10 Camcorder Roundup

The tests

It is the same principle as with our digital camera tests. All camcorders go through the same protocol, filming the same sequences in daylight, night, portraits, details, in wide angle or maximum zoom. Then we give you extracts so that you can compare results for yourself. Since the beginning of the year, we have installed a new test procedure, and so the comparison with older models may be difficult. 

2009 will determine the future of HD video. New models are arriving at an unbridled pace with different types of data support : cassettes (HDV), hard drive, DVD, and flash memory (AVCHD).

With the arrival of high definition, we are seeing video go through a new evolution and manufacturers are taking advantage of this to simultaneously increase formats, support and codecs. For this reason, it’s easy to get lost. So should we immediately switch to HD ? If you are an amateur film maker, is hard drive memory for you? Is it easy to edit in AVCHD ? There are many questions to be answered before we commit to a model.

The resistance to high definition

While high definition video is making a permanent place for itself, SD format (standard definition) isn’t dead yet. The mini-DV cassette is still putting up a fight and offers excellent image quality with the main advantages of easy editing and automatic archiving. On other memory formats like DVD or hard drives, camcorders record in MPEG-2 format. In terms of reading, this format is very easy to use. DVDs are directly read on home players and recording time is limited to one hour (which won’t bore viewers). If you like video marathons, the hard drive option is surely for you. While high definition video is full of promises, there are some obstacles, notably with AVCHD, which only some software can recognize. Luckily, it’s still possible to record or export videos in SD or HD for more versatility. Otherwise, the difference between the two formats is obvious with an impressive level of detail for the latter. Once you’ve tried it, it could be difficult to go back to anything else.
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  • It's a troubling trend that nearly all consumer/prosumer camcorders are ditching the EVF in favor of the LCD, which is useless outdoors. I really liked the Canons, given their feature set and quality, but the lack of EVF was killer (the only model with EVF was the HG21, and that was impossible to find), and so I got a Sony SR12 instead. Great features are useless if you can't see what you're filming, unless you're doing all your work indoors.
  • g-thor
    I am only part way through the article, but I have to say that comparing the Vado (about $100) with even the Canon DC210 (about $400) just doesn't wash. If you had at least mentioned the price disparity, it might have been acceptable, but the Vado isn't aimed at the same market. Plus, the VADO HD is available, yet the article says, "but we're still waiting for the HD version of the Vado."

    For me, this weakens the journalism and therefore weakens the reviews in general. It makes me wonder, did you really do due diligence in the review. Maybe your article lead time is too long, but that's where an editor can add notes, like, The Vado HD was released just after this review was completed.

    Just my two cents worth.
  • michaelahess
    I'll stick with my Canon HG10, EVF , 40GB HD, hotshoe, Mic input, perfect HD image....None of these compare.
  • flemlion
    At first I thought this was an old article that had slipt through RSS a second time, but no it was recent.

    The reason is because I would not know for any reason to still review the Panasonic HDC-SD1. It's multiple generations old and you might be hard pressed to even find it. The four generations younger HDC-SD9 would be a lot better candidate even if it is not the latest generation, but it is still a reference with regards to value for money.
  • bladefist
    I haven't red it entirely, buy giving a '+' for a microphone (7.Panasonic HDC-SD1) is (imho) a joke. You can give a minus for no-audio recording, but giving a plus for a microphone is just too much!
    2) You give a minus to Sony HDR-UX3 for lacking Image Stabilisation, and how about Sony HDR-SR11E - does it have IS or doesn't? JVC GZ-HD40 for example got a minus for medicore IS ...

    I'd rewrite this article ... to some exent ..
  • Panasonic HDC-SD1 is too old. There were SD5, SD9, and now SD100. The last one is a way better than SD9. So, what is the need to review HDC-SD1?