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View Full Version : Several beginners questions about choosing a camcorder




Applespider
Sep 8, 2005, 08:28 AM
I know the same thing applies to camcorders as to most other things in life - you get what you pay for - but I'm curious as to how far up the price ranges things actually change in video quality rather than additional features.

I want a pretty basic camera for taping holiday trips etc; probably mostly outdoors but likely with some evening and indoor shots. From reading reviews it appears that most cameras under 600 will be fairly lousy at low light levels. But will there really be a massive difference between ultra cheap, cheap and midrange (ie are they such that only a video geek would notice) - or to get good results, would I have to go way over budget which is overkill for what I need.

At the v cheap end, I'm looking at a Sony HC22 (265) and at the merely cheap end, the HC42 (400) The reviews I've read make them sound equally bad at low light but don't really cover the steadycam aspects etc. The HC42 has a lower optical zoom which, in store, seemed to make the camera picture seem steadier - though obviously, you don't get a true idea of distance in a shop! Anyone tried either of those more fully?

The Canons seem tough to judge since the UK model names are totally different from the US ones where most of the review sites are based.

Anyone else been through the basic camcorder purchase decision lately and willing to share their thought process?



Artful Dodger
Sep 8, 2005, 09:06 AM
Hi, since my price range was somewhat low for me I looked at the same camcorders as you did but found this JVC (GR-DX97U) for $400 US and the low light is better than the Canon (had a zr70 sent it back). The U stands for US model but where you are if I'm right just drop the U and it's the same camcorder. Here is a link (forgive the site but good info)http://www.shopathometv.com/shopathome/network/jshop/shopdev/product/detail.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0328638126.1126188049@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccladdfjdlledfcefeceeedffjdfjg.0&n=0&OID=61236&catOID=-26343
I really like it but battery life could be better, video quality is good for the group it's in as cnet and camcorderinfo.com gave it a good rating. Hope this helps, peace Dodger.

Lacero
Sep 8, 2005, 09:41 AM
You'll only notice a massive increase in video quality when you go to camcorders that advertise 3 CCDs. Look at getting a used Sony TRV900 or Canon GL1. You should still get a camera light for extra dark interiors. What 3CCD cameras give you are less noise in low-light although they may not make it any brighter than the cheap 1 CCD cameras.

evil_santa
Sep 8, 2005, 09:50 AM
I got a HC42 a few months back, I went for this as i needed a DV cam ( my old one broke so I have DV tapes i need to be able to play) It had DV in Out. & it has true 16:9.

I havent tried it in low light. But it does have the infrared system.

I found that Jessops would price match internet prices, so i got it for about 379

I am very pleased with the camera its much better than my old JVC that cost 1100 & started to distruy its self after 2 years.

LethalWolfe
Sep 9, 2005, 01:40 AM
You'll only notice a massive increase in video quality when you go to camcorders that advertise 3 CCDs. Look at getting a used Sony TRV900 or Canon GL1. You should still get a camera light for extra dark interiors. What 3CCD cameras give you are less noise in low-light although they may not make it any brighter than the cheap 1 CCD cameras.

As I understand it, and w/all other things being equal, pixel size determines light sensitivity, not chip count. A good example of this is the new HDV cameras (like the Z1U or HD100) are worse in low light than their SD counterparts (like the XL2 or DVX100). All of the cameras have 3, 1/3" CCDs but the HDV cameras have a lot more (and a lot smaller) pixels than the SD cameras.

It's kinda like film and film grain. Lower ASA speed films have smaller grain, but are "slower" (they require more light) and higher speed films that have larger grain.


Lethal

Applespider
Sep 9, 2005, 03:19 AM
I havent tried it in low light. But it does have the infrared system.

I'd always thought that was a kinda gimmick since it seemed to turn everyone green on the old Handycams (6 years ago or so) - we did end up with a funny video of us all locked in an isolation cell on Alcatraz with it but I never thought of using it in a normal room. Have you used the camera indoors at all - what was it like if so? One review suggested that it sometimes appears as if there's a blue filter on it; I did notice that the magenta was a lot more muted than with the cheaper one when in the store although the cheap one showed it so garishly that anything would have been muted!

Lacero, I've read about the 3CCD ones and there's one just beyond my price bracket that I could get (Panasonic 75) while still keeping it small enough to carry around as a tourist places but I've read that although its colour reproduction is much better outside, indoors it's apparently worse than the Sonys - possibly because its 3 CCDs are all 1/6 inch unlike the larger ones in better 3CCD cameras. Buying a used one is an interesting thought although eBay UK aren't showing any of the two you suggested; my only concern would be the durability if they've already been through 2 years with another user. I have little faith in consumer electronics quality these days!

Jopling
Sep 10, 2005, 04:22 PM
Just some tips:

#1 Just because a camera might tout it has 3 CCD chips it doesn't mean they are big. A camera could have 1 CCD but have more surface area than the 3 combined.

#2 All cameras are bad in low light. Cameras are always almost meant to have additional lighting unless you are outside, even then you should use reflectors. So if a professional camera needs lighting, more than likely a home one will.

I just wanted to let you know, I am very jealous of you people in the UK. you guys get 25p on your homevideo cameras and a higher resolution with definite color. I <3 PAL.

illegalprelude
Sep 10, 2005, 07:02 PM
Just some tips:

#1 Just because a camera might tout it has 3 CCD chips it doesn't mean they are big. A camera could have 1 CCD but have more surface area than the 3 combined.

#2 All cameras are bad in low light. Cameras are always almost meant to have additional lighting unless you are outside, even then you should use reflectors. So if a professional camera needs lighting, more than likely a home one will.

I just wanted to let you know, I am very jealous of you people in the UK. you guys get 25p on your homevideo cameras and a higher resolution with definite color. I <3 PAL.
I very much agree. 3 Chip means nothing. Panasonic has a consumer one for $500ish and Sony has a regular 1 chip for $500 and the sony will still outshoot it.