Digital Video Camera

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by mrgreen4242, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #1
    I'm considering getting a digital video camera to take with me when I get deployed with my Army Reserve unit... I have absolutely no experience with these devices, tho, so I am lookign for a little help on where to start looking... Here's a list of things that I would like to be able to do, and other factors...

    - Small and lightweight. Needs to be pretty small, like about the size of my hand, so that I can fit it in my cargo pocket.
    - Sturdy. Gotta be able to hold up to some real world use and abuse.
    - Battery life. I'd like decent life on it. I don't know what is average for this type of device, but I would like to be able to carry it around all day in standby mode, and shoot up to an hour or 90 minutes of footage at various points durign the day.
    - Image quality. Here is somewhere I am willing to comprimise. I would like to be able to shoot at better than VHS quality, but don't really need full professional DVD type image. Full frame-rates (30fps) are a must, but resolution can just be 'average' or even slightly less.
    - Sound/Mic quality. I need to be able to pic up voices clearly from a decent range, and also shoot outdoors in mild wind without completely losing audio quality.
    -Compatibilty. I want to be able to easily import and edit the video from it to a Mac and burn it onto a DVD/SVCD.
    - Price. I would like to keep this down to a fairly modest budget. I don't have any problems with getting last generation gear, refubished, etc, in order save a buck. Since I am completely new to this field, I don't know what the dollar amount I should expect to be spending. Is it possible to get a decent camera that fits my desires for under $400?? (I'm guessing no, but again, I know nothing about this!)

    Features I would like...
    -Nighttime shooting. Either IR or some other sort of light amplification would be really cool/usefull, but not absolutely required.
    - Zoom. Only needs to be modest. A few power optical and a little digital on top of that.

    What I am going to do with it is basically shoot video of everyone in my unit during our deployment so that I can put together smallish (30minutes or so) 'unit video newsletters' that will be mailed home and copied/distributed to the families of the soldiers. I am also going to archive all the material for the 1+ year we will be gone, and edit it into a full blown DVD w/ menus, etc, for everyone when we get home.

    Hope that this wasn't so long that people lose interest halfway through and can't help me! :)

    Thanks in advance,

    Rob
     
  2. JasonL macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2004
    Location:
    Ware, MA
    #2
    Well, if shooting at night is going to be somewhat important the Sony camcorders are really good and work well with Macs. I did a search on this subject pretty recently and found a ton of info. I'm waiting for a couple of new cameras to be released by Sony in April, namely the DCR-HC65 and 85. The HC40 looks like a pretty good deal as well. I'm sure a lot of people will point you to the trv22, which is a good and fairly economical choice; but I think it sells for closer to $500. Other good places to check things out would be CNet, Epinions, and Amazon. In general, Mac users are good about stating that they are Mac users in their reviews and if they had compatibility issues or not. Apple also has a compatibility list on the applestore site (I think it is under the Upgrades tab). Good luck with the camcorder.

    And I pray that you and your unit all come back in one piece! Thank you for all that you are doing. As a sidenote I tried to join the Army Reserve last summer and my wife convinced me not to (we have young kids). I'll try again in a few years. ;)
     
  3. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #3

    Thanks for giving me somewhere to start looking! It'll help to have some sort of reference to start with... and thanks for the kind words and support. :) We do our best.
     
  4. javabear90 macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #4
    I would get a cannon ZR-somthing.
    They are cheap, have great zoom, small, and have decent quality. People say they have bad nighttime shooting however, you can step the shutter speed to 1/60th and put the AE shift at +2 and it's great.
     
  5. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #5
    Thanks for the tips guys, it really helps! Keep 'em coming :)

    Something else I was considering is going to with a small still digitcam that has video/sound recording as well. My current (rather old) Sont CyberShot does low res, low quality video, so I can't help but think that some of the newer ones might have some decent specs... anyone have experience with that type of equipment?

    On a side note, a camera with an available underwater housing would be icing ont he cake, as I liek to dive and snorkel when I get a chance.

    Rob
     
  6. javabear90 macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #6

    A cannon powershot a-70 will take 640x480 resolution video and they make a water proof shell for it as well!

    However for some reason, the Powershot A-80 only takes 320x240
     
  7. aswitcher macrumors 603

    aswitcher

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra OZ
    #7
    DV Cameras are not good at being abused...you might need to rethink how you pack it. I suggest its own water proof padded case on your webbing, or better yet that inside a pack or on your belt when your filming.

    If your the camera guy I would act as camera guy not both camera guy and soldier, because your camera is going to be a risk of being dropped, crushed, covered in dirt etc


    Whatever you get look at getting a clear filter to protect the lense. See if you can get the thing a a protective plastic jacker or some such ... never seen one but they might be about.

    Here are some review and info sites
    http://www.camcorderinfo.com/
    http://www.dvspot.com

    Sony HC 40 looks good for size for you. Battery life is going to be an issue with this little camera. Bits and pieces are always expensive.

    Canon have the new Elura 70/65/60 in April which is what I am personally looking at. Native 16:9, good features, excellent battery life.

    Serious look at an external light if many of your shots are likely to be under foliage, near dusk/dawn, or at night.

    Go a second 6-7 hour battery.

    Have your own clean gloves to operate the camera, especially on a sony which has a touch screen
     
  8. aswitcher macrumors 603

    aswitcher

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra OZ
    #8
    I think they just bumped up to the A75???

    A-70 vid is only 15fps...
     

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