Overview of the Hottest Camcorders of 2008 | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio
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Overview of the Hottest Camcorders of 2008

By Kendall Scott/John Patrick Regalado/Vincent A Randazzese & Jack Fettman

Today's consumers have a lot of great options for image capture. Is it your calling to reach out to the many communities online, family, friends, business associates, or the big screen? This brief review touches upon the top camcorders within their class. Depending on your interests and work flow, all the camcorders below are high-quality and feature-rich, and represent the top models of 2008 in their class. We hope you will find this review significant and helpful.

Standard-definition:

MiniDV

Canon ZR-900 Sony DCR-HC62

DVD

Sony DCR-DVD610

Shoot and Share

Flip Digital Ultra and Mino

Adventure Cams

VIO POV.1 Twenty20 VholdR Sanyo VPC-E2

Flash Media

Canon FS-10

Hard Disk Drive

Sony DCR-SR45 Panasonic SDR-H40

 

High-definition:

HDV

Canon HV-30

AVCHD DVD

Sony HDR-UX5

Shoot and Share

Aiptek GO-HD

Flash Media

Canon HF-100
Canon HF-10

Hard Disk Drive

Sony HDR-SR11

 

 

Sony DCR-HC62 Canon ZR-900
Sony DCR-HC62 Canon ZR-900

 

Mini DV

The Sony DCR-HC62 Mini DV camcorder is a whole lot of camera at a compact size and price. It is chock-full of features that are designed to help you shoot like a pro, even if it is your first time out. Super SteadyShot Picture Stabilization compensates for camera shake to help deliver smooth and steady results every time, and its professional-quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar optics maintains image sharpness. The 2.7" LCD touch screen makes for intuitive use and easy menu navigation and has the added ability to swivel 270 with on-screen zoom and record buttons. In addition, if you have ever wanted to gain better performance in low-light situations, the Super NightShot Plus infrared system yields enhanced results, even in total darkness.

The Canon ZR-900 is an unbeatable deal for features and price point. It's a versatile yet friendly camcorder for anyone, and ideal for the budding filmmaker. Canon still prides itself on putting the needs of the customer first. It features an unbelievable 41x advanced zoom feature with smooth zoom control for excellent close-ups, an external microphone input, image stabilization, DIGIC DV image processor, and built-in lens cap to round out this entry-level starter pack.

Canon VIXIA HV30
Canon VIXIA HV30

 

HDV

The Canon VIXIA HV30 exhibits great ergonomics and a perfect blend of features that all come together in this dynamic performer. Experienced or budding documentary filmmakers who don't want to break the bank: look no further. Its large 2.96MP 1/2.7" Full HD CMOS with an internal RGB filter and exceptional DiGiC DV II HD signal processing technology is responsible for capturing vibrant images with deep, rich, accurate colors and natural-looking tones similar to what you'd obtain from higher end 3-CCD camcorders. One of the HV30's main selling points, coveted by many videographers wishing for a "film-like" look, is 24P and 30P frame rate recording capabilities. Hailed by many as the prosumer HD camcorder leader, the HV30 is a great tool that records brilliant video.

Sony DCR-DVD610Sony DCR-DVD610Sony DCR-DVD610
Sony DCR-DVD610

 

DVD

The DCR- DVD610 DVD camcorder offers the ultimate in convenience by allowing you to enjoy your footage almost immediately in your DVD player, Blue-ray Disc player, computer, or even PlayStation 3 video-game console. And now with DVD+RW media there is no need to finalize your disc and render it unusable for further recording; simply insert it into a compatible player and then back into the DCR-DVD610 recorder for more recording. What makes this camera a Hybrid is its ability record to DVD media and onto removable Memory Stick media. This allows you to dub photos and video directly onto DVD without the need for a computer. It also utilizes Sony's NightShot Plus infrared system for low- or no-light situations, quick on for instant shooting, and manual focus for making adjustments in difficult shooting situations.

Sony HDR-UX5
Sony HDR-UX5

 

AVCHD DVD

The HDR-UX5 high-definition DVD camcorder represents an excellent value in performance, and the convenience of direct DVD HD recording. It is capable of shooting sharp still 4.0-megapixel still images. Analyze fast-motion applications like tennis strokes and golf swings with this camcorder's slow record video mode. This mode increases the video record rate for three seconds, and then plays it back in 12 seconds. In addition, the slow record mode offers the capability of adding your own voice-over. To ensure that your video and stills imagery reveal richer colors with great detail, your footage is first captured by the camera's advanced Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens and processed by a large 1/3" CMOS sensor. The HDR-UX5 is compatible with DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD+R dual-layer discs for easy shooting and storing. You will never have to worry about getting that all-important, low-light moment with Sony's Super Night Shot Infrared System that keeps you filming in total darkness up to 10 feet away.

Pure Digital Flip UltraPure Digital Flip Ultra Pure Digital Flip MinoPure Digital Flip Mino
Pure Digital Flip Ultra Pure Digital Flip Mino

 

Shoot and Share

The popular Flip Digital Ultra camcorders pack high-quality performance into an attractive design that just begs you to take one along on family vacations, that special night out on the town with friends, or simply tossed in your bag for the day you want to capture a special moment. With its 2GB of internal memory and integrated USB connection, you will be able to shoot up to one hour of video and then easily upload your files to your Mac or PC without a hitch. The built-in FlipShare software lets you easily organize, edit, and share your memorable moments, and e-mail and publish your work online. With the Flip, it has never been easier to share your videos with friends and relatives while also being able to post directly to AOL, MySpace, and YouTube. It operates on standard AA batteries so you will always be able to keep an extra supply handy, and the included connector will let you enjoy that footage on your TV for playback on the "big screen."

If the Ultra is not compact enough for you, the Flip Mino is 40% smaller, features a convenient internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and gives you the ability to create custom one-of-a kind case graphics with the Flip online pattern generator.

Sony DCR-SR45
Sony DCR-SR45

 

Hard Disk Drive

This Sony's hybrid HDD/Memory Stick camcorder combines several media options to bring you a technological gem that grants you versatility and dependable performance. The DCR-SR45 sports a 30GB internal hard disk that will give you up to seven hours at its highest quality recording setting, and up to 20 hours in LP mode. Never skip a beat, record that long lecture, or escape and capture the excitement on your next vacation. The long 40x optical zoom keeps the action up close and personal. Capture all the enthusiasm of your child receiving that award or scoring that goal. To make certain that your video recording sustains great imagery all day, the multiple scene mode selection helps you get the best results in challenging situations such as candlelight, snowy conditions, fireworks presentations, beach settings, and sunsets. Alternatively, if you would rather use removable media, make use of Memory Sticks to extend your recording time or offload material from the internal hard disk. Sony includes software that enables "One Touch" DVD disc burning to your PC via USB.

Panasonic SDR-H40
Panasonic SDR-H40

The Panasonic's SDR-H40 camcorder is able to record for hours without having to reload tapes or discs. This compact hybrid standard definition HDD camcorder records to either its internal 40GB hard drive (which holds up to nine hours at its highest XP setting, all the way to 36 hours of video in its LP mode) or to an optional SD/SDHC (high-capacity) memory card. This camera's smart zoom in and out microphone identifies the sound source of your subject for top-quality audio recording. It includes a 2.7" wide LCD screen, 16:9 widescreen record mode and a night recording mode, which lets you capture video in low light environments.

Sony HDR-SR11 Sony HDR-SR11
Sony HDR-SR11

 

AVCHD Hard Disk Drive

The middle child does not usually get all of the attention (the HDR-SR10 is its little brother and the SR-12 is its bigger brother), but this is not so when it comes to the Sony HDR-SR11 hybrid AVCHD hard drive camcorder. The solid SR-11 stands on its own two feet just fine. It offers the great benefit, to both families and professionals, of flexible hybrid HD recording onto either its large 60GB internal hard drive or onto a removable Memory Stick media cards. The 60GB hard drive can record up to seven hours and 10 minutes of full 1920 x 1080 HD footage, plus a remarkable 10.2Mp still-image capture. To enhance and facilitate your HD recording experience, the SR11 includes a large 3.2" wide clear and accurate LCD monitor, a large 1/3" 5.6Mp ClearVid CMOS Sensor with Exmor Technology and BIONZ image processor, face detection system that recognizes up to eight faces, built-in zoom microphone with 5.1 channel recording, and a specially designed 15x optical zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens that looks at the world with the visual acuity of an eagle, while its T* coating reduces and prevents glare in your images.

 

Adventure POV (point-of-view) Cams

V.I.O. POV.1V.I.O. POV.1
V.I.O. POV.1

Before you even turn it on, you will immediately notice the beautiful, well-thought-out design of the VIO POV.1 Adventure "point-of-view" camera system. It is a piece of gear that instills the confidence you need to successfully capture your next adventure film or action scene. Mount the camera head on your helmet, pack, or vehicle, and enjoy waterproof, shock-resistant, hands-free shooting. The recording unit features a full-color display, and it even comes with a wearable wireless remote to activate recording in any number of imaginative situations. Solidly constructed, it provides a wide 110 field of view, and records in excellent 720 x 480 video-quality resolution. It comes with a selection of accessories to get you up and running, such as a variety of mounting options, a 1GB SD card, a zippered carrying case, USB and A/V cables, and software that allows you to drag and drop video clips both to and from your computer as well as edit and share your work on the Web.

Twenty20 VholdRTwenty20 VholdR
Twenty20 VholdR Wearable Camcorder

Mount the Twenty20 VholdR, with its rugged brushed-aluminum casing, on your helmet, handlebars, boat mast, or in almost any other position you can conjure. Dual lasers keep your shots level in the field and a mini USB 2.0 output makes computer uploading a snap when you get home. A single record control button is easily accessed with gloved fingers and an audible beep confirms that you are rolling and ready to go. Capturing POV (point-of-view) action video can be both a tricky process and a downright unsafe endeavor if you are trying to hold a video camera in one hand while trying to keep your balance with the other.

Sanyo Xacti E2Sanyo Xacti E2Sanyo Xacti E2
Sanyo VPC-E2 Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder (Blue)

The Sanyo Xacti E2 waterproof camcorder helps you break the water barrier by providing waterproof performance down to five feet for up to 30 minutes. It sports a sleek ergonomic design and is also very attractively priced. At only nine ounces, this little guy is easy to handle while snorkeling, capturing fun on the slopes, or shooting that rainy-day football game. The 2.5" display will rotate to give you flexible viewing options, and its 1.7-second, super-fast startup time will guarantee that you will not miss any of the action. The unit comes in blue or white.

Canon FS-10Canon FS-10
Canon FS-10

 

Flash Media

Canon heralds optical excellence and advanced image processing. This small palm camcorder enables you to view piercingly into sub-molecular structures (almost) with its incomparable 48x advanced zoom that extends the normal 37x optical zoom. The dual- solid state Canon FS-10 camcorder offers recording times of up to five hours to its internal 8GB flash memory (LP mode), and by adding SD/SDHC media cards, your recording times can be expanded. Without moving parts, solid state recording proves to be the leader for recording steady, unwavering video, especially where vibration is prevalent. The external microphone input, an ancient relic on most camcorders and a great feature to achieve more detailed, superb audio clarity in your recordings, makes a triumphant comeback on the FS-10.

Canon VIXIA HF10Canon VIXIA HF10
Canon VIXIA HF10

 

AVCHD Flash Media

The Canon VIXIA HF10 records brilliant AVCHD high-definition video and stills onto its 16GB internal flash memory or onto an optional SDHC memory cards. The camera's 1/3.2" Full HD 3.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, together with Canon's DIGIC DVII image processing specially designed for HD, facilitate the capture of remarkably clear, rich, and accurate imagery each and every time. To ensure that you get clear, accurate footage, crucial when recording in HD, the HF10 uses an Instant AF external sensor to give you remarkable picture quality. Canon's SuperRange optical image stabilization corrects for a wide spectrum of camera motion, so that you record unwaveringly steady, smooth video. This camcorder gets even better by employing an external microphone input, a 24p recording mode (for that "film look"), and a 30p progressive mode great for recording action and sports footage.

Canon Vixia HF 100Canon Vixia HF 100
Canon Vixia HF 100

 

AVCHD Flash Media

Another excellent value, stepping up, is Canon's VIXIA HF-100 AVCHD high-definition solid state camcorder. Its compact, sleek chassis, containing impeccable HD optics, large 1/3.2" full HD 3.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor with RGB primary color filter, DIGIC DVII HD image processor, optical image stabilization, and easy-access shuttle controls built directly into the flip-out LCD monitor round out this comprehensive Canon camcorder outfit. Aspiring moviemakers wanting to achieve a professional "film look" can conveniently take advantage of the HF100's 24p cinema, and 30p progressive recording modes.

Aiptek GO-HDHigh Definition SD Memory Card Digital Camcorder
Aiptek GO-HD

 

HD Shoot and Share

Do not let the overly affordable price fool you. The Aiptek GO-HD camcorder delivers features beyond its price tag. In this class of camcorders, it surprisingly offers 3x optical zoom and shoots 720P HD at 30 frames per second in the H.264 compression scheme. This is a great camcorder for low-light conditions with a night-shot option, and the built-in LED light also enhances your video recording in dark environments. Shoot five-megapixel stills (2560 x 1920 resolution) in tandem with video. Its compact size, complemented with grip style ergonomics, is ideal for getting those quick shots on the go.

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