I am looking for a new HD camcorder and would like it to be SD based. I looked at some of the consumer models from Canon and Sony, but reviews for those models are not that good. I bought a Canon HFR300 (very inexpensive) and any motion felt blurry. Low light was very noisy. Took it back.
My goal is to shoot mostly family videos (of my kids) with good video including good low light and sound quality.
Given this scenario, and my budget is around $500 USD, could you please suggest a good HD camcorder that can perform well in low-light, and also good for shooting school programs?
Thanks in advance.
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This is just my opinion/experience. When it comes to video camera, I think of only Panasonic, Sony, Canon. I was in the same boat like you some time ago, having used a tape-based Panasonic MiniDV camcorder for over 5 years, looking to switch to High-Definition on Solid State memory. I had even posted a question in this forum:
I ended up buying Sony HDR-PJ260E, and it serves my purpose of shooting home videos (of my kids). It has very good High Definition video quality, can even shoot 60p. Audio is 5.1 multi-channel. Low-light performance is adequate. It has headphone jack for audio monitoring and microphone jack for audio input. It also has GPS built-in, to tag your videos with the location using GPS satellites. Sony's image stabiliation is top-class compared to most of the other brands, which is essential while shooting home videos. It comes with 32GB built-in memory, and accepts SD cards for expansion. It also has a PROJECTOR built-in, which is very nice. Surprisingly, the projector performed better than any of us expected. My kids have fun watching home videos on a wall using this projector. I know this camcorder is not at higher-end (like Panasonic X900M), but then for home videos, it is just perfect. Some may suggest Canon HF-G10 (which is far superior to many camcorders in the market now) for low-light as well. I couldn't get the G10 in my country since it is not sold here anymore. Panasonic X900M was way too expensive for me.
Hope that helps.
Last year I bought the Panasonic HC-SD90 - full HD, records to SD card only. This camera has fantastic picture quality and the best image stabilisation in it's class (it is streets ahead of Canon's IS). I believe it has now been superseded by the HC-V700, which has even better IS. I highly recommend the Panasonic camcorders.
Hi Bill - the best two cameras in your price range are the $349 Canon HF M500 and the $350 Panasonic HC-V700.
The HF M500 is a definite step up from the HF R300. Here is what it can do (please watch in 720p):
The M500 has both mic and headphone jacks, which will help with getting better audio with closer mic placement - and monitoring what the camera is actually recording during school programs. The V700 also has a mic jack, but no headphone jack.
The Panasonic V700's real advantage is faster frame frame rates (60 frames per second or 1080/60p, compared to the Canon's 30 frames per second or 1080/30p). 1080/60p reduces blurriness when recording fast action.
Here is what the V700 can do (please watch at 1080p):
Unfortunately, the V700 is temporarily out of stock at Amazon right now - if you don't want to wait, you can get one from Adorama for $399.
Hope that's helpful, and best of the holy-days!
Hybrid Camera Revolution
Thanks for your replies!!
I just picked up a Sony HDR-CX260 to try out, which I believe is the SD only version of the HDR-PJ260E. It looks fine but is a bit grainy on my hdtv, even in avchd mode. Do all hd camcorders look like this? Being a HD camcorder, I'm expecting a very crisp image. The canon HFR300 did the same thing. Low lux is MUCH better though and the menuing system was far better.
I've read the Panasonic HC-v700 only records in 60p. Does this cause issues with saving to DVD or video editing? I'm considering getting it and taking the Sony back, although the Sony is far better than the Canon HFR300. The potential compatibility issues are my only hold up.