DVD Camcorders from Hitachi, Panasonic and Sony
more tape - no more re-winding, no more worries about
tape stretching or breaking. Even better, by using one
of these new DVD camcorders, you can record onto a DVD
disc and then pop it directly into your DVD player and
watch it. Another cool advantage of DVD, is that you get
instant access to all the shots on the disc. By using
the camcorder's built-in logic and software, you can
build-up a playback list of the various shots, in
whatever order you prefer, complete with basic wipes,
fades and transitions. Essentially, you are editing in
If you are planning to use the DVD
camcorder for web video, you may need to do a bit of
research. Some of these capture the video and audio onto
the DVD disc in a proprietary video format that may not
be recognized by many video editing software and
DVD camcorders are a fairly new
kid on the block. The first model appeared at the end
of 2000 and came from Hitachi. This model was the DZ
MV100 and quickly caught the eye of the public. However
it was NOT without its problems....
DVD camcorders are now produced by
several of the major players in the MiniDV Camcorder
market place, and other manufacturers are set to launch
DVD camcorders too.
Why The Appeal?
One word -
The most recent DVD camcorders
will allow you to play back the DVD in most home
DVD players! (sadly they are not yet 100% compatible
with every DVD player).
As I mentioned Hitachi were the
first to manufacture DVD camcorders but SONY hopes to
capture the market share with their DCR-DVD100
and DCR-DVD200 models. Panasonic are also
producing a worthy DVD camcorder...
These new breed of camcorders are
fun. They produce great quality digital video (MPEG 2)
and incorporate basic editing tools and navigation on
the camcorder itself.
My only REAL criticism is both
Hitachi and SONY only have USB 2.0 support - and
The target market for these DVD
camcorders is aimed squarely at "gadget boys and girls."
SONY has done extensive market
research to find out why this group was not buying
MiniDV camcorders. The answer they got was that MiniDV
camcorders were perceived as just too fiddly. So
creating DVD camcorders for this market was a natural
So that is why USB 2.0 was
chosen. If you recently bought a PC then it comes with
USB 2.0 connections on it. If you want firewire
connections you have to install a card yourself!
BUT for semi-serious video editing
folks like myself who use Adobe Premiere software. There
is no USB 2.0 capture ability - just firewire.
DVD Camcorder gives the choice of recording to a DVD RAM
disk or to a DVD-R disk. Using the DVD-RAM disk allows
you to record over and over, thousands of times. You can
buy extra DVD-RAM disks for under $20 each. You can
delete scenes and copy over them.
Using the DVD-R,
you can record video and then immediately play it back
on your DVD player (assuming it plays DVD-R disks). The
DVD-R disk is one time only – you cannot delete shots
once they are recorded.
With the DVD RAM
disk, it will only play back in the camcorder. If you
want to re-use the DVD RAM disc, you’ll have to transfer
the video and audio to your VCR via the included AV
cables, or to a computer via the included USB 2.0 cable
and software. You can do some editing and add titles and
music using the bundled MyDVD authoring software, and
then output it back to the camcorder to burn it onto a
If you want to
use the in-camera editing functions, you use the Disc
Navigation function that displays all the video and
still image clips on the LCD screen. You then select the
clips you want, change their playback order, cut and
combine them, and even add fades. You can create up to
99 different playlists.
In addition to
recording video, you can also record still images. You
get three quality options for both video and stills –
XTRA, FINE and STD. When using the DVD-RAM disc in the
high quality XTRA mode, you get about 18 minute of
recording time. In FINE mode you get 30 minutes, in STD,
you get 60 minutes. These times can vary greatly
depending on the complexity of the scene you are
If you have a
two-sided RAM disc, you can flip it over and record on
the other side as well, doubling the amount of time you
can capture. This requires removing the RAM disk and
round holder from the camcorder, opening up the holder
and spinning around the disk, and then re-inserting it.
DZ-MV380a is a very small camcorder and tucks easily
inside your right hand. The basic controls – record and
pause; zoom, are easy to reach. I wouldn’t recommend
using the manual focus unless you had to. Instead of
using a lens ring, or even a lever, the Hitachi’s manual
focus relies of a couple of push buttons. Once manual
focus is activated, you hit one button to focus in and
one to focus out.
info about Hitachi DVD camcorders and to get a great
price from B&H Photo Video
The Panasonic VDR-M30 not only lets you record onto DVD,
but you can also record onto SD Memory Cards. SD cards
are versatile, high-capacity storage cards that are
extremely small - about the size of a postage stamp.
They work as "digital film," letting you capture images
and then transfer them to a PC, TV, PDA, or other device
equipped with an SD slot.
A single DVD-RAM disc can hold approximately 120 minutes
of high-quality MPEG2 moving pictures in standard
recording mode. You can also record in XTRA mode for the
best picture quality possible for the remaining disc
A new, compact drive and higher-density mounting help
the VDR-M30 achieve a super-slim body, approximately 2 ¼
inches wide. The compact drive widens the opening for
easier disc insertion and reduces pickup travel
distance. A miniaturized lens-section and battery also
make the VDR-M30 smaller than our previous models.
Unlike videotapes, DVDs need no rewinding or
fast-forwarding to search for specific scenes. The
camcorder’s LCD displays a list of the recorded scenes
for quick, easy searching. Images recorded onto DVD-RAM
or DVD-R discs can also be played on a DVD recorder or
DVD player2, so you don’t have to hook the camcorder up
to a TV to watch your recordings.
Sony's new DVD camcorders (the
DCR-DVD100, DCR-DVD200 and DCR-DVD300 models) record on
3-inch, DVD-R and DVD-RW media.
These new camcorders also capture JPEG still images for
viewing on either your PC or TV. The DCR-DVD100 model
captures 640 x 480 images, ideally sized for sharing as
e-mail attachments, while the DCR-DVD200 and the
DCR-DVD300 models incorporate a one-megapixel imager to
produce higher quality video and still image resolution
(1152 x 864). All three models can take thousands of
still shots at the highest still resolution on a single
The disc-based recording system allows for quick access
to favorite scenes and pictures without the fuss of
rewinding and fast-forwarding. Thumbnail images of video
are created from the start of every recorded scene.
Customize Video with Easy In-Camera Editing
When recording on a DVD-RW disc, users have the
flexibility to do some simple in-camera editing. For
example, if the last recorded scene didn't turn out
perfectly, just erase the last video excerpt and shoot
the desired scene in its place. In addition, when in VR
(video recording) mode, users can design a playlist of
their video clips, and rearrange the order of the scenes
and images for a more customized finished product
without modifying the video.
Each camcorder has multiple quality recordings options
that can extend a disc's capacity to hold up to 60
minutes of video.
USB 2.0 Interface - For users without a DVD drive in
their PC, Sony's DVD camcorders have a USB 2.0 interface
for uncomplicated video and still data transfer to a
compatible PC (Windows® ME/2000 and later operating
system) with the supplied USB cable and driver CD-ROM.
And as USB 2.0 on the camcorder is backward compatible,
it will work seamlessly with the popular USB 1.1
interface as well.
Super NightShot®O Lux/Color Slow Shutter Recording
System - This system captures video in total darkness up
to 10 feet away by using an advanced infrared system.
Super NightShot recording employs an automatic
slow-shutter control to deliver brighter, sharper images
with more detail when shooting in the dark. Or use the
new color mode for recording full-color video in dim
light. Color mode helps capture true-to-life color video
of sleeping babies, birthday candles and early evening
All three models feature a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar®
lens producing more true-to-life color clarity in videos
and still images and 10X optical/120X precision digital
zoom that brings the action up close. The entry-level
DCR-DVD100 model is expected to be available for under
$1,000. The DCR-DVD200 unit adds a one-megapixel imager
and both models have 2.5-inch SwivelScreen™ LCD
displays. For those looking for a larger view during
recording and playback, the DCR-DVD300 model steps up to
a 3.5-inch SwivelScreen LCD display. All three models
will be available this summer.