1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

WTB: video camera, advise please

Discussion in 'Non-Nikon System Cameras' started by bfullmer, May 1, 2007.

  1. My wife has decided she would like a new video camera for Mother's day. We've had an 8mm and full-size VHS before that. (Lugging the VHS around Disneyland was a chore!)

    Anyway, we don't know much about the current offerings in digital cameras except the storage options are (I think) mini DV (tape), mini DVD, and hard drive from least to most expensive. I think we'd like to go the DVD route so we don't have to mess with tapes and to keep the cost down. If I'm not mistaken, the DVD is limited to about 30 min/disc. That's not a problem.

    We're not planning on producing the next great blockbuster, just family stuff and I'm not too sure how much it'll even get used as the kids are getting older and leaving the nest. Cost is certainly a factor as well. What recommendations do you have?

  2. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    Mini-DV and your choice of HDV or SD (depending on your budget).

    Recommended vendors, prioritized:

    Canon - best optics
    Sony - best battery management / electronics
    The rest

    Mini-DVD compresses so much, it compares to shooting with an entry level P&S digital camera. The reason is simple. Consumer grade dvd cameras cannot write fast enough and must have the input dummed down. The results are very nice for point and shoot camera buffs. If that is you, go for it. If you are a D-SLR buff, go mini-dv. You can also edit easily from mini-dv (not from mini-dvd). The tapes are super reliable and cheap now.

    You may consider a pre-owned mini-DV from B&H or other comparable dealer. I recently traded a Canon XL-1S at B&H in order to go Hi-Def. New prices on standard definition mini-DV cameras are in the basement. Whatever you select, you will be best served selecting a 3 CCD model (much greater color vibrancy and accuracy, as well as detail).

    PM me if you need more help. Try to find a 3 CCD standard or high def camcorder, and enjoy! Apple Final Cut Studio accepts video from mini-DV and still images interchangeably, BTW...


    If you buy a mini-DV camcorder with firewire out (a standard feature), and decide you want to invest more $$ later, you can buy a portable hard drive (powered by a Li-Ion battery) from B&H that clips to your belt, and eliminates the tape, but maintains the full picture resolution. You can also connect it in addition to the tape as a redundant backup for a wedding video, for example. Works with all editing software, just like tape... My personal opinion, forget this gadget - too expensive.

    Image stabilizers are on most cameras. They vary widely in effectiveness. Take time and do your homework on this. Unless you plan to use a tripod, the IS effectiveness is extremely important. Only choose OPTICAL - NOT DIGITAL image stabilization. Digital cuts resolution where optical does not. But all optical stabilizers are NOT created equal - not even close. Want an IS similar to the 70-200VR? You will have to PAY! Look at Canon XH-a1. It is built in the lens, and works very effectively and compares to that lens' results. Want the same on a lower budget? Consider a used XL-1S, XL-1, or a new or used XL2. IS works the same, but it is std def. BEWARE - Canon GL2 is a fabulous camera, well priced, fantastic images, BUT IS is built in the camera not in the lens. I contacted Canon with a "defective" GL2 IS - turned out to be working fine, it just was not very effective! Killer on a tripod or if used for close (non-telephoto) work. The XH-a1 IS is built to produce a steady image from a news helicopter at full zoom according to Canon. It works very well, can't say it is worthy of such hype, though.


    Canon or Nikon
    3CCD strongly preferred
    Optical Image Stabilization preferably built in the LENS
    Mini-DV (no acceptable substitute as of today within consumer or entry pro budget)
    Choice of High def or std def
    Firewire output absolutely required
    do your homework and research these

    You will love it!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2007
  3. John;

    Thanks so much for your advise. We're trying to make a somewhat intelligent choice here. You've given us lots to work with.

    Thanks again.
  4. I would highly recommend going hi-def (HDV). I bought a Sony HC3 which was their 2nd generation hi-def camcorder. Very light, very small, runs on mini-DV tapes (which I prefer to DVD or hard drives). It also has an HDMI port and that was a big plus for me. Canon had not come out with their hi-def camcorder when I bought mine last year but they've got at least one now. Happy hunting!
  5. Jerric;

    Thanks for the reply. It sounds like MiniDV is the way to go. I'll have to see what the HD cameras will run...
  6. SmilesLots

    SmilesLots Guest

    Canon HV20. I just ordered one for under $900. Hi Def. Good one. Lost of optons and add-ons available. Great optics.
  7. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    I have had the High Def Sony HC-5 since this past October.

    My research suggested I avoid the Hard Drive models as a hard drive failure leaves you with a boat anchor. I also discovered, at that time anyway, the encoding method used on the Hard drive models is unique to Sony and you can not edit it with any existing software...that may have changed, but it was enough for me to skip the Hard drives and stay with the mini DV tapes.

    The image quality of this thing when displayed on my 106" diag HD theater screen is remarkable. It pumps out real 1080i although the aspect ration seems to come in a bit differently.

    The camera is REALLY tiny....almost too small...as it is hard to hold steady. It would fit in a large purse. I slide it in a lens slot in my camera bag and put the 50mm f1.4 on top of it. ...tiny..... :) 
  8. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    I bought the Canon XH-A1 - a pro line model released in November 06': http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=Search&A=details&Q=&sku=447098&is=REG&addedTroughType=search

    Magnesium frame, 3CCD, 1080i High def, fairly large and solid - feels like D2X in your hands. Approximately the same weight as D2X with 17-55 f2.8. Optical image stabilizer is built in the lens, and really works. Lens is Canon L type (akin to Nikon gold band) pro glass. It has a 72mm filter thread, and is 4.5-90 mm (32.5-650 mm; 35 mm photo equivalent). Mini-DV tape, firewire out. Outperforms Canon's own $9,000 XL-H1 according to Canon (the XL-H1 is soon to be upgraded). 60i / 24f for film look.

    Shutter Speed Range
    1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000, 1/15000, CS (Clear Scan)

    1/3, 1/6, 1/12, 1/24, 1/48, 1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000, 1/15000, CS (Clear Scan)

    If you want stable video and can't use a pod everywhere, this is a good choice. Makes a wonderful stable mate to the D2X/s!!
  9. Thanks John, Randy and John. This gives me some more options to consider.

    I'm really trying to keep the cost to a minimum and get the best bang for the buck. The camera probably won't be used very much as we've not used the previous 8mm one very much.
  10. Brian, best bang for the buck today would be a 3 CCD standard def mini-DV camcorder. Panasonic has some really nice ones in this category. Forgive me but I will make one more pitch for hi-def because seeing your kids in HD is just too cool! The difference in image quality between SD and HD is just too great that I would recommend stretching your budget to try to accommodate it. Sorry for being a bit pushy here!
  11. If you use a Mac try to choose one with Firewire.

    I bought my wife a Sony DCR-SR40 for Christmas and now it is just gathering dust. I wish I would have gotten her a D40
  12. Jerric;

    Thanks for the additional comments. You're not being too pushy at all. I appreciate your insight.


    We used to have Macs years ago, but are now all PC. I hope that will change back one day. Thanks for your interest.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.