Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder
Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder

What kind of ccorder should I use to make snowboard flicks?

I'm after a ccorder to film snowboarding flicks and don't have a clue what to buy. HDD, MiniDV, DVD? What is your opinion? S

Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder

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Well, that’s an interesting question. Certainly, video cameras such as the Sony DCR-SR42 ($450;, which store video on a hard drive, offer some real advantages over tape-based camcorders. No juggling tapes or other recording media, for one thing. And they have essentially unlimited recording capacity without buying anything extra—that is, assuming you can get to a PC or notebook and offload your video files. The DCR-SR42 has about seven hours of storage capacity, which I should think would suffice for a day of filming on the slopes.

Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder

Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder Sony DCR-SR42 Camcorder

On the down side, hard drives are more mechanically complex than tapes. That means they’re probably more apt to break down. And in a fairly stressful environment, such as bouncing down a snowboard slope, that could be an issue. I’m inclined to say that’s the same hurdle facing DVD-based units such as the Sony DCR-DVD308 ($400). DVD-recorded videos also are somewhat more challenging to edit. On the other hand, MiniDV is technology that’s more than a decade old, and is getting a little long in the tooth as camcorder makers focus their efforts on newer recording formats.

So what to do? I’m inclined to say that you start with a proven technology, such as MiniDV. The Panasonic PV-GS320 ($375; is a good starting point, with image stabilization (useful!), Leica lens, 10x zoom and many more features. MiniDV tapes are reliable and inexpensive, and it’s easy to get your video onto a PC for editing.

But long term, think of HDV, the high-def alternative to MiniDV. Right now that’s a more expensive alternative, with most camcorders around $800 (an exception: Canon’s Canon HV10, a very compact unit that goes for around $550). These cameras use a tape that looks like a MiniDV but allows a higher recording level for better definition. If you get serious about making videos, it’s what you’re going to want.

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