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DVD Camcorders  

How to Choose a Camcorder –– page 5 of 9

Digital Camcorders - DVD


DVD camcorder with 3 inch recordable DVD mounted on internal drive

Most people just love the DVD. You can buy movies on DVD for under $10 and DVD players are in most households. The DVD players are everywhere, even portable so you can take them on the go. So why not a DVD camcorder?

Hitachi introduced the first DVD camcorder in 2001 but since you want a camcorder to be lightweight and fit in the palm of your hand, the DVDs these camcorders use are smaller than the regular DVD. DVD camcorders use an 8cm (3 inch) recordable DVD. Standard DVD video discs are the larger 12cm (5 inch) size. Hitachi, Sony, Canon and Panasonic all make more than one model of Mini-DVD camcorder.

Most newer DVD players can play both mini DVD-R and mini DVD-RW discs. That means you can finalize a disc, pop it out of your camcorder and into your DVD player, and start watching it. You can also use the camcorder's A/V outputs to connect to your TV, VCR, or A/V receiver, and let the camcorder do the playback.

DVD camcorders are generally small and portable, and tend to share the same features and optics as most mid-priced Mini DV and Digital8 camcorders. DVD media doesn't degrade with repeated playback the way tapes do, and DVD-RW discs can be re-recorded 1,000 times.

DVD camcorders use USB 2.0 to send video to a PC. Since video files are large, you'll want to make sure you have enough space to store these files. Every five minutes of footage will use approximately one gigabyte of space. Once you've transferred video to your PC, you can edit it with compatible digital video editing software sometimes included with the camcorder. For easier titling and re-ordering of segments, try recording in DVD-VR mode (this mode requires use of a DVD-RW disc). It's worth noting, however, that frame-by-frame editing is difficult to achieve with a DVD camcorder as opposed to MiniDV because of the way the files are compressed.

DVD camcorders offer two advantages over DV tape models. First, you can access any scene on the disc almost instantaneously, rather than having to rewind or fast forward as you would with DV tape. In addition, you can easily finalize the disc and play it on most DVD players, making the camcorder-to-DVD player transition faster than with DV cameras.

On the downside, DVD camcorders use MPEG-2 compression to capture video footage—the same kind of compression used on Hollywood DVDs. Unlike Hollywood cameras however, DVD camcorders are limited to real-time, constant bit-rate encoding, commonly at 1 MB per second, as opposed to 3.6 MB per second for DV camcorders. The resulting quality is less than what you're used to on Hollywood DVDs and usually falls behind DV camcorders. This is most notable on higher-motion footage which is inherently harder to compress.

In addition, while you can import DV into virtually all video editors, the MPEG files produced by DVD camcorders are often incompatible with many consumer editors. Even compatible editors will likely perform more slowly when editing MPEG-2 than when editing DV, simply because MPEG-2 is more compressed and harder to decompress.

DVD camcorders differ from DV cameras in one important way - they record video onto mini DVD discs, rather than DV tape. DVD discs won't get tangled up in the camera transport. DVD discs are random access, compared to tape on which everything is recorded sequentially. This means there's no need to rewind and fast forward to find the scene you want, just select it from the menu. Some cameras even allow you to perform basic editing functions in-camera.

  Compare 8cm DVD with MiniDV tape format
Recorded format Digital Digital
Media 6.35mm metal-oxide tape 8cm optical disc
Recording capacity1 60 min (SP) 90 min (LP)
80 min (SP) 120 min (LP)
30 min (SP) / 1.4GB
60 min (LP) / 1.4GB
Video compression method DV MPEG-2
Compression2 intra-frame DCT inter-frame
Audio compression method DV MPEG-2
DVD Player compatibility Copy required Excellent
How CPU intensive High Very High
Quality Excellent Excellent
Scene access Sequential Direct

1 - Dual layer 8cm discs give almost double the standard recording time but your DVD camcorder must be dual layer capable.

2 - MPEG2 compression discards video information that's repeated between successive video frames while DV operates on each individual frame.

Advantages of DVD camcorders

• DVD-Rs can be played in home DVD players.
• Easy searching and random access to video segments.
• Convenient and stable format for archiving.
• Selectable image-quality levels, including high-quality variable-bit-rate recording.
• Both video and still images are recorded on disc 
 (instead of on a cassette and a memory card)

Disadvantages of DVD camcorders

• Relatively short recording times at highest-quality modes and unpredictable recording times with variable bit rate.
• Less support by advanced video-editing and effects software than for DV format.

DVD camcorders can use different types of recordable 8cm DVD media.

• The DVD-R disc can be recorded up to the 1.4GB capacity but cannot be erased for additional recordings. The DVD-R is therefore a record once disc. You would use this kind of DVD to record something you intend to keep such as your vacation or a birthday party. The DVD-R is the most compatible format for playback on DVD players.

• The DVD-RW disc can be recorded up to the 1.4GB capacity (or 2.6GB double-sided) but can be re-written again over and over. The DVD-RW is therefore a record many times disc. You would use this kind of DVD to record something you intend to watch but not archive forever such as a sporting event or casual video shooting. DVD-RW playback is available only on newer models of DVD players.

• In addition, there are DVD+R and DVD+RW discs. These are basically like the DVD-R and DVD-RW but have certain features. With the +R and +RW discs, you don't need to "Finalize" the disc prior to playing in a compatible DVD player. This just saves a little time. Playback is available only on the newest or high-end models of DVD players/recorders.

• There are also the DVD-RAM discs. These can be re-written over 100,000 times but have to be used in compatible devices of which there are few.

• The latest 8cm DVD is the dual-layer or DL disc. The advantage is that with two layers on the same side, you don't have to flip over the disc. The additional storage capacity is used in the High Definition DVD camcorders but is available also for standard definition DVD camcorders in 2007.

Check before you buy to make sure you know which DVD media type is compatible with the camcorder.

(8cm) - It seems every year the major camcorder makers introduce new models. It's hard to keep up with the changes. In 2001, the first DVD-RAM camcorders arrived from Hitachi and Panasonic. Rather than tapes, the Hitachi DZ-MV100A and Panasonic VDR-M10 recorded images on 8-centimeter (3-inch) discs. Video quality is the same as the wildly popular DVD format. This was a major breakthrough. The DZ-MV730A cost under $500 compared to the original DZ-MV100A for $1,999! In order to view the disc at its best, you need a DVD-RAM player/recorder, a DVD player with RAM playback or a PC with a DVD-RAM drive. The Hitachi RAM Cams also record on DVD-R discs (record once). DVD-R discs--called "dash R" -- play back in most DVD players. Panasonic's VDR-M53 and VDR-M73 also record on DVD-R discs as well as DVD-RAMs.


Late in 2003, Sony finally entered the DVD camcorder category, as it introduced three disc-based models (dcr-dvd100, dcr-dvd200 and dcr-dvd300). The key difference between the Sony and Hitachi/Panasonic models is format. Hitachi and Panasonic feature DVD-RAM/R or -RW while Sony models record in the –R/RW and +RW formats but not RAM. Quality for both is very similar. The key decision is your equipment. Make sure it is compatible before you choose one or the other.



2005 Sony DCR-DVD7 DVD Camcorder


The design of the Sony DCR-DVD7 camcorder offers a brand new shooting style for camcorders. All the convenience of DVD recording has been combined with modern styling in the futuristic Sony Handycam, supporting DVD-R/-RW/+RW compatible formats for shooting and playing back.

The Sony DCR-DVD7 camcorder launched in May 2005. In a departure from normal styling, the Sony camcorder features a 2.5-inch Hybrid LCD monitor on the back face of its round body. This serves as the primary monitoring, framing and playback display for the camcorder. The camcorder is capable of recording directly to DVD discs. Formats supported by the Handycam are DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW for direct recording and DVD-RW and DVD+RW for rewriting. The 8cm DVD Discs used by the Handycam range can be played back on most consumer DVD players. To view images recorded on DVD+RW on DVD players, without proceeding with the finalization session, images need to be recorded for more than 8 minutes with SP recording mode. 

2006 SONY DCR-DVD505

In 2006, Sony introduced several new models which record on miniDVD to replace the 2005 models. Also in 2006, Sony introduced a new format for a few new camcorders to record on mini-DVD (and HDD) called AVCHD. The Sony HDR-UX1 followed by the HDR-UX5 and HDR-UX7 in 2007 use MPEG-4 compression. The trend in 2007 is moving towards consumer High-Definition video recording. The dual-layer 8cm miniDVD media will allow up to 45 min. of HD video recorded at excellent quality. Also in 2007, Sony introduced new models like the DCR-DVD108, DCR-DVD308, DCR-DVD408 and DCR-DVD508 to replace the 2006 models.

The 2007 Sony DVD camcorders are priced around $400 to $900 for the SD models.

2007 Sony DCR-DVD108 DVD Handycam Camcorder with 40x Optical Zoom

Get an entry level DVD camcorder for just under US$400. The Sony model DCR-DVD108 is new for 2007 and is impressive for a camcorder at this budget level. Superb features for a low cost DVD camcorder.
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Sony DCR-DVD108 at Wal-Mart
Sony Memory Stick

• 1/6-inch Advanced HAD CCD imager
• Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens; 40x optical/2000x digital zoom
• 2.5-inch touch-panel SwivelScreen LCD
• Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization
• DVD-R/-RW/+RW and +R DL (Dual Layer) compatible

The DCR-DVD108 is very light and easy to control with one hand. The zoom is amazing on this camera. When you are done shooting a disc, finalizing a DVD-R takes about one minute and can be done by pressing one button. There is an "easy" mode that automatically sets the camera to adequate standard user settings. Easy to use, beautiful touch screen menus, takes still photos, has a good speaker for audio.

Record directly to DVD with the DCR-DVD108. It’s compatible with DVD-R/-RW/+RW/+R DL (Dual Layer) media formats. This affordable, high-quality camcorder is ideal for those looking to enter the realm of recording directly to a 3-inch (8cm) DVD.

1/6-inch Advanced HAD (Hole Accumulation Diode) CCD with 340K effective pixels provides stunning detail and clarity with exceptional video (up to 500 lines of horizontal resolution) and still image performance.

40x optical/2000x digital zoom. The optical zoom helps to bring the action close up from far away. In addition, the Digital Zoom Interpolation means that extreme digital zooming is clearer, with less distortion than previous types of digital zooms. The Sony DCRDVD108 Handycam DVD Camcorder allows you to conveniently record your videos directly onto 3-inch, mini DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW or double-layer DVD+R discs. A 40x optical zoom brings the action closer to you, or you can use the 2000x digital zoom when you're further away.

Professional-quality Carl Zeiss Vario- Tessar lens. Carl Zeiss lenses have an advanced optical multi-layer coating that offers less glare and flare with increased contrast.

DVD format video recording. The DVD recording format delivers digital picture and sound quality comparable to that of MiniDV, but on DVD. Playback of the DVDs couldn't be simpler. After finalizing the disc in the camcorder, the disc can play back in most DVD players, computers and even PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles.

DVD-R/-RW/+RW and +R DL (Dual Layer) compatible. The DCR-DVD108 is compatible with a variety of DVD formats. With DVD+RW media there is no need to finalize the disc (minimum recording time required). Simply remove the disc and insert the media into a compatible DVD player. 2.5-inch touch-panel SwivelScreen LCD. Provides excellent viewing clarity with improved resolution. The high-resolution, 123K-pixel LCD screen rotates up to 270 degrees for multiple viewing angles and provides sharp, detailed images for monitoring or playback.

Memory Stick Duo media slot Capture still images up to 640 x 480 resolution directly onto Memory Stick Duo media, then transfer to PCs for emailing, printing or sharing with other compatible Memory Stick devices.

Visual index screen Shows thumbnail images of video clips and still images when playing back on your camcorder or DVD player, making your selection easier.

Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization. An advanced version of Sony's SteadyShot Image Stabilization system that controls an even higher range of shake and vibration frequencies, to achieve an even higher level of smoothness without degradation of video like some other image stabilization systems.

InfoLithium battery with AccuPower meter system. Charge the battery at any time because, unlike NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries, Sony's rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries are not subject to a life shortening "memory effect." Sony's exclusive AccuPower meter displays the battery time remaining in minutes, in either the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.

Manual focus. Allows the user to manually adjust the focus of the camcorder using the touch panel. Manual focusing also allows the user to control the focus in difficult situations where either the environment or the subject does not allow the camcorder's auto focus to perform optimally, such as when shooting through a window or in a crowded environment.

Super NightShot Plus infrared system
With Sony's Super NightShot Infrared System, you can capture natural-looking video even when shooting in low light. Record subjects up to 20 feet away using the built-in infrared system, but without the overall monochrome color common with earlier low-light recording systems.

Stamina battery power management system. Using the optional NP-FH1000 InfoLithium battery, the DCR-DVD108 can continuously record for up to 9 hours (LCD or viewfinder) on a single full charge, providing extra long battery life.

The built-in Memory Stick Duo media slot and USB 2.0 connection allow you to show off your video almost as fast as you captured it. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens with 40x optical/2000x digital zoom keeps you close to the action while the Super SteadyShot technology and Super NightShot feature make sure it looks perfect.

DCR-DVD108 Specifications

Optical zoom 40 x , Digital zoom 2000 x
Optical sensor size 1/6 in
Optical sensor type Advanced HAD CCD
Min illumination 0 lux
Analog video format NTSC
Digital video input format MPEG-2

Image stabilizer Electronic (Super Steady Shot)
Digital scene transition Black fader, White fader
Min shutter speed 1/6 sec
Max shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Shooting modes Digital photo mode
White balance Custom, Presets, Automatic White balance presets Indoor, Outdoor Exposure modes Program, Automatic

Lens System
Lens aperture F/1.8-4.1
Lens system type Zoom lens
Min focal length 1.9 mm
Max focal length 76 mm
Filter size 30 mm
Manual focus Manual, Automatic Zoom adjustment Motorized drive

Memory / Storage
Media type 3" DVD-R, 3" DVD+RW, 3" DVD-RW, 3" DVD+R DL
Image storage 640 x 480
Recording speed HQ, LP, SP
Viewfinder / Display
Display type LCD display - - 2.5 in - Color
Display form factor Rotating Display resolution 123,000 pixels
Viewfinder: Color

Audio Input
Audio input type Microphone
Microphone type Built-in Microphone operation mode Stereo

Expansion / Connectivity
Connections Composite video/audio output, USB Expansion slots Sony Memory Stick Duo card for still images
Cables included A/V cable
Additional Features Video input features Touch-screen control, USB 2.0 compatibility Software type Sony Picture Motion Browser

Power supply included Power adapter -

External Physical Characteristics
Width 2.2 in Depth 5.2 in Height 3.5 in
Weight 15.5 oz

Camcorder Type: DVD
Model No.: DCRDVD108
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 3.1
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 8.75 x 7.0 x 4.9
Instruction Manual: Yes

DVD Camcorders in High Definition

SONY HDR-UX1 Camcorder - records High-Definition video on 8cm DVD


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NEXT >> High Definition Camcorders

• Which Camcorder Should I Buy?
• Digital Camcorders - Digital8
• Digital Camcorders - MiniDV
• MicroMV, solid state memory cards
• Digital Camcorders - DVD
• High-Definition Camcorders
• Digital Camcorders - Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
• Camcorder Connections and Accessories
• Summary


How to connect camcorder to TV, VCR, HDTV
How to connect camcorder to PC
Video Editors for PC and Mac
Photo Gallery of camcorders
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