, Informative)

orange_6 (320700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243716)

1) Get the best optical zoom you can, digital zoom is extremely overrated. Same goes for digital cameras too.

2) A format you are comfortable with (MiniDV or Digital8). After doing research for my digital camcorder I found that the mini-dvd format is completely ludicris and an utter waste.

3) Compatability - this could only be an issue if you don't have a Firewire port...if you don't...get one.

4) If you already have a digital camera don't even bother with looking at those features. Who wants to stop recording, mess with settings, take a picture, and mess around again just to take a picture that you could get with a digital camera faster and usually better quality.

5) Hot-shoe addon slot-thingy - great for zoom-mic's and external lights (ie expandability)

I think that's it...it's been a while since I purchased one (almost 2 years) but it has completely been worth it.

List then google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243717)

I find it's best to go to a website selling a load of cameras, get the ones in your price range. Whack thier model/make into google and add the word "review" on the end, voila! You can see which camera is preffered in your price range without picking around google too much.

Cnet.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243721)

Word up.

I hate these kind of Ask Slashdot questions. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243725)

"I want to spend less than one thousand dollars on a camera that will have great video quality, last me >10 years, and I don't want or need to edit on a computer."

If you don't want or need to edit on a computer THEN WHY GET A DIGITAL CAMERA? Digital cameras are used SO YOU CAN EDIT IT ON A COMPUTER, without any hacks or having to go through a VCR and then to a TV-in port on your computer. I edited a movie with iMovie today and it was fine, I was glad to be able to do that instead of dubbing a VHS and hoping that it would work out ultimately, however bad it looked. Digital video looks good, and will look good, and if you compress it with a good codec (mpeg-2, divx;-)) it will still look good compressed.

Re:I hate these kind of Ask Slashdot questions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8244036)

> If you don't want or need to edit on a computer THEN WHY GET A DIGITAL CAMERA? Digital cameras are
> used SO YOU CAN EDIT IT ON A COMPUTER, without any hacks or having to go through a VCR and then to a
> TV-in port on your computer

I believe lossless replication may be another somewhat relevant argument for going digital...

does it have to be digital? (5, Informative)

bashbrotha (41617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243726)

Why go digital?

Perhaps the biggest reason people go digital is the ease of transfer to a computer, and perhaps the low cost of media. If you are really into high-quality analog video (film) seems to be still hanging around after all of these years, and there is no doubting the quality of the result, as well as the archive capabilities.

However, you did ask for digital, so here is the answer. I'd probably go with the miniDV format. With this, you have tons of options. I've seen miniDV cameras on ebay for less than $100 (albeit first-gen low-qual, no frills models). The real high-quality route seems to be going with the likes of the Canon XL-1 [canondv.com] (and related models). I've seen some great quality results coming from these cameras, and I spotted one in use during the filming of The Italian Job (check out the dvd special features to see it used), presumably for proof shots, dailies, etc.

Not sure if that helps you, and even the miniDV format may be obsolete in another couple of years.

Good Luck!

My Suggestions (2, Informative)

parawing742 (646604) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243731)

I've used several Sony and Canon camcorders extensively in the past few years. My all around favorite is the Canon GL2, but I think that would be out of your price range ($2000). Even though you don't plan to do computer editing, the digital formats (Mini-DV) are the way to go because they provide higher quality and don't degrade as quickly. Higher quality digital camcorders use 3 CCDs, and the others only use 1 CCD. Either way, you will get far better results than using a consumer analog camera. Unless you already have shot a lot 8mm or Hi8 tape, don't bother with Digital8. The quality is the same, but it will be harder to find compatible playback decks or cameras in the future. I personally am using a Sony TRV-27 right now for most purposes. I think it's been replaced with a different model now. Check out sonystyle.com for current models.

Dansdata.com (3, Informative)

Bombcar (16057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243742)

He might have some reviews worth reading.

Dan Ruther's Site [dansdata.com]

My Recommendation (1, Redundant)

hcetSJ (672210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243753)

May I humbly suggest that you google for 'digital camcorder reviews'? You should get tons of results.

MY LORD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243811)

I know we never RTFA- but didja look at the subject at all?

Anything miniDV (1)

athorshak (652273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243769)

For under $1000 dollars, most camcorders from major brands are pretty similar to each other in functionality. Some might have cool little features that others don't, but if you are just doing point-and-shoot type stuff it doesn't make too much difference. I think miniDV is still the best bet for PQ/price. I wouldn't think about going to a tapeless model yet. Home videos are something you keep for a LONG time. You may be watching these 20 or more down the road and tape is still the best archival format. Just pick something out that has the features you want. The tiny ones that will fit in the palm of your hand will be towards the top of your price range, but they aren't funtionally much different than the less expensive larger ones. CNET has a camcorder review section with lots of user comments. That might be a good place to start.

Well, here's what I use (2, Informative)

SalesEngineer (640818) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243778)

I bought a Sharp WD-450 last year. It was cheap ($450), has a good lens (26X optical zoon Canon) and takes good pictures as long as it's in bright light (candlelight == bad). I used it to produce a martial arts instructional DVD & some videos for DragonCon.

The problem is it's a single CCD camera, so the color depth & quality isn't so good. I also couldn't plug in an external mic ... I'm starting to do some for-hire video work & a wireless mic comes in handy.

I just bought a Sony TRV-950 (about $1400), a three CCD camera that came highly recommended for price vs. quality. It's got a bunch of Bluetooth features that I don't need ... the bottom line is that it takes great video. It has a bunch of manual controls that aren't required for most home videos.

I think something like my Sony is overkill for vacation videos & baby pictures. For under $1000 you can get a 3 CCD camera from Panasonic, like the PV-DV953. You can also find good cameras for personal use in the $500-$700 range. You can go cheaper, but just make sure you get a good lens. Some of the lower-end camcorders use lousy lenses. I was okay with that first cheap Sharp camera because it has a Canon lens. These days, $1,000 will buy a camera as good as the $10,000 studio cameras I used to use for college television.

For reviews I use camcorderinfo.com ... good site that often reviews the same camera twice (from two different authors) to provide more information. They lean towards pro equipment, so don't be put off by a camcorder they rank as a 7.0 or 7.5 ... it might be just fine for what you need.

Where to go for user reviews (1)

RGautier (749908) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243779)

Try www.epinions.com [epinions.com] for user reviews of products like this, with links to pricing scans on the net. I've gotten lots of information on things like TVs and video camcorders on this site, and you get to hear what people think who usually own the item.

Reviews on Polka Dotted Cell Phone Chargers? (0, Offtopic)

clausiam (609879) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243781)

Not really...just wondering how a request on camcorders made it to the front page of /.

/Claus

Optical image stabilisation (3, Informative)

smallstepforman (121366) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243786)

When searching for a camcorder, you'll be given a choice between Digital Image Stabilisation (DIS) or Optical Image Stabilsation (OIS), with the optical being much more expensive. If you ever wish to shoot image from a moving source (a car, train etc), then definately go for optical image stabilsation. It uses mirrors to stabilise the image instead of software, and produces a less jerky image, especially when you zoom in. Canon's are pretty good in that respect.

To Google or Not To Google (2, Insightful)

Goyuix (698012) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243787)

So this is somewhat offtopic, but being in the ask slashdot section it seems to squeeze in barely...

But why is it that no matter what question gets asked, if the question is not phrased with the word google in it somewhere, someone is bound to flame away ranting about why they should have just used google in the first place (I guess with about a million plus viewers someone is bound to be in a bad mood on any given day).

On the other hand, they could very well ask a question that was probably answered very well by a trip to google, but they are just curious as to what the slashcrowd (tm) thinks/uses/wishes.... in which case couldn't they all do us a favor and include some of the resources they found, perhaps as a second paragraph of the original question (similar to book reviews, slashback, etc...)

Of course, I fall in the third bucket where I rant for the sake of ranting.

Canon rocks (2, Informative)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243790)

Canon products are superb. Sony isn't even close in their consumer market.

A year or so back I spent a couple days reviewing camcorders at Best Buy, Electronics Botique, etc., then bringing the tape home and messing around with seeing what was best.

A couple things I liked about Canon camcorders:

- image stabilization (it works wonderfully, and is a great thing to have for those who don't want to carry around a tripod or such)
- nice, crisp images (I bought a camcorder that was made prior to Canon's 'new' image quality technology they've been marketing. it's still better than the competition
- bright colors and good darkness compensation
- small, well designed, and sturdy
- interchangeable batteries with other Canon products
- (generally) standard lenses and filter attachments

I'd recommend buying a canon ZR miniDV camcorder, as they're small, sturdy, have good battery life, and fit nicely in a day pack. They're easily palmable.

I recently got a Canon Powershot G5. I'm equally impressed with it. I can use my ZR battery (511) in my Powershot, and vice versa. Very nice.

Canon is, IMO, the quality peer of IBM in the camera world.

Important things (1)

DrLZRDMN (728996) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243797)

Lens quality is one of the most important things If you have an 900gigapixel CCD looking through a little plastic sub kalidescope quality lens the pictures going to look like crap. The Mars rover had a one megapixel CCD with a $1 million lens. Oh and flash memory costs too much to hold anything substantial.

SimplyDV is a great review site (2, Informative)

overworked+underpaid (743766) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243804)

I'd recommend simplydv.co.uk [simplydv.co.uk] . Their reviews are detailed an impartial, and they give you a good idea of what to look for in a DV cam.

I recently bought a Canon MVX150i (Optura 20 in US) and it's been really good. I recommend buying from a company that has a good reputation in imaging, like Sony or Canon - you're more likely to get good metering and quality optics. These are the most important things in any camera.

Oh, and buy a second battery.

Sony Handycam DCR-TRV33 (2, Informative)

faldore (221970) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243808)

I just went shopping for digital camcorders. I did lots of research and tried lots of them out. This one I chose because it is compact, takes 1 megapixel photos, and it is inexpensive compared to its peers. I like the interface, the LCD screen is touch sensitive so it draws buttons on the screen that you can touch to select. I have not been impressed with the ability to transfer video - the only way that I can see is to play the tape and attempt to "capture" the data rather than actually copying the data bit by bit, as you would think a digital camcorder would do. This is unfortunate, because it means to transfer high quality data, you have to have enough bandwidth through the entire pipeline Camera -> USB -> Memory -> IDE -> Hard Drive to be able to catch every frame as fast as the tape plays. I don't know if this is the same for ALL camcorders, but I know it is for this one. Otherwise, I am very pleased by this camcorder.

3ccd is best (4, Informative)

zorcon (111485) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243812)

Consider the Panasonic PV-GS70. It's the cheapest 3ccd camera you're going to buy new...MSRP of $999. 3ccd's will help in low light and give a greater picture quality. Unfortunately, compared to Sony, Canon, and other Panasonic offerings, the GS70 uses a smaller CCD, so low light performance isn't THAT great. Still, the picture is excellent.

You're going to be best off spending the most possible, especially if you want the camera to last a long time. I would also consider a Canon GL1 or GL2, a Sony TRV900 or TRV950, or a Sony VX1000, VX2000 or VX2100. All of those cameras are more expensive, but considered industry standards as far as lower end 3ccd prosumer cameras. Also, they're excellent in low light.

Also, I would consider buying used. You'll be able to pick up a Canon GL1, a Sony VX1000, or a TRV900 a lot closer to your $1000 price point.

Also, a few general rules: If you wont use it for stills, don't be swayed by high still picture resolutions. Stick with MiniDV as opposed to DVD recording camcorders or other formats (Sony offers several), and go to a store and check the camera out yourself. Sometimes the "feel" of a camcorder will simply put you off regardless of how great it is.

Check here for reviews and what not:
www.camcorderinfo.com
www.dvspot.com

Also, google for whichever camera and clips. I've found several comparisons with actual clips from all of the above mentioned cameras.

Good luck!

Linux Support (1)

jdigital (84195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243814)

I'm also looking to buy a digital camera, but I'm having trouble finding out exactly how much linux support there is for various models. The linux firewire site has a list of cameras and the usual "works" or "doesnt work" descriptions for linux support, but as I'm sure we all know, there are various levels of "works" when it comes to linux.

Does anyone here have any actual experience of using a digital camera under linux?

Buy what you will use (4, Informative)

real gumby (11516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243816)

Remember: a fancy camcorder that sits in its case is a waste of money.

If you plan to take it on vacation, size matters. A big camcorder with lots of features will go unused.

I have a Canon Elura. For various specs reasons I won't go into here, I chose it over the small Sony's. I've been very happy with it. The best part is that I can fit it into a (large, jacket) pocket and carry it around, so I have it with me on vacation. It's also a pretty good camcorder.

Do choose a camera that uses mini-DV. The MPEG cameras can only be used with special Windows software that comes with them, and don't take great video. The mini-DV format is as open as these things get, and you can edit the results in several different packages.

You do have tradoffs with these tiny things. The biggest is that you often get camera noise on the soundtrack. Because of the mechanics of the situation, that's hard to avoid without an external microphone.

Another good purchase I made was on a short(!) book on making videos with my camcorder and iMovie. Its section on using the camcorder (don't zoom, shoot a little introductory footage, etc) really made a difference -- without it I would have been just wasting tape since I wouldn't have wanted to view the result.

And finally, expect to make a 5-minute video from your full day of filming. That's just the way it is.

mustek sucks (2, Informative)

michaelbuddy (751237) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243820)

do not get the Mustek for family stuff. It only shoots at 10 fps at 640 x 480. that is weak!!

get a mini DV, since they are smaller, and since you aren't doing any real filmmaking, you don't need any manual controls, though manual focus option would be cool. all the brands at a retail store are decent. Get the warranty, it's worth it.

and the whoever stated above regarding the 8mm tapes as the same "form factor" as Hi 8/ D8 is a complete nerd.

Me and my friends (1)

tyroney (645227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243829)

When I got my camera, I narrowed things down quite a bit by knowing I wanted some form of digital storage, the ability to plug it into my computer, a decent optical zoom, and enough normal features to keep me happy.

With similar criteria my friend, who's now a father of two, wound up with basically the same Sony camera that I got. And as far as I know, neither of us have any significant gripes.

Also, if there were such a thing, I would have jumped at a camera that could do frame by frame stuff, so that I could make dumb movies of my furniture moving around or something. But that's just me. (un?)Fortunatly, such cameras were way too expensive at that point.

If I had to do it again today, I'd probably be leaning toward mini-DV, or DVD media for reasons of quality and compatibility.

Re:Me and my friends (2, Funny)

koehn (575405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8244012)

Also, if there were such a thing, I would have jumped at a camera that could do frame by frame stuff, so that I could make dumb movies of my furniture moving around or something. But that's just me. (un?)Fortunatly, such cameras were way too expensive at that point.

Umm, don't they call those... digital cameras? I mean, like, any digital camera on a tripd can shoot single frames, right?

My experience (1)

FurryFeet (562847) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243832)

I got a JVC MiniDV video camera. I made an extensive check (since price was a concern) and discovered that pretty much any camcorder with a good optical zoom (forget digital zoom, go for at least 10x optical), MiniDV format and a FireWire port would do.
Now, what you do is get a nice, big hard drive (mine is 120 GB), a FireWire card (in my case, I bought the Pinnacle DV Studio, amazing software, with cable and card included for about 90 bucks) and a DVD burner.
I can capture an hour of video, edit it and burn to DVD in about 3 hours... not too shabby. And you can back up the DVD as much as you like. Plus, in my case, I also keep the MiniDV cassette as the ultimate backup.

Why get something to last? (4, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243833)

Not to be cynical, but if you just want something for taking home movies, I wouldn't spend a lot and get something "to last".

Why not, for example, spend $500 today and get something nice, and then $500 a couple years from now when you have kids. By that time, you'll probably be able to buy a High Definition Camcorder for that price. Progress in the digital imaging world is moving forward pretty quickly

I mean, I wouldn't spend that kind of money unless you need all those features now and you probably don't.

Don't bother (1, Informative)

boristdog (133725) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243839)

No one watches family videos, not even the family. Unless you and your good lady wife are planning some more interesting videos, dump the video and stick with a still camera. People actually look at still pictures, and they can be e-mailed easily.

.torrents (0, Offtopic)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243842)

Ask the people who record all the movies and upload them on BitTorrent.

dv camcorders (1)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243851)

i'd have to agree that if you aren't interested in doing the editing on a computer (why you'd want to do it with dubbing decks or (heaven forbid) the camera itself, i can't imagine), you needn't bother with a digital format like mini-dv or digital 8. You can get a nice analog Hi8 camcorder for fairly cheap.
I also agree that you should get the highest optical zoom you can find. I bought an older sharp mini-dv that doesn't have pass-through, but it does have 26x optical zoom, which is pretty nice if you're doing touristy things. digital zoom is lame, and shouldn't even enter into the equation. the CCDs on video cameras don't have anywhere near the resolution of a still camera, so any sort of digital 'magnification' that you're going to get will be pixellated.
I haven't found a real use for the IR or low light capabilities of cameras, but perhaps there are some. Mine does light amplification, but unless you're trying to shoot a black and white Blair Witch lookalike, i don't know how useful such a thing would be.

Hi8 mm (1)

I'm Spartacus! (238085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243864)

Seriously, why go digital at all if you don't want to do video editing on your 'puter? You can get much more for your money with analog: cheaper media, better zoom range, far superior low-light capabilities. I can't think of a single reason to go digital if you don't want to edit film.

Canon Xi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8243870)

I love my Canon Xi, it's just easy to use, small, take great pictures and video! Not quite as expensive as the GL or XL line. About 3CCD, in the old day if you wanted good color saturation, but with the new CCDs you can get excellent colors with only 1! I can't buy Sony because everything I buy of theirs breaks! (TV, VCR, DVD, Camcorder, Walkman) Just my jinks!

Highend consusmer: Canon & Sony
Pro: Canon, Sony, Panasonic
Lowend consusmer: Everybody else.

You get what you pay for!

You should also check out Canon's new digital camera that takes full quality Video (640x480 @ 30fps) 10x optical zoom etc, etc, etc. Just anounced yesterday! The wave of the future is going to combine Video and Photography.

-Have fun!

P.S. Video editing equals mac!

Sony DCR TRV-38 (2, Informative)

pjp6259 (142654) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243873)

I just bought the Sony DCR TRV-38 over christmas, and so far I'm pretty satisfied. It had the best collection of good optics and features for around $700. Some features I thought were important:

records to MiniDV - this is the highest quality recording medium. miniDVD may be more convenient, but you pay for it with more compression.

manual focus ring - Ever tried focusing with a menu, or two buttons. The ring focus is the way to go.

Spot focus - nifty feature. You can touch an object on it's lcd screen, and it focuses on where you touch.

records in wide-screen format. 16x9

Optical image stabilization - much better than digital image stabilization.

quality optics.

nice large LCD

The only negative thing I've found so far, is that in low-light settings, the image looks kind of noisy. I've heard this is a problem on all/most digital camcorders with price $1000.

Canon ZR65 (1)

PixolMaster (750410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243965)

I have a canon ZR65, costs $500 and has excelent image quality. Not too good for night shots, but otherwise excelent. It's incredibly compact, has good bat. life, tons of features which are useful for creating profesional looking videos including the best image stabilization out there (canons in general tend to) and text/image overlay. It has "firewire" interface and is overal an amazing camera. I used that camera to record all videos found on My website [dngames.com] , and those videos have had the quality significantly reduced for the internet. NOTE: Videos are of things being burned/shot/smashed and most of them have been slowed down with Adobe After Effects. You can see what the camera's recordings look like in low light in some of the videos.

Why don't you want to edit video on a computer? (4, Insightful)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243989)

Raw footage is boring. No one wants to watch video of your trip to the Grand Canyon. Even grandparents aren't going to watch their grandchild's birthday party more than once.

The key to making video watchable is to edit. Take a lot of footage and edit it to make the footage watchable. Instead of leaving the camera on for 30 minutes at the birthday party. Make a 2 minute music video showing the highlights. People will want to watch that, it's more easily distributed via the Internet.

Finally, even if you don't believe in editing, importing digital video to computer and making a DVD out of it is very easy. Plus it's easier to send and store DVDs than it is to send and store VHS tapes.

Real life review of digital camcorder (4, Funny)

oingoboingo (179159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8243997)

Ok, today we're looking at the Sony DVDA-69, a mid range digital video camera from one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers. As always, we subjected the DVDA-69 to our usual array of real-world tests...not the fake kind you see in "Camcorder Enthusiast Magazine" where they test colour reproduction on scences of bounching beachballs, or testing the zoom lens on closeup shots of the Sydney Opera House, but real life stuff. Let's begin.


Tripod stability: This is important. The DVDA-69 has a shock-stabilised tripod mount, which allowed it to score a perfect 5 out of 5 for the "4-way fat bitch fuck fest test". As regular readers know, this is where we get over 500kg of pounding lesbian flesh to get jiggy in a tub of jelly and film the whole damn thing. Lesser cameras produce an unwatchable shaking mess due to the harsh vibrations. The DVDA-69 felt barely a tremor during this tough test due to the inertial stabilisation and digial shake correction. Fantastic.


Flesh and genital colour tone reproducibility: The DVDA-69 was presented with our standard test panel of 3 vaginas (one hairy, one pierced, one shaved) and 3 penises (one regular, one large, one 'rock splitter'), and tested for accurate flesh tone reproducibility. The CCD sensor did a reasonable job, reporting back 89% faithful colour repro even on an 8x macro pussy zoom shot, but for those seeking ultimate chromatic reproduction, try the new Panasonic CockViewer 7000 (see our previous review). 3 stars out of 5 on this test.


Sound capture authenticity: Again, we used our standard voice test panel of "Oh yeah do you like that bitch?", "I'm gonna cum all over your titties!" and "Give it to me give it to me give it to me SQUEEAAALLL", captured through the standard camera microphone. The DVDA-69 did a good job of capturing mid to high end frequencies (it scored a perfect 100% in the 'anal jab scream' test, but there was some distortion in the optional 'blacks on blondes' sub test where our Barry White sound-alike test subject was able to induce a bit of fuzziness with an orgasmic "Oooooohhh yeeeaaaahhh". 4 out of 5 stars.


Environmental robustness:. The toughest test of all. Basically everyone just jizzes all over the camera lens and we see if it still works. Things were going well until some spooge leaked into the tape compartment, requiring tedious manual cleaning. Not a real competitor here, and certainly bested by the Canon PowerGyno A700 Intruder Edition, which was not disturbed by even the most savage gang banging facial action. Sony is really going to need to work on this if it is going to be seen as a serious player in the home market. 2 out of 5.


Summary: A reasonable entry by Sony into the crowded home camcorder market. Good performance for standard types of fuck-filming, and you can expect your pounding, flabby buttocks to be faithfully presented on the screen during playback. The camera has several ease-of-use features, such as a 'Thumb-off' record button, allowing the user to simply hang the camera around their neck when filming 1st-person blow job scenes, allowing both hands to be used to guide the girl's head onto the end of your cock. But the lack of moisture resistance means that hardcore users will need to look elsewhere for top-quality gyno movies. 3 out 5 stars overall.

Image quality (2, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8244013)

One of the problems is that camcorders are sold by tape technology & pixel count. What is missing is a frank discussion of image quality, which is often really missing from some of the lower-quality cameras.

"Real" video cameras that cost $5K and up are specially designed to capture color images well, and in some cases will make people look better than they actually are. My favorite camera is the Panasonic Supercam. Despite being S-VHS, its image looks way better than any DV camera I've ever used. This is because it has a high-quality ($1000) lens, and good digital signal processing to make the image look great.

I suggest looking at DV.Com [dv.com] if you are serious about image quality review.

Of course, form-factor is also important. A lot of people don't mind a horrible looking picture if they can put the camera in their pocket. That too is a valid choice.

Ask Slashdot: Because I'm Too Lazy To Do It Myself (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8244016)

i can't believe this got posted. the poster says they googled and got "a ton of hits". so go read them already! people complain about not getting any hits... people complain about getting too many hits. what's next?

"dear slashdot, google returned exactly the right number of hits i was hoping for and i'm pretty sure they're all very good resources. however, i really can't be bothered reading them all, sooo, can somebody else read them for me and just kind of give me the gist?"

"dear slashdot, i need to do a shit. can somebody please hold my hand while i'm on the toilet and wipe my ass for me when i'm finished?"

the poster lists some pretty specific requirements, surely this should help them narrow down the choice to a handful of models which can they follow up in more detail. i only hope they take the time to read the replies. the internet has made us too lazy for our own good.
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