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Please help novice buy camcorder for recording child's music

by EsmeH / October 22, 2007 12:27 AM PDT

I have such a headache trying to figure out from the dozens of reviews which camcorder would serve me best.

I am confused about what type of camera...tape/DVD/ memory stick, etc. My computer doesn't upload DVDs (but I suppose I could get the software necessary) so I wasn't contemplating editing capability, but maybe I should....Latest technology seems to be direct to hard drive, but then I would need to be able to burn that to a I do want to be able to copy and send DVDs.

I think my specifications should be:

good in low light
good image stability
best possible sound quality with microphone jack (which kind ?)
good quality visual image

My price tage is around $5-600.

I do need to make this decision as someone wants to take a recording of my daughter to share with some important folks in Europe. Could be a great opportunity for her!

I appreciate any and all input........I do see that Sony, Canon and Panasonic are the three most mentioned brands, but then all have so many different models and options!


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OK, looks like I want tape of HDD....which has mic jack?
by EsmeH / October 22, 2007 10:12 AM PDT

I went to a big box store to speak to someone and was told that quality is best on tape and then next on Harddrive. Hardrive is easy to put on computer for editing and then burn to DVD (for giving out)

Problem is find a quality machine ($5-600 range) with better than average sound and a microphone jack.......

Can anyone weigh in on this with a few options???


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There several recent posts that
by boya84 / October 22, 2007 12:07 PM PDT

point to the Canon ZR800. This will leave you with adequate funding to get a decent external mic, too - perhaps an Audio-Technica stereo mic (AT-822)... or one from NRG Research... Get a good tripod and sturday case and extra rechargable battery, too... and a mic stand... and you'll need a FireWire port for your computer if it does not already have one... and a FireWire cable.

The person who told you that miniDV tape provides the best available video quality was correct. As for audio quality, you need to get the mic close to the audio source.

I suggest you experiment with that mic distance. The lower-end cameras do not have manual audio controls. and if you are too close, the audio can be distorted - to far, and the room boominess will be icky.

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Though... A field recorder like on from M-Audio
by boya84 / October 22, 2007 12:09 PM PDT

Marantz could do the audio only and be added to your video during the editing process... It is easy to do...

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Not quite sure about the canon zr800.
by EsmeH / October 23, 2007 11:52 AM PDT

I did some research on that model and it seems to get an 'ok' rating for a camera under $300. I can spend a bit more ($5-600), but what else is there with a mic output that has good quality picture, sound, stabilization and low light capabilities?


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Since you increased the budget,
by boya84 / October 23, 2007 1:26 PM PDT

Sony DCR-HC96 with a Sony proprietary mic for the proprietary "active interface" shoe (or a Sony active interface cable adapter from B&H Photo for any mic with a 1/8" plug or an XLR adapter for better mics).

As for stabilization - I strongly suggest you use a tripod or monopod - typically, normal people cannot hold a camera steady while capturing video with a hand-held camcorder for very long (as in less than 5 minutes).

When your child performs, is it on stage? Is that stage lit? If so, that means the audience is in the dark (low light) but the subject (the performer) is lit - so you may not necessarily need "good low light capabilities"...

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OK, down to CanonHG10 vs Sony HC96????
by EsmeH / October 25, 2007 5:59 AM PDT

As both of these cameras seem to be among the few (in the 5-600 range)with separate microphone ability, I need to choose.

I like the sound of the Sony, but the Canon does a bit better in the reviews...anyone want to weigh in on an opinion??

thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!

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You are comparing a high definition camera (Canon HG10)
by boya84 / October 25, 2007 7:09 AM PDT

to a standard definition camera - Sony DCR-HC96. Nearly like comparing oranges and peaches.

I can't recommend the Canon HG10...
1) it is a hard drive based camcorder;
2) when it shoots in high def, it uses AVCHD compression.

If you are going to go the high definition route, check the Canon HV20 instead.

Alert on HD video:
One hour of standard definition video takes about 11 gig - 13 gig of space on your hard drive when imported. High Definition takes 3x-4x more space (~35 gig)... How much available hard drive space do you have - or are you planning to get another drive for your computer?

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