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Recs for Camcorder

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am looking to buy a mini handheld camcorder primarily to record skiing. Any recs, or ones to avoid? I was thinking of this one:


post #2 of 15
Canon ZR85 is best bang for buck IMO.
post #3 of 15
If you're pinching, stay with the JVC, its a good unit.
If you want great picture quality & vivid color look at the Panasonic 3ccd mini dv camcorders.
PV-GS400, PV-GS200, OR PV-GS120
The 120 is around $500, but no other company offers 3ccd tech. in a consumer model camcorder.
Do a search titled: " Camcorder reviews" on Google.

Other things to consider:
If you have older analog tapes, et al VHS, 8mm or
high 8, some of the newer camcorders offer "analog to digital passthrough, which will convert your old analog videos to digital, allowing you to edit on your computer & ultimately save to DVD's

Hope this helps

post #4 of 15
Sony also make a 3ccd camcorder in their prosumer line.
post #5 of 15
Some still digital cameras have pretty good video capability. The advantage is size and price. Disadvantages can be no zoom available while filming, length limited to 30secs-2 minutes at a time. Worth taking a look at.
post #6 of 15


I have been using the Canon ZR85 for a couple months in snow and all but rain. It is very portable and user friendly. Can't beat Canon optics IMHO. Nice feature lets you hook up digitaly to a dvd recorder and with one remote operate the cam and dvd. Check out http://bhphotovideo.com, very reputable, quick service and good pricing. I have been using them for years. ground delivery from NY to CA in less than a week. Another benefit to the zr85 is a 20x optical zoom. As previous threads have suggested the digital zoom is pretty useless and you want as much optical zoom as you can hold (still). Canon's image stabaliztion also works well. The battery consumption is good even in cold weather with supplied baterry although I carry an additional battery and faster charger than comes on the camcorder. Editing and still photo ability make this a pretty versitile model. I didn't see much cost benefit to the top of the line 90 and wouldn't go lower than the 85 because of features and optical zoom.
post #7 of 15
I bought a refurbished Canon ZR60 from Outpost.com for cheap about a year ago. I think it's pretty similar to the ZR85 with less zoom and no memory card for storing still pics. So far it's done everything I need a camcorder to do for filming skiing.
post #8 of 15
I have the Canon ZR45. Works fine. Optical zoom is good. Does not have good stabilization. (anti shake) I used to have a sony 8mm that was better in that regard. Mini-DV is a great format.
post #9 of 15

JVC camcorders

I had 2 JVC mini-dv camcorders in last two years and they both broke couple of month after warranty expired. Did not abuse them, in fact I did not use them much at all. JVC are cheapest on the market, they produce OK video quality but build quality is not as good, or maybe I was just very unlucky.
post #10 of 15
Panasonic 3 ccd with 1.33 mp stills. Small, aroound $500, and versatile.

Only thing it lacks is >10X optical zoom. Shouldn't be an issue for most.
post #11 of 15
that's a good price, doggy. how's the battery life/consumption?
post #12 of 15
That I don't know, my info is from research, not ownership. I'll be pulling the trigger in the spring.
post #13 of 15
I have owned the Panasonic GS120 with 3CCD 10X opical and 200X digital zoom since June (from Buydig.com). Have had excellent results on the slopes and other places. The battery it comes with is very small and light and will operate the camera for over an hour of non-stop recording. Have done this to record instruction with the camcorder on a tripod. The tapes top-load so it is easy to change tapes and batteries without removing from tripod if necessary. Excellent color and good auto-focus response in my experience. In daylight, the electronic stabilization is adequate, but not as good as some of the Sonys. I have some great skiing video as I shadow other skiers, or capture on the slope. Low light performance is OK, but will result in strange artifacts if image stabilization is on in low light. Zoom is more than adequate and zoom rate is adjustable. Very hard for most people to hand-hold a camera on a zoomed setting to take action shots.

Downloading files to the computer is easy, and drivers are built into Win XP for this camera. Digital video files are huge. I have 4 - 200 GB disks on my computer running in RAID 0 and RAID1 with 1 GB dual PC4000 RAM, and 3.4 Ghz P4 processor. If you don't have a top end computer, you can get by, but will eventually want faster processor and more capacity to edit and render large files. The camera is cheap compared to editing equipment and software.

This camera costs nearly twice what the original poster inquired about, and is probably not what JeanMarie is looking for. The Panasonic uses Leica optics and produces excellent video. I am not familiar with the JVC. My parting shot (MilesB): dont use a digital still camera for motion video and sound; and don't use a DV camera for stills. It can be done, but you won't be satisfied with the results.
post #14 of 15
3 cam tips
Before you shoot anything:

Learn how to manually adjust white-balance. Your video will look MUCH higher quality if you do.

Learn how to manually adjust focus...or run the risk of your camera deciding it would rather focus on the tiny tree branch in the foreground corner rather than Seth flying off a cliff.

Optical zoom is (fairly) useless without a tripod or stable surface.
post #15 of 15
Old School. I beg to differ with your comment about optical zoom being useless without a tripod, with IS and presuming that one is shooting while standing still, some very acceptable images are possible with optical zoom up to 20x. I have'nt converted my tape to jpeg motion but once I do will send you an email attachment if you like.
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