Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Panasonic and Sony DVD Camcorders

By Christina VanGinkel

With my youngest son involved in sports, and my grandson an active toddler, I am considering upgrading my current camcorder. I have decided I would like to purchase a model, which will record, directly to DVD. This way, unless I want to edit something, my video is ready to view via my home computer or my DVD player, as long as it is compatible with the disc used in the camcorder.

The main one I am considering is a Panasonic. Their VDR-M53 DIGA DVD Palmcorder® MultiCam™ Camcorder with 24x Optical Zoom seems to fulfill my every wish where a new camcorder is concerned. The one drawback I see with the camera is more of an image problem with camcorder companies in general, than any one-thing concrete with this particular camera or Panasonic itself. Why is it that they all continue to push the digital zoom factor when promoting these cameras, when it functions as nothing more than a crop feature? This one in particular has a very respectable 24x Optical Zoom, then goes on to say that it also features an 800 Digital Zoom. I wish they would put the money spent on this useless aspect into something that we, the consumers, would benefit more from, such as a higher optical zoom.

There is much to like about this camera though. The Digital Electronics Image Stabilizer (D-EIS) says that it helps eliminate blurred images caused by typical human interaction, i.e., movement. It says that it works well enough to allow for taping while walking or in a moving vehicle.

The camera also doubles as a digital still camera, with photos being saved either to the DVD discs, or to an SD card. Online though, when doing some research on this camera, I was unable to find the mega pixel size associated with the still images.

The other contender that I am considering is the Sony DVD DCR-DVD403 digital camcorder. My current still camera is a Sony, so I am comfortable with the brand. Not only does it record video direct to DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW, it snaps still photos in a very useable 3.3 mega pixel. It also features a Carl Zeiss lens, which is renowned for it clarity and excellence. The optic zoom is lacking in comparison to the Panasonic, at only 10x.

With such a wide range of features between the two, I think I will end up looking at other contenders before I make any firm decision on which one to purchase. Because I intend to use the camera to record video footage of my son when he is out on a field participating in a sport, the higher optic lens on the Panasonic is a major plus. Call it motherly pride, but when he makes a tackle that wins the game, I want to be sure that I can zoom in on all the action. I also like the fact that I can combine my camcorder with a still camera all in one now. My current camcorder has a still built in, but the quality of the photos is not worth using for anything beyond the occasional photograph to email or post on a website. The resolution is not worth printing for use to frame or even include in my scrapbook.

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