Monday, November 26, 2007

12 main points for clever HD camcorder choosing: from Canon HV20 through Sony SR300E to Panasonic SD1

HD camcorders are not outstanding gadgets now. Look through: Canon HV20 / HR10, Sanyo HD2 / HD1, JVC HD7, Sony HandyCam DCR-SR42E, SR62E, SR82E, SR200E and SR300, Panasonic HDC DX1 / SD1 and even cheap (under $300) Aiptek GO-HD. There are many famous mfrs and there are many great camcorders in the digital market. However, what is the difference between these camcorders and do you really need the gadget?
1. Are you ready to buy a HD camcorder?
- You can buy a HD camcorder if you are willing to pay much more for it than for a common cam. Maybe it is better to save money because even normal video is not bad at all, especially MiniDV format.
- Do you have a HD TV? If no and you are not planning to buy it tomorrow it is better to wait for new models and low prices. On the other hand, if you are a happy user of the large LCD monitor, it is a reason.
- Have you a really fast computer such as Core 2 Duo with 2GB expensive memory and a speedy Video Card ‘on board’?
- Are you ready to waste you money and free time to a lot of complicated Soft?
If you say yes to at least three points, you are a HD fan and we can go farther.
2. What HD camcorder type do you need?
- For better movie capturing, there is a MiniDV format, the same as for a Pro shooting. However, it is a complex process because only for an ordinary resolution movie I need 12GB free space on my PC and nearly eight hours for converting the movie to DVD. Moreover, you need a complicated Soft and FireWire (IEE 1394) connection.
- There are many AVCHD camcorders such as Sony DCR SR42, SR200, SR300 and Panasonic HDC-SD1 etc. with a Hard Disk drive. HDD camcorder is a good gadget, but it compresses in MPEG-2 and what is more, it is a little delicate, especially for a journey.
- As for HD camcorders with DVD disk such as Panasonic HDC-DX1 and Canon HR10, of course it is a useful device (you can play disks on your home DVD Player) but this forma is not enough for better quality movies.
- In my opinion, the best and handy is HD camcorder with the Memory Card such as Panasonic HDC-SD1. This gadget does not have any moving parts (nothing can break) but has a pocket size. It is easy to connect it to your PC and I think that after 16 GB cards we can wait for more.
3. What is the main feature for an HD camcorder?
- Which is better: Three CCD or one CCD HD camcorder? Three CCD is better than one CCD for a good quality video. These chips record the various colors in images. 3CCDs mean that there are three separate chips for each color: R, G, and B. With this feature we can capture a much accurate color performance.
- Which is better an optical or digital zoom? Optical zoom is much more important than digital zoom. Optical zoom actually uses the lens to enlarge an image so no quality is lost, while digital takes what you already have and makes it bigger. It is as if you take a magnifying glass and look at an object compared to taking a magnifying glass and looking at a picture of an object. The digital zoom will cause quality loss. Do not feel sorry for extra money for optical zoom. It is a useful feature, especially in a journey.
- As for sound, a good onboard stereo microphone is a plus, but if you are interested in sound, a microphone port is necessary. Then you can buy better shotgun microphones and stick it on your camcorder. If that is not the case and you are not planning to go the pro audio route, just look for a good onboard microphone. The best ones usually located on the front are stereo, and in prosumer cams. They are separated from the actual camera body. What for 5.1 sound, do you believe that it is a good idea to put five microphones into a camcorder’s body? This sound is made by the soft.
- Manual settings: If you want auto, any camera has it. If you want manual, many cams have it. It is good to use auto for "normal" settings. However, to use auto for lighting and movement fluctuates with distance, portraits, action shooting for one particular situation is hard. You should use manual instead, if possible. Auto in "normal" is different, because it changes accordingly to conditions. Nevertheless, chances are those your camera will probably come only with auto and little or no manual control at all. In this case, go ahead and use the settings.
- As for a sensor size and many pixels, it is better to have three large sensors as Sony HDR-FX7 with three 1/4 inch CMOS, but it cost $3500 and does not a useful size. The sensor captures 1,920 horizontal and 1,080 vertical pixels for 1080i HD and uses 2.76 mega pixels (1,920 x 1,440) in 4:3 mode and 2.07 mega pixels (1,920 x 1,080) in 16:9 mode. For a one-chip camcorder, it is good to have 3.2 MP sensors as Sony HDR-HC7. As for low-resolution (1,280 x 720) 720i HD movie, it is more than enough to use 1MP as Sony DSC-SR62E.
- If you are thinking about picture shooting and in need of 6-7 mega pixels sensor, it is a bad idea. The movie capturing process and camcorder’s lens work are not the same as photo camera shooting. Better to have a cheap compact for $150.
- As for resolutions: (1,920 x 1,080) 1080i or (1,280 x 720) 720i, this is your own choice. In addition, if you have a 720i TV and do not want to waste money for a full HD TV, maybe it is better to save money with economical purchase.
I put all links to my HD camcorders comparison’s articles below. Look through them I hope they can be useful for choosing. I will be glad to see your questions or opinions about any HD camcorders models. Feel free at my Comments directory.
- Aiptek A-HD and GO-HD camcorders as the best choice for MySpace or YouTube.
Looking to the Aiptek GO-HD or A-HD it is a little hard to compare these small HD camcorders with some excellent gadgets such as Canon NV20, Panasonic SD1 or Sony CR7. However, even in comparison with Sanyo Xacti family as HD1 and HD2, the Aiptek GO-HD performs good movie quality, especially in low light situations. Though Sanyo HD1 or HD2 and Aiptek GO-HD and A-HA are similar gadgets, it is wrong to call it as a ‘knock-off’ of Sanyo HD camcorders.
- Sony HDR-CX7 vs Panasonic HDC-SD5; choosing HD Sony SR5, SR7, SR300, JVC GZ7, GZHD3 it’s better to look at memory card models: CX7 and SD5
Comparing HD camcorders, I cannot help saying about Sony Handycam: HDR-CX7, SR7, SR5, SR200E and SR300E etc. It uses 1 CMOS sensor instead of Panasonic’s 3CCD, the same 10x optical zoom lens and some Sony’s favorite features. However, there are no expensive extrapixels as SR300E’s 6MP in these SX7 and SR7 models. What is more, there is my favourite feature - recording to a memory card (HDR-SX7), which allows building a firm camcorder without moving parts.
- Panasonic HDC-SD5 vs HDC-SX5 or JVC GZ-HD3: choosing 3CCD HD camcorder
HD camcorders with 3CCD system use professional broadcasting equipment. However, Panasonic has already chosen this system for its consumer’s camcorders. There were great gadgets in NV-GS family such as GS400, GS250 and my favorite GS-200. Now we have some interesting HD camcorders: such as HDC-DX1, HDC-SD1 and two new models HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 with 3CCD and colors that are more accurate. What is more, there are some models without moving parts that record movie to Memory cards.
- Aiptek GO-HD vs Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1 or HD2; $299 HD camcorder attacks HD market
This May a small company Aiptek made the cheapest HD camcorder which sells for $299 and can record a 720P (1280x720 resolution / 16:9 aspect ratio) image at 30 frames per second using advanced H.264 technology to SD cards. So Aiptek sets a new low price for HD camcorders and capitalizes on the public's appetite for HD video with making a cheap come-at-able HD device.
Of course this HD camcorder is a small toy but Sanyo HD1 and HD2 are not far from toys too. Moreover some Aiptek's features such as low-light shooting, macro mode and bigger LCD panel make GO-HD more interesting than 5 MP VPC-HD1. And if you want to have a puppet HD camcorder I think it's great to buy a three-hundred toy. The main thing is that we can get HD with a little money. Thanks for the Aiptek Company.
- Puppet Sanyo Xacti HD2 vs clever Canon HV20 or groovy JVC GZ-HD7: it's time to buy a HD-camcorder or wait?
It's impossible to talk about HD camcorders without mentioning Sanyo's Xacti family. These ultra-compact cams have vaguely gun-shaped design as Sanyo's other Xacti camcorders. But if you aren’t ready to pay abt. $990 you can look for a Canon's old model: the HV10 for $700. I think that Sanyo's family Xacti HD1 and HD2 can only compete with Canon PowerShot TX-1. It is also a groovy toy with a memory stick. But if you could wait a little, Canon will certainly make a Full HD camcorder with a memory card. This may happen tomorrow or later. But the HD-cam's race of Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC and Sanyo is surely occurring and this will end with some new interesting devices for rational money.
- 3 Canon’s HD camcorders: HV10, HV20 and HR10: is only PowerShot TX1 still groovy?
Canon is not only SLR, compacts and ultra zoom great camera manufacturer. There are a lot of interesting High Definition consumer video devices in his baggage. And with an excellent image quality and not expensive prices of these gadgets, Canon can compete with Sony’s and Panasonic’s best camcorders. I think that if the next step to the HD market Canon will make with Memory Stick camcorder, it can become a problem for other mfrs. Nevertheless it’s a little hard to make video with Mini DV now. While DVD format is just a little bad for a great HD performance, HDD camcorders are some delicate. But HD camcorders with cheap and big size memory cards can be really useful now. What about Canon PowerShot TX-1, it’s necessary to compare it with Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1 or HD2.
- Two new 3CCD High Definition AVCHD Camcorders from Panasonic - have we been waiting for these?
It has happened! Now we have two HD devices from Matsushita Electric with their traditional 3CCD sensors system. One model - HDC-DX1 can record and play DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R DL, DVD-R discs and SD/SDHC Memory Card. But it’s not only my opinion that DVD camcorders can’t make a high quality film because their processors are weak for that work. For example my PC with AMD Atlon XP+ 3000 needed about one night for encoding one film from MiniDV format to DVD. I think it is a problem for Matsushita engineers to build into the Panasonic HDC-DX1 something like the Core 2 Duo, although the HDC-SD1 is a more interesting camcorder. It has no moving parts in the recording section because SD-1 records to SDHC Memory Cards.
- 7 new 1CCD HD camcorders from Sony – any reasons to buy some or to wait for 3CCD cams
In my last post when I was talking about new Sony’s HD camcorders I spoke in favor of 3 chip cameras. You can ask why. To become a professional cameraman? It’s known that some 1CCD camcorders can have more pixels than 3CCD cams. Why shall we have three sensors? The answer is clear. Sensor in video camera works differently as the one in photo camera. In camera the most important is the size of the chip and then we consider about the pixel gross. Working with moving objects is more complicated. In 3CCD camcorders each color of three RGB color values is captured by one chip. This results in more accurate color information. Plus 3CCD systems is twice more sensitive. But this is only one instance where more is almost always better.
- Groovy news from Sony: five new HD-camcorders with hard disk drive! It’s time to die for our old video devices?
Sony announced some models of 2007 year: Sony Handycam DCR-SR42E, DCR-SR62E, DCR-SR82E, DCR-SR200E and DCR-SR300E in January. All of them rate like video cameras for travel fans. So it’s for me. I’m so “happy” because I paid abt. $1000 for 3CCD Panasonic only two years ago! And it was a really useful device for my favorite Thailand’ jorney.


Anonymous said...

I am prefering mini DV recording rather than DVD camcorders because the easy of transferring video into computer. DVD camcorders have no firewire port at this moment. Any brand will do. Output quality totally depends on you as a camera operator. A good output picture comes from a good picture source.

Anonymous said...

If you are planning to shooting and never edit, it is better to go with a lightweight camera with lots of optical zoom. Optical zoom is the camera lens zoom. Digital zoom is the electronics inside taking a piece of the picture and enlarging that. Optical zoom is better than digital zoom.
The camcorder’s format does not matter. If you are going to keep everything you record, a miniDVD recorder is the best, because the miniDVDs are compact, so they store easily and pop into any DVD player. If you will erase or record over what you tape, any of the other formats are good. I still prefer a miniDV recorder. The tapes are small, readily available in most stores, cheap in price, and are good for 20 or more recordings before determination of the tape quality.

fototramp said...

I am shooting with MiniDV camcorder for a long time and I have a trouble with it. Of course, my 3CCD Panasonic has a great movie quality. However, I need about 8 hours for converting MiniDV to DVD format. I have a really speedy PC, but its coolers are a little noisy. It is bad for sleeping.

fototramp said...

I have a big scepsis to miniDVD camcorders for its low quality movie. As for an optical zoom, it's useful with optical image stabilizer only. As for me, I am waiting for a not expensive HD camcorder with memory card.

Camsman said...

I want to buy a not expensive HD camcorder to film my kids and their antics. Should I buy a Mini DVD or a Hard Disk drive? Can you help me with its choice?

fototramp said...

To Camsman
In your case, it is better to look at any HDD models. However, this is a little delicate system.

Suresh said...

Good One! Nice Work!

Anonymous said...

I have windows vista, & when I transfer my videos from my cam onto my PC, they come out as MTS files. Which is strange because I use an AVCHD camcorder, and they only come out as AVCHD files on my Dad's PC which has Windows 7. I dont understand why that happens. I use my PC to edit videos, but my editing software is only compatible with AVCHD. not MTS. convert mts to mov format