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Can someone help me out re a 400 quid cam?



Hi Everyone.

I am sure you all get sick to death of people asking the same old questions but I have had a brief search on the forum and cant initially see a post that answers my question. Any advice that someone could off would be warmly welcomed! I apologise for the noob questions in advance but i am well....noobish.

I am in the market for a camcorder with a budget of approximately £400. Its uses will be varied primarily the usual family stuff, holidays etc but there is a chance that I will also be connecting it to a smaller cam fixed to my Motorbike\helmet for track days etc. (yet to be purchased).

I will be looking to do a fair ammount of edditing using Adobe Elements or similar (Nero 7 any good?) and would be looking to get most of the content over to my PC and then DVD as opposed to watching straight from the camera.

My collegue has advised to go with HDD as opposed to MiniDV as it will be far easier to get the data over to my PC and you dont lose any quality when you convert. Is that the case? If so would 400 quid get a decent HDD model? I dont want to go for bottom of the range. What kind of picture quality could I expect full screen once I have copied the data across to my PC then burnt to DVD?

Also one last thing, its not for a chrimbo pressie (well it is but to myself:D ) so is it worth waiting until after X-mas before I buy?

If anyone could give me any recomendations or advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!



Distinguished Member
there is a chance that I will also be connecting it to a smaller cam fixed to my Motorbike\helmet for track days etc.

You want a model with AV-input then. I don't believe there are any HDD models with this feature.

My collegue has advised to go with HDD as opposed to MiniDV as it will be far easier to get the data over to my PC and you dont lose any quality when you convert.

It is quicker to copy from a HDD cam to PC than from MiniDV (not easier, just quicker). To copy a 1 hour DV tape takes 1 hour. To copy 1 hour of video from a HDD cam will be much faster. But the rest of what your collegue said is only partially true.

MiniDV is a very lightly compressed format - one which is virtually lossless. You can re-render many generations and not see a quality hit. MPEG2 (which is what DVD is, and HDD cams use) is much more highly compressed, and thus multiple generations of re-rerendering (recompression) should be avoided.

If you shoot DV, you have a format which in all intents and purpopses is like uncompressed. Edit it as much as you like, and at the end do one encoding to MPEG for DVD.

With a HDD cam, you are editing compressed MPEG2. If your edits are only simple cuts, and your software can avoid re-encoding, in theory you can avoid recompressing the file. But to apply any transitions, add text, etc you will need to recompress.

In short, you are generally better off for quality editing with a less compressed format like DV, and encoding to MPEG2 on your PC, then shooting MPEG2.

Also in your price range, £400 gets you a pretty high end DV camcorder, but leaves you in midrange on HDD models.

I'm not anti HDD. They have advantages in terms of convienence. But if you are looking for the best quality for your money with £400, DV wins out. And if you want to add a helmet cam, that is a bonus.

Model: Sony HC96, available for under £400, has AV-input.


Great - Thanks Mark.

I am going to pop to Jessops at lunch today to have a look around and see what takes my fancy.

Cheers again!!



Having looked at the other threads on this forum I am now extremely tempted by the HC3. 600+ quid is more than I wanted to spend but the thought of recording in High def is making my mouth water :D.? From what I have read it looks like a real nice peice of kit :)

Can anyone else who owns one give me any more info? Ive read several reviews and it really does seem to be worth the extra 200...

Dabs have got it for 719 buy now pay September 2007 but none in stock for 4 weeks :(


Distinguished Member
Me again...

Other than price, only downside is it doesn't have AV-input (so can't connect a helmet cam to it). None of the High Def models have that feature.

Editing HDV is more CPU intensive, so is best done on a reasonably fast PC, but there are workarounds for slower PCs. Options for creating High Def DVDs is pretty limited today, but that is changing.

One good thing about HDV cams is that they can convert to DV - so if you find you aren't ready to edit HDV, you can shoot HDV now and edit DV.

I have a HC1 (older cousin of the HC3) and I love it.


Active Member
My 5 year ol sony dcr110 is atrting to fail...hissing on reordings..It has been great all this time..

considering an upgrade..

should I get sony HC96, which gets great reviews and is about £400 or jump onto HD with HC3(£700)?
HC3 records HDV..which apparently has compatibility issues with current HD-DVD and BluRay burners( i am not certain of this...just seen on websites). also Sony is introducing new HD cams with AVCHD, which is also supported by panasonic HD cams soon. Is this a new format?

So should I get a good SD cam (HC96), then wait for HD format to settle down, and HD burners/discs to be more common, or jump to HD now????


thanks for any advice


Distinguished Member
There are some issues with HD-DVD and Blueray players not yet playing 50i formats; you can get around this in editing.

AVCHD is a new format.... currently it has almost no editing support, but that will change. Many think AVCHD is also an interim format, we will see more... so it may take some time for formats to "settle down".

If you can afford it, I'd get the HC3, for these reasons:

- It can shoot DV as well, and downconvert HDV to DV, in better quality than the HC96.

- The sooner you start shooting HD, the more HD footage you will have.

I'm shooting HDV now, and creating SD DVDs (for now). I keep copies of all my edited projects in HD format, so when burners/media/etc become cheaper (and I get a HD display!) I'll re-issue as High Def DVDs.

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