Digital video camera: Important features?

(Couldn’t decide whether to put this here or in General Questions, so Mods, please feel free to move it.)

My father is going to give me a mid-price-range digital video camera for Christmas–the kind of camera that records on tape, and the footage can then be loaded into a computer and edited there (a little late, but that’s kind of expected around my family). Since I know it’s coming and it won’t be a surprise, he’s asked me to find out what features are most important to look for, and frankly, I have no idea what’s available, what’s useful, what’s NOT useful, &c. I’m planning to make short films with it, and I’ll be doing my editing on a Mac (don’t know the name of the editing software).

What features do I want? What kind of resolution is available/desirable? Filters, fade in/out, etc? Any advice will be most welcome, preferably ASAP as I need to e-mail him by tomorrow with the info.

Thanks very much.

Oh, hmmm, lets see what I can do for you. First try & search for ‘digital video camera’ this one has just about all you need:
Sony DCRTRV27 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder w/ 3.5" LCD, MPEG EX, Memory Stick & Mega Pixel Video/ Still

The lens is a famous, high-quality Carl Zeiss construction with a single 1/4.7-inch CCD capturing the image, enabling the camera to produce 520 lines of resolution. The SteadyShot function stabilizes the picture and reduces camera shake. Use the infrared NightShot for shooting at night or in dark settings. The TRV27 also sports a 10x optical zoom, which is enough for most purposes. Turn on the digital zoom, which electronically magnifies the optical image, and reach up to 120 times.

more at the site:

Just read what people say there as each camera has a bunch of people that talk about it, they know what you need.

You’ill probably be using iMovie
to do your editing…(unless you’re a pro and want to pony up a grand for Final Cut).

Assuming you ARE using iMovie…it might be worth checking the compatibility list at Apple. (other digicams “may” work…but the list has cameras that will definitately work).

The filters/fade in & out will be done in post production with iMovie…on board bells and whistles are a waste of money IMHO…since you’ll add them later (if you really need them).
FWIW, I like the Canon series. I have the original ZR-10…but I think the current model in that line is the Canon ZR-40 or50. You want something with nice optical zoom (as opposed to digital zoom).

I bought mine at OneCall. Good prices.

If you’re interested in what you can make with a Canon and iMovie…you can check out some of my videos here. (the QuickTime movie links, obviously)

Just a quick addendum. The movies I have posted on my web site are highly compressed videos. The actual uncompressed footage is DVD quality.

Great advice, both of you; thanks a lot. I went and did some research and poked around, figuring out what features I do/don’t want and so on, and I think I’ve got a clearer idea of what I’m (going to be) looking at here.

beagledave, where is your site? I’d love to take a look at some other folks’ movies.

Duh. I see the link now.

Hey, here’s a good place to ask this. I’m ready to spend app. $150 - $200 on a digital camera (still, of course), and am wondering what would be the best one for me, as I know practically nothing about them. I don’t need an insane number of pixels, just enough to fill an 8½" x 11" sheet of paper with a low-end inkjet printer. Don’t need a lot of fancy features, but would like something that gives me some control over the aperture and shutter speed if there’s anything like that out there.

At that price point…you’re looking in the 2-2.9 MP range.

You’re not going to get great 8.5 x 11 prints at that range…just so you know.

FWIW…I own an Olympus and like it. If it was me, I would stick with either an Olympus(Camedia D-380), a Nikon(Coolpix 2000) or a Canon (PowerShot A200)…those seem to be the popular and reliable brands (that don’t use weird media like Sony cameras).

FWIW…the pics of my daughter here were all taken with an Olympus. (my current model is the Olympus D-550, a 3 MP camera…which prints 8.5 x 11 prints fine…the cameras down around 2 MP are not going to print at that size as well)