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I'm looking for a camcorder that can also take digital pictures?

Posted on 2001-09-10
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Hi!  My brother and sister-in-law are having their first child...Little Rocco.  I want to buy them a good (doesn't have to be great) camcorder that will be easy for them to use.  I want it to have the capabilities of being shown on the TV and the computer.  I also want it to have the capability of taking digital pictures?  Is there such a camcorder out there that is not very expensive???  I would appreciate any info you could give me as to make, model, and maybe where I could buy.  I just would like to spend up to $350.00 tops.  I didn't know where else to go, and I know you guys are the best.

Thanks, Lauren
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Question by:Lauren2
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jhance earned 50 total points
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What you want is a DV or DIGITAL VIDEO camcorder.  These digitize the video using MPEG before storing them digitally on the tape.  This make them really great for editing and even taking a single frame out of the video as a still.  Most (if not all of these) also take zillions of stills and store them to the tape.

I've not seen these quite down to the $350 level but they are coming down.
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by:Lauren2
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Thanks Jhance but I'm still confused....they have Hi8's, 8mm, vhs-c, SuperVHS...I know the VHS onces are not digital but I don't know about the hi8's, etc...  I don't want to spend alot of money.
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by:CRAK
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Hi8 isn't digital either. Its a higher quality of Video8, just as S-VHS is a higher quality of VHS.

As far as I know only DV (mini-tapes) and Digital8 (Hi8-tapes, dig. recorded) store video in MPEG format.

Digital8 has the advantage of also being able to play conventional (anologue) video8/Hi8 tapes.

VHS (normal, super and compact) are all analogue.

Never seen one for a price like that.
Perhaps a webcam kind of thing is a solution: low res. low framerate, limited time. As you say: it won't be great, but it could meet the budget!
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by:jhance
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If you want stills, you must get a DIGITAL camcorder.  The MOST COMMON format is the DV.  Digital8 is a distant 2nd place and (in my opinion) is destined to go the way of BETAMAX vs. VHS.  

The other formats, VHS, Hi8, 8mm, VHS-C, SuperVHS are all ANALOG FORMATS and getting stills from these is difficult.  Getting high quality stills is impossible.

If you can't afford a DV camcorder but still need still image capture, get a STILL CAMERA instead.

If you want an ANALOG camcorder, my opinion is that the Sony 8mm format is best.  The VHS-C is almost as small but the format suffers from problems.
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by:jbrucejr
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Watch the BestBuy and Circuit city ads.  They have recently had some digital-8 units with still capture to memory stick or flash card that were in the $450 range.  I think you will have trouble finding one for less than $350.

You will have a hard time finding a mini-DV unit for under about $600.

Good luck

John
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by:CRAK
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...if you decide to go for a camcorder (disregarding budget here): jhance states that -in his opinion- Sony Video8 is the best. Do note that Hi8 (also Sony) is always better, like SVHS is better than VHS.
Betamax was also better than VHS!

Since these are analogue systems, you would need a capture card if you want to edit or mail images. That would again raise your costs!

I am not familiar with the price/quality differences between DV and Digital8 in general. I have used several analogue cameras though and find that resolution, light sensitivity and (optical!) zoom are the most important features in every day's use...
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by:Lauren2
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Okay, you guys are great....but this is what I'm coming up with.  I want at least a Hi8 with the capability of still photos.  I am willing to spend about $400.00.  Do you think I'm foolish????  I know digital is the way to go and if I was buying for myself I would not even consider anything but digital and I'd wait till I had enough money, but this is a gift.  

Thanks, Lauren
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by:jbrucejr
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Lauren2

I searched the web for prices, and this is the ONLY digital camcorder WITH still capture (and only 640X480 at that) that I could find that comes in at under $500.

Sony DCR-TRV130    The prices I found ran from $464 - $499.

I also favor mini-DV over digital8, but going to mini-DV raises the cost by $100+++

You could find a VHSC camcorder for about $250 and buy a $150 digital still camera.  The video quality will be lower and be analog not digital,  but the still images will be much better if you choose the still camera carefully.

VHSC tapes can be played in a regular every day VHS unit like about every one has - it only requires an adaptor that comes with the camera.  The tape is recorded in regular VHS format but the tape size is just smaller - the C = Compact.

I think that you have about a $700 taste with a $400 budget.

Your hearts in the right place, but your bank account is a couple of sizes too small.

John
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by:CRAK
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Hi8..... not Video8.....
So we're talking about an output resolution like 768 x 576 here, depending on the TV system: not a webcam!

About those still photos: do you want those to be displayed on a TV only (haven't seen a Sony do that), or transferred to a computer for printing/editing/email? If that's the case you'll probably be spending those $400 on the capture card already: you'll need to convert analogue video to digital images. Cheaper cards usually do not deliver that Hi8-quality!

Once you're there you'll be able to grab any frame into a "still" image. Without a capture card something similar happens inside the camera: a single frame is digitised and repeatedly "broadcasted" to the videotape.

Perhaps because of the need of an expensive capture card (e.g. take a look at www.miro.com), a digital cam could just be easier/cheaper.

The other way around: do you want to take digital photos with an option of recording small bits of film....?

Standard resolutions of digital photography and digital video are not quite the same, so before you make any subsequent decision, you need to decide on your main goal: shooting photos or video.

And, due to the budget, a next step could be: are you buying new or 2nd hand....?
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by:CRAK
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I think jbrucejr's option of a VHS-C is the way to go.
After all: you wrote in your original question that it did not have to be great. "Good" was sufficient!
Compared to where you are now (no video at all): anything is an improvement!

And as tried to explain in my previous remark: video and photography are two different worlds. So two cams woul indeed be a logical choise. Unless you decide to get a cheaper capture board instead (consider: ATI all in wonder or Miro DC10).

And, as it is a gift, you don't have to work out the entire solution! With a camera your brother do the filming now to store future memories and in a later phase the "digitized processing" can always be added! Doesn't have to be you!
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by:jbrucejr
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Lauren2

jhance in his second post proposed the same idea that I put in my last one - so if this is the path that you go he should get the points.

To jhance - - sorry about repeating the ideas in your post, but I did not reread the whole thread before the last comment I made.

John
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by:magarity
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Rather than a video camera or still-only camera, you could get something like the Sony Mavica FD75.  This is a primarily still image digital camera that can also make 15 to 60 second short videos on floppy disk.  Smart shopping online yields prices in the $350 range.  The movie length depends on the resolution selected with, obviously, higher resolution lasting the shortest time.  These videos are viewable only on the computer, not the TV, but if you live far away they are small enough to email with even a relatively slow modem.

regards,
magarity
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by:VirusMinus
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Dear questionner/expert(s)

No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I'll leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is to be:

- PAQ'd and pts removed

Please leave any comments here within the next seven days.

==> PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER ! <==

VirusMinus
Cleanup volunteer
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by:jhance
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No, I suggest force accept to jhance.  His question as well as all follow ups were completely covered.
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by:jbrucejr
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I will second that the comments by jhance were right on the money.

I think that the comments he (and others) made are still relevant today, so if this Q is PAQ'd it would be of use to others.

John
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by:VirusMinus
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recommendation made in CleanUp.

Thanks
VM
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by:Netminder
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Per recommendation, force-accepted.

Netminder
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by:CRAK
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Can't believe you fell for that!
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by:Netminder
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CRAK,

We didn't fall for anything; you had just as much opportunity to comment on the recommendation as anyone. You're also free to post anything that you feel will add facts -- I realize that there are dozens of opinions on which camera is better for what (my girlfriend just bought one and my siblings have all weighed in on the subject) -- so if we can please keep it on that level.

We're not above making more points available for this question if necessary.

Netminder
EE Admin
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by:CRAK
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Please don't feel offended! I'm not arguing!
I know I could have responded and I know I didn't.
I was just enjoying how easy jhance got the point after all....
I'm around to help others and to have fun. And this was funny!
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by:Netminder
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CRAK,

There's nothing easy about it. A Cleanup volunteer made a recommendation. Two experts responded disagreeing with the recommendation, and one nominated the other's suggestion. The Cleanup volunteer changed the recommendation, and at least a week followed. I then closed the question, and THEN have to be concerned that perhaps the Cleanup volunteer and I had been unfair.

I don't see anything easy OR funny about it.

Netminder
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