Camcorder Decision

Now that I have gone all ‘Hollywood‘ I want to concentrate on deciding which camcorder to get next.

Truth be told I don’t really expect to be making that many blockbusters so at one level I probably don’t need the ‘current best thing’ but on the other hand I love my technology and as a rule in life always strive for the best I can achieve, without pushing things too far or being too unrealistic.

My current Sony Digital Handycam DCR-PC5E PAL has been great. I can’t remember how many years I have had it, but it could well be getting on for 10. It has never given me any trouble save for a duff battery when I didn’t use it for a couple of years, and it is a really good size both in the hand and to carry around. I am changing if for a three simple reasons:

  • I want to move away from the tapes that it uses for quality reasons and import reasons
  • It is really slow to start up
  • At it’s best the recordings are adequate,with very few features to enhance the shots

You will tell from the above list that there are a few requirements that I have of the new camcorder:

  • It must be small with a comfortable form factor
  • It must start up and be ready to operate very quickly
  • It must work equally well in bright sunlight and the dark as most of what I will be doing will be for Almerimar Life so very unplanned
  • It must have a good battery life
  • It must be easy to transfer the data to the Mac both in terms of compatibility with the Mac (as anyone who read my Sony DCR-SR70 review will appreciate), and storage medium
  • It must be technologically advanced enough to last a long time.

I really like the idea of the Panasonic HDC-SD5 Camcorder as for me it ticks all of the above, but as ever I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions both in terms of criteria for purchase and specific camcorders.

In terms of time-scales, if things go to plan, I hope to be ordering it in a couple of weeks time, maybe even in time for the sponsored run!

21 thoughts on “Camcorder Decision

  1. Mac Sokulski

    As you already know, but I want to make that point again… stay away from sony. They make great products, but the problems with incompatibilities, and propriatary formats, makes their products horrible to work with. And please don’t get me started on the pointless high def mania. It’s very nice that the panasonic records onto sd card and not a hard drive. Just because the medium is smaller it makes it easier to manage content. It forces you to get the video off the card sooner. I recently played with a Sanyo Xacti camera. I love the format, its tiny and produces very good video, plus it has a 7.1 mpx camera. Something to consider.

  2. Chris Marshall Post author

    Well the Panasonic is a HD, but I see that more as a ‘comes with’ than a ‘buy because’.

    To be honest I don’t need a huge drive or anything as nearly everything I shoot is taken off and posted that day or within a couple of days, and if I did make a trip I would just take extra catrds, which is actually more secure as the data would be spread over more than the one medium, and could be kept seperate from the camcorder!

    I have looked at the Sanyo, there is something about the form factor that just doesn’t really do it for me 🙁

  3. darren rolfe

    There is also an HDC-SD1 model. I am by no means an expert on video cameras. I am more than happy grabbing little snippets on my Lumix.

    But I have very good things about both models on MacBreak Weekly. It seems they have all brought one or other of the models.

    These are the cameras they flashed about at the imac launch I understand.

  4. Chris Marshall Post author

    The fact that Stevie boy used them in the demo is a factor – at least I know they are compatible with the Mac and iMovie 🙂

  5. Graham

    Hi Chris,

    I’m also looking for a HD camcorder and so far I’m thinking seriously about the Canon HG10 which has a 40Gb hard drive and the reviews seem to indicate of all the AVCHD camcorders on the market, this one has the best quality picture.

    What are your thoughts about it and why have you decided against it? I’d like to know because I’m also wondering if I’ve missed something.

  6. Chris Marshall Post author

    @Connor – that looks pretty good, especially the price! I like the way it is SD and hard drive which gives good options. Any view on how quickly it fires up and is ready to use?

    @ Graham – nothing at all it looks a great camera, just a bit more expensive than the Panasonic BUT it does have the internal drive.

    In general I am not that big a fan of the internal drive over the SD drive as I want the ease and speed of just taking the SD card out and importing without worrying about cables and battery life. I also like the added security that if I shoot something I really don’t want to lose I can just take the card out and put in a new one. With the hard drive everything is committed to one medium.

    That said the flexibility of the combined JVC that Connor shouted has got me thinking and although it isn’t HD (who really needs that I can hear Mac screaming at me) the price and specs are very good indeed.

    Thanks guys, two excellent shouts for me to mull over now!

  7. Mac Sokulski

    From what I remember JVC were the first ones to release a HD based camcorder. They are usually very good cams. I had one that used minidv tapes. It is definately an option.

  8. Chris Marshall Post author

    The JVC is becoming a series option. Need to be sure it works with the Mac as it talks about PC in the spec, but at the price am thinking it is worth it and then wait a couple of years for HD prices to come down and see if I have any use for one at that time.

  9. Mac Sokulski

    If the camera is not high def, then it should record in either MP4 or MOV format. Which in theory should be compatible with iMovie. My sony cam records in the sony version of mp4, and I have to run the clips through MpegStream Clip, before I can use them properly. An extra step, but it works. I hope JVC’s format is not as proprietary as sony.

  10. Chris Marshall Post author

    Have gone with the JVC so thanks Connor!!!

    I found a ex demo in the UK on eBay at a really good price that will be shipped next week. Now of course the UK is in the middle of a postal strike, so I can add that to the stupid things I have done!!!

    Wonder which will turn up first iPhone or Camcorder, er maybe I should be saying I wonder if either will actually turn up???

  11. Mac Sokulski

    Don’t forget that the British postal strike is because of the Spaniards. 🙂

  12. Jim W.

    Hey Chris,

    Did you get the JVC? I’m tormenting myself trying to choose from the Panasonic SD5 (I too like the pure SD card approach), Canon HG10, or the JVC. Working easily with iMovie is key. What has your experience been?

    Thanks!! Jim

  13. Chris Marshall Post author

    @Jim W: Yes, it arrived a week ago. I really like the size and functionality. As far as iMovie goes I was pleasantly surprised. I recorded to SD card, then stuck that in the Mac, opened up iMovie, waited a while and a window opened up with the SD movies on that I could import as normal.


  14. jeremy

    Interesting. We have a JVC (tape) dv camera, at first it worked fine with our macs, but now they don’t see it when the firewire is connected. I’ve not yet tried it with Leopard

  15. Andre

    Hi Chris,
    I have some footage on my Sony DCR-PC5E and I want to get it onto my MacBook to edit.
    Have you been doing this (I see you have similar gadgets), and if so how?
    Kind regards

  16. Chris Marshall Post author

    [quote comment=””]Hi Chris,
    I have some footage on my Sony DCR-PC5E and I want to get it onto my MacBook to edit.
    Have you been doing this (I see you have similar gadgets), and if so how?
    Kind regards

    If you can’t import it directly, which I assume you can’t it being a Sony!!! then you want something like Streamclip to get the job done.

    Let me know if I can help further.

  17. Pingback: Pimping The Road King Classic | Chris Marshall

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *