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DVD Camcorder with the Longest Recording Time?

by binasr / December 13, 2007 12:18 PM PST

Hi,
I need a budget camcorder to use in low light interior-only situations. I'll be walking around a lot while filming, and only expect to use it up to 6x's per year.

My research so far suggests that I don't want the mini DVD type because the disks can be bulky, expensive, and need to be transferred to view in a player. I'm not a techie and am looking for ease of use and long recording times. Am I dreaming to think I'd be able to get an hour of recorded material on 1-2 disks?

What are your thoughts about the Sony DCR-DVD305? The 405? Should I consider other brands instead that would better suit my usage?

Thanks!

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well... CNET's opinion
by boya84 / December 13, 2007 12:45 PM PST

is pretty low on the 305...

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/sony-handycam-dcr-dvd305/4505-6500_7-31649779.html?tag=prod.txt.1

not so bad on the 405...
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/sony-handycam-dcr-dvd405/4505-6500_7-31649780.html?tag=prod.txt.1

Neither made the to 25 in 2006.
http://www.camcorderinfo.com/ratings.php

And personally, I wish all the DVD camcorders would find their way to a landfill somewhere... In my opinion, their video quality is that bad. And if you use the long play recording speed to squeeze an hour of video onto the disc, the video quality will be even worse, but yes, it will fit. Read the camcorderinfo.com reviews. There are many issues with both of these camcorders (and DVD based camcorders in general). Why people buy them still amazes me.

If you will be walking with the cam, rest assured that the motion of the camcorder and the resulting video will probably turn away whomever you expect your audience to be. "Walking around a lot while filming" is not recommended. If you must, with any camcorder, use of a stabilizing device is recommended - a SpiderBrace or even a manufactured or home made "SteadiCam" device. But please don't do handheld.

If I am not being too nosy, what exactly are you filming these interiors for and who is the intended audience? If good video quality or transfer to a computer for editing is a requirement, you would be wise to stay away from DVD camcorders and consider hard drive, memory card or miniDV tape based camcorders.

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What We're Doing w/ DVD Camcorder
by binasr / December 13, 2007 4:03 PM PST
In reply to: well... CNET's opinion

Hi,
Thanks for answering my question! I'm a remodeling contractor and I want to take the camcorder w/me to jobsite visits where there are a LOT of tasks, usually "flipping" a house, and we need a record to refer to what the customer wants, the house's current status, and an audio record of instructions. These visits usually take 1+ hours and we're walking most of the time. That's why stability and audio are such important features for me.

As for why I chose a DVD camcorder, I want an easily recorded option that doesn't require transferring to another medium to view it. I don't want to do any editing or saving on my computer, I just want it to "stand" on it's own. Also, in the unfortunate event of a legal issue, I need whatever recording medium used to be able to be stored for years w/o deteriorating. Lastly, as we don't intend to use it much, our budget is extremely limited. If you have a suggestion about a better option than a DVD model, I am totally open to your thoughts. As I mentioned before, I'm not a tech/gadget person and just want an inexpensive, low cost, easy to operate, decent quality option. I plan to buy used, so I wouldn't mind an old version of something, even if it was bulky.
Thanks again!

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Nice to have context.
by boya84 / December 13, 2007 10:34 PM PST

From your description, I'd say given the "technicalities" of the specifications of the different media, it would seem that the DVD based option makes sense - but:

1) The video of DVD based camcorders - at the long-record option - will be pretty bad. Subjective, I know, but it is what it is.

2) Walking around will be problematic. At least use a monopod... walk to the place of the shot, stabilize with the monopod on the floor, start shooting. This is valid for any camcorder, regardless of media type. The optical or electronic stabilization can only go so far.

3) No consumer camcorder comes with built-in mics that are "good". Again, subjective, but I am not the only one who thinks so... but if the audio source is close to the camcorder (hence close to the mic)... lets say within 5-6 feet, you should be OK. Someone speaking across a large room or outside across a yard will not work well. Um - over 10 feet away... unless they are speaking rather loudly...

4) There has been an ongoing debate over which has a better shelf life - digital tape (which is not the analog tape of the VHS days) or DVD. I am in the digital tape camp of best shelf life. On top of that, there have been too many postings on this forum of DVD media not working after video capture - for whatever reason. If you get special DVD media, it *can* last a while - but a scratch can render the disc useless. I would suggest a combination process...

5) I presume some of these projects might be going on concurrently - and be at various stages... so you may want a media that can be changed... that is, using a label, that media would be used only when you are on site for that particular project...

6) I would not buy used - unless you know the owner and what the camcorder went through - and why it is for sale. But that is just me.

7) ALL camcorders are easy to use, though some have manual modes that you can get to if needed. For the most part, they are all point and shoot.

So... in addition to best available video quality and being a removable media, I would strongly suggest miniDV tape - WITH the acquisition of a DVD burner that allows you to connect the camcorder (via firewire directly to the burner). This will allow you to keep the project recordings separate, burn a DVD of the "project to date", tapes can record up to 1 hour in best mode, will give you a stable, long shelf life archive media (tape) and allow you to make copies for the clients (DVD burner).

Something like this...
http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921665185948&tab=Features

With something like this:
http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921665185948&tab=Features

These are just examples... but you get the idea... You will also want a high-capacity rechargeable battery - the ones that come in the box will do only about 20 minutes...

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Try some of the newer options
by gerard_net / May 25, 2010 8:52 PM PDT

You are currently looking at mostly slightly older versions. I suggest looking at some latest options.

You can find some listings at

http://www.reviewgist.com/best-camcorders

Look for the filters which read low-light, budget etc.

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