Thursday, November 1, 2007
Gadget Bag: HD Video Camcorders
Quality and portability have made high-definition camcorders important for more than just home videos
JVC’s Everio GZ-HD7 packs up to seven hours of HD video into 60 GB of internal-drive storage, and still weighs only 1.5 pounds. The 3CCD sensor divides primary color channels into three separate progressive-scan CCD chips for vivid and accurate color reproduction. The Fujinon 10x optical zoom lens features optical image stabilization and a wide range of manual controls for focusing, exposure control and more. A Zebra mode notes bright highlight areas in the 2.8-inch, 16:9 Widescreen Clear Bright LCD monitor, and a Focus Assist displays in-focus edges in color over a black-and-white background for simplified focus comparison.
Editing software for PCs is included, as well as a plug-in for common editing apps on Macs, such as iMovie HD and Final Cut Pro. The optional CU-VD40 Everio Share Station will burn HD footage from the GZ-HD7 directly to 12cm DVD discs for archiving and sharing. Estimated Street Price: $1,200 (GZ-HD7); $399 (CU-VD40 Everio Share Station).
Panasonic’s HDC-SD1 3CCD camera system uses the same technology as the company’s professional broadcast cameras. That means high-quality, high-definition images in a small camcorder. The high 6-lux sensitivity of the HD Advanced Pure Color Engine image processor is excellent for shooting at dusk or early-morning sunrise. The O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) of the HDC-SD1 provides steady shots, even with unstable locations like boat trips or marine expeditions. A variety of scene and shooting presets, such as backlight compensation and virtual guidelines, also make the HDC-SD1 an excellent choice for the field.
The HDC-SD1 captures sound from the back, front, right, left and center for playback in three-dimensional, 5.1-channel surround sound. A zoom mic also focuses audio at the area of the image on which the 12x zoom lens is centered. The camcorder records to SD cards, and there’s a 3.0-inch LCD screen. List Price: $999.
The Samsung (page 1) 1.5-megapixel CCD SC-HMX10 camcorder records in high-quality 720p. A swivel handgrip adjusts for regular and low-angle shooting, which is easily monitored from the rotating 2.7-inch-wide touch-screen LCD. The SC-HMX10 is self-contained, with on-board cut-and-paste editing and an included HDMI connection for outputting directly to HDTVs. There are 8 GBs of internal flash memory for media capture, and an included slot for SD/MMC memory cards expands capacity.
The SC-HMX10 uses digital image stabilization and a digital 100x zoom for sharper and closer shots. The iCheck function alerts you to camera and battery status, and a docking cradle connects the camcorder through USB 2.0, A/C and A/V connections. List Price: $799.
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2 looks and handles a lot like a laser gun.The 7.21-megapixel CCD sensor records in 720p HD, and takes 7.0-megapixel stills, rivaling the maximum image sizes of many popular digital still cameras. Images and video can even be taken simultaneously. The VPC-HD2 saves media to SDHC memory cards. An optional 8 GB card is capable of holding up to three hours of HD video, up to eight hours of standard-definition and thousands of images at full resolution.
The 10x optical zoom lens offers a 38-380mm (35mm equivalent) focal range and, when combined with digital zoom, provides up to 100x zooming. The 2.2-inch LCD screen rotates 285 degrees, and there are templates for recording specifically for video iPods, the web or alternate MPEG-4-capable media players. List Price: $699.
With 60 GB of hard-drive capacity, you may never have to spend money on tapes or discs again. The Sony Handycam HDR-SR7 can record in 240 frames per second for a three-second interim, giving slow-motion playback, ideal for analyzing the movements of fast-moving animals or birds. Other modes include a Tele Macro function for tight close-ups of subjects that might scare if you get too close, a Super NightShot Infrared System for capturing video in darkness and a Color Slow Shutter mode for ensuring full color in low light by slowing shutter speeds.
The touch-screen interface of the 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD Plus display offers button-free menu navigation. It also works with a Spot Focus and Spot Meter function to center-focus on the area of the frame that you point to with your finger. There’s a dual-record function for capturing stills and video simultaneously, 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound audio and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 10x optical zoom and SuperSteadyShot optical image-stabilization mechanism. List Price: $1,399.
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