Soon-to-be-father asks some help

CineManno

Standard Member
This man is becoming father next february. :thumbsup: The wife is now thinking we should get a camcorder. Okay, no problem I thought until I saw the amount of camcorder out there :eek: .

I'm looking for some reasons to go or not to go for:
- Should I go for a HD camera? (makes the choice much easier :) )
o) much more expensive
o) my PC is not up to that
o) any new ones announced besides the Sony and Canon?
- Should I go for SD camera?
o) won't I regret this is in a year?
o) what are the top three makes/models I should be looking at for a price that is reasonably cheaper than the HD camera
- should I bother with tapes, DVD's or harddisc?
0) why is which one better when?

Any help would be really appreciated.
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
Hard to give a short answer, but I'll take a shot..

HD

- Obvious advantage is better picture quality
- There are 2 main formats: HDV (tape) or AVCHD (DVD/HDD/flash memory). There isn't much editing support yet for AVCHD, there is lots for HDV.
- If your PC isn't fast enough to edit native HD, you can (in the case of HDV) shoot HD and downconvert for SD editing for now... and re-master in HD later. Or, you can edit HDV today on a slow PC using other methods (a proxy and/or intermediate).
- Panasonic has announced new AVCHD cams. JVC has shown prototypes at some shows but not made a detailed announcement.

SD

- Suggested models: Depends on what format you want... for DV Canon MVX450/460, Panasonic GS180/GS300, Sony HC96. All give good quality for the money, ranging from £250 to £400 ish.
- HDD and DVD camcorders offer convienence - with DVD you can shoot and take that disc and play it on a DVD player. HDD to can shoot for hours, no media needed, and you can do basic editing on the camcorder itself... or if you want to show a particular clip from the camcorder you can find it easily. But DV tends to give you the best quality for the money.
 

mark800

Distinguished Member
You're going to be taking some of the most important footage of your life. It's best to take it in the best quality possible, and get an HD camcorder. It's unlikely that you'd regret it, but you may regret getting an SD camcorder when you see the picture quality in years to come on an HD display. HD will become dominant in the next few years, and you'll be glad that you decided to film in the best quality possible. SD generally looks poor on many HD displays.
 

PMW

Novice Member
Congratulations!

I agree with Mark800, I got a Sony HC3 in June a couple of days before my son was born and I'm very happy with it.

I haven't got a HD TV yet but I know in 5,10,20 years time I'll be glad I went for a HD camcorder.
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
I agree that HD is worth it, so if you can, go HD.

HDV (e.g. HC3) vs. AVCHD (e.g. SR1) is less clearcut. As much as I like having a media based camcorder (like tape) as I instantly have an archive on a reliable medium.... it seems clear that in general people see tape as old fashioned, and that HDD and/or solid state camcorders are the future. But will either of these formats be the format of the future? What is clear is that today HDV is a safer/easier option, as you can edit it easily or downconvert in camera easily. But if you are an early adopter and don't like tapes then go for AVCHD. Plus the SR1 has some features (better manual controls, mic and headphone inputs) that the HC3 doesn't.
 

Triggaaar

Distinguished Member
You're going to be taking some of the most important footage of your life. It's best to take it in the best quality possible, and get an HD camcorder.
Personally, I don't think it's that important to have HD. I have an HD screen, HD video processor, skyHD & I've just bought the sony HDR HC3 (due to the early arrival of my girls), because I'm into tv, but most of my friends aren't that bothered. Yes you can tell the difference, but SD isn't bad. What is bad, is poor tv broadcasts, but if you shoot in SD, it will look good, and I don't think your child will ever care if the footage of them as a nipper was in SD. If I had footage of myself as a baby/toddler, I wouldn't care what the quality was like (the camera work would be a lot more important) and it would have just as much charm if it was in black and white.

If you've got an extra few hundred quid spare, may as well go for HD, but there's a lot to spend cash on when the family grows, so don't be persuaded by a bunch of tv lovers to go for HD unnecessarily.
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
If I had footage of myself as a baby/toddler, I wouldn't care what the quality was like (the camera work would be a lot more important) and it would have just as much charm if it was in black and white.
I agree with this. And whilst I am in the "get HD if you can" camp, you can get very good video with an SD cam, and the footage will be precious regardless. Being a bit older :rolleyes: the early footage of my kids was done on an 8mm analogue camcorder - that was the only option then. But we still watch those videos and although the technical quality is not as good it doesn't impact the enjoyment.

They way I would put it is - in my view the jump to HD is worth the money if you want to spend that kind of money on a camcorder. But everyone has their own priorities and budget, and you can get very good video from a SD cam.
 

mmace

Novice Member
congratulations on the news, and welcome to the father-to-be club, mine's due early March.

I've just sold my GS400 3CCD camcorder and just last week bought a Sony HDR-HC3 hi def camcorder.

The main reason?
when you are watching back your home movies in years to come on your dirt cheap 100" hi def TV/projector HD will still look good but SD will look soft and blocky. For me, with the future in mind, HD was the only way to go.

Only last night I went to my parents and 2 of my young neices were there watching some old video from around 10 years ago on VHS, at the time it looked good, but now it just looks awful (I'd forgotten how bad VHS was since I've not owned a VCR in around 5 years!)

As for your PC being up to it, I usually use Adobe Premiere for editing, but after everyone raving about Sony Vegas on these forums I thought I'd give it a go. I edited my first bit of home hi-def footage at the weekend and has a system monitor running at the same time, while editing it was using less than 10% of my CPU (Pentium D 3.4Ghz) but all my memory. It was only when saving out the file that it used all my CPU, so I'd say go for HD and you may be fine with your PC but the saving out may take some time (but it'll be worth it!)
 

Accylad

Distinguished Member
Go for HD - As with any camera/computer hardware if the cash will stretch to it allways buy the most upto date :smashin:

Don't forget by tomorrow it will be out of date :D
 

CineManno

Standard Member
Thanks a lot guys. I have a clearer picture now. What I am basically thinking of is how to get the video as easy as possible to a DVD (for storing master material). So here I have some other things that I dont understand:
- how do you get the info from a tape to the PC and burn it on a DVD (IFor back-up I mena. don't mean for playing back on a player, I know that requires downsampling to SD material). Is this easy to even for the Sony HDR-HC3?
- with the Sony HDR-SR1 this seems easy as it records on a harddisc. But will the software delivered with it still easily be able to store the whole lot easily on a DVD?
- is it easy to downsample the HD material to a playable DVD for the time being?
- As long as we dont have blu ray recordables, what am I supposed to do? I might be able to store it into an MPEG-2 TS file but only some people woth HTPC migth be able to play this.
- the camcorderinfo site is rather negative about the video quality of the Sony HDV-SR1. Is it really that bad or does that author set a very high standard for imself. After all I will buy a Plasma with only '768x1368' pixels.

Thanks for any additional help.
 

redsox_mark

Novice Member
- how do you get the info from a tape to the PC and burn it on a DVD (IFor back-up I mena. don't mean for playing back on a player, I know that requires downsampling to SD material). Is this easy to even for the Sony HDR-HC3?

With the HC3: when you capture the video from tape to the PC (using video editing software, or there are also free capture options such as "HDVsplit") you will end up with 1 or more .m2t files. (If the capturing utility you use supports scene detection it can create a file for each scene - where a scene is defined as each time you start/stop recording). You can then simply copy the files to a DVD. The only issue is that a tape can hold approx 12 GB and a single layer DVD 4.7 GB, so you need to use multiple DVDs... and if you didn't use scene detection you would need to split up that one big file.

- with the Sony HDR-SR1 this seems easy as it records on a harddisc. But will the software delivered with it still easily be able to store the whole lot easily on a DVD?

To simply copy files to a DVD you don't need the delivered software - just use windows and your burning software to copy data files as normal. The HDD drive of the camcorder when connected via USB just looks like an external disc. The files are .MPG files.

- is it easy to downsample the HD material to a playable DVD for the time being?

With HDV (HC3) it is easy, you can downsample in the camcorder to produce DV output which you can burn to DVD. Or, you can do the downsample in a video editor. With the SR1 the camcorder doesn't downsample, and editing support is virtually non-existant at the moment. It comes with software to convert to MPEG2, you could then feed this into an editor.

- As long as we dont have blu ray recordables, what am I supposed to do? I might be able to store it into an MPEG-2 TS file but only some people woth HTPC migth be able to play this.

There are various options depending on what your audience has for players. You can create HD-DVDs. You can create files to play from a PC. If you want to distribute to the masses really the only option is to downconvert to create SD DVDs for now.

- the camcorderinfo site is rather negative about the video quality of the Sony HDV-SR1. Is it really that bad or does that author set a very high standard for imself. After all I will buy a Plasma with only '768x1368' pixels.

Actually I don't think they are negative. You've got to understand that those guys do very detailed tests. When they go into that detail it sounds bad. But look at their bottom line when they compare it to the HC3: " Despite its slightly inferior video, the features tip the balance in favor of the SR1." It will look great on your Plasma.
 

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