AVS Forum banner
  • Get an exclusive sneak peek into our new project. >>> Click Here
  • Our native mobile app has a new name: Fora Communities. Learn more.

OT, need rec for best solid state camcorder

1862 Views 37 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Mr.Poindexter
meaning can anyone recommend a camcorder, (16"9 preferably) that uses either flash or hard disk to record, not tape or DVD-R.

thx for any pointers.
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
The new Sony DCR-SR100 seems to be the best non-HD unit out there right now. Better PQ than the JVC units according to a good testing review I just read. Records video to mpeg-2 format onto an internal 30GB hard drive, accessable via firewire or USB2. I'm still on the fence about this. Having the larger storage capacity and much faster download time to computer of disk is nice, but you are left with mpeg-2 encoded video, which fundamentally is a higher compression ratio than DV video. From reading the review, it is posisble that the diff in PQ isn't noticible. Then you have the prob of mixing and matching your older DV video files with the newer mpeg2 video files. Maybe that isn't an issue either, but would like to be educated...


Also, check out the home page of www.camcorderinfo.com for latest info about recording format standards.
The Panasonic AG-HVX200 is a HD camcorder with removable proprietary solid state memory. You can always pair up a DV/HDV camcorder with an external firewire camera drive like the FireStore.

P.S. Check http://www.dvinfo.net/conf for higher end camcorder discussions
John, the red one might be a bit much.... though I am sure it is the only cam option that befits the forum definition.

Anyone have one of those Sanyo Xacti HD1s: http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/hd1.html

thanks for the other links.. will study them. I am not worried about MPEG2 vs DV vs MPEG4... that is just one element in a whole chain of things, of which the sum total is what is key. Optics, image stab, etc... are all impt variables.

edit: wjchan... thanks for the dvinfo link... phenomenal site on all things video capture and process. wow.
tzucc, the Red isn't shipping - not even a working prototype so for the next year plus it will be officially vaporware. There are plenty of cameras that easily surpass $20K but it isn't the camera that kills you - it is the accessories. You certainly wouldn't want to put a $6K camera on a $30 photo tripod from WalMart.

FYI, the Panasonic AG-HVX200 that wjchan mentioned is one you have seen - I brought it over to the meet. I just got my hard drive for it but I haven't been able to shoot some righteous footage since I got the hard drive. My wife is dialated and that means I cannot take off for the coast or Yosemite or anything.

What kind of budget are you looking at? HD or SD? There are also lots of miniDV cameras that can shoot to an external hard drive like the Focus Enhancements Firestore series.

Beware of a few things on these little HD camera popping up now - they have displays that are 0.2 megapixel, which means it will be impossible to focus them manually and autofocus isn't perfect - especially at HD resolutions. Now, for the real back breaker - the HD1 in that link will record 21 minutes of HD on a 1GB SD card - sounds really impressive vs. the 60 seconds of HD I can get on a 1GB card with my HVX200. That translates to a 6.35 mbit data rate. For standard definition, that camera records at 640x480, not the full NTSC resolution of 720x480 and based on the 2 hrs per GB claim, that puts SD onto the drive at 1.11 mbit! Even with MPEG4 that sounds pretty low and I seriously doubt they have top notch encoders since it has to be done in real time.
See less See more
I thought Mike Poindexter's camera that he brought to the recent BAAS meeting was the best that I have ever seen, more so than my son's Sony Qualia.

Only downside to it was the cost of the recording data . If I remember correctly Mike told me that not only were they expensive but they had only short recording time.
The HVX200 has 2 "P2" memory slots and the biggest P2 card you'll soon be able to buy is 8GB. At 720p24, two 8GB cards will last about 40 minutes and cost less than a Kaleidescape movie player :)
The 8GB cards are tough to find, but I hear a 16GB card will be coming soon and that might make me switch back to P2 vs. the Firestore for much of the work I plan on doing with it. Still, to get those record times, you need to shoot in 720p24N, not 720p24.

The short recording time from the HVX200 is because it records in 4:2:2 color space at 100mbit in DVCPro HD format. The HDV cameras record onto a miniDV tape, which is much cheaper to use but is limited to 25mbit data rate and when you recompress that the quality suffers quite a bit.

The Qualia 002 is a great camera in the prosumer class - a group of cameras that are consumer oriented but good enough that low budget filmmakers use them for professional use. As they are still in the consumer marketing category, they are bound by the rules for that market - low cost to operate, ability to shoot long periods of time (for videographers and such) and simple to operate. Cameras that are completely pro grade are typically aimed at people who used to shoot with film and a 16 minute cap on recording time is actually a step up from shooting 35mm film. The workflow with P2 is pretty damn nice.

Unfortunately, the HVX200 is a complex camera - sort of like a Canon SLR. You can pick one up and start shooting without knowing a lot but if you want to make the thing really shine you are going to need to know what the hell you are doing. The prosumer units are the same way, but they don't have the options of the HVX200 so they aren't quite as complex. This one has been referred to as a swiss army video camera since it can pretty much do everything. I don't recall the exact number, but I remember reading that with all the frame rate options, progressive vs. interlaced, anamorphic or not, HD or NTSC, etc it has 72 different combinations it could shoot in.

At any rate, if you wanted one, you should be able to record for 40 minutes in 720p24N with the current P2 cards and 80 with the next ones coming out soon. While they are expensive, flash prices are continuing to plummet while speed and capacity keeps going up. When they get fast enough to record the data without a RAID system you should see a major drop in price - figure a couple of years for that, though. The firestore FS-100 hard drive option is about the size of a 3.5" hard drive and will record 100 minutes at any resolution and frame rate you want. They can be daisy chained for uninterrupted recording. One added benefit of P2 cards is the ability to shoot with a pre-record memory. Say you are watching for whales or filming a guy standing on a bridge. You can put it on a tripod and wait until the splat then hit record and not only catch everything from there on, but the previous 7 seconds before you hit the record button (I think it is 7 seconds, but I am not sure). This means you don't burn tape and have the chance of a prime moment pass by while you swap tapes.

The HVX200 is the best camera at its price point and below and in some instances above it as well. It is a swiss army knife and can do pretty much everything, but it isn't for everyone - nothing is.
See less See more
I think I will probably get the HD1... cheap and good enough. It clearly has flaws, but the video clips in good lights that I have downloaded are amazing... far better than my miniDV canon. Far better.

My most important criteria is to make it very easy to carry around. Having the worlds greatest HD camera is not important at all if it is always at home. I want something that is no fuss no muss and I can grab out of the charging dock, knowing it is ready to go at all times.

Much less than perfect HD video is far better than no amount of perfect HD video, and alot better than miniDV.

Besides, I am positive in the next three years, HD compact camcorders will explode in number and value... so why invest big bux now?
I agree with tzucc since I'm a strictly casual with my camcorder use. I really like my HC90 but those HD models sure are tempting, especially seeing as how they are shrinking in size. They certainly tradeoff some quality and features, but the size for a user like me and especially my wife is critical. The HC3 takes another step in that direction and is just about there. If the next model shrinks even further, that'll probably be the one I get.

At this point the sensors in all the consumer and prosumer HD camcorders are not 1080p yet. I'm holding off until 3CCD 1080p HD camcorders come out.
when Ambaralla gets their HD encoding chips designed into HD camcorders, then things will get interesting. Waiting to hear news from them...

I read their press release...something about 1W for HD encoding at some high bit rate. Using H.264 I think. Just 1W... amazing. Think about a 200W PC that can't do it in real time.
Too bad they don't have variable frame rate as a standard feature in camcorders (yet??). Check out these clips that were overcranked and then brought down to give a nice slo-mo effect. It was shot in 720p60 and then slowed down to 720p24:

The video has been resized to 1/4HD resolution to make it easier to download.
great demo video... I can totally see the benefits of higher frame rate... would be a blast to make slomo movies like these. Be nice if there was some interframe interpreter to help you do better slomo with existing gear.
It would be VERY processor intensive to have inter frame interpretation but you are back to guesswork by a computer with that. It would be far simpler to just record at that high frame rate. One could just as easily say that we could use high end scaling to convert NTSC to HDTV but we all know that isn't what we really want.

That Sanyo Xacti HD1 looks pretty cool - very promising for home movie use and a much better workflow for entry level editing programs like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. SD cards are cheap and at the rates they compress it should provide sufficient storage for most people without getting out of control. Too bad it isn't out now - I could have given one to my mother for Mother's Day.
MG, can you chime in with the compute problem for interframe interpolation?

Poindexter, the HD1 is certainly available even weeks ago... many units have shipped. YOu can read user reviews on the web all over the place. Are you suggesting it's not shipping yet?
I haven't seen it here in any stores and I didn't realize it has been shipping. To be truthful, I have not kept up with cameras in that price point and hadn't heard of that unit until I read this thread. I had a whole laundry list of things I wanted in my next camcorder and when the HVX came out, it covered all but one (interchangeable lenses) and I figured that was good enough for me. There is just too much happening in the world to stay informed in every aspect of A/V gear unless you devote your life to reading about what is coming out and not with using what you have.
No kidding. A veritable fire hose, at full blast.
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
Not open for further replies.