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  1. #1

    Please recommend a video camera...

    Hi,

    We want to purchase a new video camera to record our baby daughter. We've never owned one and are completely ignorant of the choices. What do you recommend, and why?

    Thanks,
    Jeffrey

  2. #2
    Not sure if you want feature length films or just short snippets for the web. If it's the latter, I'd recommend something like the flip video or the RCA Small Wonder.

    We got the Small Wonder for around $100 and use it for all of our video of the kids. Typically they are really short videos (a couple minutes) of them doing something, as opposed to anything longer.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Mr. blublood is a photophile and all he uses are the recording capabilities on his digital camera. It can take up to a 5 minute video if you clear the card out and that way he doesn't have to have 2 different devices handy. I think his digital is a Nikon something-or-other, I can find out more specifics if you want them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    ← Bay / Valley ↓
    Depends on several factors:

    How do you want to store the video?
    • Hard copy - your best bet is to go with a camcorder that records onto a tape, as this is the most durable method of storage IMHO. I don't know if they even make these any more though. You could also go with DVD-recording kind, but I've heard noise is an issue. The main reason to get a DVD camcorder is so you can easily play it on a DVD player, so you should make sure it's compatible. Another thing about DVDs is the lifespan. Unlike casette tapes that may fade but last decades, most DVDs have a lifespan of less than 5 years, and you should assume that it will be much shorter. This means you have to back up your DVDs at least once a year, or at least have a backup copy on a hard drive/online somewhere. Not an easy task when each DVD holds ~5gigs of data. Most companies are phasing out these mediums (media?), so buyer beware.
    • Digital - I like camcorders that take removable flash memory, as it's easy to transfer the video to your computer. The downside here is the same as backing up your DVDs - flash media have terrible lifespan, and you should expect to replace them every 2 years or sooner. You'd probably need to invest in some hard drive space to back up all this data as well.


    What resolution do you want your video?
    HD camcorder prices have dropped a lot in the last year or so, but it's still going to cost you about $600-700 for a decent one. If you don't care for 720p/1080p/whatever, it might actually be a good idea to go with blublood's recommendation. My Canon SD700 shoots decent video, and you can get one for under $200.

    Personally, I've considered purchasing a Sanyo Xacti, but I'm not 100% sure on its quality

    Also, this site seems somewhat useful, though I haven't really browsed through it much

    That's all I can think of right now. Hope that helps.
    Last edited by hc5duke; 08-04-2008 at 03:31 PM. Reason: added one more link

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Watching carolina Go To HELL!
    Whatever you buy, get it at either Costco www.costco.com or Sam's Club www.samsclub.com . That way, if you don't like it, you can return it and get something different, no questions asked and no restocking fee. If you like what you buy, you've probably saved a few dollars on your purchase. If the store near you doesn't have what you want, check out their online stores, where they have a wider variety of brands and models than in the stores. You can return items bought online at local stores. If you're not a member of either club, join - it's worth the $ for this purchase by itself, and you have a full year to buy something else, including diapers, which you might need for your new bundle of joy! Oh, and congratulations!
    Ozzie, your paradigm of optimism!

    Go To Hell carolina, Go To Hell!
    9F 9F 9F
    http://www.EGLEW.com


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Austin, TX

    Start small

    I'd recommend anything that you will actually carry around for those "moments". The Flip or Small Wonder are great suggestions. Most point & shoot cameras will also record video and any of these will be under $200 and do basic stuff. The important thing is gettings omething small enough for you to want to tote around and painless enough to get to your computer and uploaded/emailed to family.

    If after a while you decide you want better quality, you want to archive tapes, or you want to begin editing movies together, you might move to a small, hand held camera. These take MiniDV tapes which record for about an hour. That's a whole other set of recommendations. It is possible to edit the movies from the devices in paragraph 1, it's just that they save to different file formats which may or may not play nice with your video editing software. With MiniDVs you decide what file format to use when you digitize the tape to your computer.

    I can't currently recommend hi def hard disk drive cameras unless the only thing you want to do is to plug them directly into your hi def TV and play them back. As far as I can tell, the cameras far exceed the capacities of current software for editing them.

    Then again, perhaps you have secretly lived your whole life waiting to have an infant to film and edit into the baby short of the year. In that case, ignore all this and apply to film school.

    Best wishes and congrats again on your bundle of joy!

  7. #7
    Hi,

    Thanks to all for the excellent advice! Also, thanks much for the congrats on our new arrival. Minutes after our baby was born, my wife looked over and asked me, "what do you think?". Upon reflection, she probably wanted a health and condition report on the baby. Instead, I just blurted out, "this is the greatest day of our life!". Truly, a bundle of joy!

    My wife has a Sam's Club membership and I'll definitely look there first. Thanks much, I had no idea they would unconditionally exchange open returns. This is especially helpful given my total ignorance of video cameras.

    My wife has a nice digital camera (Canon Powershot SD700) but we're always taking pics and seldom have sufficient space to make short recordings. My boss has instructed me to buy a video camera ASAP.

    I suspect that most of our recordings will be short (less than 10 minutes). However, my wife may make longer recordings and we need the extra ability. This sounds like what we need:

    Quote Originally Posted by bluebutton
    If after a while you decide you want better quality, you want to archive tapes, or you want to begin editing movies together, you might move to a small, hand held camera. These take MiniDV tapes which record for about an hour. That's a whole other set of recommendations.
    Which of these cameras are considered the best? What features are most important?

    hc5duke's lifespan warnings concerned me, since we want this archive to last as long as possible. How long is the anticipated life of MiniDV tapes?

    What is the best method for seeing that our recordings last?

    Best regards,
    Jeffrey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    ← Bay / Valley ↓
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
    hc5duke's lifespan warnings concerned me, since we want this archive to last as long as possible. How long is the anticipated life of MiniDV tapes?

    What is the best method for seeing that our recordings last?

    Best regards,
    Jeffrey
    It's my understanding that magnetic tape based media such as VHS and MiniDV last longer than disc or flash based media (DVD or SD cards). I'm not an expert by any means, I did some googling around before when I was shopping for a camcorder, so I could be totally wrong too

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Watching carolina Go To HELL!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
    hc5duke's lifespan warnings concerned me, since we want this archive to last as long as possible. How long is the anticipated life of MiniDV tapes?

    What is the best method for seeing that our recordings last?
    I bought my first video camera on April 8, 1983. I know because April 8th is my parents anniversary, and when I used the camera that evening to record my then not quite one year old daughter, she took her first steps and I got it on VHS! Made the entire $3000 price worth every penny! Cameras were much more expensive back "in the day", or perhaps I should say back in the dark ages. And yes, this is the same daughter who got married back in May.

    I have since transferred the video to DVD - about 5 years ago, but the original tape is still viable (although I haven't watched it in several years, so that is an assumption.) I was actually surprised how good a shape the VHS tape was when I did the transfers.

    My last video camera purchase was a VHS-C Magnavox maybe 16 years ago. It took phenomenal low light and close up pictures (videos). I guess it still works, but I haven't touched it in years.
    Ozzie, your paradigm of optimism!

    Go To Hell carolina, Go To Hell!
    9F 9F 9F
    http://www.EGLEW.com


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by OZZIE4DUKE View Post
    I bought my first video camera on April 8, 1983. I know because April 8th is my parents anniversary, and when I used the camera that evening to record my then not quite one year old daughter, she took her first steps and I got it on VHS! Made the entire $3000 price worth every penny!
    Hi,

    Thank you... that's exactly what I needed to hear. I'll be buying one this weekend.

    In regards to preservation, it sounds like magnetic tape is the way to go. Does anyone have a recommendation on brand or model?

    Best regards,
    Jeffrey

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, within a couple of miles of Cameron
    "Unlike casette tapes that may fade but last decades, most DVDs have a lifespan of less than 5 years, "

    Aw, come on! Not too long ago folks were recommending transferring everything from VHS tape to DVD to 'preserve' them digitally, because you knew that tapes degrade over time.
    Are you sure about DVD's lifespan? Really?

    Jeffrey, I bought a mid-range Panasonic/Leica mini-DVD 3CCD camcorder earlier in 2007, and have been very happy with it, and with the quality of the output. I felt the HD cameras were too expensive then -1000 to 1500 bucks- but I think that if the prices are down, maybe HD would be the way to go, unless THEY are going to change formats again in a year or two. Regardless, you need to preserve the occasions, as you will wish you had filmed more in later years.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Austin, TX

    Sort of a recommendation

    I have a 2004 camera, so I hesitate to give any current recommendations.

    One thing to think about is whether you'll be putting the camera on a tripod. I frequently do and my camera's tape slot is annoyingly on the bottom of the camera so I have to take it off the tripod, and flip it upside down to change tapes.

    Otherwise, this page has some tips about buying a camcorder: http://www.digitalcamera-hq.com/camc...s_roundup.html

    And in general, Sam's Club/Costco does a good job of stocking cameras that are above average in quality and with a good price. So buy in peace.

    If you're really worried about the longevity of tapes, you can buy more expensive tapes. I don't because I transfer my videos to hard drive and have several copies (a bit paranoid, I know). Buy MiniDVs online in advance because you can get basic ones for $2.50-$3 a piece instead of $5-7 a piece.

    Depending on whether you will transfer the video from tape to computer, you might also pick up another hard drive. I compress my videos a bit and each hour is about 2-3 GB. I have about 250GB of video right now. A lot of people never do anything with their home videos other than leave them on the tape and play from the camera to a TV. If you're going to do that, don't worry about the external hard drive.

    Have fun with your new camera and learn not to point it into strong light sources while you're indoors (sunny windows or lamps). This will leave your beautiful baby looking like a dark, slow moving blob.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    ← Bay / Valley ↓
    Quote Originally Posted by JStuart View Post
    Aw, come on! Not too long ago folks were recommending transferring everything from VHS tape to DVD to 'preserve' them digitally, because you knew that tapes degrade over time.
    Are you sure about DVD's lifespan? Really?
    Well... the nice thing about keeping it in a digital format is that it won't fade like the old VHS. The bad part is that most digital media that is currently available don't last very long...

  14. #14
    I think the Flip would make a solid choice. Everything I have read about it makes it sound dead simple to use.

    You record the videos and then move them to your PC/Mac. From there, it's up to you how you want to present them. You could easily burn that to DVD. Post it to the web for friends/family. Edit the videos and produce your own movies.

    http://www.theflip.com/index.shtml

    Oh, and by storing the videos digitally, you can make easy backups and take them with you for years.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    ← Bay / Valley ↓
    Quote Originally Posted by HaveFunExpectToWin View Post
    I think the Flip would make a solid choice. Everything I have read about it makes it sound dead simple to use.

    You record the videos and then move them to your PC/Mac. From there, it's up to you how you want to present them. You could easily burn that to DVD. Post it to the web for friends/family. Edit the videos and produce your own movies.

    http://www.theflip.com/index.shtml

    Oh, and by storing the videos digitally, you can make easy backups and take them with you for years.
    Amazon reviews look pretty good, but I have a couple reservations about this one:
    • No zoom (2x digital = useless)
    • VGA = 640480 resolution. Your typical digital camera probably already has this mode. Why not just get a 2gb memory card for $30 instead?


    Seems more geared towards teens, but that's just my first thought.

  16. #16
    Hi,

    Thanks again to all for the help. I finally decided on the Canon Vixia HG-20. I found it was much better to order online than buy from our local Best Buy or Circuit City. Now we have to figure out how to use it.

    Best regards,
    Jeffrey

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