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Need info on buying a digital camcorder

by djlynes / December 14, 2004 12:11 PM PST

Could someone with knowledge of digital camcorders please help me with what to look for? My daughter and son-in-law are expecting their first baby and I am wanting to get them one for Christmas. Many reviews I have read say they do not work well in low light...which I think would be important. Also I was told the budget models need a 30.5 filter to operate properly which is an extra $140.00. How much more do I need to spend to get one that works in low light or that does not need this filter. I am looking at the JVC GR-D33US, the Canon ZR85 and the Panasonic PV-GS15...and I have no idea why because one review is good and the next one is terrible. I have spent hours reading reviews and I am totally confused. Since I do have a budget...I don't know what things are top priority. I'd really appreciate any help possible. Thank alot. Dee

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this question gets asked a lot
by frankzxcv / December 14, 2004 1:47 PM PST

so i will repeat an old post

i have a sony trv38, and here's why I bought it:

it has a large (3.5") LCD screen-- I haven't shopped for a year, but the time, that was comparably big to the usual 2.5. even withthe bigger screen, it's hard to tell if you are really really in focus on distant faces in low light. but it's okay.

this is a miniDV cam and it makes great looking footage.
it has the usual firewire port,
a USB port,
AND it has a analogue Audio/video IN and OUT. I use that AV out for corporate stuff, it easily hooks up to a video projector, looks great. this feature is very important if you want to convert from old VHS tapes, or dub TO VHS tapes.

It also has the image stabilization which works very well.

Onboard mike is great. Sometimes it works better (because it picks up LESS background noise than my sennheiser.

the playback functions are touch screen on the LCD. you get a lot of fingerprints on the screen but you can't see them when video is on, so it's okay.

I think it's possible for these things to be TOO small. the TRV38 is a regular hold in tour hand size. altho when I am shooting hand-held for more than an hour my hand starts to hurt. this would be true of any object this size and weight.

most of these cams are fine in average light. they seem to see what the eye sees. this camera has an awesome low light "nightshot" feature. you can literally see in the dark. not full color, but . . . I don't use it much tho, so I can't say too much about it. I have yet to see anyone say "this or that camera is great in low light." none of of them are, apparently.

some overkill, this camera has oodles of sub menus, more than I have ever bothered to explore. It is occasionally handy to hit a button and have a still photo of a video frame on my otherwise unused memory stick. I don't use it to edit video on the fly or add a different audio track or build a frame around a still photo. the still photo function is handy but not great looking.

My only real complaint about this camera is, you have to unscrew the tripod mounting shoe to change tapes, which can be a real problem when hurried.

this cam was pricey-- about 850 I think. but I am very happy with it. the supplied battery is adequate, I bought 2 more for pro use.

whatever you buy keep your tapes in their cases to keep dirt out of the heads-- dead heads seems to be the main cause of death for these cams.

hope this helps- fj

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Economically and technically good Panasonic NVGS15
by ksrk / December 18, 2004 9:16 PM PST

I have recently purchased Panasonic PVNVGS15 camcorder and looks to be good in many ways. Night shot is also good and you will not be disappointed. It has got many feature. I was like you searching for camcorder and finally end up in buying this.
Wish you good luck

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