I have been using my digital camera to capture video clips of my kids. But it dawned on me as I finally got round to editting some of it that I was going to be looking back on these relatively low quality clips one day and wish that I had invested in a proper camcorder. So I have been doing some research and here’s what i have come up with:
HD vs Standard Quality
There’s little point in buying trailing edge technology at the moment. Even looking back at old digital camera photos of my children from my first SONY CYBERSHOT 2 megapixel camera I regret not using a better quality camera. HD camcorders have come right down in price. The AVHD standard has been established and if you have a Apple Mac it works directly with imovie and if you have a PC the bundled software normally give you enough basic tools to get editting.
Tape / DVD or Memory cards
Tape is really a waste of time – although they are cheap; they are very vulnerable to getting stuck in your machine and my feeling is less moving parts the better. DVDs are better but they are often mini DVDs that don’t fit without a converter into a normal dvd player. They are still a moving parts and they can easily get tangled up. You also have to physically plug your camcorder into your computer to transfer files. With memory cards they are getting cheaper all the time, they are tiny, they have no moving parts – you can just plug them straight into most computers and transfer across directly.
I do a lot of filiming of clips for work for sermons, book plugs etc. The main problem when you need to capture vox pop material is that the microphones on the camcorders pick up all the ambient noise – traffic etc. So I had been looking for a camcorder with an external microphone socket. In the end I decided if I needed to shoot video for work I should use a work camcorder and it might help me keep a work / life balance thing going if I had a separate home camcorder.
So what I ended up looking for was the smallest, most robust, best quality camcorder I could find. I wanted one with a good lens, and so I read as many reviews as I could and this is what I landed on. There are some cracking deals on it at the moment – I picked mine up from Amazon. It’s a joint Christmas and birthday present from my wife and I to eachother – so I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet – I will fill you in after christmas! Amazon are offering £60 cash back on this at the moment – its very simple and our cheque arrived today so it works well. The machine is tiny – it feels very solid due its Titanium body – it will fit discreetly into a pocket / handbag so you can have it with you where ever you go which is exactly what you need so you don’t miss those magic moments. Initially I was worried about Memory Stick Pro – but it comes with a 4GB card on board and prices are still coming down. There’s also a JAMES BOND content deal on too.
Sony’s Handycam camcorder, HDR-TG3, delivers Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution video recording in a small, light, and slim camcorder perfect for travel or everyday recording. The stylish model incorporates a pure titanium body and Premium Hard Coating for superior resistance to even the smallest scratches, giving you the confidence to take the HDR-TG3 wherever you go. The HDR-TG3 records to convenient Memory Stick PRO Duo media, and Sony’s ClearVid CMOS Sensor (with Exmor derived technology) and BIONZ image processor provide spectacular video and stunning 4.0 MP still images. Additionally, Sony Face Detection technology automatically finds and enhances a face, beautifully recording your videos and photos.
Sony HDR-TG3 Highlights
1920×1080 Recording Record stunning, incredibly detailed video footage in the clarity of 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution.
|Lightweight and compact
Lightweight, Pure Titanium Body Slim and lightweight–only 8oz without the battery–the HDR-TG3’s body is constructed of high-quality pure titanium. Additionally, a Premium Hard Coating is applied on the body surface (except for hinge and lens ring area), providing superior resistance to scratches and fingerprints.
Face Detection for Video Footage and Digital Still Photos Made possible by the BIONZ image processing engine, Face Detection technology recognizes up to 8 faces anywhere in the frame and automatically controls focus, exposure, and colour to help capture smiling faces brightly and clearly. Face Detection technology also helps make skin tones look natural without affecting other colours in the image.
Supremely Mobile Design Sony has created a camcorder with the ability to fit in a shirt pocket, yet still capture stunning Full HD resolution video and 4.0 megapixel still images. Whether for personal or business use, around town or on vacation, the HDR-TG3 is the ideal travel companion for capturing those special memories.
2..3 Megapixel ClearVid CMOS sensor (with Exmor derived technology) and BIONZ image processor Sony’s newly designed CMOS image sensor delivers bright, vivid, and spectacularly detailed 2.3 megapixel (effective) video footage, as well as 4.0 megapixel still images–all with prolonged battery life. Exmor technology captures images with high resolution and high sensitivity. In addition, the advanced Sony BIONZ image processor improves camera response time and screens out noise so the signal from each pixel is as pure as possible.
2.7-inch Wide (16:9) Hybrid Touch Panel Clear Photo LCD Plus Display (211K Pixels) The 2.7-inch Wide (16:9) LCD screen provides exceptional viewing clarity with improved resolution (211K pixels). The display rotates up to 270 degrees for multiple viewing angles, as well as provides sharp, detailed images for monitoring or playback. The widescreen format makes shooting in 16:9 mode and composing shots even easier.
Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization System An advanced version of Super Steadyshot Picture Stabilization from Sony controls an even higher range of shake and vibration frequencies, to achieve an even higher level of smoothness without degradation of video like some other image stabilization systems.
10x Optical/20x Digital Zoom The optical zoom helps to bring the action close up from far away. In addition, Digital Zoom Interpolation means that extreme digital zooming is clearer, with less distortion than previous types of digital zoom.
Built-in zoom microphone with 5.1ch recording Featuring Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator, the built-in zoom microphone focuses audio recording on your subjects in sync with the camera’s zoom lens, helping memories ring true with clear dialogue and crisp, discrete sounds.
|Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens
Professional Quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lenses use highly advanced optics to deliver vivid image brilliance, true-to-life colour saturation, and perfect renditions of subtle tones.
Picture Motion Browser Software Supplied software makes it easier to upload, organize, search, and edit video and still images on your PC. With the included Handycam®Station, Picture Motion Browser software also provides one-touch operation to create a disc of your video or digital photos.
Dynamic Range Optimizer Powered by Sony’s exclusive BIONZ high-speed processing engine, D-Range Optimization preserves image data in bright highlights, such as suppressing “whiteout” in skies. When shooting in backlit settings, D-Range Optimization reveals more detail in shadows, preventing “blackout.” As a result, the captured image appears as natural as the original scene.
Dolby Digital 5.1ch Recording Record in Dolby Digital 5.1ch surround sound with the camcorder’s built-in microphone. Recording in 5.1 channel surround sound allows you to experience your home movies with active sounds coming from all directions, so you can enjoy your personal home movies the way you experienced them while recording.
Smooth Slow Recording By increasing the record rate from 60 fields per second (fps) to 240 fps for 3 seconds allowing you to capture 3 seconds of fast motion and play the video back in 12 seconds. This is great for analyzing a golf swing or a viewing a bird in flight. In addition, record an audio track to narrate what is being seen during the video.
x.v. colour Technology x.v.colour technology can capture or display nearly twice as many (1.8x) viewable colours than the standard RGB colour range. This provides a more accurate and vivid colour range, for a more natural, lifelike overall experience.
Dual Record While recording video in High Definition you have the ability to capture still images directly to Memory Stick Duo media (4GB3 Memory Stick PRO Duo media included).
Quick On Missing an important scene can be frustrating, especially if the reason is because your camcorder is turned off. With the ‘Quick On’ feature, the touch of a single button places that camcorder in Sleep mode. Another push instantly wakes the camcorder, so you’ll always be ready to capture special moments.
PhotoTV HD Viewing with HDMI Output With direct HDMI output to your compatible HDTV screen, you can view and share photos in breathtaking clarity and detail. You can choose between standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio–and with select Sony BRAVIA HDTV models, your photos are automatically optimized in sharpness, gradation, and colour reproduction.
Face Index Face Index makes it easier than ever to find and play back the right video scene. Using Face Detection technology, Face Index indexes your video footage according to the faces detected in each scene. When it’s time to play back video, simply search for what you want by selecting from among the detected faces displayed in the index.
Film Roll Index Like chapters in a book, Film Roll Index helps you easily find desired scenes in video footage. When using this feature, the camcorder previews the beginning of scenes and can create scene indexes set at specified display intervals (3, 6, or 12 seconds and 1 or 5 minutes).
One Touch Disc Burn Easily burn a DVD copy of your footage using the supplied software. Simply connect the camcorder to your PC via a USB cable and press the One Touch Disc Burn Button.
InfoLITHIUM Battery with AccuPower Meter System Unlike NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries, Sony’s rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries are not subjected to a life shortening “Memory Effect,” so you’re free to charge the battery at any time. Additionally, Sony’s exclusive AccuPower meter displays the battery time remaining in minutes, in either the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.
Handycam Station Simply placing the camcorder on the supplied Handycam Station provides quick connections to a TV for viewing or a PC for editing and sharing, all while charging the battery so your camcorder is always ready to go.
Stamina Battery Power Management System When using the Sony InfoLITHIUM Battery, the Stamina Battery Power Management System helps the camcorder prolong battery life for extra long continuous recording times from a single charge.
Battery Information At the touch of a button, battery information is displayed on the LCD screen when charging and when the camcorder is turned off. When using the LCD screen or viewfinder, the display will show how much the battery is charged–in 10% increments–and the recordable time left.
HDMI Connection with BRAVIA Sync (CEC) Technology HDMI connectivity provides a simple, high-quality video and audio connection, with the ability to transmit HD video and 5.1 channel audio directly from the camcorder to compatible HDTVs via a single cable. With BRAVIA Sync (CEC) technology, the HDMI connection also delivers the ability to control both the camcorder and HDTV using a single BRAVIA TV remote.
Built-in Intelligent Flash For added clarity and detail when taking pictures in low-light situations, the built-in flash improves pictures and reduces shadows.
BIONZ Image Processor The advanced Sony BIONZ Image Processor uses hardware-based Large Scale Integrated (LSI) circuitry that improves camera response time, screens out noise before RAW data conversion, handles Dynamic Range Optimization processing, and prolongs battery life.
Exmor Imaging Sensor Exmor technology captures video and still photo images with high resolution, high sensitivity, and exceptional detail. Advanced on-sensor A/D conversion yields rich tonal reproduction with high signal-to-noise ratio.
Tele Macro Function Images shot in the Tele Macro Mode help your subject stand out by properly focusing the subject while leaving the background unfocussed. The Tele Macro Mode is useful for shooting close-up shots, especially when you need to prevent the camcorder from casting a shadow on the subject.
Date Index Function Search recorded content by shooting date to quickly and easily find a specific scene.
Switchable HD/SD Format Recording Record and play back both High Definition (HD)4 and Standard Definition (SD) video.
USB 2.0 Interface The USB 2.0 interface provides an easy way to connect your camcorder to a PC for fast transfer of video and still images for editing.
Manual Focus Manually adjust the focus of the camcorder using the touch panel. Manual focusing also allows the user to control the focus in difficult situations where either the environment or the subject does not allow the camcorder’s auto focus to perform optimally, such as when shooting through a window or in a crowded environment.
Memory Stick PRO Duo Media Slot Capture still images directly onto Memory Stick PRO Duo media (sold separately) for easy transfer to PCs for emailing, printing, or sharing with other compatible Memory Stick devices (sold separately).
Fader Effects Enhance your personal videos by adding professional looking fader effects. Choose from Black and White.
Picture Effects Get creative when recording or playing back your videos with Sony’s Picture Effect Modes. Effects available in Camera mode: Monotone, Pastel and Sepia. Effects available in Playback mode: Monotone, Pastel and Sepia.
Scene Selection Modes Scene Selection modes make recording easy even when filming in challenging situations. Choose from Beach, Candle, Fireworks, Landscape, Portrait, Sports Lesson, Spotlight, and Sunrise and Sunset.