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Picking the perfect camcorder

#1 User is offline   MW Forums 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 07:50 AM

Although MiniDV remains the most popular choice among Mac users, it's not your only option. Base your decision on how much money you're willing to spend, whether you want to edit your video, and how picky you are about video quality. more
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#2 User is offline   spimster 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 11:16 AM

OMG
what about 3CCD and telling why it might be a good thing?
what about the captured image resolutions and various "flavors" of HD in recorders?
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#3 User is offline   rgetter 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 12:44 PM

Ahh, but what about audio? External mic inputs have been mysteriously disappearing from many camcorder models over the past several years in spite of the fact that there are some very good, reasonably priced microphones appearing on the market (check out Azden's offerings). If you need a wireless lavalier (lapel) mic, a handheld mic to use in noisy locations, or a shotgun (the audio equivalent of a telephoto lens), you're totally out of luck with most of the consumer-level camcorders on the market. You won't need an external mic on every shoot, of course. But if your audience needs to hear what people are saying, searching out a camera with a mic jack would be a sound decision.
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#4 User is offline   gfair 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 02:04 PM

You know, I really am amazed that Apple has done nothing in the video recording market. The technologies used here are so antiquated that it's hard to believe. Why does Apple not see the opportunity for applying the iPod treatment to a camcorder? Start off with a hard drive, add a click-wheel interface and iPod navigation UI. Make sure the color optics system is at least as good as what Canon uses and you are off to the races.
Honestly - my Dad has a Mini DV camcorder. I had to capture video off the fricken thing to get it onto a PC. Does Apple not see the huge opportunity here?
Apple really is trapped by its iPod fever, it has stopped the company from looking beyond the iPod to other consumer devices like a digital camera and a digital camcorder. Both of these markets could substantially gain from Apple's market entrance. Look at how Apple has almost wiped out MP3 player competition with its iPod - the same would happen in the Camcorder and Digital camera markets, the competition would be forced to innovate and improve their designs substantially. As of right now, all I see in these markets is stagnation. New designs do little but upgrade a chip or two, and add a few megapixels. We still have to deal with highly limited quantities of flash memory for cameras, and tapes.
Does anyone see tape drives still commonly used on the average user's desktop computer these days? No. The reason why is because of hard drives. And yet years after the iPod became a success, none of the major camera or camcorder players have seen the potential threat from applying the iPod treatment to digital cameras and digital camcorders.
So in the end, all I can conclude is that Apple's failure to create offerings in these markets is a failure on its part to get over its iPod love. The iPod is fantastic, but Apple could have a trio of major design wins and capture even more of the digital hub market by branching out into other markets that have not benefitted from the iPod treatment. MP3 players existed for years before the iPod, the same with camera and camcorder markets, and they will gain just as much, if not more innovation if Apple can come to its senses.
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#5 User is offline   mchoffa 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:22 PM

gfair has some very good points. Apple could very easily jump in and give an easy to use and high quality device to the consumer/prosumer market that would work seemlessly with iMovie as well as Final Cut. If it were as easy to use as an iPod and high quality then people would buy them left and right. I am sadly disappointed in the lack of quality in camcorders for home use. Add to that the fact that only the miniDV tape based solutions are really easy to use with a Mac without extra software/time.
Come on Apple, you are giving us just about everything else we need in our digital lives!
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#6 User is offline   OM_user 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:36 PM

As stated, anything but miniDV is pretty much a pain in the tookas to use with your Mac. If you plan on doing any kind of editing to your video later, there isn't much choice but that.
Also, I second spimster's request to hear something about 3CCD cameras. These are becoming more popular in the consumer/prosumer video market. 3CCD digital still cameras are still usually too expensive for anyone but serious pros, but the vidcam models are not as far out of range, and, in most cases, offer much better color and clarity, and also work better in low light conditions.
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#7 User is offline   Machound 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:51 PM

I add my vote for info about 3CCD arrays. Low light shooting has always been the Achilles heel of camcorders, including my current Hi-8 analog cam.
This article comes at a timely moment for our family. We've been holding off for HDV (or AVCHD) options to mature. We're willing to spend up to $2000 for something decent but we don't want to wait forever. The kids will soon be in kindergarten.
Thanks for this article. Good information about camcorders is hard to find. Even if this article doesn't really help me with my HDV vs AVCHD decision, or the 3CCD array issue, at least it prompts further thought.
I'd really like an article that focuses on the high definition camcorders and their issues related to Macs. I think many more of us are headed in the HD direction.
Sony said in their recent product announcement they expect 50% of camcorder sales to be in HD by the end of 2007. (Nobody can fault them for hoping.)
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#8 User is offline   reidnixon 

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 11:31 PM

Since I use Panasonic prosumer equipment and am a fan, I thought I'd check out Macworld's recommendation of the Panasonic PV-GS300 miniDV camera.
Based on the specs, I would also recommend the GS300 for those that are interested...
BUT...if you can spare the $400, I'd recommend over that one, the Panasonic PV-GS500 which boosts all of the optical qualities, including sensor size, zoom length, lens diameter, still picture resolution and nighttime light sensitivity. It also adds a physical ring for manual focus control vs. a joystick that adjusts the manual focus on the GS300.
And, btw, both of these are 3CCD cameras for those that are curious.
All-in-all, it's worth the $1000 list, a few hundred dollars less on street/web.
ps, I re-read this and realize I sound like a Panasonic shill, but I swear I'm not--just a video professional.

Here's a comparison between two models (you may have to cut/paste to get whole link):
(side note about comparison: all of the N/A's listed for either model are actually included if you look at their operating manual PDFs, except for manual focus ring for the GS300).
http://www2.panasonic.com/webapp/wcs/sto...ms=96241|96240|
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#9 User is offline   lovefaithswing 

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:00 AM

I have been researching camcorders recently and came across one that wasn't included in this article. It is the Sanyo C6. It is a dual video / still camera with 30 fps video with 5X optical zoom and a 6 megapixal camera. It records in MPEG-4 which the apple website says works with iMovie. The best thing of all is that it records onto SD Cards which are easily transfered to the computer.
Does this sound as good to others as it does to me? Does anyone use this camera and could tell me if the camera works as well as it says it does?
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#10 User is offline   Svavar 

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:07 PM

They completely left out the emerging SD- and HDD-based HD camcorders such as the Sanyo Xacti HD1 (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006reviews/hd1samples.html) and Samsung's forthcoming SC HDX15 ( http://www.letsgodig.../articles/story5906.html ).

Sony's HDR-SR1 will be available October 21st for $1,499.

The AVCHD format is especially promising because the 8mm DVD disks should be playable in Blu-Ray DVD players (and thus the PlayStation 3). AVC/H.264 is said to offer the same quality as MPEG-2 at half the bitrate as well as supporting 5.1 and 7.1 channel audio and arbitrary resolutions and aspect ratios.

On another note; if you are going to be shooting a lot of video for playback on a computer you should be aware of interlacing problems. Sadly, the vast majority of camcorders, even the JVC HDD models, shoot interlaced video unless they are specifically labeled as "progressive".
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#11 User is offline   mokey18 

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 09:42 PM

I just want to confirm that you can connect the panasonic PVGS500 with USB to the mac and edit your video with imovie.... We were given a hitachi camcorder and can't do a thing with it on our mac other than play finalized DVD-R's.....and can't return it!! so before we go and buy the panasonic- which looks like the best bet, I just wanted to make sure it's going to work!
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#12 User is offline   Svavar 

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 11:37 AM

You can transfer your movies into iMovie using FireWire, not USB. USB is used to transfer the still photos from the SD card.
As far as the Hitachi goes, you can always import video from the DVD-Rs into iMovie: Importing digital video from sources other than a camcorder.
Good luck!
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#13 User is offline   richard_baguley 

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 04:16 PM

Hey all: I am the author of the Macworld piece, and I thought I'd jump in and answer a few of the questions in here. Apologies for the late arrival: I hope you're still paying attention /forums/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
I did mention 3CCD a little, but I didn't have space to get too in-depth about that. As to the HD camcorders: I wanted to focus on the mainstream products, and some of the newer formats aren't out yet.
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#14 User is offline   richard_baguley 

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 04:18 PM

Quote:

Ahh, but what about audio? External mic inputs have been mysteriously disappearing from many camcorder models over the past several years


Very true, and I did commend the Canon Elura 100 in the reviews I did for having a microphone input. You may not use it all the time, but it's a great feature to have.
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