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Looking For input on a Panasonic SDR-H200

by Sundayknight / July 17, 2007 2:41 PM PDT

Hi, I am looking for a Hard disk drive camcorder to do basic video of home movie projects(vacations, kids sports, etc...). I can't really see any time that i would be using an external mic or other attachments. I will be burning to an imac and using imovie for editing and burning to dvd's. My budget was in the $400-$500 range but that is not set in stone. The model that I am looking at is the Panasonic SDR-H200.
I was looking for some input on this model or if there is a similar product that you can recommend that would be great.

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I don't know what your computer skillset is,
by boya84 / July 17, 2007 3:27 PM PDT

but you should be aware that the Panasonic web site specifically says, "The supplied software is not compatible with Macintosh Operating Systems." SInce iMovie is built in, this would normally not necessaily mean much, however, this does not mean the video you capture will not work with you iMac - but you will need, most likely, the same intermediate software the Sony hard drive cameras which record to MPEG2 need... like streamclip or some other "translator".

You may want to read through:

You seem convinced that a hard drive based camcorder is your only option. Why is that? If you want best video quality and "unlimited" video capture, miniDV tape is the better option. This would be the case whether Windows or Macintosh environment... I use a G5 flatpanel running OSX 10.4.10 to edit 1080i high-definition from a Sony HDR-HC1 to miniDV tape - if that makes any difference...

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Thanks for the quick reply : )
by Sundayknight / July 17, 2007 3:59 PM PDT

I have read about the problems with the mpeg-2 format not being usable in imovie but i was under the impression that once you got the codec for quicktime that it would work.
Of course i have not actually tried this yet.
As to using a hard drive cc over a dv tape cc it seems like when you want to edit and burn a dvd, transferring from a hard drive instead of a tape would be much easier and faster. But again, i haven't tried either of these.
But i am looking for something that works with imovie so i appreciate the info about the panasonic website saying its not compatible with osX. I wonder if it will work with the mpeg-2 codec?
oh yeah, I'm a big fan of the mac,,,just got 1 and am blindly hoping that the next version of imovie will support mpeg-2 natively. Any chance of that happening?

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Yes, following instructions and installing
by boya84 / July 17, 2007 11:18 PM PDT

what is required will work. The Apple discussions have a number of similar posts - the two I provided looked appropriate.

As for "transferring from a hard drive instead of a tape would be much easier and faster", in my opinion, if you take the whole process flow into consideration, using a camcorder with hard drive based video capture is only a little faster... here's why:

1) Capture video. Same for hard drive and miniDV tape.
Note: If you need more record time, use another tape... on the hard drive it is possible to fill... then what?

2) Rewind tape (about a minute).

3) Connect miniDV tape camcorder to computer with FireWire or hard drive camcorder using USB.
If miniDV, launch iMovie, click import. If 1 hour of standard definition video, then 1 hour import time.
If miniDV, hard drive mounts on desktop. Copy file from hard drive to Mac. About 10 minutes. Launch iMovie. Drag-drop file to clip pane. Another 10 minutes for processing.

4) Edit video. Transisitions, effects, titles, credits... Same for hard drive and miniDV tape.
Save. Same for hard drive and miniDV tape.

5) Launch iDVD. Build DVD menuing, background pictures, buttons, soundtrack... Same for hard drive and miniDV tape.

6) Burn DVD. Same for hard drive and miniDV tape.

The miniDV tape is the archive if you ever want to go back to it - otherwise, you need to burn the hard drive based camcorder files to DVDs as storage... You probably will eat into the 40-50 minutes you initially saved. Plus, keep in mind that you *can* do other things while the video is importing... review what you captured and think through the edits you want to do, design the DVD menu or other art... whatever - you don't need to sit in front of the computer while the import is taking place.

In my opinion, there is marginal time savings - and given the better video quality from miniDV tape, I think that is a valid investment... Unless you are shooting days upon days of video, transferring to a computer (or something else) and have unreasonable deadlines, the small amout of "saved time" does not yet make sense to me.

As far as iMovie mpeg2 support... who knows... with the "patches", it is already there. What's to fix?

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As to transfer time...
by whizkid454 / July 17, 2007 11:39 PM PDT

This is completely dependent on how many hours of video you have. If a 30GB internal HDD can store 7 hours of highest quality video, it usually takes around 35 minutes to transfer the entire thing. Whereas if you have 7 miniDV tapes, it will take 7 hours to import all 7 tapes plus the time and hassle of having to change out the tapes and start the import process. So really, the advantages keep shinking from 40-50 minutes of saved time when more footage has to be transferred. In this case, more like 6 hours and 30 minutes saved. If one is retired or has kids that know the computer very well, you probably would have the time and patience (I don't know about the patience part...), but I certainly wouldn't have time to take 7 hours of my busy schedule just to import video.

@ OP(original poster): Yes, I *can* agree that miniDV has an advantage in terms of overall video quality although, when I compare the two side by side, I hardly see a difference, but that's my opinion. Even though my speech above showed how hard drive camcorders are easier, it doesn't matter how easy it is if it can't even be done. (It is a nightmare with Macs and HDD camcorders.)

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transfer results
by techdefective / September 18, 2007 10:03 AM PDT
In reply to: As to transfer time...

I'm considering by the H200 and I'm impressed by the quick transfer time compared to capturing video footage in real time. I understand that compatability with macs is questionable. If I transfer long stretches of video footage from the H200 to a PC, do I need anything other than a firewire and software that comes in the box with the camera? Is the result an mpeg-2 file on the hard drive of my PC? It's sounding really good and I'm on the brink of making the purchase. Any words of caution for me?

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If HDD...
by whizkid454 / September 18, 2007 11:10 AM PDT
In reply to: transfer results

No Firewire is needed. A free USB port is all you need. Yes, the result is an MPEG2 file on the computer.

Also, an external/secondary drive should be used for your video projects no matter which camcorder you get. Editing software is also recommended. (Sony Vegas, Pinnacle, Corel, etc.)

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I really love my SDR-H200
by nperdue / July 18, 2007 5:45 AM PDT

I just got back from 14 days in Italy which was my first chance to try out my SDR-H200. This was the first camcorder that I had purchased and I am new to the world of digital video. I wanted something that I could take with me and record for an extended period of time and that would make it easy to convert that video to DVDs when I returned (the last thing I wanted was to have to convert in real-time over two weeks worth of video).

In a matter of a few hours, I imported, organized, and transferred to 2 DVDs over 100 clips. They images look better than I expected and I am nothing but pleased with my H200.

For ease of use and still high enough quality for what I needed, it was a perfect fit.

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