Q&A: Which High Def hard drive camcorder would you recommend?

Question by S????s ??g?n?r????: Which High Def hard drive camcorder would you recommend?
Im looking for a High Definition Hard Drive camcorder with the following…

– 25x optical zoom
– mounts to attach lights and a thread size to attach lens
– image stabilizer *plus still photo
-good lux to see at night

and I want it to have a viewfinder.

*I’ve been noticing that most HDD camcorders are nothing but standard Definition with the old CCD quality. No thread size or mounts or good night shot.

But please which would you recommend?

Best answer:

Answer by Little Dog
Um… none.

The key is your requirements list.

In my opinion, your stated “good lux to see at night” has two definitions:

1) Camcorder has a built-in infrared emitter for monochrome video capture in zero or near-zero visible light. This limits you to the Sony camcorders with “NightShot” in their feature list. In the consumer area, this includes the HDR-CX500 series, HDR-XR500 series and HDR-HC9. The HVR-A1 (the pro-sibling to the discontinued HDR-HC1) has NightShot mode, too. None of these has 25x optical zoom. The HVR A1 and HDR HC9 (I think) are the only with a LCD panel and viewfinder. All have threads for lens filter and add-on lens mounting (and can get close to 25x zoom with an add-on lens). There’s a new Sony prosumer coming out that looks promising – an updated HDR-HC1 with interchangeable lenses and AVCHD compression – but still not internal HDD.

2) Low light color video capture without an infrared emitter (or other external light source) means big lenses an big imaging chips. This puts you in the realm of prosumer or pro-grade camcorders – and none have internal hard disc drives – because their known limitations are something those folks just don’t want to deal with. If absolutely required, an external storage device can be used. Typically, a Focus Enhancements FireStore series device is connected via firewire to the camcorder’s DV port. Sony also has external flash memory and hard disc drive devices for DV-equipped camcorders (in their HVR, HDCAM and XDCAM line up). Generally speaking, DV-port equipped camcorders use miniDV tape for internal storage – though not always. The short list includes (but is not limited to):
Sony HDR-FX1000; HVR Z5
Panasonic AG-HVX200
Canon XHA1, XLH series; XF series
These pro and prosumer models meet all your requirements (though no “NightShot” zero light capture, they will behave relatively well under low-light conditions) – other than the 25x zoom (but adding a tele-lens is easy to do). Since you did not state a budget, there is no way to know if these can be on your short list.

Even if you go with standard definition-only cams, “NightShot” limits you to Sony – and they have no consumer-grade HDD storage based cams that meet all your requirements. Specifically, at the low end, there is no “NightShot”… And the lenses/imaging chip are so small that low-light behavior is poor. You have already discovered this.

You can always add accessory mounts (search “bescor camera bracket”) to understand what this means.

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