Any good digital camcorders out there? Some of my wishes are: 1. No moving parts (no motors, gears, stuff like that) 2. Store movie on SD card, but will consider other memory cards 3. Use AA batteries 4. No CMOS optic sensors 5. Record sound also
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Barry, you said "good" so this probably won't work for you, but most digital cameras take okay quality video and audio. My first digicam could take 15 seconds of video, and the digicam I got a few years ago can record indefinitely I believe, and has much higher quality video than the first. By now I'm willing to bet they are probably half the quality of normal camcorders. Do you have any interest in a camera that can just take decent video? Might be smaller and lighter.
From what I understand there's a bit of a war going on in storage formats for digital camcorders, might complicate comparisons in a search for a true digital camcorder.
Believe it or not. I told my daughter's $77 Digital Camera Empress from Fry's hiking with me. Instead of my $3000 Nikon Digital Camera or my wife's $300 Panasonic Digital Camera.
The $77 DCamera uses two AA, in which I replaced with my Lithium AA. My wife's DC uses a rechargeable Cartridge. The $3000 Nikon doesn't do Video and too HEAVY.
Plus, I wouldn't cry if I dropped, stepped on, Lost and smashed my daughter's Digital Camera.
You cannot really go wrong with any Digital Camera nowadays. Just don't buy at a pawn shop, because those are really the older generation cameras. Anything that is over 5MP is well more than enough for what you need and is of the generation that has no discerning quality differences.
I like the idea of a digital camera in movie mode. I just wanted something better than my present Sony that only does 15s clips and NO audio <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />.
Was the “empress” camera Imager is talking about found here: http://shop3.outpost.com/product/5094405#detailed That looks like a nice price—especially if the pictures have good color rendition. I’m just worried about the AVI format as this takes up a lot of space. I’ve seen some cameras have MPEG2 and MPEG4 but I haven’t experimented with them, yet.
I bought a Panasonic SDR-S10 that is almost exactly what you're describing. It's small - pack of 100's cigarettes sized. It's light - don't know how light since my scale died a horrible death by falling off the balcony railing - but it's well under a pound. Takes an SD or SDHC flash memory card (up to 32 GB). 1/6" CCD sensor, peaks out at DV resolution video. Can do wide screen 16:9 but you lose resolution. 10x optical zoom. Stereo 16-bit CD quality sound. Wind-noise electronic filter. Water-resistant to 1m. Survives drop test from 4-ft (according to manufacturer). Survived drop test from 10-feet onto rocky slope (according to me). YMMV.
The only criteria you mention that doesn't fit is that this camcorder uses a lithium battery pack, but they're light, last over an hour each, and are inexpensive (bought 2 on Ebay with a charger for $25).
Drawbacks? If you tripod mount, you have to unmount to change the battery or the memory card. MPEG2 format is a memory hog compared to the newer formats. 4 GB cards buy you 55 minutes of recording at the highest quality. Not much in the way of features, and no accessories (no hot shoe for a camera light, no remote control). It does OK at night, but high zoom leads to a lot of focus hunting. Image stabilization is electronic instead of optical, which means that above 6x zoom it's essentially useless. The video file has an MOV extension that a lot of older players and editors (including Quicktime) don't understand, but if you just rename the file with an MPG extension they play and edit just fine.
You might also look at the Xacti line - there are some SD card recorders there too. Most of these cameras are also available with hard drives, but I don't think those are very rugged. Panasonic also offers HD and 3-CCD variants of these camcorders, but we're talking $700 and up - and that's the discount shop price. Whatever you do, avoid buying any of the bargain-priced cameras from Aiptek - every one is problem-ridden and you will be unhappy with the video quality. You get what you pay for.
Update: (question at the end) Wallmart just dropped their price from $300 to $200 for the Sanyo VPC-CG6 http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5634188 It is pretty nice: Auto focus OR manual focus. CCD pickup. 5x optical zoom. MPEG4 compression that looks great on my TV. Movie editing on the camera. Hand shake correction. 5.25oz. At the highest video resolution it looks like a 1GB SD card will hold 42 minutes. I haven’t experimented with all the resolutions yet but the U-tube video stuff can hold 4+ hours on 1GB card.
You can charge through the USB outlet or take the battery out and put it in a charging dock.
I wanted AA batteries for power but I can live with this smaller design. I also wanted NO moving parts. But that autofocus and optical zoom is so nice, I will live with that.
I will get a spare rechargeable lithium battery as these appear to be $13.00 (w/ shipping).
No moving parts, very light, uses SD cards, cheap, shoots in HD widescreen, has audio, takes fairly good stills, and will work on the small Gorillapod. The video quality is fairly good, it does have issues with fast motion but for most scenery shots it is perfect. It does use a battery pack but it is generic and easy to find. Mine worked great until I dropped it in the water.
If you want to spend some money I think the best hiking camcorder ever is the VIO POV.1
Yes the zoom on this particular model stinks. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I manage to work around that though.
I have found it hard to find a rugged camera with everything on it that costs less than $800. And I am not comfortable taking a $800 piece of equipment into the backcountry. I took my digital rebel once and I was a nervous wreck the entire trip -- mostly because it rained the entire time.
I would be really interested to see if somebody has found a full featured camcorder that is both rugged and less than $800.
“I have been hiking with numerous cameras and camcorders so far the best all around camera that I have found is this one”
This is the A-HD 720P. Some thoughts at the top of my head in random order: I also bought this one at Target for $150. I think it has been updated. It has 4x digital zoom. I like that it has NO moving parts whatsoever. Picture quality is good in DVD mode. I don’t think I would use the 16:9 HDTV mode as this takes much more memory.
I’ve been comparing it to the sanyo. They have different compression techniques. A-HD is some H.264 compression while Sanyo uses MPEG4. Quicktime 7.0 plays both standards with ease. Ironically, both take the same amount of memory. For example A-HD DVD mode takes same memory space as sanyo’s highest MPEG4 resolution. I tested this with a 20 sec video clip by panning one of my rooms. Both movies look the same on my TV. This surprised me as the A-HD uses a CMOS sensor while the Sanyo uses CCD. What stood out is the sound quality. The sanyo records in stereo. It sounds much better. The A-HD sounded muffled in comparison. I think both units can have an external mic input (that I have not tried). My laptop read both camcorders w/o installing new software. Both use generic lithium rechargeable pack (though not the same).
The A-HD can use the yet-to-be sold 32GB SD card. The sanyo is only rated to 4GB. The sanyo can record TV programs i.e., it has an A/V input; the sanyo does not. The A-HD came w/ external charger so you don’t have to take out the battery pack. The sanyo did not. The A-HD comes with a bigger battery pack (1100mA- 90 minutes); the sanyo comes with a smaller one (and thus less run time at 70 minutes).
So the A-HD has a lot of neat features. It is probably more robust since there are no moving parts.
But here’s where I’m favoring the sanyo: That zoom is nice! 5x optical plus 12x digital. 6mp on the Sanyo helps in the cropping world—but not by much with the 5mp on the A-HD. On the camera, you can erase red eye on the spot (well- going through some menus <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />). That feature is built in. Also, say you have 6 movie clips you want to merge into one. That can be done in the camera. Of course that can be done on a computer. But it was nice so that files could be merged into one and that resulted in not having to scroll through so many files to get to the one you want to review. Also, the built in gyro keeps hand shakes at bay. I tried this last night as I sat on the top row of bleachers and recorded my daughter’s band concert. I had it in on 5x zoom and held it in my hand. The movie looked rock steady on my TV. That’s amazing. I like the record button being by the thumb. On the A-HD it’s on the front and I keep having to look where it’s at. I kept covering the flash instead! The sanyo is also neat in that while you’re taking a movie, you can press the camera button and BANG, you also have a nice camera shot.
The movie quality of both units reminds me of my VHS camcorder.
> But here’s where I’m favoring the sanyo: That zoom is nice! 5x optical plus 12x digital. 6mp on the > Sanyo helps in the cropping world—but not by much with the 5mp on the A-HD.
Yeah a better zoom would be nice. I think in the future we will see cameras that are capable of 20x optical zoom with a very small lens.
> On the camera, you can erase red eye on the spot (well- going through some menus ). That feature is > built in. Also, say you have 6 movie clips you want to merge into one. That can be done in the > camera. Of course that can be done on a computer. But it was nice so that files could be merged into > one and that resulted in not having to scroll through so many files to get to the one you want to > review.
That is a neat feature. I always edit my videos off of the camera so I have never had need for such a feature <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
> Also, the built in gyro keeps hand shakes at bay.
That is a REALLY nice feature the A-HD does not have this, and it shows. The stability can be helped by using a tripod or just propping the camera on a trekking pole.
> I like the record button being by the thumb. On the A-HD it’s on the front and I keep having to look > where it’s at. I kept covering the flash instead!
I kept doing the same thing <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
> The sanyo is also neat in that while you’re taking a movie, you can press the camera button and > BANG, you also have a nice camera shot.
That is a nice feature too. Does it use the full mega pixel camera or is it just a low res frame capture?
> The movie quality of both units reminds me of my VHS camcorder.
Yes it kind of grainy. When I finish taking video on the A-HD I have to convert the video files (Quicktime) to something that I can edit (raw digital video). Since I shoot in HD, when I do this conversion I shrink the video to normal NTSC and this makes the video look tons better. I loose the whole point in HD, but that is not what I am after in the fist place.
They are both seem to be really good hiking camcorders. I am going to research the Sanyo now since my A-HD is in a hundred pieces after its accidental bath <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
“That is a nice feature too. Does it use the full mega pixel camera or is it just a low res frame capture?”
When I’m filming and hit the picture button, here’s what I noticed: 1. The picture is taken at whatever resolution you have set on the camera (I’m fine at 2mp) 2. The picture will be taken w/o the flash no matter your flash setting. 3. When watching the film, the film stops for about a second. It looks cool--- like a freeze frame. So the video does get interrupted for a second. 4. The sound is never lost and keeps recording/playing during that freeze frame.
And then I saw all the other toys <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />. I must control myself <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />… wow, that CREE AA LED looks nice <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" /> http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.5949 No I must control self… <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Oh well, I bought it anyway. When it came, I was surprised how bright it was <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />. It appears similar to my fenix L1D in brightness (maybe a tad dimmer).
A couple of comments. There is a perception that a CMOS sensor is inferior to a CCD. That is not correct. As an example all of the Canon digital SLRs use CMOS. Sony also use CMOS in some of their better camcorders and will soon use them with still cameras as well. If anyone is after a solid state camcorder similar in quality to the best domestic tape (Mini DV ) variety, the Panasonic HDC SD5 is the best so far.
That Panasonic camcorder is definitely nice though a little pricey for my liking. I wouldn’t know how to share these files though w/o some hardship. From http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/Pan...3048/Format.htm it says “Just don’t forget that we’re dealing with AVCHD here regarding the HDC-SD5. This means when you connect your SD/SDHC card to a computer, you won’t be greeted by friendly MPEG-4 files, but rather obscure file extensions hidden within numerous folders containing different shards of information, including audio and archiving properties.”
“There is a perception that a CMOS sensor is inferior to a CCD. That is not correct.”
It’s correct most of the time <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />. You indirectly pointed out there are high-end CMOS sensors. And these have been around a while. But in my price range, the low-end CMOS sensors don’t perform well. The CCD will outperform. In the price range you’re talking about, the high-end CMOS looks beautiful.
So far I have been impressed with this $200 Sanyo Xacti CG6. On my TV, the clips look better than my rental DVD’s. And it has been nice to join several clips together at once--- on the camera (not on the computer). The Sanyo computer software comes with a DVD burner that works easier than NEMO 7 (IMHO).