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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for some feedback on video camcorders...my wife and I are considering getting a video camera - mainly to take videos of our new baby daughter ( I can hear the eyes roll now). There are several factors involved here: a) expense - hey, we now have a baby and we can't afford a lot; b) ease of use; and c) possible editing the film on my mac. I am running an (old) beige G3 233 MHz, and currently have no video in/out card installed. Questions include: We are leaning toward a digital camera so far (any feedback on that?) - Are there any any video camera models that work particularly well with the Mac? Should I try and track down a Xclaim VR or Formac ProTV card to get video into my computer? (Only the Xclaim will put video out though as far as I know) Or, try to get a Firewire enabled camera and get a Firewire PCI card to stick in the computer? Or will any cameras transfer via a USB card (that is currently installed)? Again, the editing is just a possibility, but it is an option I would like to consider if we do purchase a camera.
 

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What sort of Mac do you have? Sounds like it doesn't have firewire ports. If its a G3, then you could go the PCI route. Anything earlier won't be fast enough for DV. You can't run DV over USB 1.1 as the data transfer rate is too slow. USB 2.0 is OK but firewire (also known as IEEE1394 or iLink by Sony) is much better because of the number of DV cams that have firewire ports.

Even if your computer isn't firewire capable, I'd recommend you buy a DV model since the price differential isn't that big, the tape form factor is *much* better than analogue and you can export via AV cables to a TV. You only need firewire if you are into editing (and for that you really need at least a DV iMac and iMovie).

There are lots of great DV cameras on the market. Look at Canon, JVC, Sony for a start. I've got a 2 year old Canon ZR10 (now discontinued and replaced with ZR25-ZR45). Am very happy with it.

Basically, though, almost any DV video cam will work well with Macs with firewire ports. There is a recommended camera list on the iMovie page at Apple.com. The breakout box solutions you mention will also work with analgue cameras but the transfer quality won't be as good.

It's great fun. Good luck.
 

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A couple of months ago I purchased a Canon ZR40 DV Camcorder. Before I purchased I asked for input on this board and Canon seemed to be the brand of choice. I am very happy with it. I couldn't believe how easy it is to use. The video quality is so much better than my Canon 8mm Camcorder. Plus I was blown away by how easy it was to connect via Firewire to my IMAC and IMOVIE is great. I picked it up for $798.00. I haven't seen it that low again, the regular street price seems to be around $850.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info! A Canon was kind of on our list - now we'll have to spend some time actually trying them out. Out of curiousity, where did you pick your ZR40? (I noticed your posting is also from Saskatoon)
My thoughts were to simply use iMovie and keep things fun and relatively inexpensive. I realize that with my older system that things won't be great (ie: very fast), but it will be nice to have the possibility to try it out at least.
 

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Well I'm a happy Sony user (TRV-730) which I bought (new) on eBay for ~$1200 Cdn over a year ago. I picked it up b/c it had a relatively high res CCd that also let it take 1 mPixel stills (1152x860 I think), most of the other camcorders out there in that price range take much lower res shots (640x480 typically). That makes it a servicable digital still camera. I agree completely with the comments above re: video quality and the utility of the DV tapes. I upgraded from a VHS-C analog camcorder and it was knock-your-socks-off improvement in qualtiy and sound (believe it or not the DV tapes are actually cheaper per minute than VHS-C).

I suspect that if you are interested in video editing, you're going to find it difficult to justify the upgrade expense for FW cards, software and the headache of tweaking it so that you can get the whole operation working. You can pick up a used DV iMac (which will definitely handle iMovie in OS 9 or X) for not much more money (street price ~$900 Cdn). Believe me, it will be worth the expense. You won't believe how functional and easy to use that combination is.

One caveat though. If you're going to pick up a used iMac, just be sure that you check that the FW ports are functional before you buy. If you do buy one, always use an external power supply with your FW devices. The FW ports on pre 2002 Macs (iMacs in particular it seems) are prone to failure (requiring logic board replacement if you want to get them working again). This seems to be caused (sometimes) by devices that put a heavy current draw on the FW port.

Note this is not a problem with FW camcorders. Since they all run off 4 pin FW plugs, they have to be self powering. This just applies to things like FW CD-RWs and HDs and the like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"...the upgrade expense for FW cards, software..."
Sorry, dumb question - I priced out a PCI FireWire card for under $100Cdn. Am I not understanding something? ie: what else do I need to get the video into my Mac?

On a related topic, what do you do with your videos afterward? Burn onto CD? DVD? Back onto video tape?
 

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Hi Roger, I didn't realize yesterday when I answered your post that you were also from Toon Town. I bought the Canon ZR40 at Don's Photo. It's also available from some of the big electronics stores ie; Visions, Futureshop but I hate buying anything from those places if I can help it. The staff at Don's were very knowledgeable. I think I have a card here from the the guy I dealt with there, he was great. I've also seen the ZR40 at the new London Drugs on 8th st., but the price was around $850. And I think Walmart also sells it.

Regarding the tapes, I've been buying them at Walmart, Maxells @ 2 for $20. I seen London Drugs has the same tape for around $7.00 each.

I'm just in the process of buying a new computer with a burner that I can burn to disc. Probably going to make a decision today. Either an IMAC or EMAC. Just trying to determine if the extra cost for the IMAC with the DVD burner is worth it. If anyone reading this has any comments on this, I would like to hear them. I would like the option of burning to DVD, but the DVD blank discs are still pretty pricey. I think you could also burn to a CDR in Video CD mode. Most DVD players will play video CD. You can't record as much info to a disc in this mode and the quality isn't as good, but a lot cheaper and it's at least VHS quality. If I'm wrong about this someone please correct me.

One neat feature on the ZR40. It has analogue video inputs so you can input a regular video signal and it will convert it to digital so you can edit with imove etc. I want to try editing some of my old 8mm video like this.

Hope this was helpful, if you need more info drop me a line.
 

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Just picked up the Canaon ZR 40

Outstanding camera - Got it at Henry's in DT Toronto.

My only problem is that I also purchased a PCMCIA Firewire card - OrangeMicro. The card shows up on the desktop - seemingly all the software is installed - but the transfer just doesn't work.

I have heard that I need to grab the power adapter for the card - there just isn't enough jouice going into the card via the slot???

make sense?
 

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Roger did you ever buy your Video Cam?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No not yet. But hopefully soon. Thanks to everyone who helped out with comments, suggestions and reviews!
 
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