Panasonic SDR-H40 or SWR-SW20

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by heavenlyhero, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. heavenlyhero macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2008
    Anyone used either of these with the Mac?

    I've been recommended that they both work and are currently selling for a good price £250-£300.

    Any other recommendations of similar cameras?

    We're looking for a simple, lightweight camera for family filming and easy editing on iMovie, running on a new iMac.
  2. Courtaj macrumors 6502a


    Jul 3, 2008
    Edinburgh, U.K.
    Hello there,

    The H40 is probably the best standard definition harddrive camera at that price point. But at that price point standard def cameras recording to miniDV tape are going to give you better pictures than a harddrive camera, and miniDV cameras are still easy to use. I'm not that familiar with the SDR-SW20, but unless you really need the underwater feature, I'd give it a miss.

    I say "better pictures" because the miniDV format uses less compression (it uses "intraframe" compression), while harddrive cameras like the H40 record in mpeg2 format (using "interframe" as well as intraframe compression) which, in simple terms, means less information is recorded.

    Others may disagree, but you should probably stick to standard definition cameras around this price and avoid the cheapest high definition offerings (with the exception of the high definition Panasonic SD5, discussed below). The HD40 is a standard definition camcorder.

    The advantage with cameras that record to harddrive is, of course, that you can transfer the files to iMovie very quickly whereas miniDV cameras require that you play the tape in real time when importing into the Mac. But miniDV is easy to edit once you've imported it.

    Something like the Canon MD235 might be worth considering, if you do wish to take a look at a tape camcorder. Panasonic also has a number of miniDV cameras at reasonable prices, including the very good GS330 - probably the best standard definition miniDV camcorder left on the market (as things move toward high definition tapeless cameras): you could take a look at their website and check prices on Amazon to give you a rough idea. The GS330 sells for around £300-£320.

    If you wanted to stretch your budget a little further, the Panasonic HDC-SD5 is a very good high definition camera which is now discontinued (replaced by the SD9 and the forthcoming SD100) and thus selling at a very reasonable £350 at Amazon. It records high definition video in AVCHD format to SD card flash memory instead of tapes and works great with iMovie 08 on a Core 2 Duo Mac (its recommended that you have 2Gb RAM though you'll get away with 1Gb) but is not supported on Power PC Macs or previous versions of iMovie (though you say you have a new iMac, so you'll be perfectly well equipped). It's also nice and small (but not too small - I have large hands and find it pretty comfortable) which means you'll get it out and use it more. It gives better video results than the standard definition cameras around the same price.

    If you don't have a high definition TV, you'll still be able to view HD video on your iMac, and converting the HD video to SD for recording standard definition DVDs (if you feel like it) will still give you pictures as good as similarly-priced miniDV cameras - with the advantage that you'll be shooting HD for the future.

    The bottom line? For less than £300 miniDV camcorders will give you the best bang for your buck. But the pictures from the SD5 are better if you want to spend a little more.

    Good luck,

Share This Page