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Old Oct 19, 2005, 1:49 AM   #1
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I guess the best way to put this is to lay out my history, what I'm looking for, and what I have to spend:

I'm a graphic design student and have dabbled in 35mm photography before (I also have a VERY low end digital still camera), but I've just now decided to dip my toes in the video field.

I'm looking for an affordable digital camcorder that I can use for a certain project I've got coming up. It's not for school, but actually an anniversary gift for my fiancee. I'm building a wedding site for us and instead of just telling her, I'm planning on making a DVD as a gift that will conclude with displaying the URL for the site.

I need something I can use to shoot some basic video footage of us together to utilize in the DVD and to add any segues or intro/outro scenes of me addressing her. I want something that has good quality video, but at this point I don't want (and can't afford) a broadcast-quality DV cam. I'd prefer for it to appear that I just purchased a nice camcorder and want to practice with it by recording us together on dates and such (she lives several hours away, and we only see each other every couple months, so the presence of a camera at our dates isn't too strange). She isn't going to have any idea that I'm making this for her, so I don't want to tip her off by using some intense professional-appearing camera with huge boom mics!

That being said, I do want something I can attach an external mic to for the scenes with just me, but that I can use as-is for the candid scenes of us together. The audio for the scenes of us doesn't have to be incredible, much of it will be dubbed over (I work in Audio Production part-time and will be working on a separate soundtrack in Adobe Audition) and the rest I want to have a candid (but good) quality to it, like a clear, well-filmed home movie.

Ideally, I'm looking for something that I can continue to use as my own personal camcorder for the next few years, as I plan on buying a professional (or prosumer) DV camera post-graduation.

Also, it's not necessary, but it'd be a plus if the camera could capture decent still images, as my current camera is very low-quality, and I'd like to add some still photos to the DVD (it will be more animation and still photos than straight video footage).

As for budget, I'd prefer to spend $500 or less, but would definitely consider upping that by $150-200 if a certain camera merits the additional cash.

I understand that this isn't a great budget for a good camera, but this doesn't need to be cinematic genius, just something that can capture moments of us together in decent quality without being too conspicuous.

If it helps, I plan on doing all my editing, animation, DVD authoring, soundtrack, etc with Adobe products. I'm already fairly knowledgable about Photoshop, Illustrator, etc and will be purchasing/learning AfterEffects, Premiere, and Encore in the next month or so.

Sorry for being so wordy, but thanks in advance for anyone that has some suggestions. I'm willing to do research on the models suggested, but I'm currently so overwhelmed by all the models and specs that I figured it'd be good to get advice from those "in the know"!

Thanks again,

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Old Oct 19, 2005, 9:33 AM   #2
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The Canon Optura 400 is probably worth a look. It's about a year old now, so it has dropped from about $!000 to just over $500 street. Check out the PC Magazine review from when it was new at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1667735,00.asp

I have not used this camera, but it looks like a pretty good fit for your budget and requirements. There are digital camcorders that take 3 and 4 M Pixel stills, but they are either way out of your budget or pretty poor performers. This camcorder looks like a good video camera with an OK still mode. To get that extra 1 or 2 MPixels in your still images without sacrificing quality, it looks like you'd be more or less doubling the price of the camcorder. FWIW

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Old Oct 19, 2005, 11:24 PM   #3
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Thanks for the tip! I read a few reviews for that particular model, and it does appear to be a satisfactory (and affordable) camera.

If there's anyone that has this camera and could give me feedback, it'd be greatly appreciated!
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