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Which Camera to buy?????

by Twiki / May 27, 2008 6:03 AM PDT

I have been on this site reviewing and confusing myself for about 3 months and have been back and forth about which camera to get so I am now asking for some advice. First of all let me explain my use:

1. Capturing my soon to be first sons childhood (first steps to peewee sports, school plays etc..)
2. Turning video into DVD's to send to grandparents and watch in the future. This will include some editing.
3. Will also be used for family vacations etc....

Here are the choices that I have narrowed my choice down to (please feel free to suggest another if you feel it will work better for me):
MiniDV: Sony DCR-HC62 ($300) or Canon zr930 ($270)
HD: Sony DCR-sr45 ($500)

I am looking for a camera that I will be able to use for the next 10yrs or more without having to upgrade. Wife has a budget (up to $500), but with a good argument, I can spend a little more if needed. Thanks for your help


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Based on history...
by whizkid454 / May 27, 2008 9:37 AM PDT

Tapes could be gone in 10 years. HDD might also be outdated. Who knows, we could have moved on to holographic storage, wireless storage, etc. The key is that technology is shifting rapidly. In 10 years, nothing sold today will be widely supported/available at that length of time.

For the time being, have you done some research on those you suggested? Before we move on, head over to and look for the reviews on these cameras. See if there is anything that draws your attention to or makes you shy away from one camcorder or another.

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All three camcorders will do what you want, except
by boya84 / May 27, 2008 2:12 PM PDT

last 10 years. That does not necessarily mean the media will be gone or there won't be any support - but the camcorder will likely fail. I do have to agree with whizzkidd, though - think back to where we were ten years ago - Full sized VHS analog camcorders with difficult to transfer video and audio to computers. And the technology is merely accelerating in development.

Personally, I'd go with the Canon ZR930. MiniDV tape has a good shelf life when stored in a cool dry environment, the video is easy to get on a computer and edit (presuming your computer has a firewire400 port) and it is the only one of the three with a mic-in jack. If your computer does not have a firewire port, they are typically easy to add and are inexpensive.

I am glad yo see that there's no DVD based camcorder on your list. YAY! You are wise to stay far away from them.

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Thanks for the help
by Twiki / May 28, 2008 4:36 AM PDT

I have read some more about the cameras and have come across a few more questions. If I go with the MiniDV, I will need to get a firewire port for my PC, whereas the HDD uses USB to transfer video.

Will the cost of the Firewire offset the cost of purchasing an HDD, I have seen prices ranging from $250 to $70, not sure which firewire port I should use.

Also, it seems that as far as editing goes it will be easier to edit MiniDV due to the compression issues. Is this true?

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From my perspective,
by boya84 / May 28, 2008 4:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the help
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Compression doesn't determine ease of editing..
by whizkid454 / May 28, 2008 5:51 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the help

It's the way the camcorder records. For example, MiniDV is imported and saved as a DV project. This is usually in most video editing suites so it is easy to say that it will probably be compatible with your existing software. HDD records using MPEG2. Universal acceptance is less than DV, but throughout the last couple years, MANY more companies and products have included MPEG2 support. Support isn't necessarily the biggest issue here. It is how you will be dealing with it after the fact. If your goal is to burn DVDs to send to family and keep the video stored on an external hard drive (and maybe make an archived DVD copy), then HDD would be your choice. If you like to have a trusty tape archive copy and not trust your videos on a hard drive, then MiniDV would be the way to go.

Somehow, the pros and cons between each WILL balance. For some, MiniDV meets their needs better while for others, HDD meets that better. It's up to you.

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DVD Camcorder
by greenej / May 29, 2008 12:34 AM PDT

Just curious why DVD camcorders are bad - I was looking at a Canon DC330 DVD Camcorder....I know nothing about camcorders but want to buy one for my daughter....and do not want to spend more than $400.00 - Is this possible?


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In order to fit that much data
by boya84 / May 29, 2008 1:17 AM PDT
In reply to: DVD Camcorder

(digital video can use a lot of storage space), the digital stream needs to be compressed. A LOT.
Compressed video = discarded data = reduced video quality.

The little 8cm discs store 20 minutes on a single sided disc, 40 minutes on a double sided disc - but one must manually remove the disc and turn it over. In high quality. Using low quality to get more record time and the video quality is terrible (compression is even more). Using an analog video camcorder would be much better.

There are different discs and some need to be finalized while others fdo not. Some DVD players can read them while others cannot. The VRO and VOB files that would be ripped for editing can sometimes be problematic.

If there is NEVER EVER any expectation that the video will be edited;
If no more than 20 minutes is expected to be recorded at a time, and;
If losing video because the data on the disc somehow got corrupted so it is no longer accessible - so the disc can be used as a coaster,
is acceptable, then go for it.

After the first two times different people handed me miniDVDs pleading with me to "make the video better", I have stopped accepting them as data sources for editing. They thought they would get in to "the newest technology" video cheap and regretted it. Just because something is new does not make it better.

My opinion: DVD camcorders were a good concept - but implementation was poor and they should be removed from the market. The folks who bought them should be allowed to return them for a full refund.

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by greenej / May 29, 2008 1:34 AM PDT

I am thinking about the following:

Panasonic PV-GS320
Panasonic VDR-D230
Panasonic VDR-D310 - a little high for my budget

Sony Handycam DCR-HC96
Sony Handycam DCR-SR45

JCV Everio GZ-MG330
JCV Everio GZ-MG255

Canon DC220
Canon DC40
Canon ZR930
Canon ZR950
Canon FS100
Canon FS10

I know that is a big list but I want to try and get the best camera for the money and one that is easy to operate and then be able to send and look at the video. I am getting it for my daughter to mostly take videos of my grandchildren. She has a computer and is not so much into computers but is average when it comes to electronic equipment whereas I am totally not with it.

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ALL consumer camcorders are
by boya84 / May 29, 2008 2:20 AM PDT
In reply to: camcorders

easy to operate.

"Best camcorder for the money" is a relative term - From your list, step 1 is to drop the DVD based storage. Step 2 drops the JVCs. From what is left, if I to this list it would be either the Sony HDR-HC96, Canon ZR930, FS100, FS10. The HC96 and ZR930 are miniDV tape. The FS100 and FS10 are flash memory and while the compress more than miniDV tape and more like hard drive based, they do not have the issues I see associated with internal hard drive based camcorders.

To get to the final decision would require me to understand what kind of computer you are expecting to edit the video on, what your budget for consumables (miniDV tape is cheap or flash memory cards are now expensive, but slowly getting cheaper) is and what sort of video quality you are expecting...

Otherwise, flip a coin a few times. The remaining 4 all will serve you well.

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by greenej / May 30, 2008 2:15 AM PDT

My daughter has an IMAC and would like to be able to edit stills and videos and do some creative stuff. Do you think the Canonn FS 10 and FS 100 are better than the Sony HC 96 and Canon ZR930. We would like the quality to be fairly good.

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Each of the camcorders has their
by boya84 / May 30, 2008 5:33 AM PDT
In reply to: camcorder


The Canons use flash memory. This is good and not so good. Flash memory is still fairly expensive, archiving the video can be a challenge and the video captured is a highly compressed MPEG2 stream (both the FS10 and FS100 are standard definition only). Since flash memory does not use any motors, the battery lasts a little longer (though you will still want to get an additional rechargeable battery). In the Mac environment, the video files will ned to be converted using StreamClip (a free download from the downloads area). Whether Macintosh or Windows, the video files are copied over USB - or by using a card reader - onto the computer's hard drive. I do not believe either of these camcorders has an external mic connection or manual audio control. Neither of these camcorders has AV-in - but you may not need it, see the HC96 section.

Compressed video = discarded data = reduced video quality.

I am a miniDV tape camcorder fan because:
1) miniDV tape becomes the archive, so no extra step for copying the video;
2) DV data stream is the least compressed resulting in best available video quality compared to the other available consumer storage media (including flash memory)...


The Sony DCR-HC96 allows for external AV device-in connections. Most camcorders do not allow for this. Some folks want to be able to bridge older analog devices to transfer video (like old VHS, VHS-C, Hi8 or other analog devices). If you don't want to do that, the other thing this is useful for is using a helmetcam. You don't have to use a helmet... The HC96 also has a LANC port which allows connection to an optional wired remote that can come in VERY handy for controlling the record start stop when the camera is tripod mounted - or when the helmet cam is used. I believe the HC96 has the Sony proprietary "Active Interface Shoe" that allows use of Sony products that can take advantage of this connection - certain video lights and external microphones manufactured only by Sony.

The Canon ZR930 is one of the least expensive camcorders with a proper (1/8"; 3.5mm) mic-in jack, but it does not have manual audio control, however. It also does not have a LANC port or AV-in.

To transfer video from a miniDV tape based camcorder, one connects the DV port of the camcorder to the firewire port of the computer usinf a firewire cable. Apple Macintosh computers have had firewire 400 ports standard for nearly ten years. A fire port may be added to a traditional Windows machine - they are generally easy to add if the computer has an available PCI slot or PCMCIA slot (and are cheap, too)... more $ if the laptop has only an available Express slot.

In all 4 cases, the stills will be "OK" - these are camcorders and do video well. They were not built to take stills well. If you want good stills, for less than $200 you can get a Canon PowerShot SD750 or other camera that will take WAY higher resolution stills than any camcorder ever will.

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by greenej / June 2, 2008 5:06 AM PDT

Thanks so much for all your help - it is truly appreciated and I learned a lot.

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Flash movie storage to DVD?
by slobizman / June 8, 2008 12:50 AM PDT

I'm considering the HF100 and have a quick question. What was initially holding me back from a Flash Memory camcorder was problem of archiving (don't want to buy dozens of Flash cards, I want to reuse them), compared to a MiniDV where the tape is the archive. However, then I thought of what I think is the solution: that is, simply copy the file from the Flash card to a DVD-R as an archive. Easy, and 10 cents apiece.

I understand the problem would be that a DVD only holds 4.7 GB. But, and this is where I need someone to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm assuming that the flash card stores clips as multiple files and I can just save the clips (smaller files) that I want to the DVD. Is this correct?

The camera will be used primarily for Youtube videos which are usually around 5 minutes in length, and not High Def, so they will be short. The will be uploaded to a new model Mac and iMovie.

If you tell me that all the clips are stored in one big file, then I could use a 4GB flash card when making Youtube videos and simply copy the whole thing or b) instead, make copies of the resulting iMovie files. (I've never used iMovie or the Mac, as this is for my son, so I am unsure how it all works).

Note: all references to copying to DVD are literally copying the files, not burning a movie to be played on a DVD player. Simply storage.

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Why the HF100 if you don't need HD?
by dookydevil / June 8, 2008 1:40 PM PDT

Personally I would buy an FS10 insteand and use the extra money for a backup hard drive.

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Bought the HF100
by slobizman / June 9, 2008 12:02 AM PDT

Just bought the HF100 yesterday. Got a good deal at a retailer that met online pricing and it was no-sales tax day!

Still looking for an answer on the files-to-dvd idea. I'd prefer going to DVD because the files spread out of many archival DVD is much safer than all off them on one hard drive.

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Go Flash
by dookydevil / June 1, 2008 2:38 AM PDT
In reply to: camcorder

I would consider the 2 flash based Canons personally. I admit I'm biased because I just ordered the HF100 after a couple of months of research. Keep in mind that you can get a high capacity flash card cheaper than the difference in price between the FS10 and FS100. I just bought a 16GB class 6 flash card for $60 from You can get an 8GB for around $30. Do not go to Best Buy or Circuit city for the cards as they are running much much higher. The nice thing about the flas based memory is you just pop them out and plug them into your computer to transfer the files.

The other camcorders you mentioned are fine models too. Check out for more reviews and information.

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Thank you
by greenej / June 5, 2008 4:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Go Flash

Thanks for your help and advice.....

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Flash cards
by greenej / June 17, 2008 7:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Go Flash

Will the Canon flash cards work in a MAC?


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In a Macintosh?
by boya84 / June 17, 2008 7:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Flash cards

I don't think they have a slot, but an external card reader will work if USB connection to the camcorder has issues.

If standard definition (and highly compressed MPEG2 files), you may need to convert the files with StreamClip (this is available for free download/use from the downloads area) into something useful.

If high definition AVCHD compressed video, on the most current iMovieHD (that ships in iLife08) or the most current versions of FinalCut Express or Pro2 can deal with that compression. I've read folks in Windows and Macintosh environments having problems with AVCHD... But some are successful, too...

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Mac - camcorders
by greenej / June 17, 2008 11:51 PM PDT
In reply to: In a Macintosh?

Thanks for your help - I think I will stick with a mini dv - which you had suggested before......either the Sony DCR -HC62 or Sony DCR-HC48 - I really liked the Sony DCR-HC96 but too expensive for me - what do you think about either of them.


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All three are fine
by boya84 / June 18, 2008 1:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Mac - camcorders

point and shoot camcorders. Neither has manual audio control, but if your general recording environment means:

1) the camcorder (hence the built-in mics) are close to the audio source;
2) the audio source is neither REALLY LOUD nor really soft
3) you can turn on a light so you don't get the low-light grainies...

then you will be a happy camper.

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