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Hard drive video cameras

Sony DCR-SX40

This camera is a hybrid camera, which at this point means that it can record onto the hard drive or onto a memory card (Memory Stick Duo, since it’s a Sony product).  It can, with software downloaded onto your laptop, download the footage straight onto your computer.  It can also transfer the footage onto the Memory Stick Duo.

This is a link to a helpful user manual. 

You can look at another here.

The great thing about Hard Drive cameras is that you don’t have to worry about tapes or DVDs or whatever recording media you used to use.  However, right now, it’s still a little tricky to download the files.  Some cameras are better than others at doing this.  JVC, for example, saves the files in a special JVC format which you have to use JVC software to download and to edit.  What a pain!  Sony and Panasonic seem to be doing a little better, so far.

And the other thing about these cameras is the terminology.  HD means hard drive, but it can also mean High Definition, so you have to be very very careful about reading the specifications.  For now, if your camera is mega-expensive, that HD probably means High Definition.  These cameras, hybrid or hard drive only, are in the $2500 -3500 PLUS range.  In April 2010, apparently, new cameras will be coming out, so the price may drop a bit.  We’ll see if it’s a significant difference.

On the other hand, you can get a Mino Flip High Def for under $300 (or 1500 or so FlyBuys points!).  This tiny camera is probably smaller than many people’s mobiles.  It’s light, it’s got an included USB connector, and it comes with software on the camera to edit your footage which you can download onto your laptop very easily.  The sound quality is pretty good, even in fairly noisy places (I tested one at Bodega), and the picture quality on the HD version is very good, even at a distance.  The camera charges when plugged into the USB port, and you get about 60 minutes of recording with one battery charge.

Samsung and Creative have also come out with these tiny hard drive cameras in the reasonable price range.

In my opinion, these are THE way to go for recording assessments, especially as the software automatically makes the files into Windows Media files, the format preferred by NZQA.  Additionally, once converted to Windows Media files (automatically, remember), you can use MovieMaker to edit the files and choose only the work that you need to send off.  Not bad!

Necessary accessory for these tiny cameras – a mini-tripod, of course!  These are available at camping shops for about $35, less if there’s a sale on.  What this means is that ten cameras AND tripods could cost the same as ONE Hi Def, Hard Drive camera.


March 10, 2010 - Posted by | hardware | , ,

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