Camcorders

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We've been shooting home movies for over a century, from film to videotape and now whiz bang little cameras which shoot in high definition on cards the size of a thumbnail.

Shaun Crawshaw sells the new generation of cameras at the Diamonds store. While they sound complicated, Shaun says they’re almost idiot proof.

“They've all got anti-shake systems so you can pick them up and cut out the wobbles. Face detection, so it focuses in and frames the person. Things like face recognition technology so you can detect faces and search hard drive for faces you may know.”

“You’ve got high definition, long record times of up to 24 hrs. You've got memory card camcorders which you can record onto a 32 gig disk at about 4 hrs and you've also got your flash memory, which are 32 gig and expandable up to 32 gig cards as well.”

“Sony’s top of the range model 5.1 has surround sound, a gps system; you can go to Google maps, a rotatable screen, 3 inch battery with 24 hours of full HD, so enough memory for a full holiday.”

Alex Fragnito is a cameraman with 7 news and Today Tonight. He uses an industry standard Panasonic which shoots on tape but admits he's blown away by the new camcorders.

“You’re going to get fantastic quality, so really with lighting, with a bit of care, it matches, I'm probably going out on a limb by saying that, but it matches, you can get it to match the quality of our news and ENG (electronic news gathering style cameras at work).”

So what do you buy? Well we asked Alex to road test some of the top cameras made by Canon, Panasonic, JVC and Sony.

“The truth is any one of these cameras are easy to use. They all have the auto mode. You pick these cameras up; stick it on auto and you good to go,” says Alex.

To complete the whole package you can also get editing software to give your movies that Hollywood look.

Andrew Cockburn, a product trainer with Panasonic says cutting his home movies on his PC is effortless and quick.

“We used the one that came with the camera because you can use titles, edit over the top, you can merge things together you can partially trim things up a little bit and that's good enough for what we want it to do.”

Now to those cameras tested by Alex Fragnito.

“What I like about them is they are light weight, compact, the ease of use, they are fast to start up. Certainly the SD the solid state and the hard drive, those cameras they don't take much time at all to be on the ready. For a news man, I like having that because if I need to have this camera ready straight away I am saving valuable seconds."

But his favourite is the tape-driven Canon HV 30, even though he says tape is going the way of the dodo.

“I have a couple of those and they are actually fantastic cameras. I actually use them for work and they do the job remarkably and always successfully and most people that are watching the news at night don't even know that I've used that instead of a $50,000 camera.”

Shaun from Diamonds says, “They all produce great cameras and quality on any product that you buy now in High Def. You will be very, very pleased with what you get. They are affordable. You can get a HD Camcorder for under $1000 now which for most people is affordable. Anywhere up to $2000 is the top of the range now.”

But if you're in doubt this advice from Andrew Cockburn...

“Find something that is easy to use. Try and get the store guy to demonstrate it. We found it was a lot easier once it was demonstrated and find out what it’s going to connect with at home, again that's what we found was easiest.”

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