Upgrading Video Camera?

Apr 1, 2004
My parents have been hounding me for a Christmas list and I was considering asking for a new video camera. I got a run of the mill Sony a couple of years ago (model #DCR-TRV350). My first question is will it make that much of a difference in the quality of the footage if I do get a higer $ camera? And if so what camera do you recommend? Any help would be appreciated, I know very little about cameras.
I went from a Hi8 to a miniDV camcorder for the ease of importing and editing video footage. The miniDV has better picture quality as well. Now the choice would be how much you want to spend. 8)
I'm in the process (in the next couple of months) of upgrading from my older Canon Optura Pi miniDV camcorder to the Sony VX2100 camcorder. I've decided to stay out of the HDV arena until there is more widespread ownership of HD television sets, as well a widespread method for which to deliver the video (Blu-Ray or HD DVD, whichever takes hold of the market). As it stands now, most people don't have HD sets, and there is no way to play HDV video without physically attaching the camera to the TV... At any rate, the VX2100's low-light sensitivity is tops in it's class (1/3" 3CCD miniDV), and it's price may come down now that the FX1 is out...
I looked at the Sony VX2100 and 3 grand ain't gonna happen for me. I was thinking of spending about 1,500. Low-light sensitivity is a serious concern for me. I had video of several tornadoes right before dark this season and you can't see them in the video. Do you have any suggestions of what to buy in the 1,500$ range?
For what it's worth, you can get the VX2100 online (from a reputable dealer) for about $2200-$2300, full with US warranty and all. Notice that I explicity mentioned "reputable", since there are many bait-and-switch types of places that require much carefulness.

Other suggestions priced less than the Sony VX2100:
Canon GL2 (~$2000 + $250 mail-in rebate) (3CCD)
Panasonic PV-GS400 (~$1100) (3CCD)
Canon Optura Xi (~$900-950) (single CCD)
Sony DCR-HC1000 (~$1200) (3CCD, though each chip is tiny at 1/4.7")
A few more I'm sure that I'm forgetting...

Note that I don't have any particular experience with any of those camcorders, I just quickly looked at some specs and prices so take it for what it's worth...

My main decision (before the FX1 came out) was between the Sony VX2100 and the Canon GL2. Both are clearly prosumer camcorders... Those listed above are mainly (save the GL2) more consumer camcorders than prosumer camcorders, as mostly evidenced by CCD chip size (and semi-related low-light performance), manual controls, quality of picture, quality of sound, quality of lens (semi-inherent in quality of picture), etc, all of which can vary significantly from model to model, so try to go to a video store and try them out for yourself.

As for weather you'll see a difference in picture quality? I never thought there was a big difference between my current Canon Optura Pi miniDV camcorder and a cam like the VX2100 or the Canon GL2. I was, however, quality surprised by how much better quality picture these camcorders produce relative to mine. The low-light situations, the difference between the VX2100 and my Canon Optura is like night and day... The picture is much sharper and less grainy. Granted, it's still the same miniDV format, but it's enough to make me upgrade...
I understand the leap it is to buy a VX2100. I am currently flipping coins to decide if I want to plunge into the digital photo world with the help of a Canon 20D or save a little more and shoot myself with a VX2100.

I know EricN, although he doesn't post on ST, swears by his new damn near palm sized Panasonic 3ccd video camera. I suggest you shoot him an email if you are interested in this camera. I think he has some of his video online and he knows the camera well.


This thread may be better suited for the Equipment forum ... but wanted to add a couple things. I also have a Panasonic 3ccd mini-DV, and the picture quality is greatly improved over the Sony Digital 8 ... color rendition is much better. One thing to be aware of with the Panasonic is the quality of the focusing mechanism. I will continue to use the Sony for interior/dashboard shots, since it has infinity focus and a focus ring - and reserve the Panasonic for tripod stuff. When not using autofocus, the Panasonic has to be focused manually with a button (electronic), rather than a ring. And it does not have an infinity setting that I can see. It may not seem like much, but believe me - it is - especially if you are shooting lightning video at night and the camera has nothing for the autofocus to focus on. Just something to be aware of - for me it's still a big improvement, just to get a higher quality picture.
Before I was lucky enough to obtain a friend's XM system for a fair price, I was playing the 20D/VX2100 game. I thought the Wx-Worx pricetag would quash even thinking about camera gear, but it hasn't. Not that I'm buying anything, but I've stockpiled over $5500 worth of gear and glass on the B&H Wish List feature of their website.

So if anybody is feeling generous. :lol:

What's funny is that if ten boxes of ziti (as some of my relatives might say) fell from the sky right now, I still don't know which of the two cameras I'd buy. This is a values question, I guess, determined by what you enjoy more: video or stills. I enjoy both very much, so it's a tough call.
What hurts worse then that feeling you just spent too much money(which lasts for a bit), is that feeling after an amazing event you shot video of with a non-3ccd cam(if you care about quality to begin with of course). If I chased much I'd just look at the per month cost on say a credit card(if need be) then that big lump sum and at least be sure what you buy has 3-ccds. I bought a sony mini-dv(trv-19) for $400 last year cause it had the advanced HAD system to give less noice and it also had a carl ziess lens, to replace my digital 8 sony trv-340....there was basically no difference.

Some places might still have the sony vx-2000 too(maybe not though, it's been a while since the 2100 came out). I also now prefer canon optics over sony and if I spend $2000 on a vid cam it will likely be a canon. And I still don't know what to think of the lux ratings you see for low light. It's a low light rating, not a quality rating in that low light. I think there is a difference. I'd rather have a nicer cam with 3ccds with a bit worse lux rating then a crap cam with good lux rating. I also am not sure if that rating is used with any slow shutter modes. If not that can help a person out alot too. And.....when the light is low enough to get into the lux rating threshold, how much detail are you going to see on that storm anyway? Boo at the lux rating I think(and perhaps I'm crazy).

It sucks to have a billion sony batteries now from my ex still and vid cams that I'm never going to use again if I get a canon. Sony can be little bastards too. I love how they change thier batteries for newer versions just so you HAVE to buy new ones. Maybe they all do that, if so they are all bastards.
I thought this was better suited in the equipment section, so upon suggestions, I went ahead and moved it.

I actually own a pair of Sony Digital 8 cameras (TRV350 & TRV460); mainly cause I can use the parts back and forth. They're also very inexpensive (under $500/piece) and take great video! I'm happy with both of them! :)
A single pruchase of $500 or more is an impossibility for me, let alone $2000. I will use my current Sony TRV-310 until it dies. It's been a great vidcam and the quality is good enough for me. I'm not about shooting sh*t video, but the truth is alot of us simply can't afford to be as choosy as we would like. It's digital, and it's been praised by other chasers who were using VX2000s. It's probably the best value for the price in existence, since this model has been out of production for almost four years.

Then again, I don't have that "artist" gene so I see things as much better than a lot of other people do.
Sorry about posting this in the wrong forum, I had a brain fart. Thanks for all the advice. Jeff I think I am going to run the VX2100 by my dad and see how generous he is feeling this year. I think I might have a chance since I am graduating this spring and he knows I am planning on using my graduation money to chase as much as humanly possible. It would be nice to have high quality video of the Summer of Mikey.