I need DVD camcorder suggestions!

Okay, so my family’s going to go overseas to the Philippines for a month to meet our relatives. My mom got to considering buying a DVD camcorder for our trip there. We leave on Saturday though, so we may not have time to buy one.

Does anyone have some brand and model suggestions, with price considerations? We want to buy a good one, but not necessarily top-of-the-line if it’s going to set us back too much.

Also, are there any other things we should know about our first DVD camcorder buy? Things like the length of video you can fit on one disc (it’s 20 minutes in HQ right?), and other considerations.

Thanks in advance for any insight the Dopers can provide!

I would consider not buying a DVD version. I know that’s not what you asked, but still.

With FireWire cards and PC DVD burners being as cheap as they are, you can easily make DVDs that play in any DVD player. MiniDV cameras record longer than 20 minutes. MiniDVs are cheaper and the media also cheaper and can be reused. I don’t see any real advantage to the DVD ones, except that you can play them in a DVD immediately.

I woudn’t buy one because the recording time is too short unless it takes full size disks and that would be too bulky but YMMV. Anyway here are some of the features I would look for. You decide how they might apply to your shooting.

Zoom: you need to go by optical zoom range. Ignore digital zoom as it should really be called “make picture worse.”
Stabilization: Optical stabilization is better than digital but both are adeqate for amateur use
White balance: Specifically the ability to set a custom, fixed white balance. This color corrects for scene lighting without constatly adjusting itself to scene content and is a very big part of making your videos look more professional.
Widescreen: Many camcorders have a feature to do 16:9 anamorphic widescreen format. I think this will become a more important feature as more people get widescreen TVs. Canon makes several models with this and my old Sony Hi8 had it but unfortunately not the DV camera I have now.
Analog input: this allows you to instantly make DVDs of video tape or other sources
Microphone jack: allows an external microphone

We just got a DVD camcorder. Despite the good points already offered about the ease of making files using a firewire connection, the main selling point to DVD for us was that we don’t need to convert the movies to watch them on a DVD player.

We were looking for something that recorded to DVD, was reasonably priced, with decent optical zoom, that I would actually be able to carry around and use. This fit the bill. We (kinda mostly I, as I will be the main videographer) chose the Sony DCR-DVD7 . It’s a different form factor than most cameras – the disc is flat behind the screen, rather than perpendicular to it – and I like it.

One particular thing I will recommend is getting to your local Best Buy or similar store and getting your hands on the camera. Many of the models I looked at were really uncomfortable for me to hold, as I have larger-than-average hands.

Thanks for this. It does make more sense for us, it’s just that we don’t have a DVD burner. We can play recorded video straght from the camcorder, reading off the MiniDV “tape” right? We will probably get a DVD burner eventually, but for now, this would be our only way of playing our video.

Which leads to my next question: Is there a specific length of time after which you should transfer video from the MiniDV to a DVD?

Also, how is the battery life on digital camcorders? It’s probably better than on DVD camcorders, right?

Then finally, how much video can be recorded onto the recording media?

Suggestions for brands and models would also be nice. :slight_smile:

Thanks for ALL the feedback, everyone! I really didn’t know anything about what we were buying, so I’m grateful for all the information you’re giving me?