Need info for new-baby footage.
August 22, 2006 5:15 PM   Subscribe

What camcorder should I buy?

It's not actually for me, but for a client. Anyone have an easy-to-use camera they're extremely happy with that wasn't too expensive? The reviews, where I usually go for such things, aren't turning up much that's helpful.

Nothing high-end is needed, she just wants to record her new baby.
posted by ®@ to Technology (11 answers total)
Watch for the next cheap camera.

Does she want to edit the video? Make DVDs? Mac or PC?
posted by k8t at 5:41 PM on August 22, 2006

why buy a camcorder when you could get a digital camera (smaller) that can make movies?

I love my canon powershot digital camera (mine is a 4megapixel ultracompact from the Jurassic period of cameras - circa 2003). Current models are 7mpx, and many also feature unlimited filming capability (well, as long in time as your SD card is big).

Take a look at DPReview for reviews of cameras. Most notably this one that I would recommend, Canon's first ultracompact with image stabilization.
posted by seawallrunner at 5:57 PM on August 22, 2006

I've been reading this site's reviews. They helpfully categorize their reviews by type of user, price range, brand, etc.
posted by jamaro at 6:26 PM on August 22, 2006

It may be a bit high-end for what your client wants, but I use a PV DV-953 for my personal shooting. It is a high-end consumer Panasonic camera, since superceeded by the GS-400. The major selling points for me were the 3-CCD image sensor setup, external mic input, and large external screen. I've been nothing but satisfied with the camera for day-to-day shooting, and I've heard good things about the GS-100 and other lower-end cameras in the GS series which have many of the same positive features without so many bells and whistles.

Stay away from JVC. I've had nothing but bad luck with three different JVC cameras' record heads I've dealt with in the past five years. Things may be better now, but I'd still be wary.

Yes, you could get a digital still cam that takes (short, low-res) videos, but for archival purposes, MiniDV tapes are probably superior to burned DVDs or CDs. Store them upright (not stacked flat) in a cool, dry place.
posted by Alterscape at 7:10 PM on August 22, 2006

I can't recommend any specific models of camera since I haven't bought one in years (too broke).

However, I will weigh in with some considerations to help you narrow the field a bit.

If this really is for new-baby footage, I highly recommend getting the smallest, high quality camera you can afford.

First, quality is important because you will definitely want the best looking footage of your newborn (which is why I would totally rule out a digital camera doing videos). It also makes it easy to dump things out to VHS, or better still, take it to a DVD service.

Second, size is important because you want something small enough that you will carry it with you everywhere. There is no worse feeling than spending money on a nice camera, and then feeling like it's too much of a hassle to carry around, and then missing the good video. If it's too bulky, you'll never want to carry it. If it's small enough, you can tuck it into a diaper bag and grab plenty of candid video.
posted by MrZero at 7:15 PM on August 22, 2006

Oh yeah, the larger (and more versatile) the swing-out screen, the better. You'll pretty much use it all the time.
posted by MrZero at 7:19 PM on August 22, 2006

Most still cams that shoot video won't zoom while shooting.

Get an inexpensive DV camcorder; tape's cheap, and requires nothing other than "remove, safe, put in box" to archive -- which she'll want to do.

If she spends more than $350 she spent too much.
posted by baylink at 7:22 PM on August 22, 2006

Oh, and make sure she gets a little 10w 'obie' light with it, or a camcorder with a light built in.
posted by baylink at 7:23 PM on August 22, 2006

I'm with Alterscape, Panasonic makes a great camera. I have the PV GS150, which works extremely well. It has the 3-CCD chipset like the higher end cameras at a greatly reduced price. The only thing it really lacks is a manual focus ring, but since you are looking for simple, that is probably a plus not a negative.

It has firewire so it's easy to transfer files to your PC/ Mac, and it's very small, and lightweight.

It also has a 2.3 megapixel camera built into it which means that if you want to grab a nice snapshot, you don't have to get a different camera.

I would definitely go for something like this over a still camera that can take movies. The difference in quality is significant.
posted by quin at 7:32 PM on August 22, 2006

If the camcorder is going to be used with a Mac, buy a Canon. Aside from being good quality and reasonably priced, Canon's Mac compatibility absolutely epitomizes the "it just works" attitude of Mac users. Doesn't matter if it's a printer, camera, or camcorder — if it's a Canon, you can just plug and play.
posted by cribcage at 8:15 PM on August 22, 2006

Bought a Canon Optura 20 a few years ago. Love it. Works great with iMovie. The only thing I want for it now is a wide-angle lens, but that's because I'm trying to record toddler triplets, and they're all over the place.

Loved it so much I bought a Canon digital camera last spring A610.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:53 PM on August 22, 2006

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