Last year entry level was close to $3,000 this year Sanyo has introduced an HD camcorder priced around $750, making it as affordable as the DVD camcorders were two years ago!
Sporting more than 5 megapixels (as little as 2 MP can be used to make an HD signal) on a chip that is almost half an inch in size (the average DV Mini camcorder uses a 1/6th or 1/4th inch chip) this unit uses the alternative 720p method of HDTV (same as used by the ABC TV network in the US).
The 16:9 matrix measures 1280 by 720 in 30frames/30 fields progressive mode as well as the SDTV standard of 480i with a matrix of 720 by 400 at 30 frames/60 fields.
Remember, however, you often get what you pay for and some SD camcorders actually deliver a sharper picture than this HD unit does, largely because they use a different recording format. Sanyo chose to use MPEG 4, while most DVD camcorders and digital TV sets use MPEG2. This can also make transfer to computers for video editing more difficult as you may need an 720p HD and 480i SD MPEG4 Codec in your software package.
It has a direct to TV digital output, plus USB 2.0, composite and S-Video. Through the re-charge docking station you can send still or video images to computer, TV or VCRs.
The real downside, however, is that storage is done on SD cards, which cost about $40 to deliver only 41 minutes of HDTV video. The real downside is you need to quickly transfer this to something like a computer or DVD burner for storage. DVD burns would convert the 1280 x 720p full motion video into SD video at 720 x 480i or p. So you’re back where you started! If you want to keep your HD videos you need to buy new cards or wait for an HDDVD or Blu-Ray burner to come down in price from the current $3,000.
On the other hand, remember that a Mini DV or DVD camcorder fills only the center of an HDTV set. A 1280 x 720 HD set must triple the picture size while a 1620 x 1280 HDTV set must quadruple the size of your SD camcorder images. This unit flops an exact 1280 x 720 image onto small HDTV sets and only requires spreading the image 35% to fill a larger format HDTV.
You’re not going to get a clear picture from an HDTV camcorder until you get closer to triple the price of this Sanyo (but these record in Mini DV-C tapes which only cost $5 each), which some on-line outlets sell for under $600.
This is a very nice entry level HD camcorder for someone who owns a big screen projection, LCD or plasma HDTV set.
SONY HDR HC3
Mini DV HD camcorder
Fixed Hard Drive HD Camcorder
3” DVD R HD Camcorder.
All models are in the 1080i format using a 1/3” CMOS sensor instead of the more traditional CCD sensors found in most other camcorders. It had 2,100,000 pixels of which 1990 K are used for both still and video images. It sports a 10 power Zeiss optical zoom, one of the best lenses made.
Recording is to DV-C mini tapes on the HC-3, same tapes as found in most home digital camcorders and you get the same 60 minutes of recording time due to the use of MPEG2 technology (general SD camcorders use AVI type technology which has less compression than MPEG2).
It has I Link for data transfer and also supports USB 1.1, primarily for still images. It also has component video output (Y/Pb/Pr).
At $1500 this unit is a bit pricey for most consumers but in the long run you’ll probably get better image quality on your HDTV set using the native 1080i format with the Zeiss lens and save a few bucks with the $5 each Mini DV-C tapes over the SD memory cards used in the Sanyo.
The HC-1, priced around the same, is a hard disk version of this camera (30 GB fixed drive).
The UX-1, is a 3” full sized DVD recordable using a new AVCHD format process that is, surprisingly, Blu-Ray player compatible (Sony warns against playing these disks in a conventional DVD player) but still use standard DVD R and RW disks in both the plus and minus formats!
Recording time and other information is sketchy as this unit is not yet in release and won’t be out until late October.
CANON HV 10
Mini DV-C HD Camcorder
Using a similar type of CMOS technology that Canon employs in their EOS Digital Rebel Still cameras, plus Canon made lenses this 1080i camcorder is not a bad deal.
It has a just slightly larger than 1/3” CMOS and records at a full 2.07 mega pixels (the Sony did 1.99 mega pixels) and supports USB 2.0.
Priced around $1500
All of the camcorders listed have 10x Optical Zooms and digital stabilizer.