Buying a digital video camera

Can someone tell me the basic factors to consider and/or point me to a good website for comparisons? I know nothing about the subject and on a preliminary research trip to that yellow oval-shaped electronics store in Neihu I was overwhelmed by the selection and clueless about the differences. Thanks. is great for video cams.

MT: See the last two posts in this thread for my advice:

Whatever you do, DO NOT get any Sony MICROMV camcorder. I did. I regret it. It has miniature tapes that make the devices so seductively small and cool looking. They litterally fit into your pocket. The tapes record in an MPEG-2 format (basically a DVD format at a much higer data rate). HOWEVER, try finding a computer setup that can caputre the video!!! (1) Sony does not provide a codec for the MICROMV (.mmv) format for the Mac. Thus, sorry Mac users, you can’t caputre or edit. (2) Most of the industry-standard video editing programs on the PC can’t caputre either, and those that can (like Ulead MSP and Pinnacle), can’t write back to the tape for storage. If you want to convert the video to another format like AVI or MOV or whatever, you’ll loose a generation in quality and wait overnight until it is done. Needless to say, I used to work for Ulead and should know a thing about video editing, BUT this product from Sony makes me feel like I’m a dunce all over again. I spent at least 18 hours already trying to get my PC set up to edit a short three mintue clip to send to my parents. What a nightmare! And it isn’t becuase I don’t understand the problem. It is simply because getting the video out of the camera, edited in a decent video editing program, and output to some form of media is a logistical nightmare, requiring a lot of “end-user hacks”. And don’t use the included MovieShaker program from Sony. That is not real video editing. It is buggy, clunky and cute … and doesn’t do much. You should stick with cameas that use the industry-standard MiniDV tapes.

Not to mention that MiniDV tapes go for NT100-150 while MicroMV tapes go for NT400-500. There’s plenty of compact MiniDV camcorders that there’s not that big of a size advantage with MicroMV.

What are you getting the camera for? When considering which to buy, you will want to look for resources that give you information related to equipment that works for the purpose you plan to use the camera for.

Sure, that makes sense. Must rely on resources for the uses I will make of the camera. Well, I was hoping to further my work with national . . . getting sleepy. . . geographic and the discovery channel, and maybe. . . arms getting heavy. . . continue my work shooting freelance news submissions. . . head is getting very heavy. . . in wartorn countries. . . very very sleepy. . . as an embedded journalist, as well as. . . head is heavy. . . shooting lingerie video shows . . . deep deep sleep. . .and. . .must be honest. . . head is VERY heavy. . . shoot baby videos. . . need donuts. . . zzzzzzzzz

:laughing: Cute.

The point being that some folks go in with the idea of making baby videos, just capturing their loved ones on video for personal use . . . or others want something that they can carry around and use quickly . . . some want to tape seminars or the like . . . and others want to make amateur porn they can cobble into quickie VCDs or DVDs to sell on the internet . . . and a few have visions of megakool movies . . . in my experience, salesmen in a lot of the shops will be very friendly and helpful and will try to help you find the right machine for your job . . . unfortunately, a good eighty percent of them will tell you that the right piece of equipment for your needs happens to be the big-ass power monster they keep in the vault in the backroom with the twelve security guards . . . the one that requires yi-wan and a first-born child’s soul just to take a peek . . . there’s a lot of overkill.

A friend of mine does perfectly well for his needs just using the video functions on his still digital camera (he tapes short speeches of students in the classroom and that’s about it). Another needs the best prosumer camera he can get and then he’s stretching its limits for his minifilms.

Decide what you really want the camera for and then check to see what sort of cameras others are using for that purpose and how well they’re getting on with what they’ve got.

Or, you could . . . breathe in . . . breathe out . . . relax . . . :snooze:

Thinking about getting the Sony Handycam pc-105. Anyone have any good or bad comments about this one?

Finally doing further research on the subject. Discovered the following site that has very good explanation of features for a total novice such as myself. … once=true&

Edit: on further consideration, the above does explain the features but that site like most sites discussing cameras is just a sleazy whorehouse with “sponsored” reviews and incessant pushes to sell the crap without actually comparing the cameras. Zdnet is better but I prefer a site that talks $ rather than pounds. actually looks like a good way to compare models too. … 51-0737545

Ok, there’s about a thousand camcorders out there to choose from, but in the US$500-600 price range, the Sony miniDVs seem to be very popular, including the DCRTRV22, which sells for $588. It’s got a Zeiss lens, steady shot, night shot, 2.5 screen, 8 mb memory stick and 10X optical zoom. Obviously one pays more for the Sony name, but it looks like a good camera at a reasonable price.

The JVCGRDV500 and Panasonic PVDC252 seem to be very similar in features and price except for one difference that i noted. The Sony has a 120X digital zoom, the JVC has 300X and the Panasonic has 700x. At first I thought that was a weakness of the Sony, but then I wondered if it is. Somewhere I read that a high powered digital zoom is pretty useless anyway as it will wiggle and distort too much. True?

I have a Sony DCRTRV27 which is very similiar to that except it has a larger 3.5" LCD. Personally I like the larger LCD but it usually adds US$100 for that extra inch.

You heard right. The optical zoom is what really matters, and that’s about 10X on most DV cameras. Above that, it just does a digital resize, which will make it blurry, and you’ll be zoomed in so far that the picture will jump a lot no matter how good your image stabilization is. Optical zoom is the only thing you should worry about.

Leaving town for a week and in a hurry to get the camera. Just tried ordering through, but aaaargh. . . will not ship the Sony camcorder to Taiwan. Don’t know about other brands. I guess I’ll look for the Sony in town when I return.

Just bought the Sony DCRTRV22. Went to three stores in Taipei and they all were asking the same price: more than $100 more than what was asking, but they don’t ship here. I’m very happy with the camera so far. Small, very well designed, seems to have all the necessary features. Admittedly, the picture’s not all that sharp, but overall it seems like a great camera at a reasonable price.

Speaking of DV cameras, I’ve been looking at this SD Unit from Panasonic. Any comments, pros/cons? On the surface, the only real drawback seems to be battery life vs. SD Card size (your battery will run out before your 512MB SD card does). I really like the small size use of SD media.