Advice sought for buying new camcorder?

  spider9 08:51 28 Dec 04

Upgrading from old analogue to digital camcorder and need help!
My requirements are pretty basic, I want to be able to 'shoot' holidays, family etc and put onto CD to be able to keep, and watch on my DVD player ( and computer).
The ability to do basic editing would be useful.
My questions are, what camcorder spec would be sufficient, and would I require any 'extras' in terms of my computer - any recommended models of camcorders?
My 'system' is 1733Mz pentium4, 20Gd hard rive (12.5 free) and there is 240 Mb memory installed.
Any (not TOO technical advice) for a novice would be gratefully received.

  Lead 09:09 28 Dec 04

Editing video on a PC can be quite memory intensive, I would seriously consider getting more RAM.

Video files can also take up quite a lot of space, so depending on how long you want to keep them it may be an idea to get a larger hard drive. But if you get into the habit of editing what you record and putting it straight onto CD, you should be ok with your 12.5gb.

I quite like the look of the camcorders that record straight to discs instead of tapes, but can't offer any advice on which to choose i'm afraid. (FYI I have a Sony MicroMV camcorder and wouldn't buy another due to MMV compatability issues.)

  spider9 09:42 28 Dec 04

Thanks, Lead, I would be transfering straight away to disc for keeping.
I have already been looking into more memory from Crucial site, another 512Mb I reckon.
I have XP, would this be able to cope with basic editing or would I need other software? Should I install a 'firewire' card?
Trying to be as sure as possible about these matters before I purchase!

  961 10:43 28 Dec 04

The first thing you need in a camcorder is a good lens. Without that, all is lost. Sony and Canon are good. Digital zoom rates do not matter, you'll only use optical zoom ratios. I prefer using tape because I find it easier to work with. Ensure you get a good viewfinder on the camera as shooting while looking at the screen is often impossible during bright sunlight. The camera must have in AND out sockets for the firewire connection to the pc, otherwise editing is difficult. Some cameras only have dv out, don't buy one of these
You'll need a firewire card for the computer (Novatech around £25 or so) and software for editing the tape and burning the disc. Microsoft have a basic movie editing programme available for free download to use with xp. Its easy to use and will give you an idea of what you want if you then go on to buy a more sophisticated programme. You'll also need a programme to burn DVD's and cd's. Ensure the dvd player you buy to use with the tv is compatible with the dvd burner you have in the computer click here

  Pamy 10:55 28 Dec 04

Hi spider9,would agree that more memory would be benificial but also a larger (120Gb)second hard drive used just for video work. Also recommend you have a "Firewire Card". Ensure that the dv camcorder does have a "Firewire" Out socket,(most do)and recommend that you stick with DV tape system (mini DV) Last recommend that you read "Digital Video Made Easy" magazine.


  spider9 11:06 28 Dec 04

Thanks, 961 and Pamy, lot of good info.
I have been looking at a Canon MV730i which has dv in/out.
Will get a firewire connection for my computer.
Lost me a little with the second hard drive recommendation though! For use with just video - how would you arrange it to do just that? As you see I am no expert (hollow laughter at this statement!).
But I am now feeling a bit easier about what to purchase, and I will certainly look out for the magazine.
Thanks again

  €dstowe 16:21 28 Dec 04

I would suggest you install another hard drive and reserve that for video processing.

Some video rendering software can require upwards of 40GB per hour of video for processing purposes. This is all recoverable when you've finished but it is needed whilst you're working on the project. Another reason for a separate drive is that Windows is very untidy about where it places files and with such large files are as created in video work, a hard drive can soon get into a real mess. It is best to format the drive often and for this, you need a separate drive unless you want to spend lots of time installing all your computer software every few weeks.

  Cara2 18:43 28 Dec 04

Take a look at click here

Excellent advice and forums.

  spider9 19:35 28 Dec 04

Many thanks again,£dstowe & Cara2, it really is good to be able to get advice so promptly. I think I now start to understand why a second hard drive is better.
Will now look further into these things and will let you know my final decision (or ask more Qs!!).
Happy New Year to all.

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