Q:

What camcorder do I need to film my own ski porn?

I'm a snowboarder interested in recording video footage of skiing and 'boarding. The mind boggles, though, with all the available formats, options, models, etc. I've also been told I should get a camera with a wide-angle lens, but all the salespeople I've asked didn't even realize wide-angle lenses were either interchangeable or available. Help! Stu Yakima, Washington

Sep 8, 2004
Outside
Outside Magazine

JVC MiniDV Camcorder

A: There are certainly lots of choices out there, Stu, but I don't see anything particularly exotic in your request. What you need is simply a compact camcorder with a zoom lens. It'll ultimately come down to price and a few technical details about how the image is recorded.

The biggest thing to wrap your head around are the three primary ways camcorders record a moving image. Today all modern camcorders are "digital" but use different formats: Mini DV, Digital 8, or DVD.

Mini DV results in the most compact camera, as the tapes are tiny. Because the image is recorded digitally, editing is easy, and a tape can be copied many, many times without degradation. Digital 8 cameras use a larger tape, so tend to be bulkier (although still not that large). But the tapes cost less than Mini DVs. Digital 8 cameras are also more reasonably priced than the higher-end Mini DV cameras. DVD cameras are just that—they use a recordable DVD, which means you can pop out a disk and stick it in your DVD player. DVDs are also the most stable recording medium.

Keep in mind that most of these cameras also record still images on a flash memory card. But, they're not as good at this as even a lower-end digital camera.

So, what would be some good choices? In the Mini DV category, JVC's GR-D72US is surprisingly affordable ($550; www.jvc.com) yet has goodies such as a 16x zoom lens (good for wide views as well as telephoto) and an image stabilizer to give your vids a steadier look. Easily hand-holdable, too, so it'll fit in a ski fanny pack or something similar. Canon's Elura 60 has similar features, plus marginally better image quality, for $500 (www.usa.canon.com). In a Digital 8 camera, Sony's DCR-TRV460 gives you a 20x zoom lens and a big viewfinder screen for just $400 (www.sony.com). For all these cameras, look around online at places like Best Buy, Circuit City, or Wal-Mart for the best knock-down prices.

DVD technology is awfully intriguing, but pricey for the time being. Sony's DCR-DVD101, for instance, goes for $750.

What I would do is take this shortlist into a camera dealer with a good selection, find someone who seems to know his/her business, and have a chat. Test several cameras to see what feels right in your hands, paying particular attention to what it would be like to use one wearing gloves. Then, start taping!

Filed To: Cameras, Snow Sports

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