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Sony Dcr-dvd405e Video Camera Review ...video camera review...

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I've wanted to buy a video camera for a few years now. They aren't cheap at all (at least for me), so after a few years of reading magazines and different offers I finally had the necessary money to buy one. Since I now have one and I'm very happy with it I want to write a review so anyone who will want to buy a video camera will have an easier job finding the right one... ;)
Over 2 months ago I started searching... my budget was quite low: around 600$. The first big problem was the format of the camera. The two big options (for me) were MiniDV and MiniDVD. (if you're not familiar with the terms you should know I wasn'tat first... MiniDV - very small tape... MiniDVD- Mini Digital Versatile Disc - a small 8cm DVD). So why should you choose one over the other? You have to consider what you are going to do with the recorded material:
1. MiniDV- an older alternative, usually cheaper then miniDVDs (with around 40%) can be rewriten up to 10 times (some say more, but the general accepted idea is that after more then 10 rewrites the quality of the rrecoding is drasticly reduced. The main advantage of the miniDV format is that the movie is not encoded at all... it is in a raw status. In other words if you want to copy a movie onto your computer without encoding t would require over 50GB of space. The raw format is great for the ones that want to do editing after they record a movie. !!! So if your're not into editing (which by the way takes at least a few hours) I suggest going for option two !!!
2. MiniDVD (miniDVD-+RW) - a modern alternative, usually more expensive then miniDV, can be rewriten up to 300 times (I use Sony branded ones and sony gives a lifespan of 1000 rewrites to their discs). If your into editing don't choose this option as the movie is already encoded into MPEG2 so for you to edit it you'll have to recode it into the raw format, edit it, and reencode into MPEG2... this process lowers the quality of your recordings. The advantage on the other hand is great. With a miniDVD you can record what you want and you can right away play it back on the now very comman DVD players or on the computer.

Considering that I am a very lazy person ( :( ... and damn proud of it) and the DVD seems to be the way of the future I bought a miniDVD video camera. After weeks of searching and thinking what is the best video camera that suites my needs I finally decided to buy a Sony DCR-DVD404. It lacked Memory Stick support, USB support and Audio-Video Input (Memory Stick isn't that much usefull since it can record pictures right on DVD and USB isn't that great because you just have to take the dvd out of the camera and put it into the DVD-Rom). Finally I took in consideration the fact that this camera will be my camera for at least 5-6 years so I've gone for the best: Sony DCR-DVD405E. Exactly the same as the 404 just with Memory stick, USB and AV in support. (if you want to read the full specs of Sony DCR-DVD405E... Click HERE)
After a few weeks of testing in all kind of conditions I'm ready to declare myself extremly happy with what I have bought (considering of course the huge price I've paid) :)
The quality of the movie is great in indoor conditions and near perfection in outdoor conditions. The 12x optical zoom and the 120x digital zoom are really helpful and in contrast with some video cameras that offer 990x zoom it does not make the movie blurry). About the sound (which is 5.1 DD... the camera only has 4 microphones but it has a sound processing unit which makes the 4 channel sound in 5.1 channels) I can tell you it is as close to perfection as you can get. I have to admit there are some problems in very windy conditions, but other then that the sound is cristal clear and it is positioned correctly.
Now about the still pictures... I have an old digital camera (HP PhotoSmart 318xi) and I can tell you the difference is huge. My Sony video camera has a resolution of 3,3 Mp for still pictures (and 2 Mp for movie). Of course the resolution isn't that great, but on auto mode (without any manual adjustments) delivers pictures better then most of the digital cameras. I can say I was impressed on the quality of the pictures since I heard that video cameras aren't good for taking stills. Once again 10 out of 10.
There are a few things I don't like... The low recording time (included battery pack pretty weak considering the price of the camera) made me spend a few more $ for an extra battery pack.
All things considered this camera is positioned in the beginning of the high-end class and for those of you how don't want to change the camera for at least 3 or 4 years this is the best video camera. I strongly suggest buying it if you have the money for it...

PS: Tomorrow I'm going in a trip thru Europe for a whole month (one of the reasons why this review is so long B) ) and when I'm come back I'll be able to share my experience regarding my video camera!

Edited by adriantc (see edit history)

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