Suggestions for a Digital Camcorder
December 29, 2006 9:39 AM   Subscribe

What's a good camcorder-like device that can take video and quickly dump it to a computer to post online? I'm going abroad and want to reassure my parents that I haven't died with periodic videos of the trip.

I'm going abroad, and I would like to take video to remember the trip by and to post online periodically for the benefit of friends and family. My preferred method of using the device would be to take video, dump it to my laptop, and then dump that to a server. As such, one of the primary requirements is that it be easy to get the video onto the laptop, and that the media in the device not be write-once.

After that, priorities go: portability, video quality, and then probably image stabilizer.

My laptop is a Macbook if that's relevant, and I'm willing to pay up to $300-450.

Many thanks for any suggestions, I've never really taken video or owned anything like this before.
posted by Rictic to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sony are now making a hard disk camcorder, but that puppy's not cheap at $600 for the lowest priced version. Gives you 20 hours of recording with no media needed though. Do a search on Hard Drve Camcorders and there may be others out there.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2006

But couldn't you just use a webcam to record yourself, save it to the laptop and then upload it to wherever? Get one of those for <$50
posted by 543DoublePlay at 9:53 AM on December 29, 2006

Response by poster: But couldn't you just use a webcam to record yourself, save it to the laptop and then upload it to wherever? Get one of those for < $50/i>

My laptop has a built-in webcam, but I'd like to record the sights of the trip, not just me in a hotel room or internet cafe. The form factor of a camcorder affords uses that a webcam doesn't, and it's those kind of uses that I think I'm most interested in.

posted by Rictic at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2006

My digital still camera is a an Canon Elph SD600 and it takes really nice video clips with sound. The max length of the clip depends on the memory card and when you're done recording just pop the memory card into a USB card reader and you're good to go.

It's also extremely portable.
posted by gfrobe at 10:14 AM on December 29, 2006

The Pure Digital Point-and-shoot should do the job. It's a pretty poor camcorder quality wise, but it comes with PC & Mac software that uploads straight to Google video. Otherwise, go for a cheap MiniDv camcorder like the Elura 100 (should work with iMovie, and you can upload to your .mac account from there) or a flash memory camcorder like the Sanyo Xacti C6.
posted by baggers at 10:17 AM on December 29, 2006

Sanyo Xacti C5 or C6 is EXACTLY what you are looking for. Small easily to use, easily downloads.

Do a search for it.

posted by crewshell at 10:31 AM on December 29, 2006

Best answer: Go over to ebay and pick up a Samsung SportsCamcorder. The thing is about the size of a deck of cards and is great for travel. It even comes with a little camera that you can wear on your head. I used one everyday for about a year. They are rugged as hell for a camcorder. I dropped mine while deboarding a 757 in Cabo. I was at the top of the stairs. The thing hit the pavement, bounced a time or two but turned right back on. Have fun on your trip.
posted by bkeene12 at 10:51 AM on December 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, forgot to mention. The Samsung Sportscam- Its a hard drive camcorder. Plug it into your Mac and pull the files right over to iMovie. Format them however you like and put them where ever. Couldn't be any more simple. I do it every night.
posted by bkeene12 at 10:57 AM on December 29, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks a thousand bkeene12. The small and attractive form facter, combined with your reports of ruggedness has me sold. That and it uses SD cards, which the Wii also uses, so I can excuse splurging on a big card. I just ordered an SC-X205L. Now here's hoping the online store I bought it from gets it to me in time. If I remember, I'll post again in this thread in a couple of weeks with a review of my experiences with it.
posted by Rictic at 12:56 PM on December 29, 2006

Almost any digital camera (except SLRs) will do adequate video. Time limits (30 seconds, 1 minute) used to be common, but now "up to the limit of the card" is de rigeur.

I carry a Canon S2 and I've been quite happy with its movie capability. 640x480@30fps isn't quite high def, but it beats the crap out of VHS. It's also an absurdly capable still camera. If you currently carry a digital camera, RTFM and give its movie capabilities a shakedown.

The trouble, and this applies to everything everyone has mentioned, is file size. You're looking at 10-plus megs per minute for most of these formats. You'll need to use iMovie or something to squish the footage down to a reasonable size, and what's reasonable depends mostly on what sort of connection you'll have while traveling.

If you were traveling in the US, I'd say you could count on wifi with a consumer-grade DSL uplink (~200kbps upload speed) to be available in most cities. Elsewhere in the world, it varies a lot. This, I think, should be the focus of your concern. Hardware is cheap and easy compared to bandwidth. Call ahead to a few places you're planning to stay, and find out exactly what they mean when they say they offer internet access.
posted by Myself at 7:30 PM on December 29, 2006

I also use a Canon SD (not sure on the model, it's upstairs), and its video is perfectly adequate for small stuff. Archos makes a "camcorder" version of their GMini 400 media player that retails for around $200. I've played with them in stores, and they seem OK. (I had a GMini 400 media player without the camera, and was happy with it until somebody stepped on it.)

Plenty of options. That Samsung up-thread sounds nice, especially if it's ruggedized.
posted by lodurr at 6:03 AM on December 30, 2006

A cellphone with video recording capabilities and a service such as would work. Not as high rez as a good video camera but chances are you have a cell phone already.
posted by dustsquid at 8:01 PM on December 31, 2006

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