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Photo Forum Everything on Travel Photography, from what kind of equipment to how to light a subject, moderated by Stuart (Reggie) Martindale, a pro English photographer
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  #1  
Old 28 Oct 2007
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Exclamation Digital camcorder - Idiot proof advice sought

I am looking all over the web for a digital camcorder but am getting really confused as to what I 'need' & what is available at the price I can pay! Could someone in plain English or French tell me what I need to have some fun with a small camera that I can conceal, easily download & enjoy ... I'm not a professional! My current skills with all this involve my Pentax K100D camera which I love.

Looking at spending no more than 300euros ... I travel by foot/bush taxi and need something that is 'small & compact' and fell in love with Sanyo's Xacti CA6 & the more expensive CA65 ... one is splashproof & the other waterproof but having spoken to a guy in a shop yesterday he told me to steer clear, the quality isn't that good. There was a Canon M101 (?) on sale for 249 and a better version (don't have the actual details to hand) that was a little smaller for 329.

But exactly what I am getting I don't know people talk about HD and the need for this card &/or that card, facility of downloading etc and I'm all confused!

Please straighten it all out for me!!! Thanks

Kira
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Old 28 Oct 2007
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If you look at the end of the link below you will find some review sites for digital video cameras.

Steve's Digicams - Digital Camcorders & Video Capture

I think that it is a confusing subject, because there is so much more to consider than there is with still photography - hence I have never dipped my toes into using video and I just take those short versions that still cameras can do = the equivalent of a holiday snap!

The last time I looked at the subject in a bit of detail, I got sucked into wanting ever better technology and that technology is developing all of the time of course.
But, in the end you will get what you pay for.

Good luck,
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Old 28 Oct 2007
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Hi

Have just been looking at camcorders myself. From what I have gathered the main decision you have to make first is whether to go with tape or miniDVD/harddisk.

MiniDVD or harddisk have one big disadvantage and that is that you need a much more powerful PC to edit your footing because they compress the video. So editing involves compressing and decompressing. The miniDVDs have the advantage that you can play them straight out of the camcorder in a DVD player.

The tape ones are much easier to edit, and actually seem to have the edge in quality (if only slightly). When I looked at enthousiasts websites for advice, they all tended to lean towards tape. It might seem more old fashioned, but has some significant advantages (and is cheaper as well).

Once that decision is made just look for tests online our in mags for cameras in your price range. Budget in a larger/extra battery as well, as they tend to be quite small.

Hope this helps,

Pieter
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Old 29 Oct 2007
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Thanks to both of you ... this was the first problem I'd heard about - the HD/Minidisk thing & I didn't understand it but you've put it in plain English!

Any other idea or recommended types to buy?!

Kira
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Old 29 Oct 2007
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What about MiniDV tapes? What is the gen with those?

I am clueless about camcorders and have just started looking myself, so have been interested in the comments on this thread
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Old 29 Oct 2007
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MiniDV

Got myself a Canon MVI630 for GBP100 off ebay. It records onto MiniDV which gives you 60mins normal or 90mins on the longplay (don't bother). They are less shockproof than the Solidstate\memory stick recorders (think microchips not DVDs or Tape) but better than harddisks\DVD and a more-than-adequate, tried-and-tested technology for any traveller. Batteries were about GBP5 from 7Dayshop (great for rechargeable batteries and SD cards).

I've taken 20 tapes with me, one for each country, and here in Mauritania I notice they are about GBP5 for a tape which didn't seem too bad if you really needed more tapes than you can carry.

I do have a helmet cam too from RFSolutions. A nifty 520line Sony job which is excellent and gives great results and runs on 8xAA or a 12V line from my charging socket even on the go and remains stuck to my helmet at all times.

Don't be put off MiniDV. It is a great format. Easy to edit on a computer and survives life in the field as other formats just aren't quite there yet in my mind.

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Old 29 Oct 2007
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Hi Ed,

OT - But we are based in Brighton & Hove too!
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Old 30 Oct 2007
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I would also sugest Mini-DV tape. The recording media is cheap, and because the actual camera's are becoming old school, the camera's are much cheaper. Also available in the third world. The editing media is easily available for both PC and Mac, software companies are still trying to keep up with other formats like DVD and Harddrive. Best thing is you have a solid hardcopy of your precious travells! I personally use Sony products, they have always been the best for me. The DCR-HC96 is a really nice camera, but you can find the later models for much cheaper on E-Bay.
Maybe you want to spend some more money on Hi-Def...picture and sound quality is superior. Don't be put off bu the compression factor of Mini-DV, computers now are easily powerful enough to handel it. I use an external hard-drive for all my editing, keeps the laptop harddrive free.
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Old 31 Oct 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danward79 View Post
What about MiniDV tapes? What is the gen with those?

I am clueless about camcorders and have just started looking myself, so have been interested in the comments on this thread
Yes, I was referring to MiniDV tapes above. Just called them tape because I couldn't think of the correct term :-)
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Old 31 Oct 2007
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Question Optimum technology for a video camera?

It sounds like the consensus is for miniDV tape so far and steer away from later generation recording media, for now at least.

Are there any views about the number of CCDs (charged couple devices I believe!) to have in the camera? When I last looked at this subject a lot of cameras had just one that recorded all colours - the higher specification products have 3, one each for red/green/blue and this is "better".
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Old 1 Nov 2007
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Not all equal

That is like pixels on still cameras .. not all CCDs are equal .. to start with there is the physical size of them and then its gets technical ..

Yes 3 CCDs should be better than 1 CCD .. but not always ..
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Old 1 Nov 2007
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With all this info in mind I was 'that' close to buying one yesterday in Marseille whilst getting a visa for the Cote d'Ivoire. But didn't have access to the internet to check up on your info!

I was tossing up the basic Samsung & a small (mini with SD card) Toshiba.

Turned out the Samsung didn't have a USB connection so it would mean a 'firewire' (same name in English I presume) connection to a PC and downloading for however long the film is ... put me off.

Didn't buy either but think that I want a Canon ML101 or is it a ML110?!! I think I have my heart set on that ... unless someone here can put me off it!

Kira
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Old 11 Nov 2007
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TT,

I second, third and fourth the MiniDV tapes. You actually WANT a "firewire" system in your camera because it's much faster than USB. Don't be afraid to buy the "firewire" card as a perfectly functional one isn't usually very expensive. "Video" has both a video and audio streams and you want to maintain as much of the original info (data) as possible. The ability to keep the original as recorded is one big benefit of MiniDV. Most, if not all, consumer DVCams only offer compressed recording and usually output either a special manufacturer specific format or an MP4 format (which is good enough for web work).

Currently the best way is to "capture" the footage from the MiniDV tape into an editing program (where it's stored and maniputled digitally) and YES it does take time and patience. If you're serious about making soemthing out of your trip then it's important to consider what work will need to done behind the computer AFTER you get back.

If you are creatng a video of any length from it you'll need to spend time reviewing your footage anyway and it will only help your skills as both a videographer and editor.

Lastly, follow your guts on which camera to choose. No matter how much money you spend, all cameras will have limitations but the biggest limitation is the photographer him/herself. Take the best gear you can afford, but make the best experience you can and record that. Regardless of what format you choose to share it, it will still be a good story!

Good luck on your camera choice and better luck in your shooting!

Paz,
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