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Digital Camcorder Bleg

With an antiquated camcorder and a child on the way, we’re looking at digital camcorders. Some thing that records to DVD and don’t want tapes or anything like that. Any recommendations?

Update: Based on comments, it seems MiniDV is the way to go. And Panasonic seems to get high marks.

6 Responses to “Digital Camcorder Bleg”

  1. Sailorcurt Says:

    Can’t help you with your specific question, my DV Camera uses mini DV tapes (Panasonic PV-DV-400…had it for several years and it’s a bit out-dated but it works great).

    If your computer is current enough and has a big enough hard drive (if not, easy to fix with an external USB-2 drive) I highly recommend getting set up to edit your videos on the computer.

    Apple computers are much better suited for this, but a Wintel machine will work if it is fairly current (Mine is a couple of years old but was top of the line when I got it)

    My camera has a firewire interface which my computer also has built in. If your computer doesn’t have one…also easy to fix and relatively inexpensive.

    I don’t have anything too fancy as far as editing software. Windows XP comes with a basic video editor but I’ve never even tried to use it. I use Pinnacle Studio. It is relatively inexpensive ($90 for the “plus” version) and does everything I need it to do: You can do wipes, fades, frame by frame editing, voiceovers, slow down and speed up clips, picture in picture effects, chroma keying, create DVD menus, titles, add music, etc etc etc. For an additional fee (I think it’s about $10 more) you can add widescreen (if you have a widescreen camera) and 5.1 surround capability.

    After editing, you can save the movie in a variety of formats (including Realvideo or Windows Media formats), record onto videotape or burn directly to DVD or VideoCD.

    I’ve done several family videos this way…basically, I just shoot everything, try to get as many angles as possible and as much video of the event as possible…then edit it down to the best shots, add transitions, fades, wipes, titles, music and voiceover as appropriate, create a DVD menu and then burn it to DVD.

    You can really make your home videos entertaining that way, edit out the slow parts and keep the good stuff for posterity…and it doesn’t take much artistic ability (obviously, if I can do it). People actually ask me to get out my home videos occasionally instead of groaning when I ask if they want to see them.

    Just thought you might like to consider that option.

  2. karlicko Says:

    Congrats on the baby. My daughter just turned one, and I bought a vid camera just before she was born. A Panasonic b/c they give you the best bang for your buck. 3 CCDs (vs. 1 CCD in most consumer vid cams) for a relatively low price. I got the PV-GS250. The BV-GS300 just came out, but may be more than you want to spend.
    (you should check out the rest of this site – it is pretty decent source of info)

    I agree w/Sailorcurt on editing stuff on your computer. I would NOT get stuck on the idea of having one that burns right to DVD. Mini DV tapes are just as good if not better, esp. if you use your computer to edit. Better have the hard-drive space, though. A 1 hour tape holds 13GB of data.

  3. gunner Says:

    I have a nice sony duocam(?) and it uses two lens and two forms of recording. For the camera part it uses little discs, for the video it uses the digital cartridges. I have no DVD knowledge, but can recommend the duocam.

  4. Les Jones Says:

    When I asked that question before Katie was born the advice I got was to get a 3 CCD camera. I bought the Panasonic GS200, which was the new hotness in September, 2004. Like the fine folks above, I wouldn’t get too caught up on the DVD part. Most everything is MiniDV.

    You’re welcome to borrow it for the upcoming bambino’s delivery if you want to videotape the big event (my wife got sick of me videotaping stuff in the delivery room in a big hurry). Truth is, we rarely use the video camera and get a lot more use out of the still picture digital camera.

  5. Reason Says:

    JVC has an all-digital setup that has something like an Ipod harddrive in it. That seems ideal to me, YMMV.

  6. matt dimeo Says:

    Having long owned a sony minidv camera and having played with my parents’ sony dvd camera, I’d have to say that I’m pretty torn which is better.

    Tapes suck because they’re tapes, but they’re a lot nicer for capturing video to a computer (believe it or not). The dvd format actually doesn’t lend itself to being reedited. DVD’s are nicer because you can just pop them in a dvd player and go. But if you’ve got mistakes in the middle of the recording, you’re kinda stuck with them.

    If I had it to do over again, I’d get a hard drive based recorder.

    As it is, I mostly find myself taking short videos with the excellent function built into my panasonic still camera.


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