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Video Camera advice - not diving

371 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  12882
I am after a reasonable video camera for not too much money (say £400) for my wife's impending birthday, does anyone have any advice about what sort / make I should be looking at. I will do the editting (well she will) on the PC but that is about the only limitation I can think of.

I suspect that I will be shot if it turns up with a waterproof case so that is not a requirement.

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HD stuff is rather cool, but unless you have a fast PC with a large hard disk it becomes very tedious to edit.

Another big decision is what format - SD cards and MiniDV are the two I'd look at. MiniDV tapes are relatively cheap, record for 60min short play or 90min long play, and are a pretty good quality. If your PC has a firewire (iee1394) port you can easily transfer stuff. They work pretty well, and if you want to take a lot of video you can just buy more tapes.

SD cards compress stuff more, so they're marginally more difficult to work with from that respect (depends on software) - but you can skip around your videos, and delete some stuff to make room, rather than having to record over from the start (and possibly go over a clip you wanted to keep). The main reason I went for SD cards is that I often video plays, so being able to record continuously for more than 90min was helpful.
Thanks for that - I didn't realise that you could get HD video cameras already (I truely am a luddite) - I guess this will mean we will need to get a colour TV as well ;)

Fortunately we got a new PC earlier this year which is (I think anyway) pretty whizzy so shuld handle HD OK.
You can also get HD camcorders with built in hard disk drives too, so you can record normally about 60-80Gb straight onto them.
If you do look at HD, then I think the Canon HF20/HF200 do have a cheap (£150ish) underwater case made by Canon, so you could get that later. I have the previous version of that camera (HF100) and it works very well for most stuff.

But, bare in mind - when decompressed, the full HD video is 150Gb/hr to edit. That's what I mean by a lot of disk space! It's great for short clips, less so if you want to put together something long. (You can also record stuff using standard definition using the same camera).

Also consider 2nd hand cameras - as people are updating to HD, you could get a really good quality SD camera second hand, I'd guess.

As well as HD camcorders, you can get some that record straight onto mini DVDs - but they've always seemed like a bad idea to me; you can't record for long, and the media is expensive.

One other difference between tape and SD card - tape has some noise (moving the tape) but the SD card is almost completely silent. Probably only noticeable on a few occasions.
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Try grabbing a Canon HV20-30 second hand. They're excellent cameras with lots of manual controls.

Or if you want to use it for underwater purposes too grab a Bonica Snapper HD Camera like I just did. No manual controls to speak of but it shoots in HD and comes with a housing for £350.

Oh and with regards to HD. I'd suggest shoot in HD, then store it on large USB hard drives and downres it for editing unless you really need the HD'ness of it all.
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