Tuesday 14 July 2009

A new HD camcorder

About eight years ago I bought a Panasonic NV-DS15 mini-DV camcorder (just after DS1 was born), and was very happy with the quality of the recordings. However, problems developed while we travelling in Europe last year - the camera battery would only last 10-15 minutes between overnight charges, and the tapes got stuck during reloading a couple of times. I had been thinking of just buying a new battery (a "compatible" battery would probably cost around $50), but if that hadn't fixed the tape loading problems a service would end up costing as much as buying a new camera!

I'd also considered buying a new mini-DV format camcorder, to maintain compatibility with the existing tape collecting (and to use up my stock of blank tapes), but the cheapest models still cost around $200, and mini-DV isn't cutting-edge technology by any stretch of the imagination.

In the end I decided to order a Kogan "Full HD" digital camcorder online for around $380 (after a 5% discount coupon code, plus shipping). New stock (which has HDMI output) is due to ship on 24 July, so I expect to have the camera to play with by the end of this month. Aside from the relatively low price for getting 1920x1080 resolution, this camcorder hasn't got a great feature-set, and reviews have highlighted it's budget-level build quality. There are also some limitations that would be intolerable on a higher-priced product, such as no external mic facility, the internal mic being side-mounted, a slow, modest 5x optical zoom, and the fact that the automatic image stabilization only works in standard definition mode, not when operating in HD resolution mode. However, I honestly don't expect to be bothered by many of these missing or limited features. After all, I never used an external mic with my previous SD digital camcorder, hardly ever used a tripod mount, and only used the IR remote control unit once or twice!

One big plus is that the Kogan provides USB connectivity to download the MOV files to my PC, or I can just swap out the SD card in the same way as my digital SLR camera. I never got around to downloading my mini-DV recordings to my PC using the firewire connector (even though I paid a few dollars extra to get a firewire port on my Dell desktop PC), so the new camcorder will make it more likely I'll actually edit some of my home movies in future.

I'll be interested to see what the battery life is like under 'real' conditions. One review was critical, but according to the specs it should be reasonable: Li-ion 3.7V 1700mAh Rechargeable Battery (with 2-3 hours recording time). I'll be happy to get one hour one a full charge, which is similar to my old camera when the battery was brand new. I've no idea how long a full recharge will take.

The Kogan camcorder has a seven day money back guarantee, so I'll give it a work out the first weekend after it arrives and decide whether or not to keep it.

ps. Just after I'd ordered the Kogan camcorder online, I came across a link that showed the same camcorder (? apparently - but re badged as Audiosonic) had been on sale for $199 (normally $279) from KMart back in June! I'm not sure if KMart still sells this camcorder, but it may be worth looking for it in KMart before my order gets shipped on the 24th.

Once I've had a play with the camcorder I'll post a review.

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1 comment:

Bob at HD Camera Guide said...

Can't wait for the review.

In the meantime, go to www.hdcameraguide.com/camcorder and enter the free camcorder giveaway. Free must sound pretty good after your stock market experience.