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I'm looking for a good camcorder at around 500$

by barak4u2 / November 11, 2008 1:39 PM PST

I'm looking for a camcorder with the following specifications:
• High-definition image quality
• A camera which would produce good results also in low light/indoor shoots
• Hard disc / Flash cards based camcorders

We are currently preparing for the birth of our first child this coming January and we would like to document the upcoming family events. I plan on editing the videos on the computer by myself (using Adobe Premiere) in addition to making DVD backups of the videos using the computer.

Recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

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The reason no one has answered is
by boya84 / November 14, 2008 11:16 AM PST

because there is no camcorder that meets your requirements. Short version: consumer camcorders have small lenses and small imaging chips and do not do well in low light. Change your requirements to either include a video light, do not require good low light behavior or increase your budget.

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I haven't given up yet
by barak4u2 / November 15, 2008 1:35 PM PST

Here are a couple of good camcorders around my price range which I have been interested in:

? Panasonic HDC-SD9 AVCHD 3CCD Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom - $525.42 on Amazon
? Canon VIXIA HF100 Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom - $549 on Amazon
? Panasonic HDC-HS9 AVCHD 3CCD 60GB Hard Drive High Definition Hybrid Camcorder with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom - $500 on EBay

Even though we don?t have a High-Definition DVD player or burner yet, I currently think that it might be wiser to purchase a High-Definition camcorder in order to be able to keep high quality videos of these historical precious family moments ? a purchase I might regret in the future for not making.

As far as I understand, even though the AVCHD camcorders compresses the videos on the camcorder itself in the efficient AVCHD compression method (4 gigs per hour), when the videos are transferred to the computer (either for backup or for editing purposes) there is no other way but to transfer them in an uncompressed HD format which would be much more larger video files that wouldn?t fit on regular DVDs for backup purposes (since a regular DVD would only be able to contain 20 minutes of HD video), and therefore it would currently be impossible for me to backup the videos using my computer unless I?ll get a Blue Ray burner.

Therefore as far as I understand, in order to save the HD backups without currently buying an additional Blue Ray burner, it might be better to purchase a Mini DV AVCHD camcorder and:

1. For archiving purposes - keep all of the HD backups on external tapes until I?ll buy a Blue Ray DVD Burner and Blue Ray DVD player.
2. For editing purposes - convert all of the HD video files to a much smaller resolution using Adobe Premiere and/or Nero in order to burn full length videos on regular DVDs and in order to upload them to YouTube.

The only problem that this might cause would be that until I would actually buy a Blue Ray DVD burner I would be accumulating a huge pile of MiniDV tapes (100 hours of video = 100 tapes = circa 250 $).

A couple of questions:
? Is there no possible way to download the original HD video files in the original AVCHD compression (1 hour in HD quality per 4 gigs) onto the computer in order to burn them in their original compression onto regular DVDs?

? How difficult would it be to transfer them to Adobe Premiere and/or Nero for editing and from there converting them to a standard regular DVD size? How long would such a process take?

? How difficult would it be to transfer selected segments to YouTube in standard YouTube video size?


I?ll be happy to hear any suggestions or recommendations you might have.

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I don't do lots of compression (AVCHD) as the first step,
by boya84 / November 15, 2008 10:49 PM PST
In reply to: I haven't given up yet

So I'll let someone else comment on its viability.

Your comment, "it might be better to purchase a Mini DV AVCHD camcorder" is invalid. MiniDV tape does not store in the highly compressed AVCHD format. For high definition, it stores to HDV (and for standard definition, to DV). HDV is much less compressed than AVCHD.

Since I never know where I'll be for video capture, I try to limit potential issues... hard drive based camcorders have know issues with lots of vibration (very loud crowds, very loud engine noises, very loud music - amplified or not) and high altitude (over 9,800 feet). The heads will park and no recording happens. MiniDV tape and flash memory based camcorders do not have these issues.

The camcorders you listed, have small lenses and small imaging chips
HDC-SD9 - 37mm lens - three 1/6" CCD chips
VIXIA HF100 - 37mm lens - single 1/3.2" CMOS chip
HDC-HS9 - 37mm lens - three 1/6" CCD chips
If you have changed your requirements (removed "good results also in low light") then any of these will be fine. If I can't have miniDV tape, then I'd go with flash memory.

For archiving, you will always have a bunch of whatever it is you choose to archive to... Having been an IT manager in a previous life, I trust digital tape a lot more than hard drives or optical disc.

If your version of Premiere can handle AVCHD encoded files, then all you need to do is copy the video files from the camcorder to the computer. There may be decompression time required.

For YouTube posting, if you want high quality files, use the file format suggestions at vimeo.com. As a h.264, 720p file, the files uploaded at vimeo and YouTube can be the same file. Depending on the length of the video and your computer's CPU, rendering can be fast or really long.

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