Seeking Opinions on new Digital Camcorders

Hey all!

I am looking forward to replacing my old JVC GRD-30U digital camcorder with its very crapola images, to something that has a little more detail in the CCD. I am looking to not spend more than $1,000, as my income tax checks total $1,200 and I need $100 or so for the extended warranty, for something that is worthy of producing a storm chase DVD at the end of the upcoming season. I do not want to buy another JVC again, so if anybody has any opinions on the other brands, or any recommendations, please tell!!


I think there are a few threads running around with various reviews and suggestions on several cameras. Personally, I'd suggest Sony's Digital 8 line of camcorders. Digital quality that can be exported nicely through firewire to your computer for editing into DVD. The media is cheaper and you can use those cameras to convert analog 8mm. These cameras cost under $600 in most cases, and even lower, which means extra money of extended batteries and such.

A side note, I picked up extra batteries on eBay for less than $50 w/ shipping direct from Hong Kong; and they are the true Sony brands. Generic prices range as much as $20 lower. Once you decide, definately check eBay for extended/extra batteries!

Good luck in your search!

Watch out for ANY camera that loads the tape off the bottom. Makes you have to take the camera off the tripod and remove the plate from the camera just to change the damn tape. Avoid bottom loading tape cameras.
Watch out for ANY camera that loads the tape off the bottom. Makes you have to take the camera off the tripod and remove the plate from the camera just to change the damn tape. Avoid bottom loading tape cameras.

David is right... both Sony's I have have bottom loading bays which are a a HUGE pain in the butt for tripoding! Fortunately I relieve a bit of that issue by having two of them, cause I can typically leave on tripoded all the time and the other for whatever else. Or switch tripoded cameras for tripod shots. But even still, having to switch tapes can suck! One drawback to those cameras, though..
You are right on the bottom loading camcorders! I have that right now and it is a pain especially because I like leaving my camcorder on the tripod.
Sharp Camcorder

I have a SHARP VL-AD260 ViewCam with 400X Digital Zoom. It has DIS (Ditigal Image Stablization), takes HI8 tapes in from the TOP and it has a Smart Media card slot so you can take digital pictures along with the videos. The camera has a LCD screen on the back so you can see and frame your shots.

I've taken volleyball and basketball videos with no problems and the digital pictures gets a little grainy in low light, but the picture quality is good. With the top loading deck, I can keep my camera on the tripod when changing cartridges. And I can switch back and forth between video and stills on the same camera. Got this camera on E-Bay for a pretty good deal. I bought an extended life battery pack and extra smart media cards to complete the package.

Only problem I've had was when I was pointing the camera towards the clouds, the auto focus on the camera went wacky and started zooming all over the place. Figured out I had to set it on manual focus close to infinity.

Figure out what features you want in a camera and do a lot of comparison shopping. Good luck! 8) LJK.
I was looking around for a smaller camera and came across the Canon Optura Xi. It's not a bad looking camera. However, it is bottom loading. I settled on the Optura 20 though. Again, bottom loading. Yeah, it's a pain to load in a hurry but it does put out decent video.
After doing loads of research I decided to buy The Canon Optura 20 last year as well. It is now getting pretty much obsolete as newer models are coming out. I have been very impressed with the quality of it though for the price ($400-$500). Yes, it is bottom loading but about 20 seconds for a tape change should not make you miss a whole lot.
Why didn't you guys mention the bottom loading issue a year ago before I bought a new camera :) I never thought about it either until the first time I changed film off a tripod. I don't find it to be too bad, but I haven't been in a hurry loading film yet either.

I do like Sony cameras though. They are relatively the same operation across the board, which can lower the learning curve when you upgrade to another camera. I suppose you can say that about other brands, but I'm partial to my Sony's I guess.