Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Camcorder Recommendations?

We had a fun weekend of agility and I'll post about that later but for now I have a more pressing issue. My JVC miniDV camcorder is at least 8 years old, maybe older I can't remember exactly when I got it, and has been acting flaky lately. After Sunday's trial I came home and tried to upload the footage I shot and the camera locked up completely with an EO4 error message. I did some internet research and found that JVC cameras are rife with this problem, whatever it is, and it seems amazing that mine lasted as long as it did based on the experiences of others. Someone was even starting a class action lawsuit because JVC apparently has known about the problem for years and done nothing about it. Not sure how the suit turned out but I did find 9 suggestions for getting the camera to work again. I tried 8 of them to no avail (didn't have a can of compressed air at home to try #9) then came up with my own idea of let's bang the camera on the ground and voila it worked like magic, camera is now up and running. However it sounds a bit sickly and I don't trust it to run for much longer so I'm in the market for a new camera. I thought I'd replace it with another miniDV and found this Canon camera but after some research found that miniDV is supposedly a dying format and I don't want to buy something that shortly will be obsolete. My next choice is a flash drive but then I can't play back my miniDV tapes that I already have and have to hope that my old JVC holds out long enough to transfer the tape to DVD's to be archived.

I've tried doing some internet research but I don't have a clue and the info. I'm getting is confusing. Some say miniDVD is best, others say it is outdated and many of the answers are gibberish to me, for example:

There is no advantage to tape anymore. If you need high capacity at cheap cost, you can get a HDD based camera.

The codecs used for HD cameras on Tape are generally well past their "use by" date, and don't produce better quality images than modern codecs, even at about twice the bitrate (Which also translates to twice the storage and performance hit while editing-- for no quality benefit.)

The question now is Flash or Hard Drive.

Uh, yeah, I don't speak that particular dialect of geek so maybe someone out in agility land can translate and/or recommend something. I don't need anything fancy, looking to spend $250-$350 max.

I don't think those cheapo HD cameras are a good choice for me because my laptop is oldish (at least 5-6 years old I think) and I don't think it can handle the high def conversions and I'm not sure how to check.


  1. Well, I went with a still/video combo camera. It's working spiffy for my needs, but not sure if it would be best for you.

    Cannon A1000IS

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm pretty sure I want a camcorder that's just a camcorder though. I shoot so much video and depend on it for my training since I'm not working with a teacher right now.

    But that's a great idea, I have a point & shoot camera that shoots video and hadn't even thought of using it. At least I have something until I can get a new camcorder. My nice SLR probably does video too but I'd have a heart attack leaving that on a tripod in the dusty training field when the weather is iffy.

    So much technology, it's supposed to make life easier but sometimes I feel like it's overwhelming.

  3. I don't think you can go wrong with a MiniDV camera. The tapes are pretty cheap and reusable.
    If you are not going with an expensive high definition camera in the $600 - $800 range, then I believe you can get a very nice standard definition camera for under $300, like the Canon you linked to.
    I'd just look for image stabilization, zoom of at least 15x, good low-light performance and I'd pick up an extra battery myself.
    Our miniDv is about 3 years old but works great. Its a 3CCD model, which captures much better detail than a 1CCD (the $300 models), however, if most of your filming is outdoors or in bright light, it doesnt make very much difference.

  4. I just have a casio Exslim. Its an 8 megapixil camera and video. Takes great video and easy to up load to the computer. I practice mostly alone and use it alot. Its easy to look at the camera and put it in slow motion if I cant tell if my dog hit the contact. All my videos on my blog are from this camera except the most recent one. A friend shot that one. I can edit right on the camera to delete parts of the pratice that I dont need to see. Its really a great camera. Its amazing that little SD chip can hold lots of video. Most of the time I just get a new chip and keep the older ones in a file as back up to my computer. Diana

  5. Technology these days is amazing-editing video right on a camera, crazy.

    Thank you Greg for telling me what I wanted to hear. I feel most comfortable with the miniDV, I know my computer can handle it and I probably wouldn't have much of a learning curve with a new one. It's what I'm leaning towards for now but we'll see.

  6. I love my Flip HD. Cheap, takes great video, and no bigger than an iPhone. I bet your laptop could handle it. The only downfall is that the zoom features are very basic, but I do think it's the perfect little camera for dog agility. I also have a miniDV, and I never use it anymore, I favor my Flip camera.

  7. Thanks for the recommendation Jen. I did end up buying the Canon miniDV yesterday. My laptop has only 32GB hard drive, no dual core processor. I forget how much RAM, I think maybe in the 500's MB range. It has a hard enough time processing the regular video, I have serious doubts about the Hi-Def stuff. I know at least one person with one of those cheapo Hi Def cameras who had to buy a new computer with the dual core to get the dang $150 camera to work. I could be wrong though, maybe it would work but I didn't want to risk it.

    In a few years when hopefully the economy is better I'll upgrade everything but for now hopefully the cheapo minDV will get me through.