Three Low Cost DVD Camcorders


We look at two offerings from Sony and one from Panasonic, all priced under $700.

One thing all three of these units have in common is no DV (FireWire - IEEE) or USB connections for the computer. The only way to get the data onto a computer system is by direct file transfer from the 8cm (smaller size 2”) DVD disk in the raw DVD file format or by composite video capture card (as all units do come with A/V cables). This even applies to the still picture end of the spectrum! If you want computer compatibility you must step up to the more expensive, higher end models from both Sony and Panasonic! Those this lap tops having slot feed may incur problems with the little disk, as pointed out to me by an Apple lap top user! It is unclear if the Sony widget used for their little CD disks (from the Mavica CD still camera) will work with a small DVD and lap top, so only drawer DVD players may be compatible.

The Panasonic VDR M53 has the most bang for the buck with a color viewfinders (not b&w or monochrome), 24 power optical zoom and slot for an SD card to hold your still pictures which are saved in 640 x 400 (VGA) format.

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On the downside the Panasonic only supports the most common DVD-R format, along with their own re-writable DVD-RAM format, which is not supported by a slew of DVD players or computers. This means no DVD+R, DVD+RW or DVD-RW disk allowed!

Sony, on the other hand, supports both DVD-R, DVD-RW as well as DVD+R (no support for DVD+RW on either offerings) so it is more compatible with more computers and players.

Sony probably also has the best lens, a Zeiss Tessar zoom with 20 power in the camcorder styled DVD92 model and 10 power in the walkman styled DVD7.

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The DVD7 doesn’t have a viewfinder so you can’t reduce power consumption by turning off the LCD screen, however you can hold this camcorder like a digital still camera, which might feel comfortable to some people.

The Sony DVD92 is a traditional camcorder styled unit with both monochrome (b&w) viewfinder and color LCD screen that is touch sensitive (so you can let your fingers do the walking over the on-screen menus). The DVD7 also has the same touch screen concept.

Both units record 640x400 still images on the disk and they recommend the RW disks if you want to erase the images, as the R disks are write once.

All of these camcorders use a tiny little new style Lithium ION battery with the ability to show you how much power is used or left on the battery.

For those not familiar with the technology, the “minus” DVD recording disks generally need to be formatted before use and closed (or finalized) before you can play them back in other DVD players. The “plus” DVD recording formats don’t generally require either formatting nor finalizing.

On the downside the “Plus” DVD disks aren’t as compatible with TV top DVD players as are the “Minus” disks, especially older units. To have an 80% chance of playback for either format your TV or computer DVD player must be no more than 2 years old. Any other than that you face a 50/50 chance of getting a playback. Any unit made before 2000 will probably not play either disk.

Also remember few DVD players support the Panasonic DVD-RAM format, however all Panasonic players made from about 1998 should play back the DVD-RAM disks with no problem! A few other makers also have supported DVD-RAM in the past.

A word of caution, as with CD-R burners you face “disk write errors” and in such an instance you may not be able to continue writing on a given disk (plus there is a maximum limit of 50 sessions per DVD) nor might you be able to finalize this disk, so it may only play back in your DVD camcorder – in rare instances even the DVD machine that made the disk may not be able to read heavily damaged disks! I’ve seen one instance with a user where this happened and all I could do was suggest they make a VHS copy of what they had for back-up as one day that disk may not read at all...

Finally, remember that the highest quality image format only allows for about 20 minutes of recording time on these little 2” (8cm) disks! You can cut the quality down a tad and get 30 minutes or cut the quality down a lot and get 60 minutes, but by now you are getting closer and closer to VHS quality.

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Our 2005 Video Special continues with these offerings::

Video Special 2005 | Intro To Digital TV | DVD or DV Camcorders?
High Definition DVDs | Future DV Mediums | Aiptek 5900 MP4 Camera
New HDV Technology from CineForm and RedRock Micro | Three Low Cost DVD Camcorders
64 Bit Computer Technology | New Fall 2005 US Prime Time TV Shows

Our video special continues with these offerings from 2004:

Camcorders 2004 | Capture Cards 2004 | HD-DVD
Digital Theatrical Movies | JVC HD Camcorder | Sigma SD9 and Foveon Technology
Color Imaging Technology | V-Chip | 2004 Network Prime Time TV Shows

From our archives with these offerings from 2003:

Camcorders | Hi-Def TV | Promote Ur Videos | Future of DVD | Computer DVD Burners
New US TV Shows for 2003-2004 Prime Time

From our archives we have these articles from the 2002 Issues:

Doing Video On Your Computer | The Pinnacle Capture Card | ATA Hard Drives
Hard Drive Terms | Western Digital Drives | Producing A Scripted iMac Video
Audio For Video | Lighting For Video | Digital VHS | Removable Hard Drives

From September 2001 Issues:

Buying a Camcorder | Producing A Cable Access Show | Producing Broadcast TV
A Technical Look and History of Film, Video and TV | Stream Video and Webcasting

HDTV | Capture Cards

 





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