DVD Camcorders

DVD Camcorders from Hitachi, Panasonic and Sony

DVD CamcordersNo 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 the camcorder. 

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 compression solutions.

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?


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...

No FireWire!

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 no FIREWIRE.

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 conclusion.

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.



Hitachi DZ-MV380 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 DVD-R disk.  

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 shooting.

 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. 

 The Hitachi 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.

for more 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 space.

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 3-inch disc. 

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 events. 

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.


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