My Canon Hi-8 camcorder is dying, would like suggestions for replacement

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by slugbug, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. slugbug

    slugbug Guest

    About 3 years ago, my mother in law gave us a Canon Hi-8 camcorder
    that she rarely used. With it, I was able to capture lots of videos of
    my son (now 3) and daughter (now 2). Unfortunately, it apears that
    several pixels in the middle of the optical sensor have gone bad,
    because now every recording I make has an area that is missing any sort
    of signal. It is a Canon ES2000.

    For some time, I've thought about upgrading to a new camcorder, but
    price kept me from it. We simply never had $500 or more saved up.
    Right now I do have $300, so I was thinking of looking around for
    anything that might work well for $300 or less. Here is where I was

    I would appreciate it greatly if any of you could give me feedback on
    which of these I might want to avoid like the plague, and which might
    be best. I will primarily be using the camcorder initially to convert
    old 8mm films (home movies from the 1950's through around 1980) over
    onto my PC, and of course to record new home videos of my kids.

    There are 3 things that I want:

    1) ability to add a 3rd party battery cheaply (at least 5 amp hours, so
    I can record several hours worth of video per battery)

    2) good quality capture, hopefully better than what my old Hi-8
    camcorder would have done

    3) firewire support - to make it easy to transfer things to my PC

    Any hints or advice you might be able to give will be appreciated
    greatly. Otherwise, I might end up going with the cheapest model in
    the list.
    slugbug, Nov 2, 2006
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  2. slugbug

    Ray S Guest

    At that price level, they are probably all much the same. Perhaps if one
    has allows an external microphone input that could be a feature you may
    find useful.

    Google up camcorder batteries and make sure you can find a third party
    battery that fits your camcorder. You'll have to search eventually, best
    do it before you plunk down the money.

    Capture? You mean like capture 'in', as in connecting to a vcr and
    recording tapes? Just make sure it as the analog inputs.

    The firewire should be standard I think.

    A site that gives detailed specs on camcorders is.
    Ray S, Nov 2, 2006
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  3. slugbug

    Bill Smith Guest

    I bought a Canon MV550-i which was a high-spec machine at the time
    (about 3 years ago?). After just over a year (of course!) it began
    chewing up tapes on rewind, destroying some irreplacable video.

    I hponed a city camcorder repair firm, described the fault, and the
    first question was "It's a Canon, then, is it?" I hadn't told him that.

    Apparently this is a well-known fault with Canon transport mechanisms.
    The guy did a repair which he said probably wouldn't last long, and
    didn't charge a penny for it. As predicted, the same fault returned
    within 3 months, probably less. I can *use* the camera, but to rewind I
    have to set to PLAY and hold down the rewind button all the time to
    avoid ruinng the tape.

    I'd avoid Canon, therefore, though they *may* have fixed the problem by
    now (check reviews by other Canon users).

    Prior to the Canon, I had a Sony which got very wet in a sudden
    downpour. I told Sony's official repair centre, tok in the camera
    (80-mile round trip), with the problem described fully on a label stuck
    to the body. After a fortnight, Sony said they couldn't repair it
    "because it's suffering from water damage". This diagnosis of what I'd
    clearly pointed out cost me Sony's £25 handling charge, and they wanted
    a further £20 or so to send it back in its unusable, unrepaired, state.
    I declined this generous offer, but still had to fork out their £25
    charge for "diagnosing" what I'd already told them was the problem.

    So I've a personal aversion to Sony, too. If and when I've got the
    money, I'll look at JVC or another alternative!

    Good luck,

    Bill Smith, Nov 13, 2006
  4. slugbug

    Scubajam Guest

    1) If you buy a miniDV camera you can't view your old 8mm tapes.
    2) I recommend buying a Sony Digital8 camera. It will play your old
    tapes, as well as make great new videos.
    3) Many think miniDV is better quality, however, in fact, Digital8
    stores EXACTLY the same quality as miniDV. The tapes are just larger.
    Now, within each format there are additional quality differences. Look
    at pixels per frame actually stored on tape. 270,000, 470,000, or
    670,000. For years I used a Sony DCR-TRV740. This is a 1 mexapixel
    single CCD camera that takes great quality, has approx 1,000,000 CCD
    and stores about 670,000 pixels per frame on tape (or is it 690K?).
    Very good resolution. The only thing better is a 3 CCD camera, and
    that's debatable as they often store 570K pixels so one has better
    color saturation (3CCD), the other better resolution.
    4) You can buy a used TRV740 for $300 or under on ebay. I know, you
    want new with a warranty. But your budget buys inferior quality. The
    740 was a $1,000 machine. I''ve purchased 4 of them. One flooded (I
    specialize in underwater video), one sold, one given to my son, one I
    still have. Used them for the past 6 years. Not as small as a miniDV,
    but excellent quality and again, plays your old tapes.

    I now shoot HD on miniDV tapes, but still keep my TRV740 around to play
    my old tapes. The quality of the image is excellent. Tweak the auto
    settings for a bit more color saturation, and step down one half to one
    f stop from auto exposure, and you'll have a hard time finding bettter
    quality from any brand or camera.

    The only issue is buying used on eBay. I purchased all of mine that
    way. I too could never afford a new, quality camera. Look at seller's
    feedback and how many years and how many transactions. Use only PayPal
    and you have very good protection.

    Oh, and cheap 3rd party batteries and chargers. And get a tripod.
    Look for those with LANC connector controls so you don't have to touch
    the camera to control it. About $50 for 3rd party - Christmas is

    And despite ads showing both USB and Firewire connections, only connect
    and capture your video with Firewire. USB is usually for capturing
    stills from the card, and if used to capture video it often processes
    the video. Losing quality. A Firewire true capture copies exactly
    what's on tape to your hard drive. No loss of any quality. It's also
    a great way to capture your old tapes to hard drive, which converts
    them from analog to digital. And, if you have any VHS, you can use the
    TRV740 to connect to a VCR via RCA plugs (they go both in and out on
    the 740), then connect Firewire to computer. TAKE OUT THE TAPE! and
    read the manual, you can convert any VHS analog to digital and capture
    that on a computer as well. Very versatile camera. Your next post
    will be asking about editing.

    Jim McGauhey
    Washington State

    Sample videos - but quality is MUCH worse due to youTube conversions
    Diving British Columbia

    Intro to Commercial Diving at DIT

    Here's the octopus encounter video
    Scubajam, Nov 14, 2006
  5. slugbug

    kyletrail Guest

    I bought a Sony Digital 8 when they came out and it's still running
    along just fine (about 7 years old now). I highly suggest one of them
    and tapes are really dirt cheap for them too. Plus, like Scubajam
    says, you can use it to check out your older tapes and even to digitize
    them and make them into DVDs for longetivity purposes.
    kyletrail, Nov 15, 2006
  6. slugbug

    nsdcdon Guest

    I'll go along with Scubajam and his recommendation of the Sony TRV740.
    I've been researching this problem for some time, and come to a few
    conclusions: the Sont TRV3xx series is the minimum you want. The lower
    numbers are not backwards compatible. Mac World recommended the TRV350
    as the best buy two or three years ago, before miniDV tapes became the
    I've cruised ebay and the going price for a TRV 350 is $250-$300. If
    the TRV740 prices out about the same, go for it.
    nsdcdon, Nov 16, 2006
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