DigiVidCam Suggestions for Soon-to-be-Dad

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by umijin, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. umijin macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    I'm a long time Mac user, that is finally gonna do the digital video camera thing. My wife will give birth in November - so I've got some time. However, I have a need to convert some VHS tapes to digital video.

    My budget limit is around $1000.
    My needs include:
    -Analog-digital Pass-through
    -FireWire (for above?)
    -Good quality video that will stand up to time.
    -Decent Battery Life
    -Mac compatibility

    I've been looking at a couple of models in particular -and have read reviews of them on 'camcorderinfo.com'.

    -Sony's HDR-HC3

    -Panasonic PV-GS500

    The Sony's advantage is its HD quality video and ease of use. It's disadvantage is the price (as far as I can see) and memory stick nonsense.

    The Panasonic looks very good for the price, and it seems to have a firewire port (I guess they call it a DV port...). It's main drawback seems to be its lack of HD digital video (assuming that I really NEED it).

    Ah, I just noticed that the GS-500 lacks analog to digital pass through.

    But I can't find that information for the HC3...

    Any suggestions or recommendations?

  2. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    Dont go for HD, you have no way to view HD.

    The tape with have HD recorded on it, your computer will have the files in HD, but how will you het that HD footage to the TV? Even with an HDTV youd need to hook up either the camcorder or computer to a TV to view it in HD.

    With that in mind, drop the HD thoughts for now.

    Stick with Mini-DV, its ubiquitous today.

    All use FireWire, every company uses a different term.

    personally I like Sony camcorders. I havent been in the market for a while so Im outta the loop on their current line up. but for a decent camcorder that will last a while in terms of compatibility and features is the TRV950.

    now, thats a 3CCD chip camcorder. Which alot are these days, and if you want good quality without going HD, a 3CCD is the only way to go.

    All decent camcorders have a D/A converter inside. They should have something that has the 3 RCA plugs and a plug into the camcorder. Then you hit play on the RCA connected VCR and record on the camcorder, and you will record the VHS to your new miniDV tape.
  3. umijin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    Thanks for the suggestions - two comments, however.

    First, I'm assuming I can edit HD with my Mac and the latest version of iMovie - correct?

    Second, apparently the HC-3 does NOT have analog-digital pass through from what I can tell. This means at least two of the highest rated new cameras don't have this featuure. I'm finding that a lot of the newer ones don't have it. :-(
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Any chance of buying something like an Elgato or Miglia product (most under US$200) for the analaog->digital conversion and then postponing your purchase as long as possible to take advantage of any new products?
  5. umijin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    Yup - that's another option, as I have a few months for the baby. I haven't seen these two a->d products locally (I'm in Japan), though I-O Data makes one. I'll check the Apple store again. $200 is a bit to add on though...
  6. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    In Hell
    If you've got the money get the Sony's HDR-HC3, it's a great camera, and HD is the future.

    As Sdashiki says it's going to be hard to view on your TV, but I mostly watch my videos on the computer anyway, and you can send HD to family (my family is in New Zealand so I send them movies of my kid so they don't miss out) on normal DVD's for them to watch on their computers.

    The Panny is a fantastic camera too, great quality video, but no pass through, the question is do you really need pass through, or do you just need it to convert a bit of stuff then you'll never use it again.

    OK now I know I'm gonna go down in flames for this suggestion (because it's a bit dodgy) but If you've only got a few tapes or other stuff you want to convert, just plan when you're gonna buy your camera buy a cheap one with pass through, convert all your videos and stuff then take it back and swap it for the camera you want with no pass through. Problem solved.
  7. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Another contrarian POV here from a dad of 2 (ages 5 and almost 3).

    I really haven't used my Sony TRV-11 much recently, pretty much since son #2 was born, and find that (after years of ignoring the feature) I take more "mini-movies" with my digital still camera, which is much more portable than the DV cam, so I tend to have it handy more often. I'm currenty doing 320x240 15 fps MJPEG movies which have a Super8 ish feel to them, but am looking at upgrading to a 640x480 30fps camera real soon now...

    Depending on how many tapes you have, you might definitely be better off buying a < $200 converter and selling it when you're "done". I'm still working on some of my old VHS tapes, which is about the only use the TRV-11 sees nowadays.

  8. umijin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    All very good points to mull over, even your 'dodgy' suggestion (which I like). I also watch vids only on my 20' iMac at this time and would send DVDs to relatives. I should probably borrow a DV camera with A-D pass-through from someone here - that would be less dodgy. And cheaper.

    The price of the HC3 is unfortunately higher than I expected - about $1400-1500 here. Sony's DCR-SR100 has A-D pass through, and is right around $1000 - so I'm tempted by this. However, this camera is one of the new hard disk cameras, and their video isn't quite so sharp as others from what I read.

    The panasonic still looks pretty good - I'll see what kinds of prices I can get here.

    Thanks again!
  9. umijin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    Good points again. A personal follow up - Do you feel your urge to take videos lessened as the novelty (of the kid) wore off? Just curious.

  10. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    No, if anything I think we take more still pictures now than ever and I'd still love to take better quality videos, but we have less and less "free time" and I prefer to actually be there (wherever that is) with them rather than looking at them through a viewfinder and trying to keep an eye on them and my gear at the same time. With a compact still camera I get a fair compromise...

  11. Cybix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    sorry to hijack the thread. I'm also looking at the HDR-HC3...

    Will i have problems viewing my footage on a regular television?

    Cant I take my footage, edit it in iMovie HD, and then cut it to a DVD that will work on any TV/display?

    I think the HC3 is quite affordable considering it's fairly good spec and size.

    perhaps i should start another thread on this device....
  12. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Yes, of course you can. I think the point of the previous poster was that you're paying a premium for the HD quality and features, but unless you have all the equipment to properly take advantage of it, you're spending that money for nothing.

    All this talk of the HC3 has got me thinking, though. I currently have a VX2000 which is a fantastic camera (bulky though), and I would probably move to HD next.
  13. jaysmith macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2005
    i don't see hd taking over any time soon. there's just too much you have to worry about, like whether your relatives have the right equipment to view hd and lag in editing, etc. its just not worth the effort for slightly better footage (espescially just home videos). I've recommended them about 3 times in the last day, but go for a high end panasonic pv gs500 or so. they're great quality, have good controls, and don't have any worthless gimmicks.

    if you want to buy used, look around for a sony trv 900 (not 950, its actually inferior in many ways). its a 3 chip camera that will compete with canon gl2's and vx2000's, for half the price. they can be found for well under $1000 on many video classified forums or sites.

    either of these choices should last you for many years to come, while others pull their hair out trying to figure out hd. i personally have a vx2000, and when i look to upgrade it won't be to hd for at least a few years.
  14. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    As a father of a 8 months old girl, and I make my living as a cameraman, I say get a small camera and don´t worry too much about picture quality. 3CCD is good, but far from neccesary.
    If the camera is too big for you to bother to bring with you, it dosen´t matter how good the picture quality is.

    I don´t know the 2 models, but I bought a second hand Sony. It´s small, and I bring it quite often.
    I would never use it for anything else, but I rather have the footage in lesser quality, than not at all.

    My thoughts.

    Congratulations, it´s amazing to be a father
  15. umijin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2006
    Thanks for the suggestions and advice. I agree that portability is important.

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