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    1. #1
      Jahness's Avatar
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      Arrow Dissecting Digital Camcorders


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      Dissecting Digital Camcorders

      Exclusive from:
      Richard Baguley

      You almost can't go anywhere without someone bringing along a camcorder. And it's easy to understand why: These devices allow you to make a permanent record of big and small events in your life, from family get-togethers to weddings and vacations.

      But recently camcorders have changed. They now record video digitally, creating lasting images that look good enough for network TV. In fact, today it's hard to find the analog camcorders of yesteryear.

      And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Digital camcorders are decidedly more flexible. You can easily transmit the video they capture to a personal computer for manipulation. Or you can burn the video to DVD, which lasts longer than analog tapes.

      But which type of digital camcorder should you choose? Not surprisingly, there are about as many ways of recording digital video as there are personal computing technologies. With the holidays right around the corner, here's a guide to the different types of digital camcorders.
      Digital Videotape

      Cost: From $300

      Pros: Affordable; wide range of options

      Cons: Searching the captured video can be a pain


      The most common type of camcorder today uses traditional magnetic tape to store video. But unlike your aging VHS video recorder (or the Video8 Handycam you bought five years ago), they do it digitally, so the sound and video are of better quality.

      There are three major types: MiniDV, MicroMV, and Digital8. MiniDV camcorders use matchbox-size digital videotapes to store 60 or 90 minutes of sound and video. They range in price from $300 for basic models such as the JVC GR-D250 to many thousands of dollars for professional models like the Canon XL2, which pros have even used to make movies.

      Many models in the $400-and-up price range can also double as digital cameras, storing still images on a flash memory card. However, the results are usually not as good as a dedicated still camera, so don't assume you can leave your digital camera at home.

      The MicroMV and Digital8 formats were created by Sony, but both are now falling out of favor. MicroMV camcorders like the tiny, $1000 Sony DCR-IP1 use a tape the size of a matchbook, which means the camcorders can be smaller, but the video quality is not as good as that of MiniDV models. Digital8 models like the $300 DCR-TRV280 are fairly similar to MiniDV--the tapes are the same size, and the devices can connect to a PC in the same way, via FireWire/I.Link.

      The image quality you get from these digital-tape camcorders is a lot better than what you used to see from their older analog cousins, and you can copy the digital video to a PC for editing and burning to DVD with ease. But the fact that you're using a tape means finding a particular scene can be a real pain. It's rather like trying to find a music track on an old-fashioned audiotape--fast forward, check where you are, fast forward again, and repeat until you find it. And you always run the risk of rewinding to watch a clip, then inadvertently overwriting your video when you start recording again.
      DVD

      Cost: From $600

      Upside: DVDs used can be viewed with most set-top DVD players

      Downside: More expensive than MiniDV camcorders; video is even more difficult to edit


      Camcorders like the $750 Canon DC10 and the $1000 Sony Handycam DCR-DVD403 that record straight to DVD are becoming increasingly popular for one reason: You can record to DVD, then pop the disc into most set-top players and watch it. And like commercial DVDs, you can fast forward and skip scenes with the touch of a button. Most DVD camcorders even create a menu, allowing you to choose your favorite scenes more easily.

      But there are a couple of caveats. The small, 8-centimeter DVDs that these camcorders use can only hold 30 minutes of video. And before you can view the disc in a set-top DVD player, you have to run through a process called "finishing," which can take a few minutes and essentially "locks" the disc so you can't record anything more on it.

      DVD camcorders are also more expensive than equivalent MiniDV camcorders, and they make it more difficult to edit video after you've shot it. This means that if you want to take all the video you've shot and put only the good parts on another DVD, it's more awkward with a DVD camcorder than a MiniDV model.
      Flash Memory

      Cost: $100 and up

      Upside: Some are very cheap; others are well-suited for extreme sports fans

      Downside: Video quality is lousy


      Using the same memory cards as digital cameras, camcorders such as the $100 Aiptek Pocket DV4500 and the $600 Samsung SC-X105L record video without any moving parts. The Samsung is also waterproof and has an external camera pod that you can attach to a helmet so you can record adventures such as skydiving (something that you should never try with a MiniDV or DVD model).

      Just for fun, there's even a single-use, flash-memory-based camcorder. Buy the CVS camcorder for just $30, shoot up to 20 minutes of video, then take it back to the pharmacy, and CVS will put your video on DVD. As you might imagine, the video quality leaves a lot to be desired, but it's cheap and could make sense in situations where you might be afraid to take an expensive camcorder.

      Overall, flash camcorder technology is still rather new. The video these camcorders produce is of lower resolution and quality than that captured by MiniDV and DVD models. But this is changing. New models such as the $1000 Panasonic SV-AV100 record video that is nearly as good as a MiniDV camcorder, but they are expensive.
      Hard Drive

      Cost: $800 to $1000

      Upside: Can hold a lot of video that's easy to edit and copy

      Downside: Relatively expensive; unproven technology


      The new kids on the camcorder block use a hard drive instead of a tape, DVD, or memory card. Models such as the $800 JVC Everio GZ-MG30 employ the same hard drives that high-capacity music players like the IPod use. This means they can store a lot of video. The GZ-MG30, for instance, has a built-in 30GB hard drive that can hold up to 10 hours of video. It's enough for even the most ardent video users to record what they want without ever changing tapes. And editing the video is a breeze: Just connect the camcorder to a PC via the USB port and you can copy video to the PC's hard drive with a couple of mouse clicks. Now you're ready for editing and burning DVDs.

      Richard Baguley is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer who takes videos of his dog, Fester. He also blogs about camcorders and digital video for Camcorderinfo.com.

      http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...1740&ncid=1729
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    2. #2
      AfroNinpo's Avatar
      AfroNinpo is offline Media Assassin!

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      Uhuru, sista Jahness...I have a Sony HVR-A1U MiniHDV Cam. I'm looking for an inexpensive camera that I can reccomend to one of my business partners that will match well in post. My camera is 1 chip, so I'm not really worried about color depth, just picture quality. What do you suggest?
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    3. #3
      Jahness's Avatar
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      Arrow


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      Quote Originally Posted by AfroNinpo
      Uhuru, sista Jahness...I have a Sony HVR-A1U MiniHDV Cam. I'm looking for an inexpensive camera that I can reccomend to one of my business partners that will match well in post. My camera is 1 chip, so I'm not really worried about color depth, just picture quality. What do you suggest?

      Greetings AfroNinpo!

      Welcome to the discussion. What price range are you looking at? What features is a must for you to have, and do you also want a MiniHDV similar to yours or do you want a MiniDV.

      Depending on what features matters most to your friend will ultimately decides what price he will ahve to pay on average for a decent Camcorder.

      Get back to me with the info so we can see what we can come up with.

      Stay Blessed!
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
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      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    4. #4
      AfroNinpo's Avatar
      AfroNinpo is offline Media Assassin!

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      The only three requirements are that it is atleast a CCD camera (3 chip is preferred, but not required), it shoots on MiniDV's, and that it has a 16X9 option.

      As far as price range...he's looking to spend a G or less.

      Thanks for your input! B&H always try to sell me the most expensive camera in their warehouse, so another opinion is definately appreciated!

      UHURU!


      By the way, what is your video background?
      Nuk Khapera Heru'ur
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    5. #5
      Savage's Avatar
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      Ah, B&H, they have the worst prices and like all the electronic discount dealers are run by a bunch of zionist jews. Some of the others have much better prices. I don;'t know if they still make it, but the Sony TRV-950 was a good 3-chip camera with a 4" LCD and lots of features, incl bluetooth. It was just around a grand. Note that most of these less miniDV cameras thathave a 16x9 option do so by masking the image, so you don't get maximum use of the CCD (chip) as one like the Canon XL2 that is native 16x9.

      It'll have to be miniDV if you're looking to spend around a G. The low end HDV cameras I haven't been at all impressed with. How do you like yours? What are you editing on? The sony ones doen't have any room in the MPEG compression for error control like the new JVC ProHD format does (which is just a 24fps HDV with a better compression scheme than what Sony is using).

    6. #6
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      About My Cam


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      My HVR-A1U is great! My only complaint about it is the shotgun mic that comes with it. The picture quality is quite nice and it matches very well with other HD cams. I wish I could have afforded the 3-chip Z1U, but I didn't have 5 grand to spend. The smaller HDV cam under mine (can't think of the model number) is pretty whack and doesn't shoot in 1080i or true 16x9, but mine does! I like it a lot. Oh, and I'm editing on FCP HD.
      Nuk Khapera Heru'ur
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    7. #7
      Savage's Avatar
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      That sounds good. Most of the shotgun mics that come with cameras are weak. But don't get suckered into buying a real expensive Sennheiser, when I've found for cheaper cameras with only a minijack in for audio, the ATR-55 by Audio Technica gives Sennheiser quality at a fraction of the price. If an XLR connected mic is more to your liking, both Azden and Audio-Technica make inexpensive ones. Granted the Senn K6/ME66 is top-notch sound, but it's also around 400 bucks.

      I use FCP, too. Just got version 5. Main difference is multi-angle editing now offered. Just learned it yesterday and it's pretty hot. Some other small improvements but that's the main thing that FCP HD doesn't have. When you're friend is ready to make the purchase, try beachcamera.com and buydig.com. They sell real US warranty stuff for a cheap price. I've gotten real good deals on the Panasonic DVX-100A(most of the discount jew electronics places in NYC that have the really really cheap prices are selling grey market goods).

      Waiting to see the new Panasonic HVX-200 camera on the streets http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/hvxupdate/
      before I decide which way to goin the future with either an HDV or true HD.

      How have you found the rendering/conforming times to be working with HDV?

    8. #8
      AfroNinpo's Avatar
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      Unfortunately, my G5 is only running on 512. I'm planning to purchase a 1G card within the next couple of weeks. But even though I'm running low RAM, the two G5 processors are still pretty quick! Any tips on decreasing render times? Also, do you know Live Type??? I'm a novice and I'm sick of altering the templates.
      Nuk Khapera Heru'ur
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    9. #9
      Savage's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by AfroNinpo
      Unfortunately, my G5 is only running on 512. I'm planning to purchase a 1G card within the next couple of weeks. But even though I'm running low RAM, the two G5 processors are still pretty quick! Any tips on decreasing render times? Also, do you know Live Type??? I'm a novice and I'm sick of altering the templates.
      Wow, I'm surprised you can even run HDV footage with that little RAM. You would be best off upgrading to 2GB total if you can afford it from everything I've read about HDV. Remember with the G5, RAM needs to be in matched pairs to get full advantage of the 400 MhZ bus. The best source for low price, good quality ram for Macs that I've found is www.otherworldcomputing.com
      Adding RAM will definately speed up the rendering. As for Livetype, I don't mess with it much beyond the templates myself. I do mainly documentary work so fancy titles aren't all that needed. FCP, Pro Tools and DVD Studio Pro are the main applications I deal with.

    10. #10
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      Documentaries??


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      Quote Originally Posted by Savage
      Wow, I'm surprised you can even run HDV footage with that little RAM. You would be best off upgrading to 2GB total if you can afford it from everything I've read about HDV. Remember with the G5, RAM needs to be in matched pairs to get full advantage of the 400 MhZ bus. The best source for low price, good quality ram for Macs that I've found is www.otherworldcomputing.com
      Adding RAM will definately speed up the rendering. As for Livetype, I don't mess with it much beyond the templates myself. I do mainly documentary work so fancy titles aren't all that needed. FCP, Pro Tools and DVD Studio Pro are the main applications I deal with.

      Wow! Documentaries are my thing too! What kinds of things are you doing/have you done?
      Nuk Khapera Heru'ur
      The Greatest Revenge Is MASSIVE Success!

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