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Help: Choose a basic entry level camcorder

by breeezey / December 27, 2007 5:34 AM PST

I am in the market looking for a basic entry level miniDV camcorder. I need a camcorder for family gathering, birthday, etc. Having done some googling, i have narrowed down my options to:

Canon MD120
Canon MD160
Sony DCR-HC28
Sony DCR-HC38
Panasonic NVGS60

They are all in the range of prices that fit my budget. Which one would you recommend? Both Canon support 16:9 format while the rest don't.

I also welcome any other suggestion (brand/model) if you know something better than those. Thank you very much for your info.

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I think your list is good - but
by boya84 / December 27, 2007 6:01 AM PST

a bit deeper research would be useful.

According to the manual on the Sony DCR-HC28, page 44, it does do 16:9 and 4:3...

http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/model-documents.pl?mdl=DCRHC28

Download and check for yourself...

I expect the HC38 to do the same. Both the HC28 and 38 have 20x zoom (disregard digital zoom numbers - that should be turned off when you get the camcorder, anyway). They both have that funky night shot monochomatic no-light feature.

The Canon MD120 and 160 do 35x optical zoom. They use an LED for a "nite shot" that might work if the subject is within 2 feet of the light (and the camera) - so consider this "feature" useless.

For that matter, I expect the Panasonic to do 16:9 and 4:3 both as well - and does 30x zoom. This has a similar useless LED...

I would suggest the Canons and understanding the differences between them to make your decision + a 3rd party external video light (like the inexpensive ones from SIMA... mounted to a little camera bracket). The zoom range got my attention... too bad none of these has a mic-in jack...

Since transferring video from miniDV tape based camcorders to your computer (for editing) will need a Firewire cable connected to the DV port on the camcorder and a Firewire port on the computer... well, do you have a Firewire port on your computer (USB is used only for transferring stills from the memory card if the camcorder is so equipped).

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Thank you for your quick
by breeezey / December 27, 2007 6:57 AM PST

response boya84. You are right about the 16:9 format.... I must read wrong specs.

I also tend to get Canon MD160. It seems that the main differences between the two canons are:

Pixels (Total / Effective):
MD120 800,000 / 400,000 (4:3)
MD160 1.07 megapixels / 690,000 (4:3)

Autofocus:
MD160 Tape: Auto/Manual/Forced Infinity/Card: Supported 9-point AiAF, available in Easy Mode
MD120 Auto/Manual/Forced Infinity

White balance is a bit of concern for me... though none of them provide a manual adjustment for white balance.

Re Firewire... yes.. I have that on my PC.

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