FireWire Camcorder

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by JLaFrance, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. JLaFrance macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    I'm interested in a firewire camcorder for my eMac, running Jaguar.

    I'm thinking of spending $500 or less.

    What is the best memory option? Tapes? DVD? and which is the most robust physically?

    I was looking at a Canon ZR90.

    Any recommendations?
  2. zim macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2002
    I personally prefer Cannon for miniDV. I have a Cannon Eulra 10 and I love it, have heard great things about the ZR line. I would go miniDV, not sure how the Sony's that write to DVD are. Also pay attention to the optical components, many of them try to sell the digital zoom abilities, digital zoom was the first thing I turned off on my camera.
  3. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    No offense to the above poster, but I've NEVER heard good things about the Canon ZR line. I owned one of the first, the ZR10, so I speak from experience. The ZR line is terrible in normal indoor lighting. They call this "low light" capability but this does not mean darkness or night shooting. This is normal household lighting in the evening.

    I go back and look at video I took of my newborn son and it is almost unwatchable. The video suffered from excessive grain and noise.

    Sony's Handycams do much better in low light. The 2003 lineup of TRV19/22/33 were very good and the 2004 HC20/30/40 are pretty good also. I upgraded to a Sony TRV22 and there was a huge difference in indoor video quality.

    The middle-tier Canons like the Elura and Optura are better than the Canon ZRs.

    Panasonic is getting very good reviews for their consumer 3CCD cams. Check out the GS120. Only negative on this cam is that the image stabiliaztion is not very good above 5x zoom.

    Sony's do most things well, but they don't do anything outstanding. Good image quality, very good stabilzation and night shot.

    If you want to edit the footage on your Mac then do not buy a DVD-based camcorder. There are many head-aches in getting this video onto your Mac to be edited. Plus, you are paying much more for the same video quality, same optics, etc. You are paying for the convience of recording to DVD. This is great for grandparents or soccer moms. If you want to edit in iMovie or Final Cut get a MiniDV cam.

    Stick with Sony, Panny or Canon (non-ZR) and you'll be fine. Buy from a good dealer where you can return it. Take video in a bunch of different settings/lighting and make sure that you get good quality video by checking thru your TV--don't use the LCD or your computer to judge the video qualtiy.
  4. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    As long as you get a FireWire Mini-DV camcorder, any will be fine. I use my dad's JVC DVX707 camcorder and that has good results - I think it was about £450 ($700) 2 years ago. Just stay clear of DVD-writing camcorders or Sony's Micro MV ones (Sony still makes Mini-DV ones).
  5. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    I've got an Canon Optura 10 and its great - If you really think you'll need the low light options, go with a sony, but you end up paying more for the premium...

  6. MisterGreen macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2004
  7. JLaFrance thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2004

    Which of those, if any have a firewire interface? Also, what is "MiniDV"? Is it a tape or what. An all digital inerface would be best wouldnt it? Since the media wouldn't degrade nearly as fast?
  8. dav macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2004
    Too bad thats what I have (MicroMV). What are my options?
  9. gwangung macrumors 65816

    Apr 9, 2003
    Damn near every camcorder these days worth its salt has a Firewire interface (and all of these have them).

    Mini-DV is a tape format (marked on all tapes), smaller than the Hi 8 format.
  10. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    I like the canon ZR series, i have the canon zr 40 and love it, great for basic stuff.....
  11. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    So far I've been pretty happy with for my stuff. I have an older Sony Digital 8 camcoder. The tapes are cheaper than MiniDV, but it's still digital. The still pictures aren't that great though, and the tape drive can be kinda noisy. I don't like the new ones, because there is no external microphone in port and the internal mic tends to pick up that motor noise. The new MiniDV ones are pretty good. Go to that site to look up more info, and go to someplace like CNET for some reviews. Canon's are good, but they aren't great for low light. Sony's are good all around, but a little more expensive. You might want to buy a better battery too, unless you plan on being near an outlet when you shoot. I'd recommend something with mic port, in case you want to later upgrade to a better mic. As well as dv in/out if you want to edit footage from old tapes or import TV shows.
  12. JLaFrance thread starter macrumors member

    May 24, 2004
    So, if I don't want a tape drive, and I don't want a DVD, what are my alternatives?
  13. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I think you do want a tape drive - if you want to easily import and edit your footage. None of the DVD-based camcorders I've seen (yet) have Firewire ports, so there's no way to import digitally aside from reading the DVDs - if your Mac can do that (presumably, it can, aside from DVD-RAM format).

    I also recommend looking for a camcorder with analog inputs - this will allow you to use the camcorder to digitally input video from, for example, a VCR to your Mac (it will act as an analog-to-digital converter). This is very useful if you want to digitize videotapes.
  14. Jsmit macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2004
    Mini-DV is digital (DV = digital video i believe). It is a digital medium in a tape format like the tape drives people use to have for back-up.
  15. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Ok -

    How about a mini-DV camera for someone who is cheap/poor/not in need of anything special...

    I just need to be able to identify who is on camera and hear what they have to say w/o any massive amounts of background noise from the tape mechanism.

    Used, refurb, close outs... whats the cheapest miniDV camcorder on the market (that doesn't have any show stopping flaws)?
  16. zim macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2002
    I would recommend going to best buy and testing them out. I am sure you could get some excellent reviews here, I personally am fond of the EURLA by cannon, regardless of some others feelings towards cannon miniDV cameras. Best way to decide, get some opinions, read some reviews on amazon, look for durability and usability reviews, then go test some out, but don't go to buy.
  17. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    I'm afraid they only work with PCs and, I think, Sony's proprietary software (I don't even think you can get Microsoft's Movie Maker 2 software, bundled with Windows XP, to recognise it, but I could be wrong). My friend had one of these cameras. Not a sausage when I hooked it up to my Mac.
  18. Jsmit macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2004
    I am currently looking at the Canon Elura 65. Does anyone have an opinion on these. I was going to get the Elura 60 (399 USD at Ritz Camera Stores this week), but it does not have a 3.5 mm jack for an external mic. I will be using his camera mostly for the local cable access channel, and an external mic is almost essential for some of the meetings I will be taping.
  19. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

    Sep 21, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    You want a tape drive, given your $500 budget. If you're willing to spend at least $600 more you can get a direct to disk recorder.

    The format of those new solid state (tapeless) camcorders is MPEG-4. The format of those DVD camcorders is MPEG-2. The format of miniDV camcorders is DV. That's a digital signal recorded onto tape.

    iMovie is designed for DV. You'll make your life much easier by staying far away from those other formats.

    You'll be happy with the ZR90. I wouldn't judge the ZR90 based on sigamy's experience with the ZR10.

    You could buy a new miniDV camcorder and pass your MicroMV video through it to your Mac.
  20. crazytom macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2002
    If only Canon and Sony could get together on their products. I have both (Canon Elura and Sony 740) and use them for different applications. Here's my take:

    Canon: Great picture in daylight, poor indoor pictures, very bad battery life, and when using the firewire port, I can't be running any other firewire device (actaully, I don't know if this has changed in the last year, but I'm not going to risk the data on my external drive to find out). Mini DV tapes are more expensive.

    Sony: Acceptable picture for outdoors, better indoor pictures, excellent battery life and it works well through firewire. Tapes are cheaper.

    One uses mini DV and the other is Digital 8...there's really no appreciable difference there...I don't have a gazillion tapes, so storage space isn't a big concern. MiniDV recorders are lighter/smaller, but that leaves less room on the tape/case to label what's on there, and the smaller a camera is, the harder it is to hold it steady.

    I got both cameras off of eBay. The Sony was brand new and cost $500 and the Elura was used and I got it for $350 (a steal!).

    Good luck on your search!

    PS: Stay away from the Sony DVD recorders. I had to do a format transfer and it wasn't pleasant. There's a lot of proprietary BS on it...the DVD's won't play in any player except a transfers are not possible (except maybe on a PC, but even then, it's a highly compressed MPEG-2 format). Ick....

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