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Mini-DV Format Camcorders Buyer's Guide

By DMN Staff Writer

Mini-DV Format Camcorders
Here's a representative sample of the DV camcorders available today, along with links to the manufacturers' sites for more detailed information. All are capable of a IEEE 1394 link to a computer, and all use the mini-DV format. All prices quoted are street prices.
Product Capabilities Contact

Canon ZR10
Canon ZR10

$755


This newest of Canon camcorders features a small size -- weighing only 1.5 pounds, and measuring just 2 x 3 x 5 inches. This lower-priced ($755), DV camcorder still packs features like an image stabilizer, Canon 10x zoom lens plus 200x digital zoom, a flexible LCD viewscreen and a color viewfinder.

Canon USA, Inc.
1-800-OK-CANON
canondv.com



Canon Optura Pi camcorder
Canon Optura Pi
$1020
Progressive scan unit offers flexibility and high quality. Gives you up to 2 hours of digital movies or 700 Digital Photos on one mini DV. Cool feature is called "Digital Motor Drive," gives you 30 stills per second. Includes an optical image stabilizer and a Canon 12x Zoom Lens with 48x Digital Zoom. Flexible LCD View Screen-Color View Finder Canon USA, Inc.
1-800-OK-CANON
canondv.com
Canon Elura camcorder
Canon Elura 2

$1180

Elura's 1/4" Progressive Scan CCD (charge coupled device) produces video that looks almost as good as a three-chip model thanks to its innovative filtering device. Sporting 380,000 pixels, Elura also features an Optical 12X Zoom (48X Digital), image stabilizer, 2.5" LCD Screen, programmed automatic exposure, manual focus and exposure controls, and a few cheesy digital effects (including digital fades).

Canon USA, Inc.
1-800-OK-CANON
canondv.com


Canon GL1
Canon GL1
$2000

This is one of the most popular camcorders on the DV scene. It's able to give you picture quality that's extremely high-end-looking. Many think it's nearly as good as Canon's more-expensive brother, the XL1 Pro features like its 20x zoom and 30 fps "Frame Movie Mode" make this a great choice to rival Betacam SP quality. And, if you have Betacam SP footage and only have a DV editing system, there's an analog input to record the footage on DV for editing along with your camcorder footage. Canon USA, Inc.
1-800-OK-CANON
canondv.com

Canon XL1
Canon XL1
$3800


The standard of the guerrilla-movie-making crowd, the XL1 adds interchangeable lenses to the equation. It's easy to roll focus on this baby, and you're able to go from automatic everything to full manual. It's the first camcorder to offer a true four channel digital audio system (16/12 bit) and the first camcorder to offer simultaneous recording on four channels as well as independent signal output. This three-CCD unit is hard to beat. When the company says "it provides the finest digital video image quality available today," they're not kidding.
Canon USA, Inc.
1-800-OK-CANON
canondv.com
Panasonic PV-DV800  Camcorder
Panasonic PV-DV800

$980

The PV-DV800 offers a 3.5" color viewfinder, still capability, and an 18x zoom. An unusual feature: dual digital electronic image stabilization works on both record and playback. Add to that lots of special effects and five different auto exposure modes.

Matsushita
201 348-7000
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
panasonic.com


Panasonic PV-DV950 Camcorder
Panasonic PV-DV950

$2700 retail
This higher-end Panasonic camcorder has three CCDs and a 12x zoom. A 180,000 pixel color LCD monitor, while its still camera features let you record about 1000 still images on one 80-minute tape in LP mode. Other pro features include a manual focus ring, high speed shutter from 1/60 to 1/8000 sec. and a 16 step iris control providing you with 16 steps from 1.7 to 16 (and closed) to adjust to almost any lighting condition. AE (Auto Exposure) lock keeps the subject from being "lost" when a dramatic change of light occurs.
Matsushita
201 348-7000
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094
panasonic.com
JVC GR-DVL805U camcorder
JVC GR-DVL805U

$730

Even though this unit's price is low, it still sports 500 TV lines of resolution, a 680,000 pixel CCD, 2.5" color viewfinder and an integrated digital still camera. Like its JVC brethren, it also comes with a remote control and an F1.8 lens. It also adds the Dual Cam feature with 2MB memory for storing digital still pictures separate from the tape. Random Assemble Editing provides an eight scene memory for favorite scenes as well as the ability to add special effects while editing them to a video recorder.

JVC
1700 Valley Road
Wayne, NJ 07470
800 526-5308
jvc.com
JVC DVM90U camcorder
JVC DVM90U

$1100

Built around JVC's "Progressive 1000" technology, the GR-DVM90U is a versatile digital still and motion video camera. It incorporates an array of picture improvement technologies including a 680K-Pixel progressive scan CCD, progressive color filter and high-band processor. These features give you up to 520 lines of horizontal and 480 lines of vertical resolution in progressive mode. Also included is a multifunction remote Control and an F1.8 lens.

JVC
1700 Valley Road
Wayne, NJ 07470
800 526-5308
jvc.com
JVC GR-DVL9800 Camcorder
JVC GR-DVL9800

$1250

This progressive scan camcorder offers a 10x optical zoom lens, 3.5" color viewfinder, snapshot mode, built-in auto flash, and a digital image stabilizer. Also included is a multifunction remote Control and an F1.8 lens.

JVC
1700 Valley Road
Wayne, NJ 07470
800 526-5308
jvc.com
JVC GY-DV500U Camcorder
JVC GY-DV500U

$4400
Here's a pro entry from JVC, the DV500. Features like 1/2 inch chips, shooting down to .75 lux, and a physical design that will be familiar and comfortable to professional shooters make this model a winner. Its 14-bit Digital Signal Processor (DSP) delivers performance found only in high-end cameras. Other pro-level features include a bayonet lens mount and Super Scene Finder (SSF), as well as IEEE 1394 (input and output) and RS-232C interfaces for easy integration in various professional NLE and post-production systems. If you'd like to know what it's like to spend a few weeks with this baby, take a look here. JVC
1700 Valley Rd
Wayne, NJ 07470
800 526-5308
jvc.com
Sharp VL-PD3U
Sharp VL-PD3U
$940
Sharp, the inventors of the large view screen-type viewfinder, offer this DV Viewcam with a 2.5" high resolution color LCD view screen. Its single 660,000 pixel CCD works along with a 10x optical zoom and digital image stabilization. Completing this consumer-friendly package is a remote control.

Sharp
Sharp Plaza
Mahwah, NJ
07430-2135
201 529-8200
sharp-usa.com


Sony DCR-TRV20
Sony DCR-TRV20

$1300

This camcorder has just one CCD, but it's an extremely dense one at 1.07 Megapixels -- that's 1,070,000 pixels. That gives you 520 lines of video resolution. Also included is a 3.5" viewfinder, and Carl Zeiss lens with a 10X optical zoom. As is routine with Sony camcorders, you also get "Super SteadyShot" image stabilization and that fun innovation of Sony's, the "Super NightShot 0 Lux Infrared System," and I can tell you, I used that feature once when I first got the camera and never have again. Also you get seven modes of auto exposure, progressive shutter mode and the ability to save your stills on a 4 MB Memory Stick, Sony's proprietary storage medium comparable to the more widely-used Compact Flash or SmartMedia.

Sony Electronics, Inc.
800 222-7669
sony.com
Sony PC-100
Sony PC-100

$1480

Sony's smaller form-factor model has a 2.5" viewfinder, Super Steady Shot Digital Video Recording, over 500 lines of horizontal resolution, 16:9 widescreen recording, and here's a neat trick: a way to transmit the camera's video to your TV using laser. And, if you get bored with plain old video, mess around with 14 different picture effects, six of which are digital.

Sony Electronics, Inc.
800 222-7669
sony.com

Sony DCR-TRV900
Sony DCR-TRV900

$1650


Here's a three-chip version of Sony's popular TRV8 camcorder (the TRV8 was discontinued in Spring of 2000). The TRV900 was king of the camcorder midrange until Canon's GL1 topped it in features and quality. The unit features three 1/4" CCDs that are 380k pixels each, a 12X optical zoom, "Super SteadyShot" image stabilization system, five-mode program auto exposure and a progressive scan mode. A great feature is the ability to store still images in a PC card, making it easy to transfer to a notebook computer.

Sony Electronics, Inc.
800 222-7669
sony.com


Sony DCR-VX1000
Sony DCR-VX1000

$2500
Here's the camcorder that started it all back in 1996, but its shortcomings are even more glaring in light of the latest developments in camcorder technology. Even so, you may be able to find a great deal on a used one, so look around. What does it lack? There's no analog input, no large view screen-style viewfinder, and audio only records at the lower quality 32 kHz, 12-bit mode. The good points about this workhorse still shine, though -- features like a 20:1 zoom, three CCD chips, color viewfinder, "Super Steadyshot" stabilization, and time code. Here's an article about what's it's like to use the VX1000.
Sony Electronics, Inc.
800 222-7669
sony.com
Sony DCR-VX2000
Sony DCR-VX2000

$2600
This worthy successor to the Sony VX1000 has three 1/3" CCDs, each with 380,000 pixels, making for some sharp shooting. Also included is a 12X optical zoom, optical image stabilization, 2.5" color view screen, progressive scan mode, 5 five-mode auto exposure plus full manual control. You can also record in drop-frame time code with this unit, along with the ability to shoot in 16x9 mode. Sony Electronics, Inc.
800 222-7669
sony.com

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