View Full Version : Suggestions for a Digital Camcorder

12-05-2007, 08:21 PM
Hi All,

My first post on this forum and I was wondering if you all could help me out.

My boyfriend is a PA and I know he wants to start shooting some things on his own. I though it would be cool to get him a digital camcorder that he could create something with for Christmas. He has a MAC laptop, so it would be nice if it was compatible with that.

I'd like to keep it under $500.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to a good camcorder in that price range?

This is really out of my area of expertise and if I'm not using the correct terms please let me know.

Thank you so much for your help.

Will Vincent
12-05-2007, 08:36 PM

I think unless you look at used cameras you'll be hard pressed to find much under $500, but the good news is that any DV camera (miniDV, HDV, etc) should work just fine with a mac laptop.

I can highly recomment Panasonic, their PV-GS line has some nice cameras.. Ideally you would want to get a 3-ccd camera with an external mic jack and as many manual controls as possible. The corvette would be a panasonic dvx100, but even a used one is going to run you at least double your $500 price point.

I'm currently using a canon HV20, which is a HDV camera so it will shoot high definition and standard definition video, and uses a single cmos sensor vs. the 3-ccd sensors. I've been very happy with the image quality, and while it may not be a top of the line camera, it's not too far out of reach from your $500 limit (MSRP is $1200, but street price has been fluxuating between $700 and $850 lately).

Hope that helps a little

12-06-2007, 12:58 PM
It gets really tricky when advising on "good".

In the $500 range there aren't any "good" cameras. But all of them
can be used to create something. So in that price range you can
go to any retailer, pick up the first one you see and you'll be
fine. Make sure it uses tape (miniDV) or records to a built in
hard drive and not to DVD. Sony, Canon, Sharp and Panasonic all
make camcorders in the $500 range that your boyfriend can use to
create something and that is compatible with his Mac.

When you get into the "good" range there are three things that are
VERY important when getting a camera:

Three CCDís
Manual controls for the iris, shutter, focus and white balance.
A microphone input.

There are no cameras in the $500 range that have all those
features. Very close is the JVC GZ-HD3 is a nice starter camera
that records to a 60GB HDD with manual controls and a mic input.
It can be found for around $800.

In the around $1,000 - $1,500 range there are currently only 4:

The Panasonic series (PV-GS300, PV-GS400, PV-GS500) are terrific
3CCD cameras. It seems the 400 is hard to find and thatís too
bad. Itís a great little camera. But the 500 is still an
excellent starter camera with the essentials.

Sony DCR-HC1000 is very similar to the Panasonic cameras. If
youíre more comfortable with Sony, this is the camera for you.

I like the new JVC GZ-HD7. Iíve seen these on line for as little
as $1,200. A really nice Fujinon lens makes a huge difference and
full manual controls is important. Three 1/5í 16:9 progressive
scan CCDís are pretty impressive for a camera in this price
range. It records directly to a built in 60GB hard drive.

Close is the Canon HV20. It records in HDV (1080i) and 24p (60i),
has a mic input and manual controls of white balance and focus
but it uses one 1/2.7Ē CMOS sensor rather than 3 CCDís. For me
the jury is still out on the CMOS. And itís so small the handling
is difficult.

Don't let the numbers (1080i, 24p) or the acronyms (HDV, HDD)
confuse you. For a beginning filmmaker like your boyfriend none
of that really matters right now. Check on line at B&H Photo ( for
the cameras mentioned or at a retail store near you and he will
be happy with any of the cameras mentioned.

Will Vincent
12-06-2007, 06:31 PM
You're going to have to program that response into a macro or something.. This is the third time I've seen essentially the same (very good) info from you. Only the wording changes slightly.. but all the same info is there.. :D

12-07-2007, 12:49 PM
People are always looking for camera information and the cameras
don't change that much. I try to "test drive" all the above $2,500
cameras and even some of the cheaper ones to keep up. I even
bought the JVC HD7 after testing it.

So I keep this info and just copy/paste for the new people who ask. I
try to make it a little personal - this is a friendly place.

I also have my POV on the high end cameras, too. But it's rare that
people ask about the above $3,000 cameras.

I'm testing driving the JVC HD3 this weekend. It looks like a
nice little camera.

05-22-2008, 05:52 PM
Panasonic GS320 is like $300.00 and is supposed to be a great camera. Goodluck

09-09-2009, 01:07 PM
I really like the Canon FS line. I have an FS100 which i think they don't make anymore. I'd buy an FS200 in a hot second if I needed another camera.

09-09-2009, 01:37 PM
I have a Sony Handycam DCR-SR55E as a basica camera. But it seems that one it outdated allready. They're a good line of cameras, I expect the newest models are good too.