OT Camcorder advice - please


Have been reading and posting (when I have something to contribute) here for about three years. I realize that camcorders are WAY off topic, but I have searched the NGs every way I can think of and can not find an NG that covers the subject. In addition, I respect the experience and common sense of most of the people who frequently post here.
Wife and I want to buy a camcorder (not a Christmas gift) for our use. Intended use is to record inventory of house for insurance purpose, record grandkids (10 regular and one great granddaughter), pets, deer in the yards, etc. There are a number of different features available in camcorders, and frankly, we are confused. Money is an object - we are not looking at HD, but some other features can also be expensive.
We believe that card storage in desirable over an internal HD; less mechanical means less trouble. - cards come in various sizes, but we are thinking of a 4 Gigabyte, which we are told records about 80 minutes.
Camcorders come with various optical zoom sizes, from 10 X to 60 X. For our intended use, what would be a good zoom size?
I think most brands have a program, either built into the camera or that can be installed on the computer, that will download videos from the camcorder to the computer, or to view on a TV. I assume we would need to purchase another piece of software to edit videos; splice vids, insert, delete sections, improve quality, etc. -We would like a suggestion on some good editing program - nothing professional, just home use that an old man could learn to use.
Currently, I am looking a Sony model DCR SX40. It has 4 Gigabytes storage card, and 60 X zoom. Cost is $215 + 8.5% tax. It has a one year warranty, but if there is a problem, the camcorder must be mailed into the company. (To me, this is a big problem with several potential pitfalls). By purchasing a $35 three year warranty, the camcorder can be taken to the company and they provide a loaner and handle the repair. I don't know if this warranty includes battery life, but if it does, it seems like that alone would make it worth the cost. I realize that an extended warranty depends on the company staying in business and in your city. This deal is a FRY's, and they have been here for several years, so probably pretty safe that way.
Anyway, this is our thoughts at this time, and all comments will be appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Bob-tx
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if you're only going to use it once, then rent/borrow one. if not, decide what you want it for and look for features that can do what you want.
try http://www.camcorderinfo.com/ for reviews.
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Bob-
My son bought an Aiptek digital video camcorder on a whim a few years ago. He has since bought his young cousin one (but a different model since camera tech is not stationary). The kid uses it to make all sorts of utube videos.
Aiptek;s are reasonably priced and several models are available.
But I would suggest a camera that also shoots video. My son gave me his old Canon Power Shot SD1000 Digital ELPH. It can take stills or video....I use it document projects or to record dis-assembly processes.
With an empty 2 gig memory card it can take about 20 minutes of video. Downloads to my Mac are quick & easy via a camera's mini USB cable.
imo the Canon is the best of both worlds.... a decent pocket sized camera that also takes video
the one he gave me was used for a couple years so I know that they are durable, I've had it & heavily used it for ~6 months now
You can probably get one on ebay for $75 to $100. Try to buy one that comes with a small slip-in foam padded case, these things are little and get dropped. The case makes provides great drop protection
cheers Bob
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wrote:

Here's a 4 Star review on CNet about the Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera. User reviews are also 4 Star
Video:
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/kodak-zi8-pocket-video/4505-6500_7-33740624.html?tag=rnav
Click on the Specifications tab and take a look at the features.
I do have a Kodak printer and digital camera. I'm happy with both items.
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P.S. (bundled software) "The ArcSoft MediaImpression software includes the usual shortcut upload to YouTube, as well as some editing features that allow you to trim your clips, adjust contrast, color, and brightness, and splice you clips into a cohesive "movie," complete with customized background music and titles. As we said, this software is Windows only. If you own a Mac, you can copy your video and still images to your computer by dragging and dropping the files from the camcorder as you would with any USB storage device (and upload them to YouTube easily enough) and then edit your videos using iMovie. "
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-snip-

You've got too many grandkids.<g> For me- I'd be looking at a camera that also takes video. I've got a Canon A650 that compare favorably with my old 35mm for still pics-- and takes decent video, besides.

32 & 64Gb cards are common now. but I use a 4Gb just because it is the largest size my CHDK program will use. I've never felt pressure into moving them to my computer because of lack of space.
If you're going to take any nature shots you might be interested in time lapse photography, bracketing or motion detection. If you get a Canon point & shoot check out this site; http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK It sounds *way* more complicated than it is. You put some software on your memory card- and you've unleashed 100's of new things you can do with your Powershot.

For the household stuff you will want wide angle- not zoom. For the nature stuff the more zoom, the merrier. My 6x optical is pretty good-- but a 12x was be nice if I was shooting off a tripod. [note my 6x is 7.4-44.4. another 6x might be 6-36, or 10-60- so pay attention to those numbers. 7.4 mm is bordering on not being wide enough for family shots in a small room]
Check out Steve's digicams for reviews. I've been reading them for 10 years or so & think he is pretty thorough - and fair. http://www.steves-digicams.com /

I bought a program for $100 or so. Then when I tried to find out how to rotate the video 90degrees because my aunt shot it all sideways I found a reference to Windows Movie Maker. It comes for free with Windows XP- and I assume the later versions. I like it for ease of use and versatility. I don't even remember the name of the one I paid for. [that wouldn't rotate the video]
-snip-
See if you have it at; C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\moviemk.exe
Jim
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wrote:

80 minutes with a 4gb card probably represents the low quality video setting of that camera. Check how many minutes you can get with the high quality video setting. You may want to get bigger cards than 4gb.
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Google Steve's Digicams. There's a section for camcorders. Lots and lots of info from people who aren't trying to sell you anything.
Steve
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4 gb isnt going to do much video on quality setting and cards are expensive. Consumers reports did a good basic comparison. 4 years ago I got a digital trv460 sony that uses Hi8 tape and is dvd quality, about 490 lines resolution, it was near 200$ a few years ago. For a DVD quality unit it should be real cheap, Tape is not obsolete and would be the cheapest, memory card I think you will regret. Consumer reports does offer help in group comparisons. I think most reviews now wont cover what you want.
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