Mini DV or DVD Camcorder?

I'm a member of one of those customer loyalty programs, where you get points towards travel or merchandise for shopping at certain places. I finally have enough points to get a camcorder this spring; either a mini dv or direct to dvd model :D.

One thing that I have to consider, is that I don't as of yet have a DVD burner on my laptop. Other than this, are their any advantages/disadvantages of one over the other? I'm trying to make up my mind on which type to order.
Honestly, skip the DVD format. They burn compressed video that you are going to be very unhappy with the results when you later try to edit it.
As David said, don't even bother with the DVD format. It encodes it straight to MPEG-2 format, so it's been compressed. If you ever hope to make a video some day, you'd be starting with already compressed video.

I echo what the others have said. A DVD disk only holds like 30 minutes worth of video (from what I've seen anyways), plus who knows if the DVD disk itself is no good. Definately go with mini DV... at least you can edit your videos and burn them into DVD with good quality. I own a Pansonic miniDV PVGS250 3CCD and am happy with it so far.
The DVD formats are encoding to mpeg2 and not DV25. the format is moreso compressed so that video editing will produce poor results with the technology we have currently.

If you want to just shoot video you can replay with no editing it may work ok. If you want to add titling special effects, simple cuts etc.. then you want raw fromat dv25 to edit with.

So I must say + 1 + 1 + 1 on the other recomendations posted here.
Laura, and anyone else using the PVGS250 video cam..
How is the low light resolution with this camera?
It's precursor the 120 was rated extremely highly, but there were some grumblings about low light performance.
I am in the market to purchase a new videocam, and have been anguishing for a year now about which is best, for $800 or less.
I've only bought the cam after Christmas so I haven't had a real chance to test it out for chasing yet. But from what I've done around the house, in low light areas, there didn't seem to be much noise.

You may want to check out

I don't know what your intentions are, if you're going to do some filming in the dark or not, but I am only planning on filming when I can see what's going on with my own eyes... no sense in filming something you can barely see in my opinion because if you can't see it, chances are the cam won't either.
Stephen, it's not a "new" camera, but if you could find a good deal on a Sony TRV520 you would be VERY pleased with this camera. It has THE BEST low light ability in it's class and you can find then in great condition under $500. It's got tons of features and are EXTREMELY durable and very tolerant to dust and moisture. The TRV900 is a bit of a step up, but in many ways they are similar cameras. The TRV520 shoots digital on 8mm tapes. We did some side by side comparison with a couple of MiniDV cameras and it beat the picture quality on each hands down. For the money you could get one for, IMO you simply can't beat it.

The next best thing probably would be the Sony VX2000 or VX2100 both of which would be out of your stated price range. Seems like every time this is discussed, the overwhelming favorites when it comes to low light are the Sony lines of vid cameras.
MiniDV for sure. On top of what others have said, this will be the last year DVD is alone. Blu-ray and HD-DVD are just around the corner. While DVD is on the way out, MiniDV still has some good years left on it. Nothing is worst then having a bunch of tapes and nothing to play them on. I currently have this problem with my old 8mm tapes. Anyway, MiniDV for sure.
Thanks for the recommendation, David..

Do you have any recommendations for a trustable place to get this TRV 520 camera used?
There seem to be so many choices, and I have a concern about dependability of site/store, return procedures if necessary due to defects, etc.
Originally posted by StephenLevine
Thanks for the recommendation, David..

Do you have any recommendations for a trustable place to get this TRV 520 camera used?
There seem to be so many choices, and I have a concern about dependability of site/store, return procedures if necessary due to defects, etc.

Well, you most likely won't find a brand new one, I don't think they are in production any more. We have bought several of them from eBay from people with great feedback with no problems. Stick with someone that has at least over 50 100% positive feedbacks and you should be ok. The last one we got on eBay we can a fantastic deal with a hardshell case for $250!! You might pay a bit more though.
well David doesnt Carlson have a point? - "alot of tapes sitting around with nothing to play em on" and what happens when you try to edit or put music to a TVR 520 tape, since its format is old?
Im still gonna buy an old tvr 520 or 900 anyway but wondering about the editing quality - and would the Sony DCR HC 90 be better if it was only a few $$ more?
Well for one, I hope your archiving your video to some sort of digital format and not leaving it on your tapes, they ALL will degradate over time if you leave them on tape.

Secondly, they are STILL making NEW Hi8/Digital8 format, so I don't suspect that format will be going away any time soon. Heck, it was just last month I saw a brand new VHS-C camcorder in Best Buy, so they are evidently still making that format as well.

I am archiving all of my stuff, going through doing rough edits (cutting out all the crap where I accidentally put the camera down and left it on, etc), and putting it full AVI on DVD. If you get a camera that does DIGITAL8, not just straight 8mm analog, you should have firewire capabilities, and can rip the video straight out in AVI format. In that case, there are no issues editing in NLE whatsoever. Why anyone would even WANT to edit on their camera is beyond me. It's hard on your camera, it's hard on your camera video heads, it's frustrating to the user, it's limited in abilities. Some sort of NLE software on the PC/MAC is the way to go when it comes to editing.

Again, remember, don't confuse 8mm analog with 8mm digital. 8mm digital is comparable (at least on the Sony cameras) to the miniDV in digital quality, it's just the tape is different, and the 8mm tapes are cheaper too. They are both a magnetic tape based media.

All that said, sure, if you can afford it, go for a higher end miniDV camera, but if you looking for a fantastic camera with tons of features on a budget, you will be hard pressed to beat the features/price ratio on some of the older high end Sony cameras. Sure it's not the latest and greatest, but how many beginning chasers can afford a VX2100?

You couldn't GIVE me one of the Sony Digital8 cameras on the shelf now, solely because they have made them where the tape loads from the bottom, which means removing the camera from the tripod mount just to change the tape, a MAJOR PIA! Whoever came up with that design idea should be taken out and tarred and feathered!

EDIT: Wanted to add that remember, for the most part, in the end it's the photographer that makes great video, not the camera. I have seen fantastic video shot with low end consumer stuff, and I have seen some absolute CRAP shot with $30k HD video cameras. You need to hone your skills or you will never be satisfied with your video regardless of how expensive your equipment is. :wink: