Need some advice about digital camcorders...

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by sotofish, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. sotofish macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2003
    Riverside, Ca
    I'm looking into buying a camcorder as we're about to have a baby. I don't really know where to start, I guess I'm looking for a camera that is digital, that can record pretty nice images that I can then edit in iMovie and burn to DVD. It's been a while for me- the last video camera I used had the old big VHS tapes, and the last time I did any video editing I used a program called "Video Toaster" on an Amiga! Anyone know any informative articles on the web talking about digital camcorders? Thanks!
  2. Hoven macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2003
    Columbus, OH (USA)
    I've been looking around as well, lately, to replace my aging Sony 8mm.
    There are a ton of options. Personally, just for home videos, I'm shooting for (no pun intended) a good quality basic unit. I don't need 3CCD's and tons of in-camera modes. Mostly point and shoot. The one thing to keep in mind is that the lower end models (less than $300) either don't do stills or record stills on the tape. I think it's better to get one a step up that let's you record stills on a memory card.

    My only other suggestion is to actually hold the units. I found that, although Sony, Canon, Panasonic & JVC all make comparable brands, they all feel very different in the hand and some were much harder to work and control than others.

    I haven't decided yet, for me. I'm waivering between the Sony and the Canon brands, but I'm still researching.

    At any rate...
    To get a high level view of what camcorders would fit you, try Click on Camcorders under Electronics. It just asks some questions to help narrow down the search.
    (On an aside, this used to be a much cooler site... for a glimps of what it used to do, select dog or cat at the bottom of the home page, just ignore all the questions about food because now the site is "sponsored").

    For general research, one place to check is Another is

    Good Luck!
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I'm also looking to upgrade my aging Sony Digital Hi8 (sooner or later).

    One piece of advice for new parents: look for one with good low-light abilities. Infants don't tend to enjoy being set out in the noon sun so they'll show up on the video. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell how good cameras are at low-light capture. I know how bad mine is, and I can see the reviews of new cameras at various sites, but I have no idea how my 5.5-year-old camera stacks up so as to find a better one - yes, I can see that the 60 lux performance of camera X is what it is, but there are no comparison shots of my make, so I'm not really sure if camera X is a little better, much better, or worse than what I already have. Any recommendations for a good low-light camcorder?
  4. Hoven macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2003
    Columbus, OH (USA)
    Good point. actually has vid samples in their reviews of some of the camera's performance in low light and shake/steady performance.
    It's rather interesting. The vids show normal light, then low light, then candle light, then no light. Most aren't great in low light regardless. I think there are a few with built-in "headlights" to add illumination in dark situations. The bottom line seems to be that the lower the light, the more smeary (non-technical term! :rolleyes: ) the image. You can see a good sample of that with the Canon Optura 60 ( Not a bug deal, by the way, since you aren't likely to be filming a lot of movement in the total dark.

    The other nice thing about dvspot are the non-pro reviews. People send in comments about the camcorders they bought. Tends to be a mixed bag, since you don't really know how picky they are (or aren't), but it does give a sense of the potential issues you could run into.
  5. Willy S macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    Budget ----Best buy IMHO:

    $3000 Sony FX1

    $2400 Sony VX2100

    $1800 Panasonic DVC 30

    $1200 Pana GS400

    $900 Pana GS250

    $600 Pana GS120 or GS150.

    These prices are not completely accurate, but close.
  6. Hoven macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2003
    Columbus, OH (USA)

    Hey Willy S, how about sub $400?
    I'm not just having a kid... mine's 16 so once she's out of the house I'm guessing the camcorder will sit around a lot. So, I'm thinkin' nothin' to expensive or fancy to get me through the next few years. :D

    Any thoughts on the Canon line?
  7. Willy S macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    Canon has excellent RGB filters but they are not the strongest ones in low light so Canon was never a candidate for me.

    You could check if there is still a GS120s around and if you can get it for around $400. Otherwise, GS65 is a good buy, since it´s the cheapest 3ccd camera available.

    I don´t know anything about cheaper cameras than GS65. A review of it is available at
  8. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I'll add a nugget that no one else has mentioned. Make sure you get a miniDV camcorder (or HDV if you have the budget). Stay away from microMV, miniDVD, and Digital8. Well, Digital8 could be an option if you have lots of Hi8 tapes that you don't want to redo.

    As for low light, all of the consumer camcorders pretty much suck. Look for a camcorder that has an accessory shoe that can accomodate a light attachment. That'll help with low light situations.
  9. Willy S macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    I second this!

    All the camcorders I mentioned are MiniDV. Happy shooting! :)

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