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Camcorder Research Resources

I’m in the market for a camcorder as a Christmas gift for Janice. Don’t worry, my dear wife doesn’t read my blog.  It will still be a nice surprise.  As usual, with any big ticket item, I spend quite a bit of time researching it on the internet.  The two best resources I’ve found are: 

  1. Camcorderinfo.com provides very detailed reviews of everything from inexpensive consumer grade products to high end near professional prosumer video cameras.  I loved this site because they literally rated everything, including providing detailed video quality reports.
  2. CNET’s Camcorder Reviews pages are a little less detailed than Camcorderinfo.com, but provide a user’s viewpoint on the devices.

Anyway, it looks like it’s down to the Sony HDR-SR1, or the Canon HV-10.  The Canon is a much better price, but the reviewers ding it for video problems in low light settings and confusing controls.  On the other hand, the Sony records in the new AVCHD format, and there is very little editing software available for it at the moment. I checked them both out at BestBuy yesterday, and while I couldn’t see any video problems with either, the knock against the Canon’s controls is definitely warranted.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Darren December 9, 2006, 6:50 am

    How about the Sony HDR-HC3 HDV Digital Camcorder or another HD that shoots to mini dv tape. Since there are no affordable HD DVD burners out there yet, and wont be until early next year (end of year before they are "affordable" according to most estimates) you really don not want a hard drive based DV camera. Otherwise you have to keep dumping your original footage hd video to a hard drive before you can go out and shoot new footage and hopefully you are backing this large data up too!!! When you do decide to author some dvds, you will be burning and encoding mpg2 anyway which is not HD quality in order to work in todays DVD players. In my opinion, the minv dv tape based hd camcorders are better option. You can make your dvds for family and still keep the original mini dv tapes around for when HD DVD burning and players are more mainstream in a year or two. This way you get the best of both worlds , HD quality video to be shared later on , and immediate sharing of video with current technology ie todays dvd players.

    Keep in mind this model is probably up for a refresh in feb or so since it was released last Feb.

    BTW, i love your blog. Keep up the great work.


  • Alec December 9, 2006, 7:05 am

    Hey – thanks for that insight Darren. I hadn't thought about the storage issue, and you're right. And thanks for the compliments. :)


  • Roland Tanglao December 9, 2006, 8:35 am

    I disagree with Darren about the tapes but I agree with his praise for your blog. Tapes make no sense for early adopters like yourself. For normal people, tapes still make sense. I will never buy a camera that records to physical media again. For me it will be camera->memory or hard disk->internet and/or DVD

  • MatthewS December 9, 2006, 4:52 pm

    We have a Sony DCR-HC32 which has great video quality and the controls are easy to use. It does use MiniDV tapes and isn't HiDef. Still, we like it an awful lot. That all said, our next camcorder will record to a hard drive and will be HiDef.

  • Alec December 9, 2006, 5:56 pm

    I'm kind of torn on the hard disk front. I've got quite a bit of storage around the house — probably a terabyte total — but it wouldn't be easy to maintain a bunch of digital video files, backed up etc. I'd need some kind of backup format, and of course, AVCHD is about 1 hour per DVD.

  • luca December 10, 2006, 1:23 am

    I just bought a Panasonic SDR-S100. No tapes, only 2Gigs SD-card. 3CCD plus widescreen recording. It inlcudes a 3.2mpix still camera as well. Very small, your wife can put it in her handbag. Check it out. ciao

  • Mike December 10, 2006, 7:41 am

    I recently got the Sanyo Xacti HD1A. Very nice, record 720p to SD card (4gb cards work well). Also 3mp camera. Can be found for $599.

    I love it, it works great and fits in your pocket. Also removes the need to carry a separate camera.

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