The zoom is great! The image stabilization is good enough to get usable hand-held video at full zoom if you're careful, 40gig hd great!
Standard Def, one ccd, needing to switch to a/c power when downloading hd to computer, bundled software will not support dvd+ format,
Ok, to start with I'm a Novice camcorder user! Here's my experience. I got it home, charged the battery (1.5 hrs), read the manual while it was charging. I shot some indoor video (well lit room, incandescent lighting.) From reading the user's manual I noticed that ... Read full review
Ok, to start with I'm a Novice camcorder user! Here's my experience. I got it home, charged the battery (1.5 hrs), read the manual while it was charging. I shot some indoor video (well lit room, incandescent lighting.) From reading the user's manual I noticed that it defaults to 16:9 aspect ratio so I changed that to 4:3 before shooting. It also defaults to the medium quality setting (forget what they called it, LP is low) so I changed it to High quality. The menu system in intuitive and easy to use!
Then I decided I'd like to see how the video looked on my computer (WinXP pro sp2). (You need to install the bundled software before you connect the camera to your computer) I was disappointed to see that it wouldn't let me connect to the computer without removing the battery and using the ac power adapter they supply, (guess they don't want the batt to discharge while you're reading from the hard drive!) I also didn't like that they won't let you delete files on the camera's hd from the computer.
The next disappointment was that the bundled software only supports the dvd- format. Some how I ended up with a bunch of dvd+ media and a drive in my computer that supports DVDR+, DVDRW+ and dual layer dvd+ burning, but NOT DVD- anything!
When you connect the camera to the computer it is necessary to make some menu selections from the camera to choose the hdd or the sd card, then the bundled software will recognize the camera's hd as an hd on your computer. You don't have to use the bundled software for transferring/editing your video files at that point, you can use windows explorer to drag and drop them into whatever folder you select. The files will be in a .mod format. A quick look at wikipedia suggested that I could play them with windows media player if I renamed them to .mpg, (yes, this works just fine).
I need to find some 3rd party software to edit the clips so I can burn DVD+ videos for myself!
Some other observations:
What I like about the camera is the zoom!!! it is Loooooong, and the image stabilization really does work! If you were gonna use it at full zoom a lot you'd need a tripod. You can use the full zoom when hand-holding but you have to pay attention to what you're doing.
I found the buttons to be a little hard to reach but my wife (smaller hands) thinks they're perfect.
We bought this camera to replace an old hi-8 camcorder and were expecting a much higher quality video when viewed on the TV, (35" crt, flat glass). It's really about the same as the hi-8 video from several years ago shot in the same type of light. Again, I'm NOT a camera expert, so maybe this expectation was off base. I guess they're both shooting standard definition... (maybe another more knowledgeable reviewer can address this)
The camera seems to be well made.