Budget (£200-£300) DV cam - Advice needed!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TMA, May 11, 2006.

  1. TMA macrumors 6502a

    TMA

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Location:
    England
    #1
    Not sure if this belongs in here or video forum, mods please feel free to move it if I'm wrong.

    I'm thinking of purchasing a cheap DV cam in a few weeks time for a project myself and a friend are working on. We're going to be making a comedy series which we hope to build a website around.

    The quality doesn't need to be fantastic as I'm planning to add surreal special effects onto most scenes, but what I would like is good stability and focusing, perhaps with good low light filming and decent stereo sound.

    I notice there are a few cameras around for the £200-£300 mark and I wondered if anyone could recommend some brands or model. Also need some tips/advice as i've never looked for a camcorder before. Are the cheap DV cams worth it or are they considered 'junk' ?

    The only requirements I know so far:
    It must be fully compatible with iMovie.
    Good stability - I've not got a very steady hand.

    Thank you in advance
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #2
    They're not great at that price band but it'll be usable. The low-light thing will probably be your biggest problem since none of them are particularly great at that.

    If you're not planning on using a tripod (and your hand isn't too steady), then don't make the optical zoom the determining factor. Once it gets past about 10-12x, then you're really not going to keep it steady. I tried one with 22x and it was so shaky (even just in the store) that I actually checked whether the stabliser was on! You're not going to get an OIS at that price. Sony's steadycam works pretty well for me though.

    To get it compatible with iMovie, just make sure it's got a FW port on it. And don't buy a DVD one.
     
  3. TMA thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TMA

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Location:
    England
    #3
    I'm trying to read up a bit more on mini DV cams, it's something i've never looked at before and it's good fun doing this research :)

    The general consensus on the web for cheap mini DV cams seems to be: Ok to good daylight performance
    Poor low light performance
    Watch out for mechanism noise being picked up on the mic.

    Yes the Optical vs Digital zoom I guess is the same as on digital cameras. Optical can be useful, digital don't bother. I personally think they should stop advertising digital zoom as it is misleading. I don't plan on doing much zooming, but will probably be getting a tripod anyway.

    Look around there are a few cams with OIS for under £300. Even a few just under £200. Does it make a big difference?

    Compatibility with iMovie - I'm always a little skeptical that the only requirement is a firewire port, think i've been using my PC too much :eek:
     
  4. TMA thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TMA

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Location:
    England
    #4
  5. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #5
    I can't recall whether it was the HC19 or the HC22 that I had steadiness problems with while I was checking them out. I've got an HC90 that I've been pretty happy with. Have a look on magazinevideo.com (which is in French) but does have video clips from various cameras. Camcorderinfo tends to be come across slightly anti-Sony since they don't like touchscreens and like more 'expert' settings than those of us who P&S. I felt the low-end Canons felt cheap and plasticky. Would advise going to a store and holding them, try zooming in/out and see how they feel to you. I ordered mine from Amazon in the end since they were cheapest by a long way. Bear in mind that you'll probably also want to buy a case, a spare battery as well as some DV tapes

    When talking about zoom, it was the optical I was talking about. The lower end ones quite often have a 22x or even 40x optical zoom and up to 800x digital. And it can be reasonably tough to judge the midway point where it's easier to keep it steady.

    Chuckle... well, there are a few people who have had some problems but for the most part, you plug in the FW cable and iMovie will open up, autosense the camera (if it's set to Play) and start the 'Import' button pulsing ;) It was much, much easier than I expected having watched a mate struggle through three different PC editing suites.
     

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