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HD Camcorders


What is your opinion on the market for HD camcorders?

-> Which manufacturer would you like to buy them from?

-> What are the features that you would expect from a HD camcorder?

-> What type of recording media do you expect to use?

-> Which codec do you want it to support? [ MPEG - 2 or MPEG - 4 or H.264 or AVC1 ]

Do pour in your views, and let us find out what each of us thinks about this upcoming market!
Go for Sony, you get most convenience in all respects.
Sony still relies on messy DV tapes to record HD video. Wouldn't it be better to record on to some media like hard-disk or flash?

Further, they do not compress video on the fly. This wastes storage space for home consumers who just want HD video of their vacations, and do not need to edit the content much later.

I still doubt whether Sony HD camcorders are really cost effective.

Maybe the features that I want are not in any HD camcorder yet. Basically that was the basic premise for starting the thread. I would just like people to list out their responses to the questions in the first post! Who knows, maybe there are some camcorder manufacturing people out here who might just take a look at people's opinions!
Hold up a sec!

I work with and around the media industry, in post production. And this will be a brief overview of HD camera technology, a dissertation could easily be written on HD cameras.

HD camcorders are in a way a no go. yes some productions do use them but they are few and far between, most use a very high end HD camera often SONY (I can't recall the name at the moment but if I remember I'll add it later) Yes they still use DV tapes which limits the data plus it is compressed into MPEG-2 compression which for the uninitiated is the same as DVD uses.

This is an issue as MPEG-2 works by capturing 1 in 6 frames and then a limited amount of data on the next 5. This means that the visual information is no longer 6 seperate frames but rather a data clip which lasts the duration of 6 frames (depends upon what region you are filming in) This problem is overcome in DVDs by varying the sampling sizes and setting the frame to be caputred. The camcorder won't do this and as a result anything which is not a still shot on a tripod will look horendous (I've seen this), also if you wanted to edit the footage (which works in a frame based system) there are complex and expensive processes to digitise the footage (lots of fun).

Another issue is that many of the lower cost and smaller cameras only use 1 chip rather than the much more neccessary 3 chips of professional cameras. The chips process seperate colours of the image Red, Green and Blue light (this is another complex process which I will not explain here).

I'd recommend a quick search on wikipedia about CCD chips, sampling (the process is the same for video and audio) and MPEG.

I wouldn't buy HD yet- and don't buy an HD ready TV- they use the wrong pixel size, even though they have an HDSI connection on the back. True HD TV's start at around 10,000 GBP.
That was a good viewpoint!

Yes, definitely the market for HD camcorders is not ripe yet.

As you have analyzed, the problem is basically with MPEG-2 Compression and the usage of DV tapes as the storage medium.

I guess Sony and Panasonic have tried to tackle this problem together by announcing the AVCHD standard which sets the H.264 compression as the standard.

You can read more upon AVCHD here:

When AVCHD camcorders come out in the market, do you think we are going to start moving from the 'no-go' situation?

Obviously, the first products using AVCHD would not be too perfect! I am looking at Sony competitors to better Sony's AVCHD designs. Let us wait and watch!
AVCHD does not look like a professional codec, I say this mainly because of the minidv tape usage. I get the feeling that because this is a rival to MPEG and HDDVD that it was designed with Blu-ray and the home market in mind, I very much doubt that we'll be seeing this in the professional world except for perhaps corporate videos.

What we really need are pieces of equipment which will capture uncompresed HD, but we won't see this for some time. That said with the introduction of the holographic disc from Maxell last month it might be closer than we think.

Certainly at the moment 'huge' and expensive pieces of kit are needed to uncompress and edit HD footage in real-time, involving multiple high rpm hard-drives and high speed cabling, the sample rates and data streams are imense compared to SD.

I think the main draw back of HD is that handheld/panning/tilting and generally any shot which involes more than a small amount of movement is blurred and loses all clarity. Still the BBC is pushing it and we will have true HD in the UK before the USA gets it Smile
my personal experience with the HD camcorders sorta friend has one and if the light isnt right it records at a rediculously slow framerate...
Do you know what camera he has got, because the HD cameras have an overly complex menu system within which you can set just about anything.

Me or Someone might be able to help your friend out.

Thing is though your friend is a bit of a pioneer of HD technology in PAL format, probably worth reporting to the manufacturer incase there is something up with it.
AVCHD is mainly meant for consumers, as in the people who go on vacations and want to capture those moments on HD.

It makes no specification about the media to store in. Sony wants to be the first in the market, and hence it goes in for the already tried and tested well option of miniDV tapes. With other companies getting into the market, I am sure we will see SD, Hard Disc, direct Ethernet streaming, WiFi streaming of the recorded content soon.

In reality AVCHD has nothing to do with either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. That is going to be left to the consumer as to which format he is going to finally record on from his PC. All that AVCHD dictates is the format in which it is going to be transferred to the PC.

As far as I know about the AVCHD specs, I think there is no mention of either recording on to Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. In any case, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD primarily differ in the type of storage media only (some minor secondary codec differences which can be handled by transcoding on the PC anyways), but that is a different topic altogether.

As far as capturing pieces of uncompressed HD goes, I will discuss that in detail soon!
RT Cunningham
Okay, I'm not a camcorder guru of any kind, but I bought a JVC HD camcorder a few months ago and have been using it off and on to film things. I have no problem transfering the video to my laptop and editing it with Nero.

I take hundreds of stills with it also. I don't have it in front of me. But in a side-by-side comparison with my son's Sony that uses DV tapes, mine blows his away in every aspect.

I think I paid $700+ at Fry's Electronics for it.
JVC HD camera?

Can you please give the model number? It is difficult to find proper HD camcorders for anything less than $1400 (at least for now)

The problem with the requirement of capturing uncompressed HD is that of storage. With HD content at 1080p, and 60fps becoming more and more common for consumers, the amount of data to be stored is just too much, even for a 30 GB hard-disk.

Why talk of HD, the simple task of taking 13 GB of data from a DV tape into the computer, and encoding it to burn it onto a DVD, even for SD is an overnight job for most machines. Imagine doing this for HD -- It would take a week, I guess!!

The solution is already here, and it is to get rid of the messy tapes. SD and hard-disk recorders are here to stay. However, SD cards of more than 4 GB capacity are not available right now. And with 4 GB, you get 20 minutes of SD video uncompressed.

If you want HD video to be stored on a SD card, there is no go but to compress it before storage. Real time encoding is the only solution. H.264 is already a de-facto standard, and tools for editing H.264 videos are already available in the market, if the need arises (Apple FinalCut Pro, for instance).

My belief is that the question now is to determine which manufacturer can capture this market with a reliable and satisfying product.
RT Cunningham
I'm sorry, the email notification for your post was stuck in my Gmail spam area.

I won't be able to give you the model number until I can find it. When we moved into our new house, my wife stuck it somewhere and I have yet to find it. I need it for more than just giving you the model number.

I'll post again when I locate it. She's not home right now -- but I'll get it as soon as she gets home.
Which manufacturer would you like to buy them from?
- Personally, now that Canon has come out with XL-H1, I would like that. (Previously it had been Sony HDR-FX1). Unfortunately, $9000 is too high a price tag for something like that.

What are the features that you would expect from a HD camcorder?
-One feature I would look for would be the ability to record full quality HD. I'm sure you would only get maybe 20 or so minutes on a tape, but there are situations where you would need the actual footage instead of the lossy compressed product.

What type of recording media do you expect to use?
-Either MiniDV or some sort of built-in hard drive.

Which codec do you want it to support? [ MPEG - 2 or MPEG - 4 or H.264 or AVC1 ]
-Preferably MPEG-4 (which is basically the same as H.264) simply because 10 minutes is only about 100MB! Very Happy
RT Cunningham
Okay, the camcorder I have is the JVC Everio model # GZ-MG21U. It has a 20 gig HD and the only things I bought were a bigger battery and an SD cartridge (for photos -- which I didn't really need but wanted just the same). It came with every cable I needed plus a remote.

My son had previously bought a Sony DV recorder. It did not come with all the necessary cables and only came with one DV tape. After he used mine once, he wanted to swap. Of course I said no way. His camcorder was about $400 and mine was about $700 -- I guess you really do get what you pay for.

I was trying to look up the specs for the camera model you mentioned. I was able to find out about the pricing, but there are no specs (like capture resolution, recording format [something proprietary?] etc.) It looks like a SD camera at first glance, though the reviews appear very good.


Chips for MPEG-4 compression in real-time are too power hungry. That is why H.264 (actually MPEG-4 Part 10) was developed, as it is amenable to single chip implementation. Also, capturing uncompressed HD is a costly proposition, much more if it is at 1080p. Storage is a big problem. MiniDV is out of the question, at least for consumers!
RT Cunningham
This may or may not help. I can record video in 16:9 or 4:3. The snapshots are all 4:3 I believe. The video saves as a .MOD file, but you change the extension to .MPG and it will play fine on a PC.

At my son's wedding, a friend used the camera to film the wedding but kept turning it off and on. The result was a about a hundred small .MOD files. I used Nerovision to import them all in the order taken (by timestamp) and export them as a single mpeg file.
RT Cunningham
I just wanted to take a moment to mention that I might not be the best judge of equipment. The JVC was the first camcorder I bought since the Panasonic over-the-shoulder humongous type that used VHS tapes that I bought in the 80's.
If you haven't alreay heard about it, RED offers, well, soon, a lineup of extremely good HD cameras made for the professional business, aswell as home use, for those of us with insane amounts of money, of course.

Here's an image of RED ONE
The RED camera is indeed quite a technological marvel, but it is meant to be more for independent film makers.

Though I personally haven't checked out the exact specifications of the product, it shouldn't come as a surprise if the whole camera is almost unportable, and consumes as much power as an ironing box would do.

In my humble opinion, consumers buying for home use want a camcorder which is light weight, consumes less power -- should at least last a couple of hours, if not more, on a single charge of the batters, so that they can take it along with themselves on vacations and other such activities.

With humble apologies to the RED team, I fear that their product is not aimed to cater to that segment of the market.
We have Aiptek, a relatively unknown low cost consumer electronic equipment manufacturer, debuting their first HD camcorder, the Aiptek Go-HD.

Details about the Go-HD can be found at this location:

Some of the digital camera enthusiasts have already bought this and reviewed it (also posted some sample videos taken through the camera) at this location:

Are we seeing the start of a new range of HD consumer products, considering that HD cameras have never been so cheap till now!?
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