We want to buy something new and shiny, but a direct to dvd camcorder from 2005 seems like the best solution. Do you have any better ideas?
February 28, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

We want to buy something new and shiny, but an ancient direct to dvd camcorder seems like the best solution. Do you have any better ideas?

The hospital where I work has over 5000 employees, and staff members often want to record presentations for reference or to show to night-shift employees and new hires. We are thinking of purchasing an inexpensive direct to DVD camcorder so that computer-illiterate staff members can sign out the camera and make simple recordings without worrying about editing and dvd burning.

In a quick search on Amazon, I couldn't find many dvd camcorders that were produced after 2005. I also noticed that most of the cameras can only hold 1/2 hour per disk. We would like to record for a full hour. Is it ridiculous for our hospital to purchase such old technology? If so, are there newer technologies that we should use instead?

We want something that requires no computer skills, no technical support, and can be played on big tv monitors. Because of logistics and the possibility of theft, we would prefer not to rely on in-camera playback every time a video is shown.

Main question:
We can spend up to $500. What camera models or options do you recommend?
Bonus questions:
If we do go with a dvd camcorder, is the quality terrible?
Are there any dvd camcorders that use full sized dvds instead of mini ones?
Can any record a full hour of video on a dvd?
Is it possible to edit media from a recorded dvd in Final Cut?
posted by abirae to Technology (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would recommend staying away from the direct to DVD recorders. Although it may seem simple, the compatibility with DVD players isn't always the best, and as you said it won't handle an hour on a disc. It is also an outdated technology, and those mini-DVDs are way overpriced because of their limited use.

Here's what I would suggest:

1. Buy a camera with Firewire output. I can't speak to the specific camera, but here is a hard drive based camera from Sony that fits the bill.

2. Buy a standalone DVD Recorder. Here is a Sony model that I have used extensively, works great.

3. Hooking up a Firewire cable between these two devices will allow you to press play on the camera, press record on the DVD Recorder. Some of the DVD Recorders will even control the camera as well, so you just have to press record and it starts the video camera itself. It will take the amount of time of the video (so an hour for an hour recording), plus about 5 minutes to "finalize" the disc so it can be played on other DVD players.

The benefits of this system:

1. Still relatively easy and tech-free - a paper with 5 lines of instruction will get the job done.
2. You can now record up to two hours on a DVD, or one hour with slightly better quality.
3. The final benefit is when going to Final Cut. You can in fact pull video off an existing DVD to edit on a computer - I recommend MPEG Streamclip, which does a good and fast job of converting DVD to another format. No matter what, it will take some time and you will lose some quality doing this. With a separate camera like this, though, you can plug in via Firewire to your Mac, and capture the video directly into Final Cut - better quality, and possibly less time. For that specific Sony camera, here is a thread suggesting formats for editing in Final Cut.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2011

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