Help with choosing a miniDV camera

GavinH

Standard Member
Hi,

I've read some of the other "what camera to buy" posts first btw :)

I'm also going to get a miniDV camera. I used to have a canon MVX150i, and I was really impressed with the video quality. I don't quite have as much to spend this time, with my budget being somewhere between £300 and £500, maybe a little more if I can find a camcorder that really suits me.

- I have no interest in still pictures
- I have no interest in manual features - the whole time I had the mvx150i, I purely used it as point and shoot
- I need a wide angle lens with it
- The shape is kind of important. I prefer the longer, lower shape of the mvx 150, as it is easier to hold at waist level (I use it to film snowboarding)
- Image quality is important

The old canon was stollen, so I still have a spare battery/charger that may come in handy (if compatible). Thus I started by looking at Canon models, and the MVX 450 popped up.

But I've just seen a range of panasonic cameras (NV-GS) that seem to have 3 CCDs... which sounds apealing.

I've had no luck finding a camcorder magazine to use as a base to go googl'ing around the internet so I thought I'd try here instead :thumbsup:

Any suggestions for what's good in this price range are much appreciated: point and click usage, high quality video.

Cheers, Gavin
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
Gavin,

You can find some reviews of UK models here
http://www.simplydv.co.uk/Reviews/camcorders.html

The best source of reviews on the 'net is this site
http://www.camcorderinfo.com
But it is US based so the models don't always match.

Your price range is quite broad.... assuming you don't have any other specific requirements (e.g. DV-in. AV-in, etc) then my suggestions would be (based on rough best prices)

£300 - Canon MVX450 or 460, or Panasonic GS180

£400 - Panasonic GS300 or Sony HC96

£500 - Maybe Panasonic GS500, though the cheapest I've seen it is £575

The Panasonic GS 3 CCD series are good camcorders, though note that 3 CCDs is not always better than 1 (especially if the 1 CCD is larger). In the £400 bracket I like the GS300; though the Sony HC96 is close (with a single CCD). At the low end I like the Canon models better than the GS180 especially if you will be shooting widescreen (GS180's image stabilisation doesn't function in widescreen mode).

If you need AV-in, the Panasonics don't have it.
 

GavinH

Standard Member
Hey Mark thanks a lot.

AV-in, I think I used that facility on previous camcorder to stream from an analogue camera, through my digital and on to my pc. I assume that AV-in can generally be used to stream other analogue sources...

I don't think this is a requirement for me anymore, and I've got a feeling my dad has an analogue capture card...

This keeps those in the panasonic set good options - but I do note you point about 3 ccds not always being better than 1.

It may well come down to the physical shape of the camera, and the ease of getting a wide angle lens.

Thanks for the pointers, :smashin:
Gav
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
About AV-in - you've got it exactly right.

The Panasonic's have a nice shape - they are more long than tall, I think they would meet your need.
 

GavinH

Standard Member
Hi Mark,

I think that I'll probably end up at the £400 mark, making the decision between the HC96 and the GS 300. It seems that the image quality of each will be comparable, with maybe the sony being better in low light situations.

The Sony has true widescreen whereas the Panasonic doesn't. However, the panasonic is a better shape for my use.

I've been looking for wide angle converters and not been too successful. I was checking the sony website and looked at the 25mm, 30mm and 37mm options - I thought the HC96 was a 30mm. However the 30mm compatible wide converter didn't list it... do you know what size the HC96 is?

Is it the case that a non-Sony converter will work as long as the size matches correctly?

Quick question about the lower end GS 180... is it the same in terms of CCDs as the GS300? If so what seperates them in the range?

Cheers, Gavin
 

Alun

Well-known Member
When filming your snowboarding, have you ever thought of using a helmet camera?

I have a canon mvx330i (IIRC the 'i' on the canon models signifies video in) and you can use an external source with it. (cracking PQ, good sound though high wind affects it a lot and nice and light.

And IMO, using the camera to convert old analogue sources is easier and better than using a capture card.

just my 2p
 

GavinH

Standard Member
I'd love to use a helmet cam :)
But first off I need to get a basic camcorder... for most shots, plus I also use it to film skating (less suited to helmet cam)
 

GavinH

Standard Member
I've found out the info about the HC96 filter size (30mm), and the sony wide converter on offer... expensive!
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
You can use other converters other than the Sony.

Comparing the Panasonic GS180 and GS300 - the CCDs are the same. The main differences is the GS300 has a better lens (Leica Dicomar), and has Optical Image Stabalisation (vs. Electronic on the GS180).

Note if you ever did want to use a helmet cam, you can with the Sony HC96, but not with the Panasonics (it needs that AV-in).
 

ecs

Standard Member
You can use other converters other than the Sony.

Comparing the Panasonic GS180 and GS300 - the CCDs are the same. The main differences is the GS300 has a better lens (Leica Dicomar), and has Optical Image Stabalisation (vs. Electronic on the GS180).

Note if you ever did want to use a helmet cam, you can with the Sony HC96, but not with the Panasonics (it needs that AV-in).
Internet reviews seem to be divided on teh question of whether the Panny GS180 has firewire input or not - can anyone confirm?

I presume as a 3 chipper it is, otherwise a better bet than the Canon mv960, although that's not always the case.
 

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