For years I’ve been using my Canon IXUS to take short video onto SD card at 640×480 resolution and fairly recently got a camera add-on for my Sony PSP that captures at 480×272 in more of a widescreen format, but for a while I’ve been thinking that we should really have a proper camcorder to capture the kids as they grow up. The problem is, I’ve always been into quality photography rather than video – I have a decent SLR which I am absolutely delighted with and won’t be wanting to upgrade too soon.
My SLR is bulky enough, so I started to look at small ‘candybar’ video cameras. I didn’t want the cheapest £40 ones, but also didn’t want to go anywhere near the high quality high priced camcorders.
My criteria was:
- Removable expandable storage
- Lightweight and small enough for Jane’s handbag!
- LCD screen
- Removable battery or ability to use AA’s
- Good in low light
- High Definition 720p or 1080i
Since the makers of the Flip Video Camcorder (Pure Digital Technologies) drew a line in the sand when they launched their Flip Ultra – simplicity and cost has been a recent driving force behind candybar type video camera’s to the masses and we should expect to see even more appearing, especially in HD soon.
So I started by considering the Flip Mino at about £90, and ideally wanted to wait for the HD version that should be hitting the UK shortly. But the small screen, built in hard drive and battery killed it for me. Next was the Kodak Zi6 for about £99, but the reports of it not being great in low light and also the dropping of frames killed that off. So it was getting difficult as there really are not any High Definition camcorders on the market to meet my criteria … I thought …
I stumbled upon the HITACHI DZ-HV564E 1080i High Definition SD Video Camera with the following specifications:
- 5x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom
- 2.5″ LCD screen that rotates
- High Definition 1080p with HDTV output (cables included)
- Records in MP4/H.264
- Small and lightweight
- 5MP CMOS CCD image sensor
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (removable)
- 3 x LED illumination
- SD/SDHC expandable memory
- Auto focus and face detection
- Audio recording mode
- Macro mode
- Exposure compensation
- White balance (auto and manual)
- High Res Webcam function
So after a quick test I got one and after a few experiments tonight in low light and with using the LED lamp the video quality is looking rather nice! This one is exclusive to Currys and comes in at only £127 but look around for the same camera re-branded. Once I’ve had a chance I’ll post some test videos.
UPDATE 21 JAN 09:
- Autofocus is very slow with moving objects. It gets there in the end but is annoying. Stuff filmed on a tripod is not as bad.
- After being asked on twitter about a hiss on the sound, I have reviewed my video’s and there IS a background hiss. It’s not as noticeable when you are filming outside, but it is quite loud if there is not much sound to be recorded in a quiet room.
- I’ve had to mess about with a few SDHC cards to find one compatible … please see the list above.
- When filming in VBlogger styleeeee … camera pointing at self at arms length, the camera angle is not quite wide enough at this distance and the mic located on the back of the screen is then pointing in the wrong direction for your voice! … It’s OK if you don’t need to see yourself on the screen while filming!