Digital Video Camera - what to look for?

  Camille 16:48 04 Jul 04
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My 12yr old son wants a digital video camera for his birthday - I've seen a Mustek one for about £90 which seems ludicrously cheap. What specs should i be looking for? I don't want to spend loads, but then again, I don't want to buy something that's useless. Any advice?

  Diodorus Siculus 17:07 04 Jul 04

Get about 2 mega pixels and if possible a 3x optical zoom. That will be possible for about £100 or so for a branded camera. Amazon do some good deals at times as do internetcamerasdirect.co.uk.

  Diodorus Siculus 17:08 04 Jul 04

Sorry, I missed out the crucial word "video" - can't comment on them, I'm afraid... :-(

  961 17:12 04 Jul 04

The quality of the lens is everything. Whatever price you pay...£100 -£500, if the lens is rubbish it will end up in a drawer.

My own advice is to buy Canon - for the lens quality. Others will swear by other makes, but you know the top quality brands yourself without us telling you

Then you need a camera with a zoom lens. A 3x zoom lens is not expensive and is all you need. Ignore cameras with a fixed lens and a "digital" zoom. All they do is select the middle bit of the picture and enlarge it, degrading quality in the process

You need it small, so it can go in a pocket. Folk with large cameras slung over their shoulder while they walk down the tourist route are asking for trouble. If it fits in your pocket it's out of sight

You'll need to budget for a bigger memory card because the ones supplied with cameras are usually very small and hold only a few photos. You also may need to buy high quality re chargeable batteries and a charger

The best advice is to go into somewhere like Jessops and pick their brains. You don't need to buy there and then. They'll tell you which ones are worth buying and which ones to avoid. Because models change quite often they may be able to show you some models which have recently been discontinued and are being sold at reduced prices

  961 17:15 04 Jul 04

Sorry, I missed the "video" word as well. Apart from the memory card though everything else applies to video cameras as well.

  Salinger 20:01 04 Jul 04

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  siouxah1 22:50 04 Jul 04

Hi 8

Video 8

VHS C.

Of these the best is Digital (Mini DV tapes), then Hi 8 to 8mm tapes, then Video 8 followed by VHS C. The first two are digital, the others analogue. I would suggest at least Hi 8. Try to avoid analogue if you can. Mini DV if you can manage it.

Decide on your budget. Don't buy at the very bottom or you will be little pleased with the result.

An optical zoom of about 8 to 10x is more than enough. Ignore the massive digital zoom figures. Useless. You will need a connection out from the camcorder. The best is Firewire, 1394, DV. They all mean the same. If you are in anyway serious try to get DV in as well as. (This costs more but can be useful). they all tend to have an analogue out for connection to TV.

As an aside have a good look at the battery cost as most are LiIon and can cost an arm and a leg.

Evaluate what you intend to do with the footage from the camera. You will need at least a capture card in your PC for analogue or a Firewire card for Digital. This will allow you to capture footage to PC. You will need editing software and a means to put your edited footage onto tape, CDR or DVD.

If you are new to video it can be a steep learning curve but very satisfying when you have success.

I will try to look out a site or two for you to investigate, if I can find them.

As previously suggested go to Jessops and pick their brains. They usually have a good camera or two in stock.

This is just a starter for you.

Personally I use Panasonic. Do the job very well.

Brian j

Here are a couple of sites to give idea of price breaks.

click here

click here

  siouxah1 22:54 04 Jul 04

Seem to have missed the first line or so.

There are varying types of camera.

Digital (Mini DV)

then as above.

Add:- Don't be too fussy about in camera transitions etc. These are best done on the editing stage.

  Totally-braindead 22:59 04 Jul 04

Look at this months PC Advisor.

  georgemac 09:24 05 Jul 04

click here pcadvisor top 5 but maybe more than you were wanting to lash out

click here a review site, hopefully will have lots of info, it is a us site but the info will be good

I still have my analogue camcorder bought in 1997, don't even know if it works, has not been switched on for over a year! If you go with panasonic, canon or sony you will not go wrong, and I agree, try to get the end of an old range model which should be on sale, grab a bargain.

if you are really after a cheap one, mustek do have a good reputation for electronics, don't know about the lens though. review of dv3000 click here classed as a toy cam.

amazon's cheapest good branded digital camcorder click here is a sony, and you can read customer reviews here also

good luck

  Camille 18:49 06 Jul 04

thanks - you can tell I don't know much about these 'camcorders'!
I'm buying it for my 12 year old who wants to film himself and his friends skatboarding. It's more a fun purchase than anything serious. The one I was considering is this:
MUSTEK Digital Camcorder - DV 5000 / DV5000 Digital DivX / MPEG4 Camcorder / Still Camera For PC ( Dv5000) ( Digital Cam Corder ). It costs about £90 and I wondered if it sounded any good?

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