Enough already! Just tell me what to buy!
- Categorized in: Choosing a camcorder
I haven’t looked at all of these camcorders (some weren’t available at the time of this writing) but if I had to compile a short list of camcorders most likely to succeed in 2009 and beyond, it would be these.
The Sony HVR-Z5U – List price $4,995 – This successor to the
Z1U also records HDV to tape, but uses three 1920x1080 CMOS sensors to get
there, and records in true progressive. A 20X optical zoom and histogram (but
no waveform) complement the CMOS, and there are multiple alternative storage
mechanisms, including hard disk and compact flash. Sony has a well deserved
reputation for low light sensitivity, ease of use and very high quality video
that I’m guessing this unit will continue to reinforce.
The Canon XH A1S – List price $3,999 - My Canon XH A1 (HDV) has produced the sharpest images that I’ve ever recorded, and a new 20X lens should only improve things. The update also offers more manual adjustments for those who like to craft their image.
Panasonic HPX-170 - $5,695 – This DVCPRO HD camcorder
succeeds the HVX-200, which was exceptionally popular with the indie and
documentary filmmaker crowd. It’s completely tape-less, and comes with a
five-year warranty. Manual controls are legendary, and DVCPRO HD offers
exceptional quality, albeit at a data rate more than four times that of any
camcorder recommended here. With the focus assists and waveform monitor, you’ll
be able to travel light, and you can flip the display to work with 35 mm
adapters that don’t offer flip mechanisms. P2 costs and a 13X zoom are the big
Panasonic HMC-150 – $3,995. With full resolution AVCHD at
up to 21 mbps, three CCDs and a strong feature set, this is the first truly
professional AVCHD camcorder and highlights most of the format’s advantages,
like 3 hours of full resolution HD video on an SD card scarcely larger than
your thumbnail. While not quite as robust as the focus assist on the HPX-170, the
focus aids are still much better than what’s offered by most competing
camcorders, and the waveform is very similar to the higher priced HPX-170.