download the manuals from the manufacturer's site. There will be a table in there with the battery "life" under the manufacturer's version of a typical user.
Flash memory will use less power (hence longer life) - additional high-capacity rechargeable batteries are available from the manufacturer so that which is included in the box with the camcorder is irrelevant. I get two - while one is in use, the other is recharging. The one that came in the box is for emergencies, only.
With miniDV tape or flash memory, just be sure to bring along more than you think will be needed. Fill one, pop it out, lock it, mark it, put in another, continue shooting. It the camcorder breaks, replace take the tape out, replace the camcorder with a similar one. If the camcorder is stolen, you may be out a single tape or single memory card.
With a hard disc camcorder, what happens when you fill the hard drvie? If the camcorder breaks and no video has been transferred to a computer or other storage media then data recovery working with places like DriveSavers is likely. If the camcorder is stolen, you are out all the non-transferred video... I am not a fan of consumer HDD camcorders.
If miniDV tape (HV30), connecting to a computer requires a firewire port on the computer. Connect the camcorder's DV port to the computer's firewire port. USB won't work. Firewire, IEEE1394 and i.LINK are all the same thing.
If flash memory or hard disc drive, connect the camcorder's miniUSB port to the computer's USB port. Copy the files.
We don't know which computer or video editor, so we don't know if any file conversion challenges or issues with HDV or AVCHD/MTS might be lurking...
We don't know if really loud audio might be encountered during the journey - the HV30 has manual audio control the others do not have. Prolonged, loud audio can cause the HDD heads to park and not allow any video capture.
We don't know if really high altitude might be encountered during the journey - check the HDD camcorder's environmental specs - there will be an altitude warning - generally over 9,800 feet.
So, I am helping a friend pick a camcorder for an excursion she is going on. She needs a camcorder under $700 that will have a long lasting battery life.
My question is, how do the battery lives compare between a tape camcorder (i.e. HV30), a hard drive camcorder (i.e. HG20), and a flash-drive camcorder (i.e. HF-20)?
I imagine that the flash-based camcorder would have the longest battery life since there are no moving parts but how much of a difference are we talking about? If the difference is minimal, it might be smarter for her to pick a Hard drive camcorder and invest in an extra battery or two then spend more on a flash-based camcorder that she will have to buy a bunch of SD cards.
What do you guys think?
As it stands, I'm suggesting either the HG20 or HV30 (depending on which format she likes) and getting a battery or two. But if the difference is significant for the more expensive flash based cameras, that might change the game in their favor.
Let me know what you know.