What to Look For in a Camera?


macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2007
Like many others, I'm trying to find myself a good first camera, but I'm having trouble wading through a lot of the acronyms and numbers that don't mean too much to me now.

Is there a good web-resource for something like this?

Basically, I grabbed a couple of models off of threads here, the canon HV-20 and XH A1 and googled them.

The XH is significantly more expensive, and some of the numbers are different, but some are different in ways I wouldn't expect. The HV-20 has a 2.9ish MP sensor where the XH has 1.7ish. There are plenty of other differences too perhaps more congruent with my expectations, but that stuck out and suggested to me that I may need to find a good something to read.

I'm more or less wondering if I should bother going "big" with my first camera purchase. I'm a musician and have found that buying mid-grade stuff eventually costs more because it will eventually be replaced, but I also don't want to be overwhelmed.

Thanks for any direction,



macrumors 68000
Jul 1, 2004
What are you going to use the camera for? What kind of controls do you want on the camera? What's your budget? Do you need HD? If you post what you need *very specifically* then people on this forum can help.


macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2006
Seeing that you've brought up HV 20: I have the Canon HV-10 as my first camcorder, and I'm very fond of it. I was clueless about what to get, but this camera got really good reviews, except for that everyone said it was cluncky and odd to hold. But seeing that I'm a girl with smaller than average hands it was perfect for me. Also, another thing that pulled the reviews down were the fact that you couldn't attach an extension microphone. But I knew that there's no way I'm ever going to need an extra microphone. I'm not a professional, and never plan on becoming one. Either I hear what they say, or I don't. No worries.

The image quality is good, the zoom is plenty good, and the image stabilization (?) (basically means it keeps the focus pretty locked on target even if I shake my hands or walk) is amazing. A friend of mine who's into this kind of stuff pointed that out as well, so I'll take his word for it.

Canon redesigned the HV (now HV20)to fit bigger hands, external mic etc, but I assume the picture quality is just as good, if not better. Also, I read somewhere that the HV wasn't as good in darker settings, but I filmed (sssh don't tell) part of a Cirque du soleil show and the movie clips were beautiful.

I also like that it uses mini-dv tapes, because those times when I've run out of tapes it's really easy to get more. Not that easy if you're running a HD camcorder. And in terms of editing, I hear you lose a lot of quality by having to rip the DVDs. I don't do a lot of editing, but it's nice to delete those scenes where you accidentally forgot to turn the camera off or shorten those clips that just got way too long before you burn your movie onto a DVD.

I use http://www.cnet.com reviews for a lot of my purchases to get a certain idea. The video reviews are pretty good. Again, coming from someone who recently got their first camcorder...

I guess the biggest mistake you can do when getting your first camcorder is really buying way more than you need.

Edit: Forgot to mention that the HV is really easy to use, and I made sure to get it while it was on sale since it's technically more than I need right now (I don't have HD or even a TV, but when I graduate...). But since it's HD, I can get plenty of years out of it before it's outdated for someone like me.
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