HD camcorder recommendation? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 14 Old 11-02-2009, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
Zarlyl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hey guys,

My wife and I are having a baby soon and I have been given permission to purchase a new HD camcorder. I don't know much about them as far as specs goes. Any advice as far as brand and specs go? I would like to stay around $600.
Zarlyl is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 14 Old 11-02-2009, 10:59 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Chevypower's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,165
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 38
Sony HDR-XR100 or XR200. Long recording times, great picture quality. If you can afford to step up to the XR500 with the larger image sensor then do it, but around $600, then try to get what I suggested. I understand Costco has the XR200 at the moment.
Chevypower is offline  
post #3 of 14 Old 11-02-2009, 02:55 PM
AVS Special Member
 
donaldk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,393
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 16
Or the Canon HF20 (predecessor HF-11 should be sold out by now). Should be around 600 usd, as BHPhoto lists it at 650. See it a bit lower at others, but BH is a reliable vendor.
donaldk is offline  
post #4 of 14 Old 11-02-2009, 05:03 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Shadow_7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,311
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Bear in mind that an HD camcorder can mean needing a whole chain of things that you might not already have. Although you can get most of those things later. HDTV? Fast computer to playback in realtime unedited? Bluray player? Tons of large and mostly empty harddrives? Media, lights, lenses, mounts, .......

I like my FH1 for $400-ish. Not the best of the best. But that's $200 left for beer and such. And pretty decent indoors with low light. Which a lot of cams generally suck at.
Shadow_7 is offline  
post #5 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
Zarlyl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks for all the help guys but there is still one thing I'm confused about. Here are the 2 cameras I have a question about:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Canon+-+...HF20&cp=1&lp=1

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Panasoni...&skuId=9206995

The Panasonic has 8.3 MP compared to the Canon's 3.0 MP. The Panasonic is only $100 more. Wouldn't the Panasonic be a much better deal if I can afford the price difference?
Zarlyl is offline  
post #6 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 10:15 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Shadow_7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,311
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarlyl View Post

The Panasonic has 8.3 MP compared to the Canon's 3.0 MP. The Panasonic is only $100 more. Wouldn't the Panasonic be a much better deal if I can afford the price difference?

Do you plan on making videos, or taking snapshots? Because 1920x1080 is only ~2MP-ish.

Not all things are created equal. And in those regards we're talking pixels over size of sensor. The lower MP sensor has more photons per pixel and "generally" better low light performance. But not always. It really depends on if the high MP cam takes a single pixel for the equivalent video pixel, or the average of many pixels. Which you generally can't find out based on specs alone. Your best bet is to hit up vimeo and youtube and sample the results. If you like what you see, are you willing to part with the cash to own it?

FWIW, my FH1 takes 8MP still images. And with some manual controls and video speed, it does a rather nice job at it. Although only 2MP frame grabs if you take them WHILE recording video. Which is kind of pointless as you can extract them as frame grabs later.

The HF20 seems to have a 1/4" sensor, ick. 1/3" is more desirable. Some of the newer / beefy / pro-ish ones have a 2/3" sensor. But a singular 3.89 MP sensor for this cam.

The Pana has 3x 1/4.1" sensors, triple ick. Which are only 3.05 MP each. So 8MP interpolated? I think what you're paying for there is the 120GB HDD. That's a lot of record time built in.

The HV20 (several years old) is closer to a 1/3" sensor. HV30 and HV40 since that one came out. Basically I wouldn't get either of those that you mentioned. Maybe and HF S100 might be better suited for you? If you're set on the brand name. Holy cow, those prices can't be right. When is the baby due? Because right near X-mas those prices should be closer to the $700 mark.
Shadow_7 is offline  
post #7 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
Zarlyl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hey Shadow,

I am planning on mainly using this for video. I would like a decent snapshot but its not really all that important.

My main question is about the sensors you mentioned. Why is a 1/3" sensor more desirable than a 1/4" sensor?
Zarlyl is offline  
post #8 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 11:49 AM
AVS Special Member
 
ericjut's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: WA
Posts: 1,774
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Larger sensor means more light can be captured, which usually means better low-light performance. It also provides better aperture control.
ericjut is offline  
post #9 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 01:25 PM
Newbie
 
mwalt22's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 7
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 View Post

The Pana has 3x 1/4.1" sensors, triple ick. Which are only 3.05 MP each. So 8MP interpolated?

I'm not sure how it works, but camcorder.info lists the camera (well, actually TM300, but it should be the same for the 250) as: "The maximum native resolution for stills is 8 megapixels, though still photo mode offers an interpolated 10.6-megapixel size." I am also trying to decide between the Panasonic HDC-HS250 and Canon's HF 20/200. The Sony's look nice, but seem to be out of my budget for the ones I would like.
mwalt22 is offline  
post #10 of 14 Old 11-03-2009, 02:16 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Shadow_7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,311
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Do you just want a camcorder? Or the best of best for now until 90 days from now?

The FH1 is very respectable. And cheap relative to the competition. It does very well IMO. I chose it over an HV30, even an HG20. I'd rather have the audio input of the HD2000, but it wasn't available stateside at that time. I'm not sure if it is available even now. It's not the best of the best. But in terms of HD, you get FULL HD, and 60p. Which is more than a lot of others offer.

I'd be weary of some of those. You can't really get an 8MP image from a 3MP sensor. I suppose they found a way via 3 sensors, but how exactly is that rigged. And how easy is it to break that rigging if you drop your camcorder. Of if the UPS guy drops it. In either case something is fishy there.

My FH1 does 10MP or something like that interpolated. i.e. it best guesses all of the pixels that make up the difference from the 8MP that it actually records. I like the 8MP still of my FH1 better than the 10MP stills of my Kodak Z1085-IS.

Bear in mind that we're talking fractions OF AN INCH. 1/2 > 1/3 > 1/4. I mean 1/4 of an inch, think about that, and they have 2 million pixels of sensing tech in there. Or a rough approximation there of. A lot of these things only actually resolve 720 to 850 lines despite the 1080 vertical lines of the Full HD format. So you're not really getting what you paid for to start with. Factor in the compression of a video codec. And you really can't gauge quality by specs alone.

Canons are well liked. The optics are good, the focus is fast, and the stabilization is good too. Sony's tend to have a little better in the color department, but the sensors are slow giving you skew and jello shots. The 3x sensors of the Pana probably gives it decent color attributes, but that's about it. I'm color deficient myself (red/green) so that's not a factor for me to start with. In the end, it's still a crap shoot. And like PCs of the 90's, the second you buy one, one twice as good comes out a day later.

Right now the GH1 is well sought in the sub $2K realm. The Canon HF S series is the best that they offer in that realm at the moment. Samsung has made some nice ones in recent history. Even some of the Casios aren't too shabby. All consumer grade cams are crippled in some way relative to prosumer type stuff, which is generally crippled a bit too.

So it's really a factor of what are you willing to pay for? Manual focus WHILE RECORDING? Audio input? High bitrate codec? Name brand optics? On board storage? Long battery life? Easy to edit codec? Compatibility with generic accessories(lenses / batteries / shoe?)? View finder? Waterproof? ???
Shadow_7 is offline  
post #11 of 14 Old 11-04-2009, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
Zarlyl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Wow! Thanks guys for all the info.

I don't have to have the best of the best but I do want the nicest camcorder for the money. After listening to some of your posts and reading online review, I've decided to up my price. I really like the Canon VIXIA HF S100 which I believe Shadow_7 recommended. That is my new price range and that will probably be the camera I go with. The cheapest I have found it online is $850ish. So if anyone else has another camera they recommend in that price range please let me know.

Thanks again everyone!
Zarlyl is offline  
post #12 of 14 Old 11-04-2009, 09:35 AM
Advanced Member
 
Tom Gull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 936
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericjut View Post

Larger sensor means more light can be captured, which usually means better low-light performance. It also provides better aperture control.

Interesting side note: the new Sony EXMOR R chips complicate that statement as they achieved a 2x better low-light performance with only a small increase in the chip size (the increase may have been unrelated to the LL improvement). They say they did this by physically reorganizing the chip to have the light hit the sensors without being blocked by parts of the chip that used to be between the light and the sensors themselves. That is, they put the bottom of the chip on top and vice versa. There are some technical issues that causes that they resolved, so it's an obvious idea but it may take other vendors a while to replicate the work.

Once everyone's back on the same page technologically, we should be back to size being the dominant factor again.
Tom Gull is offline  
post #13 of 14 Old 11-04-2009, 12:16 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ericjut's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: WA
Posts: 1,774
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Sorry, but saying that Sony doubled their low-light performance over last year's model is a stretching it a little, and I've owned both models and even did comparison between the two (see the XR500V).

IMO, the XR500V gen is definitely the best consumer cam I've used in low-light condition. Though, I have to say my 5DmkII (full frame sensor) with a f1.4 lens beats it by a mile and I'm not exaggerating. New tech will only get you so far... in the end, you need enough light to get to the sensor, and a larger sensor size definitely helps with that.
ericjut is offline  
post #14 of 14 Old 11-04-2009, 01:10 PM
Advanced Member
 
Tom Gull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 936
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericjut View Post

Sorry, but saying that Sony doubled their low-light performance over last year's model is a stretching it a little, and I've owned both models and even did comparison between the two (see the XR500V).

IMO, the XR500V gen is definitely the best consumer cam I've used in low-light condition. Though, I have to say my 5DmkII (full frame sensor) with a f1.4 lens beats it by a mile and I'm not exaggerating. New tech will only get you so far... in the end, you need enough light to get to the sensor, and a larger sensor size definitely helps with that.

Sony's statement, not mine . I think it was "low-light sensitivity" as in twice as many hits on the sensor at the same level of light. So that still implies a sensor twice that size (theirs or anyone else's) could gather the same number of hits.

The most visible indicator of this seems to be much lower noise as opposed to brighter images. But some individuals have reported they step down the automatic exposure now in bright light because the default setting is a little too sensitive.
Tom Gull is offline  
Reply Camcorders

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off