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You can get away with under $200 if you want to John.
Some of the JVC MiniDV camcorders are easy to find at low prices.
I would suggest you continue with tape, do you have any need for High Definition?
Here is just one example
WalMart probably has something on sale right now as well :)
I would recommend sticking with miniDV also, if you plan to edit on your computer. MiniDVs, computers and programs like Premiere Elements speak the same language.
As for brand, I think Sony makes the best lower end cams. They're durable, and they give great low-light performance. Panasonics are pretty good also. You can get great Sony and Panasonic miniDVs for less than $300.
I got a JVC MiniDV (GR-D350) and had really bad problems with smearing. Smearing is where you have a bright point of light against a dark background, and you get vertical streaks of light. See http://www.mintron.com/HTM/Q&A/Htm/Smear%20rejection%20ratio%20and%20measurement.htm
It's a problem with all CCD devices, but I shot some fireworks with the JVC and the smearing was so bad it was virtually unwatcheable. Luckily I bought it at Costco, so I was able to return it and got a Sony (DCR-HC48) instead.
The Sony will still smear, but it seems more tolerant and when it does smear it's not nearly so noticeable.
That was just my personal experience; I'm not sure if it's indicative of everybody, but I thought I'd mention it.
There are also Canon camcorders for under $200
That is my most recent purchase.
Low light quality is important and the more you spend the better the quality will be. If you need just a standard camcorder for home movies any of the low end camcorders will do. I have gotten by with a JVC VHS-C camcorder up until last year, then switched to a JVC MiniDV that I pickup up at WalMart for $175. I recently purchased the Canon above for $199 and it works very well for filming my family, low light and all.
Here is a sample
Just remember that it has lost some quality being converted to WMV.
The original DVD looks much better.
For a Firewire DV Camera - look at Panasonic PV-GS320 or GS500 (Note that I have not used either, but they have good reviews)
We actually liked the PV-GS320 so well we purchased a second one so we had a backup camera and/or a second for two angles.
I gather that the PV GS320 outputs in DV AVI and will work like a dream in PE4?
Thank you for the support
I am looking at buying this Gs320 but want someone to tell me if indeed it does output a DV avi format compatible with PE4. I may not have put my query too obvious. Dont want to do convertions and dont want to use an editing software that is not PE.
Looking at the review in John T Smith's link, the GS320 is indeed a mini DV tape-based camera. That means that it can be hooked up to the computer via FW and the digital data on the mini DV tapes Captured in PE. These will come into the system as DV-AVI files, which is what you want.
Unless I missed something, it should be perfect for editing the materail shot, in PE.
The only negatives that struck me were the lack of manual focus, and that all settings were via menu. Still, if the auto-focus is really good, and the operator takes its operation into consideration, the lack of a manual focus ring should not be a problem.
Well, the Gs500 in the 2nd link I provided does say it has a focus ring
And, since those reviews are not very recent, you may even find a newer model with different features
Thank you for the feedback. I have looked on the web at the handbook and the IEEE lead goes into an S video for monitoring on a TV which is analog. This has a D/A converter then? Also this would not plug into a computer then. The USB appears to output for editing in proprietory software. This is my understanding. The handbook gives the following info:
Mini DV (Consumer-use digital video SD format)
EIA Standard: 525 lines, 60 fields NTSC color signal
Card reader/writer function, USB 2.0 compliant
No copyright protection support
DV input/output terminal (IEEE1394, 4-pin)
S-Video output level:
Y Output: 1.0 Vp-p, 75 ≠
C Output: 0.286 Vp-p, 75 ≠
320k240 pixels (QVGA)
Approx. 6 fps
The owner comments as follows:
"My editing software output them as a mov. file and I always used an online converter to make them avi. for Quicktime viewing. I have found a copy of the handbook online at http://tlc.housing.wisc.edu/docs/video_pvgs320.pdf"
I am not confident that this camera gives a DV AVI outfut to FW.
Any comments will be welcome particularly if someone has used this on PE.
The GS320 works very well (for me) in PE4. It's Firewire and PE will directly import from it, although I find using WinDV more dependable. Filming in very low light occasionally causes a brief auto-focus failure but since I don't do that very often, it has not been much of a limitation for me.
Thanks for that. I saw the RCA plugs and mention of connecting to a TV so assumed it would be analog. What is the file extention any idea? Will any IEEE lead connect the camera to the computer or are they specific for that camera do you know? I am green on this and want to save getting losses by converting all the time or am I wrong? My digital camera outputs in .MOV and PE reads it with no problem. I really was trying to guard agaist having to convert with another program. Any comments? I may be being a little too cautious!
Thank you for the input.
As I do not have that camera, or its stablemates, I am guessing here, but... usually the FW connection on the camera is a 4-pin, non-powered connection. Depending on what your computer had, you might need a 4-pin to 4-pin, or a 4-pin to 6-pin cable. FW cables are *usually* supplied with each camera. Those that also use USB often do NOT supply a USB cable.
The file format from DV mini tape will be DV-AVI and the FW transfer is a direct byte-for-byte electronic transfer - exact # of 1's & 0's in the same exact order. This is one of the beauties of FW transfer/Capture.
Don't worry about being too cautious. Far too many people are NOT. Then, they end up with a kludge of file formats and do have to convert. A DV mini tape is the most universal format and is what most NLE's are based on, a DV-AVI workflow. It is good to ask these questions BEFORE one buys. I wish that more would.
I hope that N9JCR can confirm all that I have stated, as I do not own this camera. Apparently he/she does, so that should be expert user advice.
I believe my camera came with a cable but looking at current specs on at least one web site, it says it only comes with an AV cable. It's a standard cable though so even if not, they are easily obtained. You do need a 1394 (FireWire) socket on your PC, NOT USB!
PE will usually connect to the camera directly, however I will admit it's not consistant - I like many have switched to using WinDV (free!) to capture video. Either way, PE uses the file directly - no conversion required.
WinDV is much more tolerant of other processes (intended or not) on the PC at capture time. Since switching, I never have lost frames whereas when using PE, it happens occasionally.
Thanks for the help everyone. The WinDV tip is appreciated
N75WK KitFox Bob!
N9JCR isn't a tail number, it's my ham radio call sign, however I do fly N606CP occasionally.
Sorry everyone else - way off topic :)