Low-end cameras gone…

It’s offical: the end is nearly here for low-end camcorders and even mid-range with mike inputs. The only ones I could find were a Samsung (under $300 – the SCD6550), Panasonic HDCSC1 ($1100), and JVC GZMG555 ($800). There may be more out there. If so, let me know.
The Samsung is a true low-end camera that records to mini-dv tapes.
The Panasonic is a hi-def camera which records to memory cards. For another $300 you can get the more professional looking AGDVC7, which records to mini-dv tapes.
The JVC is a hard disk drive camera which can record up to seven hours of good quality video in mpeg2.

Looks like my summer vacation is going to be spent visiting my local camera store, trying to figure out what direction my school will take re purchases in the future. Much as I like (and am comfortable with) mini-dv format, the times they are a changing and I need to keep up. Despite the proliferation of DVD camcorders, I know I won’t go that way. Hard drives are an interesting option…but need to check for compatibility with the Macs my school uses. Memory cards seem to be where the industry is going – plug in, shoot, pull out, plug into computer and edit. Not too different than tape really. The cost of the cards and amount they can store will be the issue…as well as the Mac compatibility issue.


5 thoughts on “Low-end cameras gone…

  1. Low end with mic input and headphone jack seems to have hit about the $800 mark. The Canon HV10 HDV Camcorder can be found for about that, the Canon HV20 HDV Camcorder for $1K. Sony’s lowest price one seems to be the Sony HDR-HC7 at $1150. The only good news: they’re all HDV… And with tape, if a student loses one, it’s not the end of the world.

    Regina McCombs

  2. Thanks Regina…all good suggestions, but at the high school level we need the low end cameras for our intro classes. I, for one, wouldn’t want to run a class with thirty students using expensive gear – even at a 3:1 ratio, thats over $10K for cameras alone. Not to mention that the more expensive the gear, the more odds it will (a) get broken or (b) get stolen. Low enders are good to get gear in student hands so they can learn…and those who continue can get the better/more expensive gear.
    One thing I have seen – once students record an interview with a mike they don’t want to go back to using the camera mike. Part of that is the quality of the audio and I suspect the other reason is the “cool” factor of holding the mike and being in control of the interview.
    PS – thanks for offering more tape options. I’m an old fogey…and am having trouble mentally shifting to another media.

  3. The Canon ZR500 is still available for mini DV. It is under $500, has a mic input and firewire. I really love how dependable Canon equipment is and we are transitioning away from JVC and Panasonic because they don’t take a beating very well.


  4. The ZR500 would be my pick, but from what I see it is being phased out. The ZR800 has mike input (no still capability either) and is still listed at B&H at $330. I like to include one animation project for beginners and like them to use stills, either on memory cards or tape….however, would prefer the mike input if given a choice.

    FYI: I emailed Canon today for those of you in STN, requesting that they consider continuing a low-end camera w/manual iris, focus, white balance and a mike input. Also mentioned that it would be a tool for videojournalists. Keep your fingers crossed…hope they listen/respond. (Will email other manufacturers at some point…but since Canon has been my brand, will see what they say first.)

  5. Hard drive cameras are very cool and flexible, but Mac compatibility is hit and miss – usually miss, from my experience. The nit-picker in me would debate whether you want to jump right to MPEG because of quality issues, but I digress.

    When my college paper began doing video work last semester, we were subsiding on a six or seven year-old Digital8 camera (it had been mine, and survived all the abuse a camera can endure). When it came time to find something new, we were hard-pressed to find a supplier who would take our purchase order and have the quality we needed when it came to gear.

    We eventually bought one HDR-HC7. So far, we’ve loved HDV, but I wouldn’t call it a necessity. The feature set is outrageously cool. Except for the lack of a standard-sized shoe, it’s a nice little camera. I’ve even forgiven Sony for that awful touch menu interface.

    You’re not alone in the pain of having few options on the low-end market. It has hurt a lot of us and provides a barrier to entry for low-cost internet video producers. Hopefully the companies will recognize that a cheapo/quality market exists and that the prosumers simply aren’t that plentiful.

    Just discovered this blog the other day, its great reading.

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