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Best budget camcorder?!? Canon vs. Sony vs. Panasonic

by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 2:12 AM PST

Hey everyone I'm new here but I'm planning on buying a budget mini-dv camcorder to just record home video stuff and cool stuff i see along the way of life . . . anyway I don't want to spend more than $300 so I have been looking around at different forums and suggestions from cnet and it just seems more people lean towards canon's camcorders? Specifically, the elura 100 but the problem is those specs just don't seem up to date so I was looking at the ZR850 and the Sony DCR-HC38 which both look good with the Sony having a little better specs. Let me know what you guys think . . . any suggestion as to which camcorder to get would be really helpful and appreciated . . . Thanks.

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Why not the zr800?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2007 3:43 AM PST
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Low Light
by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 4:31 AM PST
In reply to: Why not the zr800?

hmmm . . . it says it has low light problems and I think i'll be doing most of my taping indoors? Any other suggestions? Thanks.

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Let's be clear here.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2007 4:46 AM PST
In reply to: Low Light

ANY camcorder in this price range should have the same statement slapped on it. What I find annoying is that you rarely find the reviewers to offer a standard "low light" test. All have been "subjective."

I fear you will not be happy with low light performance in this class of camcorders. You need BIG lens to gather the light.

Bob

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and big chips (CCD or CMOS)
by boya84 / November 5, 2007 5:15 AM PST
In reply to: Let's be clear here.

to do something with what the big lens sends... agree - any camcorder in this class will no do very well in "low light".

I used to recommend the ZR800 because it is the cheapest camcorder with a mic-in jac... but I no longer do because it does not have manual audio control...

By the way, some of the best lighting is indoors - because it can be controlled - especially when it is dark outdoors... What do you think you will be taping indoors? If you light it, your low light issue went away...

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boya 84
by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 6:00 AM PST

boya - so what do you recommend with manual audio controls and the overall best camera in this class?

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In this class?
by boya84 / November 5, 2007 6:24 AM PST
In reply to: boya 84

None have manual audio - and the ZR800 is the only one with a mic-in jack.

Next one with a mic-jack (sort of) is 2x $... Sony DCR-HC96. Proprietary Sony "active interface shoe" (or the adapter jack from B&H Photo - and the HC96 does not have manual audio control, either.

You *could* use something like a BeachTech DXA-6 XLR adapter and control the audio there...

Too many people say they don't want to deal with manual audio until they discover they need it (to compensate for loud audio overdriving the auto level circuit)...

More research is needed to identify the least $ with mic-in jack and manual audio...

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ha
by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 8:21 AM PST
In reply to: In this class?

haha so basically theres no camcorder 300 and under that you recommend?

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well... here's the deal...
by boya84 / November 5, 2007 8:52 AM PST
In reply to: ha

A $300 camcorder will not provide "good low-light performance". And everyone wants that.

A $300 camcorder will not provide good audio when the audio is really loud or really soft. And everyone wants good audio. If you have friends in a band that uses amplified instruments, this will be too loud and it will sound REALLY muddy. If there is complete silence or very low audio, the auto audio level circuit will "listen" and you will hear a "whooshing" sound when you playback.

A $300 camcorder will not come with a long lasting battery - none of the consumer camcorders come with one - you have to buy an extra optional high capacity battery so you can record more than 20 minutes or so before having to recharge the battery that comes in the box.

The zoom on a $300 camcorder will be only "OK"... and if you want more, you typically cannot attach a tele-lens. And you never ever want to use digital zoom - unless you want to call the resulting video capture "art". I always suggest turning digital zoom off. It is useless.

A $300 camcorder generally does not have manual focus - so you are stuck with the auto-focus mechanism, whether you like it or not.

There's a lot more, but I'll stop here... Honestly, if you are OK with all this (and the other stuff I didn't mention), then any camcorder from Sony, Panasonic or Canon (or even Samsung or Hitachi or JVC or whatever) in your price range will do... really. Just flip a coin.

What I will say is good is the miniDV tape quality of a $300 is WAY better than hard drive based or DVD based camcorders in this price range. If you can find a new Canon Elura 100, get it. There is a reason why it was "Camera of the Year" a couple of years ago. The Canon ZR 850 has slightly better specs than the ZR800, but the ZR800 has a mic-in jack the 850 does not have.

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ummm . . .
by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 9:30 AM PST

i'm kind of confused about a few things . . . a) why would i get the elura 100 isn't it outdated by like 2 years or so by now??? isn't the zr850 or 800 even better? Also, when i was playing with the sony dcr-hc38 the digitial zoom looked pretty good in the camera . . . i don't know if its different on screen on a dvd or something? But anyway . . . so I guess what i'm really saying is if you HAD to get a 300 camcorder which one would you flip a coin and choose?

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I guess I would flip between
by boya84 / November 5, 2007 10:02 AM PST
In reply to: ummm . . .

the HC38 and the ZR800...

The factors I see:

with the external mic weighing in on the ZR800 side even though the audio can't be adjusted manually. And just because something is newer does not mean it is better.

The Super Night Shot on the Sony was interesting for about the first 20 seconds (shooting in complete darkness with a built-in infrared emitter)...

Everything else is pretty much the same.

For digital zoom while looking at the camera - that is a 2.5 inch screen - it will look "different" on a TV - especially a big one.

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so
by Liebo11 / November 5, 2007 10:57 AM PST

you think i should go with either the ZR800 or the HC38 then? I guess i'll just flip a coin and choose . . . i dunno what i should do . . . hmmm?!?!?

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I didn't look closely at the Sony.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 5, 2007 11:13 PM PST
In reply to: so

But I know audio can make or break a shot so my nod is to the 800 over the 850 every time. Even when the buyer doesn't know it, they'll want it later. If they are just a home user (no Youtube, etc use) then they could just go with the builtin mic if they show no sign that audio matters.

Bob

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