Well, we have made the big step into video. Karen and I have been kicking around this idea for some time now, but we have always been more of picture takers.
We have had a digital cameras for years starting with a simple Sanyo camera with a 640×480 resolution. We moved to a Canon Powershot G1, which we loved. We initially started with memory cards, but Karen had a trip to Italy for work and we didn’t want to take a computer for downloading pictures. We made the leap at this time to big storage, which was a Microdrive at the time. We spent around $250 for a 512MB drive, which was huge at the time. Now, you can get a 4GB Microdrive for 27 bucks. (Big change!) We could shoot 300 plus shot without filling up our storage.
We moved up to a Canon Digital Rebel XT, which was a gift. The camera is great at taking quick shots, because of it’s fast response time. But, it was not a point and shot camera, which Karen hates and I dislike. The flash was very bad on the XT. It either didn’t light the subject or washed them out. Also, the Canon Powershot G1 had a LCD that could flip around to the front of the camera, which allowed Karen to shoot pictures over her head (Karen is short). We were moved up to a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, which was a another gift. It improved over the XT, but it still was not a point and shot camera.
In the middle of this, Karen has been wanting to get back to the point and shot cameras so she picked up a used Canon PowerShot S300 for $50 at Unclaimed Baggage. She loves it, but it doesn’t take pictures that well.
During all of this, Katie Beth (our baby girl) has come into our lives. We now have actions that we want to capture like blowing out her first birthday cake’s candles or her first steps. All these things are best captured with video. But, video brings some headaches like the following:
- You have to edit the video, which is not like just deleting a photo.
- You have to store the video, which is a lot more demanding than photos.
Well, the editing has improved with the release of iMovie 8 from Apple. One of the key ideas behind iMovie 8 is to provide quick editing of movies with a focus on creating simple short videos from larger videos such as the one hour of birthday video that you shot last year and still haven’t edited down to something bearable like 60 seconds.
The storage problem is solvable. You simply buy what ever you need and stop trying to save money on your storage and backups. I love the LaCie Big Disk Extreme+ 2 TB. I have two of the earlier version of this drive. The 3 Year Limited Warranty is great, too. On Mac, you have Time Machine so you purchase the largest drive for your computer and a huge drive to be your backup.
With both issues addressed, what camera should we purchase. First, there is no super/prefect video camera. Every camera is a compromise. Canon’s video cameras have a single CCD, while Panasonic’s video cameras have three CCDs. Sony’s video cameras can take 10 mega pixel still pictures, while Canon’s video cameras can take 3 mega pixel pictures. Some have viewfinders while other don’t. Some use their own type of memory while others have more standard memory. Some record to tape, disk, internal memory, hard drive, or memory cards.
End the end, I decided on the Canon VIXIA HG20, which captures video to an internal 60GB drive or to an SDHC memory card. I don’t like the video cameras that record to tape because it is very slow going through the tape. Hard drive or memory card storage can be jumped through quickly. But, you could have a problem on a long trip, because you can fill up your memory cards and hard drive before the trip is over. You can always purchase another tape or memory card, but tapes are cheap. With the 60GB drive, the Canon VIXIA HG20 can record anywhere from 22 hours of video at 1440 x 1080 resolution with LP quality, which more video than I want see of any place that I visit. Remember, you have to edit down what ever you shoot. While shooting the highest quality video, you can still get 5.5 hours at 1920 x 1080 resolution with MXP quality.
The DVD variety of recorders typically get about ½ hour on one 3 inch DVD. The tape variety of recorders typically get about 80 minutes on one High Definition Minidv Videocassette. These times increase if you lower the quality, but why did you buy a high definition camera if it not to get high quality video.
The Canon VIXIA HG21 has a viewfinder while the Canon VIXIA HG20 does not. Karen doesn’t want to be behind a viewfinder. She like the LCD, which is very similar to the Canon Powershot G1‘s LCD. The Canon VIXIA HG21 has a twice as large internal drive, but like I said, “you have to edit down what ever you shoot.”
The Canon VIXIA HG20’s 3 mega pixel still picture capability is about the right resolution for our web site and typical 4×6 prints. So, this camera may replace the need to take the Canon PowerShot S300 on trips.
Like many HD video cameras, the Canon VIXIA HG20 has Mini-HDMI output for connecting directly to our high definition television. But, you can also use the include component cable, which all high definition televisions should support.
I am looking forward to testing the camera on our next trip to Colorado Springs, which will be via Amtrak train. You can expect to see more video on our web sites.