Purchasing a Digital Camcorder
May 23, 2004 8:11 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to purchase a digital camcorder. Quality is important to me, and small size is too. Can anyone recommend a good camcorder in the $600 dollar price range? Can anyone suggest which video format is best?
posted by yevge to Shopping (7 answers total)
I have a Canon ZR from several years ago that I've used all over the place and been very happy with. I've recommended the ZR series to co-workers over the years, and I know a bunch of people who have different models. I don't know anyone who's unhappy with their purchase. As an added bonus, if you're a Macintosh user, the Canon units are used by Apple as reference machines for iMovie, so you can always be sure it will work really well with your software.
posted by JollyWanker at 9:01 PM on May 23, 2004

If you can, I would suggest getting a MiniDV camera as they seem to work with computers easily, and will probably be around longer than the other formats.
posted by drezdn at 9:17 PM on May 23, 2004

Oddly enough, I was searching for the same thing, with a price ceiling of about a grand. I've decided upon the Sony DCR-PC109, for $640.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:47 PM on May 23, 2004

I also was working with the same priorities and budget, and chose the Panasonic GS70 because it is a true compact, the smallest 3CCD (TV-like picture with fantastic color) and has a Leica lens. It doesn't have the green commando-vision feature, so if you are a peeping Tom, this is not the camera for you, and it has only digital image stabilization, not optical, which is much better. The more expensive models in the same line have OIS.
posted by planetkyoto at 11:35 PM on May 23, 2004

We looked at this when purchasing a digital camcorder for my father. We eventually decided that the digital-8 format gave us more bang for the bucks, and it has the same firewire-out (and in as well, on the Sony that we bought) as Mini-DV. Who cares what storage format you use, as long as you can shift the bits?
posted by viama at 7:23 AM on May 24, 2004

I have been thinking about this lately as I have a regular 8mm camcorder and a lot of 8mm tapes which I can play only through the camcorder. If the camera breaks I have no way to watch the videos. I have looked into transferring them to DVD on my computer and it looks like I will need to buy some equipment and it will be quite time consuming. The 8mm camcorder better not die in the meantime.

Some of the new cameras write directly to mini DVDs which can then be simply inserted into your DVD player to watch the video. When the price drops a little more, this is where I am headed.
posted by caddis at 8:49 AM on May 24, 2004

I don't know about cameras at your budget, but I would recommend the mini DV format. It's a proven, high quality standard format. Micro DV never seems to have taken off and looks to be on the way out. 8mm I don't know much about and don't come across it much. I don't really see the point of DVD cameras, since the the image quality is way below mini DV, and its so easy now to convert mini DV to mpeg4 on your computer, especially if you're going to be editing it (which you have no excuse not to be these days).
posted by gravelshoes at 10:08 AM on May 24, 2004

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