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US to UK camcorder compatability-help needed!!!!!

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Editing Forum' started by zarbiepink, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. zarbiepink

    zarbiepink
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    Hi I'm a complete novice when it comes to camcorders but I decided that for my 21st I'd like to treat myself to one as I'm going travelling around america this summer. The model I have decided I would like is the Sony DCRHC32. Over here on amazon.co.uk it retails at £355.99, but over in the US it retails at around £250-that's a big saving, especially when you're a student! I do have friends I'm staying with over there so I could order it on amazon.com and send it to them and pick it up when I get there in July. The problem is that I've asked around in a couple of shops and no one can tell me if it would be an issue if the camcorder was a US spec and whether I could still watch and record my films back in the UK!
    Any help would be much appreciated!!!
     
  2. John F

    John F
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    There have been plenty of thread's about this & the general opinion is there are too many pitfalls. If you search around you find the price difference isn't so great.
     
  3. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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  4. NikosF

    NikosF
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    There are plently of threads, but they can be summarised thus:

    1. HM Customs and Excise will charge you to bring it in
    2. NTSC is low-quality and evil, and your (PAL) UK TV will probably play it back badly.
    3. If it breaks down you are in trouble.

    All somewhat true, but from the perspective of someone who bought a miniDV in the states in 2001 (while I was living there on an assignment), and shortly after moved back to the UK and have used successfully since then in the UK.

    On (1) - this is true, and for that reason would recommend against having one couriered to you from the US. If you are going to the US though in person (holiday, business), the chances of them caring about a used camera in your possession are slim to zero. Leave the boxes, etc in the US obviously.

    On (2) - technically this is true, but how many of us have R1 DVDs that play back perfectly? If you can watch a R1 NTSC DVD OK - then your camera will be fine. My PQ from my camcorder is great (when the lighting is appropriate, etc, etc.). WAAAAAAY better than Sky or some so-so R2 DVDs. Look good on my 42" plasma. So while NTCS has less lines of resolution - you will run into many technical problems (effective lighting, no-shake - use of tripod with fluid head, etc.) before it comes close to being a rate-limiting factor. By the time you are at that level, you'll want one of the new HD-Camcorders anyway.

    I have burnt DVDs (weddings, trips, etc) for lots of people, and not one has complained about it not being watchable. (More of an issue is playing back recorded DVDs on an old DVD player)

    On (3) - yes this is true. But once in a while you've got to live dangerously. The price differences are usually SO signicant - that even if one of the toys you buy over there (iPod, digital SLR, camcorder) break down - you're still ahead of the game.

    If you are the type of person who buys the extended warranty at Dixons at 40% of the price of the product you've just purchased - this risk is probably not for you.

    My JVC camcorder is now playing up (the infamous 'safety mode' error) - it's out of warranty regardless of where I would have bought it, so I would still have to replace it if I had bought a UK model - and the couple of hundred pounds I saved at the time - now pay for a brand new camcorder.

    So - swimming against the current of recommendations on the forum - I say go for it.
     
  5. NikosF

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    One more quick point - there are a lot of dodgy internet retailers in the US - in particular those selling photo/video equipment - and a lot seem NY-based. If you buy online stick to someone reputable. I've used B&H several times in the past, and they are highly regarded. They do Internet sales and have a store in NYC which offers the same prices. Others like Adorama are also good.

    There are also lots of dodgy retailers in places like Times Square in New York that prey on European and Asian tourists - avoid those like the plague. They'll offer you a ridiculously low price - then once you've got the camera will tell you you have to buy things like the charger, battery, cables (which come included) separately, or the 'fantastic price just for you Mr' - will be full retail anyway.

    Places like Circuit City, Ritz Camera, Best Buy - are fine - but you'll typically pay 'full retail' - which is less than the UK price, but not as good as an online (B&H) type price.

    Amazon is usually somewhere in the middle price-wise.

    So - looking at the price for the camera you suggested:
    Retail : $599.99 / £316
    Amazon : $479.94 (prob free shipping) / £253
    B&H : $449.95 (prob $10 shipping) / £237
    B&H PAL model : $579.95 / £305

    PIXMANIA by comparison : £348 (if you are intent on the PAL model, probably get here, if you are OK with NTSC get there)

    Beware also - local sales taxes in the US. Unlike the UK where the price advertised includes VAT - there sales tax is additional. The rate depends on the state you are. Online purchases (from out of state) do not attract sales tax (unless the vendor has operations in that state - complicated).

    So - if for example you are going to Florida, and have a camcorder delivered to your hotel, from B&H in NY- no tax - but then you have to pay shipping. Do the maths and figure out what's best.
     
  6. MarkE19

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    OK, so an NTSC camcorder can be viewed in fairly good quality on most UK TV's and plasma/LCD will probably be native NTSC anyway, so no problems there.
    But what if you want to make a copy of the video onto a VHS for granny etc that does not have a DVD player? Well unless you have paid several hundred quid for a multi standards VCR you will not be able to record an NTSC source, even though it will most likely play an NTSC VHS tape.

    At the end of the day - it's your money and you are the one taking the chance!

    Mark.
     
  7. fcat

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    ide take the chance, and have done twice before, the only problem youll have is if the unit breaks down within 12 months, and if your wanting to transfer the footage to VHS, as the majority of people these days have DVD players (and recorders) it wont be a problem showing the footage to anyone else. Theres very few reasons these days not to do what your doing.

    Even if you do want to transfer the stuff to VHS theres plenty people will offer to do it for postage and blank tapes on the forums and message boards, even if you have to take it to a pro to have it done, youll get change out of twenty quid!
     

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