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Old Friday 11th March 2005, 17:16   #1
kennygee
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Whats the best camcorder for birding? Advice please!!

What is the best camcorder for birding?

Can you capture still images from video footage or is it best to get a camcorder with a high MP still capability (ie is it worth the extra dosh?)

I can't decide which camcorder to go for. Help appreciated.

Cheers

Ken


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Old Friday 11th March 2005, 17:19   #2
kennygee
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I suppose I'm really asking what specs/facilities I should be looking for.

Cheers

Ken
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Old Thursday 7th April 2005, 15:39   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennygee
Can you capture still images from video footage or is it best to get a camcorder with a high MP still capability (ie is it worth the extra dosh?)
Tastes may vary, but let me just chime in to say that the still shot feature on camcorders has never satisfied me, either from video frames or using still-specific features. There are some newer models than do have higher MP ratings for the added freeze frame button, but I'm not convinced it's worth the cost at all.

Last spring my sister and I visited the Platte river in Nebraska for the sandhill crane migration. (Amazing fun.) We took a lot of video, of varying quality, and stills using both the camcorder and my own snapshot Sony. There's no comparison between the pitiful camcorder "stills" and the far better shots from my snappy. This despite the camcorder being a higher end model and quite superior optically.

Also, when you're adding up the cost of the extra feature for the camcorder -- maybe $100 US when I've looked before -- keep in mind that you need to get a memory card or two. Camcorders almost all write their still shots to a different media than the tape. Bumps the price a bit more.

Stills from camcorders seem like a trying-to-be-everything-to-everyone error to me. You can get a pretty darn nice, compact camera like a Canon PowerShot S1 IS for a tiny bit more than you pay for this iffy feature.
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Old Thursday 7th April 2005, 16:31   #4
kennygee
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Thanks Ian, I'd almost given up on this post.

My family wanted a videocam for holiday footage. I thought I might as well look for a camcorder that I could use for opportune bird shots. I have come to the same conclusion as you and have bought a 'standard' videocam and a 'point and shoot' to satisfy both needs.

The camcorder does have a 2MP still shot, but the point and shoot does perform better.

Cheers

Ken
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Old Sunday 10th April 2005, 14:55   #5
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Hi Ken,
Obviously too late for you now , but for future reference and tips for thoers I use a Panasonic NV-Ds37 wih 15 x optical zoom. I got this about 3 years ago and I know you can get up to 20 - 22 x optical zoom now, forget digital zoom though , I've found it totally useless

In some ways it's almost as good as bins except with digital camaras it can be difficult to find your subject straight away by which time the bird might have flown (so to speak). One main point is that you also need to have the camara on a tripod to stop wobble when on max zoom and the subject goes all over the place so you soon get a headache when reviewing the film. That's in spite of stabilisers. Then consider the following to go bird watching & filming

Bins, Camara, Scope, Tripod, ID book, note book, Lunch (food). You could look loike a walking armoury.

Proffessional film crews have back up teams to carry all the junk

In spite of all this I got some terrific sequences including a Black Kite fishing like an Osprey in Vietnam.

Steve
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2005, 04:53   #6
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I read the preceding comments with great interest. I will be going to Africa next month and at present have the following equipment: a 1974 Olympus OM-1 with 400 mm vivitar lens, a hitachi hi-8 (non digital) cam corder.

I definitely want to record my birding trip with cam corder but am torn about taking such old and clunky still photo equipment with me (afterall my 400 mm lens probably looks like a weapon (lol)

Any suggestions? I am in a total quandry about all of this. I can probably muster about 800.00 US for new stuff... help !!!

Thanks

Don
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2005, 07:04   #7
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Wompoodove,

I have a five year old Panasonic DS55 mini dv camcorder and it produces first class footage and is also almost pocketable. It's made of metal as well and seems to be built like a proverbial tank. The view finder flips up and it also has a pull out miniscreen which is one of the larger models so no need to squint into a viewfinder if you don't want to.If you can pick up a good one secondhand I am sure it will fit your budget comfortably. General consenus of opinion is to forget about a camcorder as a still camera and buy a proper digital still camera, even the cheaper ones produce much better pictures than present day camcorders.
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2005, 15:35   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Brown
Wompoodove,

I have a five year old Panasonic DS55 mini dv camcorder and it produces first class footage and is also almost pocketable. It's made of metal as well and seems to be built like a proverbial tank. The view finder flips up and it also has a pull out miniscreen which is one of the larger models so no need to squint into a viewfinder if you don't want to.If you can pick up a good one secondhand I am sure it will fit your budget comfortably. General consenus of opinion is to forget about a camcorder as a still camera and buy a proper digital still camera, even the cheaper ones produce much better pictures than present day camcorders.

Geoff: Thanks so much for your terrific and fast reply to my dilemna... Regarding the Panasonic DS55... how does it handle low-light and compare to the larger models that attempt to mimic professional media cameras?

Also I have no idea where to start to determine what kind of digital cam I need. One with a zoom and which would be ideal for bird photography naturally... Any Suggestions? Thanks again!!!!
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Old Thursday 2nd June 2005, 21:18   #9
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Filming outdoors in poor light is no problem, indoors of course it struggles. Like all camcorders the brighter the light the better. You have to realise this camcorder was a single CCD chip top of the range Panasonic costing over 1,000 when it first came out five or so years ago. DV quality is almost on a par with my much newer 3CCD Canon XM1 but the Panasonic is much smaller and as I stated previously almost pocketable. You can also have full manual control and overides or simple full auto point and shoot. I repeat I am well pleased with it and if you can find a good one secondhand go for it. Mine has been very reliable and I have had no problems with it whatsoever. It seems much more solid than the cheapo plastic bodied camcorders they are producing nowadays.
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Old Wednesday 31st October 2007, 12:42   #10
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Excuse me resurrecting this thread.

My Panasonic has now ended it's illustrious career and I am now in the position of changing camcorders but I am torn in several directions.

What format to go for HDD or mini DV?

Do I go for massive zoom over 3 ccd clarity?

And - why can't I get the 2 together + stabilizer etc.

Can 2 x digital zoom on a 3ccd camcorder be used to double the 10 or 12 times optical

Camcorder mags seem not to be on any newsagents shelves and reviews are hard to come by. Internet reviews appear to be limited.

So it is my turn to ask what recommendations you guys out there have for cancorders with a view to birding (where zooms are necessary) to be used in conjucntion with a mini triipod.

So Quality output, zoom, quality download, image stabilizer, good sound quality, quick automatic adjustment to zoom and light changes without affecting the white balance. and decent stills reproduction. FInally I am not looking for semi professional gear, just a user friendly machine that easily tucks away in holiday bags (on board luggage by air) and will not have the bank manager knocking on the door.

Hope to get some replies

thanks all

Steve
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