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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have spent two days on the web trying to resolve this question:


What is the difference in quality, if any, between video captured by a digital camera and a standard definition camcorder?


I have calculated that my digital camera (Canon A720IS) will capture 30 fps to 640X480 resolution at close to 9Mbps. Looking at the SD camcorder specs (such as are available) this is a similar rate to the ultra-high quality recording.


The camcorder compress to MPEG-2, my digital camera to AVI (motion JPEG + audio). I am not sure how this affect the outcome. Nor for that matter, am I sure that my calculations above are valid.


My old Hi8 has just died and I am thinking of replacing it but I do not want to throw out money if the results will be no different to what I already have.
 

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based on the codec quality alone, 9Mbps at MPEG2 will be better than MJPEG when the bit rate is the same.


How much money are you looking to spend? HD capable Digital still cameras costing under $400 will give you significantly better looking videos than your Hi8 camcorder although the low light capabilities except for the Panasonic LX3(If you can find it for under $400) isn't as good as traditional HD camcorders. The cheapest good traditional HD camcorder is the Sanyo FH1 and it costs only $400.
 

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Thanks .


I am totally open to suggestions. Just to clarify, I have been using my Hi8 sparingly to record martial arts training and now also fencing bouts. The quality of the video viewed on a cathode ray tube in standard def was fine even for fencing which has much faster movements particularly of the blade.


I was wandering about in the local Staples and saw that the camcorders have come down in both size and price for the SD version.


I briefly pondered getting a mini-DV but decided against it because I do not have a Firewire or the patience to download hours of tape. The convenience of a flash drive, compression notwithstanding is just too much.


I was interested in the new JVC GZ-MS230 8GB Flash/SD Camcorders but cannot find much about them:


Additional problem with these is that there seem to be two versions with exactly the same numbers - a HD and a SD version.


Now I am wondering if one of the Flip or Kodak pocket jobs would do:


I have not considered getting another digital still camera mainly through ignorance as shown in my original query.


To summarize, I cannot justify spending much more than $250 but if the JVCs linked above could be shown to be a significant improvement over my still camera I was going to spend the $330.
 

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If your really willing to spend around 330 for quality than you should consider the Sanyo HD1010 for $320 at B&H. It records to 1080 60i, 1080 30p and 720 60p. 720 60p is perfect for high speed action like martial arts. Cheaper digicams has 720 60p as well but the low light capabilities and the codec quality isn't as good as the Sanyo HD1010.
 

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I have a few of the small camcorders, Kodak Zi8, Vado HD and Flip Ultra HD, for the prices and the video quality they can be a great choice.


I also have a few digital still camera's that shoot HD video but I tend to like the video better from my mini camcorders.


The Vado HD can be had for $99.00 last time I checked, the Zi8 around $150.00 and the Ultra HD for a few dollars more.


With any of the mini camcorders I mentioned, when used on a tripod the video quality can be very impressive.


If your wanting SD and not HD the Vado HD and the Kodak Zi8 can be set to shoot in non-HD modes.


Go on YouTube or Vimeo and do a search for sample footage.


Cheers

Davyo
 

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The only advantage that those has are perhaps the smaller sizes. You won't get the same quality that you get out of the HD1010.
 

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Camcorders tend to excel on a few features over digital cameras. Faster focus. Better stabilization (not to imply good stabilization). Larger zoom range. Faster shutter for less motion blur. Manual controls while recording. Digital cameras can take higher MP still images. And can have a bit more detail (higher bitrate) in a favorable wind. But that's not always enough to warrant the limitations.


I've got a 10MP digital camera that takes 720p video. I all but leave it at home 99% of the time. My 1080p60 camcorder takes amazing 8MP still images. While managing to focus (however slowly) in low light. And a few other extras that make it easier to frame the shot you want in any conditions. About all that the digital camera does now is let me take pictures while the camcorder is recording video on a tripod.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 /forum/post/18142524


Camcorders tend to excel on a few features over digital cameras.

Absolutely. They were built for video.

Quote:
Digital cameras can take higher MP still images.

It isn't the megapixels that matter, it's the quality of the image. I've yet to see any camcorder that can produce what I would consider "acceptable" still images. I'm speaking purely from the DSLR standpoint.

Quote:
I've got a 10MP digital camera that takes 720p video. I all but leave it at home 99% of the time. My 1080p60 camcorder takes amazing 8MP still images.

I'm the opposite, but I'm also a still image kind of guy. I'd much rather have fantastic still images than so-so video. Still waiting for a video equipped DSLR to arrive (one without so many issues). In the meantime, I just have to lug both the DSLR and camcorder along wherever I go.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NVboy /forum/post/18145499


It isn't the megapixels that matter, it's the quality of the image. I've yet to see any camcorder that can produce what I would consider "acceptable" still images. I'm speaking purely from the DSLR standpoint.


I'm the opposite, but I'm also a still image kind of guy. I'd much rather have fantastic still images than so-so video. Still waiting for a video equipped DSLR to arrive (one without so many issues). In the meantime, I just have to lug both the DSLR and camcorder along wherever I go.

Agreed.


On the whole, still cameras can't compete with video cameras for general usability in most consumer needs (please don't bother posting a link to a vimeo video by some guy that made a great looking indy film with his such and such still cam I'm talking about regular usage by consumers.)


At the same time, no video camera can touch the capabilities of a decent still cam for taking stills. You can make a tradeoff of one or the other for the convenience of only having to carry one, but don't delude yourself into thinking there aren't any tradeoffs.


-Suntan
 

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There are still cameras that takes stunning video quality like the Canon 7D DSLR, but it's a far more manual operation and without many of the usability features that are important to making quality video in the hands of a typical consumer.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 /forum/post/18142524


I've got a 10MP digital camera that takes 720p video. I all but leave it at home 99% of the time. My 1080p60 camcorder takes amazing 8MP still images. While managing to focus (however slowly) in low light. And a few other extras that make it easier to frame the shot you want in any conditions. About all that the digital camera does now is let me take pictures while the camcorder is recording video on a tripod.

I work the same way. I have a Sony CX500V which has a raw sensor count of something like 6.4MP but supposedly a higher effective rate due to the orientation of the pixels on the sensor. I use the 9MP 16:9 still format. Someone on a different thread was looking at this cam and asking about stills so I put together a quick video of stills taken with that camcorder. I mostly view pictures on 1920 x 1280 TVs or monitors, printing relatively few. A comment was left on the YouTube page from someone who also has that cam, and he noted that 8" x 10" printouts look great as far as he's concerned. I know some people print in much larger formats.


Here's the video URL showing examples of stills from the camcorder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPJo7Pt2KZY
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernhtp /forum/post/18145877


There are still cameras that takes stunning video quality like the Canon 7D DSLR, but it's a far more manual operation and without many of the usability features that are important to making quality video in the hands of a typical consumer.

The 7D does offer some great video, albeit in the hands (better yet-on the tripod) of someone who knows how to get it. Oddly enough, the problems with the 7D lie with the still photo capabilities of the camera. Lots of problems being reported all over the place. I'm still waiting to see if anything can be done by Canon to address these problems, otherwise I probably would have bought one by now.


One of the biggest negatives with the 7D and your average consumer is that the two don't mix. Your typical camcorder usually has a stupid mode that allows anyone to grab it, shoot some footage & call it good. The 7D is far from being that way, which is just fine since it is not in the price range in which the typical consumer will be shopping. Still, if the average consumer gets a nice refund from the feds & blows it on a 7D + glass, they're bound to find only dismay when trying to use it like their old camcorder.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Gull /forum/post/18146842


Here's the video URL showing examples of stills from the camcorder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPJo7Pt2KZY

I admit, although I have the XR500v, I've yet to take a still with it (although I think it has taken a few on its own...) by chance would you want to post some of the actual pictures out of that youtube montage? The youtube-ification of it never does any justice to picture quality.


Perhaps some of the people shots or animal shots at the end as those are easier to compare (most people don't have a whole lot of model train shots in their portfolios.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_7 /forum/post/18142524


My 1080p60 camcorder takes amazing 8MP still images.

Any to share?


-Suntan
 

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I guess to be fair, the Z1085-IS I have does take a nice picture in direct sunlight on a tripod. But once you get into overcast conditions it's almost worthless. Never achieves focus, the crisp-ness of the images goes to pot and you're lucky to get a 300px craigslist add out of a 10MP still image. But in good light with a subject matter that never moves it can out perform the camcorder. Factor in that such good light is outdoors and daylight only where I live, and that it's a windy region and nothing is ever still enough to use that device in that way. If it's not the subject matter blowing in the wind, it's the tripod / shooter getting pushed around a bit. 5x zoom and optical stabilization only does so much. And it's 720p video is way grainier than the 8MP stills or 1080p video of the camcorder.


I've got one still shot of my Dog in front of the porch at night with a single 100W light bulb illuminating the whole thing. It came out pretty amazing, but it's soo buried in my archives right now. So here's one that's hand held and for the most part full auto from the Sanyo FH1 at Mardis Gras in New Orleans. I probably used auto exposure lock to get the right light balance and manually set it to ISO 50, but other than that full auto and hand held.


http://home.earthlink.net/~shadow_7/sany1204.jpg



This was actually my first time using auto exposure lock. There was just too many varieties of conditions and not enough hours in a day to manually set shutter and aperture for each shot. Normally I loathe the auto settings, but in this instance they proved invaluable as a time management asset.


Now obviously this is a low end consumer argument. The canon 5D mk II and 7D will likely smoke a $400 camcorder. Even the GH1 would likely smoke it. But for 25% or less of those costs, my craigslist ads have never looked so good.
 

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No disrespect Shadow, but personally, I would hardly call this shot "amazing"...


Some of the issues I'm seeing:

1. Major purple fringing (see top right corner)

2. Out of focus corners (indicative of a medicre lens).

3. Major CR issues (overexposed skies and ground, underexposed tree trunk and front of boat).

4. Undersaturation (picture is somewhat washed out)

5. Unwanted lens flare showing the shutter blade structure.


This is the quality I expect from a $100 P&S camera, and most $200-$300 cameras should be able to blow this out of the water quality-wise so to speak.


Bottom line, while some hybrid units are narrowing the gap between photo and video PQ, we're still a few ways away from having a unit that can do both good quality photos and videos, whether it's from the camera or the camcorder side.
 

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Ah, you beat me to it.


Yes, it is always interesting to see how a comment like..

Quote:
My 1080p60 camcorder takes amazing 8MP still images.

...turns into...

Quote:
But for 25% or less of those costs, my craigslist ads have never looked so good.

...when a person is asked to actually post proof of their assertions. Your more forgiving than I am, cause that shot is just plain terrible. Digital still cameras from a decade ago were better than the quality of that shot.


Anyway, Tom I would still be interested to see some of the actual jpegs from your CX500, if you have time to post them. I can't think that Shadow's shot is representitive of what a decent vid cam can do, as poor as they are, they can't all be that bad.


-Suntan
 

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The recently announced Canon T2i (550D) is supposed to deliver a marked improvement in video on a DSLR camera.


The Panasonic GH1 supposedly does already.


I have my doubts though. I currently have the Canon T1i and Canon HF10. Video is way better on the camcorder. Not a bit surprise, huh?


I would still love to find a one camera solution, but what I have seen makes me think it is not going to happen real soon, or it will cost really big dollars.
 

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I own a XR500V and I have experience trying to take pictures on family trips, and I can safely say that the PQ of the 2009 Sony camcorder is sub-par to $300 P&S cameras. In particular, it suffers from the same undersaturation and CR issues that Shadow's Sanyo model has, though it's got better optics, so it doesn't have the other issues.


I have high hopes for the new crops of Sony P&S cameras, like the H5V, to provide a good balance between still and video PQ, but I suspect I'll be disappointed. :/ We'll know next month either way.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by droht /forum/post/18153583


The recently announced Canon T2i (550D) is supposed to deliver a marked improvement in video on a DSLR camera.


The Panasonic GH1 supposedly does already.


I have my doubts though. I currently have the Canon T1i and Canon HF10. Video is way better on the camcorder. Not a bit surprise, huh?


I would still love to find a one camera solution, but what I have seen makes me think it is not going to happen real soon, or it will cost really big dollars.

I own a 5DmkII for the last year, and I can safely say that a DSLR isn't a good replacement for a consumer cam for P&S video shooting.
 
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