video camera recommendations

I’m quickly outgrowing my Sony Mavica digital camera. It has a video feature, but only holds about 3 minutes of footage the entire mini disk. There is no memory upgrade available on this camera.

So now I’m now looking for a decent digital video camera (probably digital TAPE, not dvd, since the tape holds more data and is cheaper as well), and would like to get suggestions from those who may have recently bought one and can give me price and quality feedback. I run winXP on my laptop, which is about 1 year old, and I will also need to buy the hardware (external) for uploading the videos to my laptop, and also editing software. Thanks all!:smiley:

Hi, that’s an open-ended question without a budget… I mean, for all your high definition slow-mo 16x9 needs a PanasonicHVX200 and a MacG5 with Avid studio would work well if you happen to have um, US$15,000 lying around :slight_smile:

Are there any specific models you’ve got your eye on yet?

Any Pana, Canon or Sony will be great, it depends what you’re after. If you get a half good software package you shouldn’t need any of the gimmicky post process “features” like, “sepia” or “mosaic”. One question you might wanna ask yourself is “do I want good night vision and/or good low light performance?”. Sony generally wins for nightvision (but seriously, no night vision will give a professional look - no offense to Miss Hilton intended).

For good low light (and improved overall picture) you want the CCD(s) to be as large as possible… 1/6" is pretty normal for a crappy little Sony handycam whereas 1/2" will give a luxurious broadcast quality feel every time, I’m guessing you’ll be aiming for 1/4" or bigger.

Also, are you the sorta guy who likes to have control over every aspect of the picture or are you more a “throw it on auto, point and shoot” type where perhaps just a small easy to carry DV cam will do fine?

note for if you’re interested in knowing more about CCDs:

That is some great, helpful info! While I’m surly not about to spend $15k, or even $1,000 on a videocam, I am looking at something in the $300-500 bracket. I know that won’t buy the best equipment, but I really only need to shoot some basic stuff so I can watch my progress and even use it as a learning tool; I have identified a few fundemental mistakes simply by reviewing tapes of my riding. And it seems that what really can make or break a great looking video, is the editing and music bed, even if the video isn’t of “Cinematic” quality.

If your laptop has firewire, or i-link or ieee1394 (pretty much the same thing) ports, then all you need to upload videos to the laptop from a dv cam is a firewire cable and some video editing software.

Hardware-wise, unless you’re super rich and want to record HD video, you want something that takes a mini-dv tape. Make sure it has a firewire or i-link output (most do). You might want analogue input too, for use with an external helmet camera.

Which camera you get depends very much on how much you want to spend and how heavy you want it to be. Generally bigger / more expensive cameras will give better quality, with the obvious downside being that people with big cameras tend not to bring them riding.

If you’ve got tons of money to throw around, Premiere is the cheapest pro software. It costs lots and lots though. There are about a zillion cheaper or free bits of software that do very basic editing (even Windows Movie Maker if you’re really stuck, or just want to see if the camera works).

One way to find out what you want is to do a film course at your local adult education college or whatever they call it there. That has the added bonus of teaching you a bit about how to point the camera, setup shots etc. which will do more for the quality of your films than any expensive piece of equipment, and you’ll get to play with the software and hardware before you buy something.


I personally have a Sony DCR-TRV460. It is a couple of years old but it was in your price range, maybe take a look at the current model of it. A few of the nice features it has is that it can record video to the Digital8 tapes or a Sony memory stick, stills (not super quality) are saved to the memory card either durring tape recording or independently, and the night shot works pretty well. It is a little large for some people’s taste but works well for me.

I’d say mini-dv is better than digital8 because it’s more standard, it’s what most other people will have if you ever want to swap tapes, and less likely to stop being supported, it’s also smaller, so cameras are smaller. There’s not masses of difference in cost now. I’ve got a Sony MiniDV camera that is similar to that at work, it’s nice, although like you say not as tiny as some of the cameras out there.


I HATE THE SONY MAVICA CAMERA! It was expensive, poor in anything less than bright light, and often lost data on the floppy disk.

Thanks for letting get that out. Good luck with you next camera.

I concur. I am now filming in HDV which also still uses these tapes.

I’m a big fan of Sony, they have a very user-friendly interface.

ask around at (the of the video world)

Did you “change” my name to “Terrible” for a particular reason? (as in your quote above) Did my post(s) offend you in some way? Or was it really meant to descibe your opinion (which is pretty clear) of the Sony Mavica? Just curious.:slight_smile:

Ha! It took me a minute to figure out what happened.

Sorry, the spelling checker program thought ‘terrybigwheel’ should be correctly spelled ‘terrible’. I did not even notice that I let that happen.

You are great, and I’m sloppy. :slight_smile:

I have a Canon Optura 40, which is a higher-end point and shoot camera (as far as I know. Maybe I’m wrong)

It’s really nice for me, the only problem is the microphone, which is somewhat bad. It’s hard to get a good microphone on a low end camera though, and it has a shoe for a shotgun mic, so you could presumably put a nice microphone on it.

my panasonic is good for the cash $350-ish and a pv-gs39.
look here. they have tons of reviews and stuff, including a “best for under $X” page which is what i used to find mine. it’s the best under $400.