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We bought this camcorder approximately 5 years ago. We had recently just had our first child, and we were looking at an easy way to record those informal family moments. I was looking for something that was simple to use and I could grab quickly to capture moments like the first smile, rolling over, first steps, and that sort of thing.
This camcorder appealed as it had an internal hard disk drive that could hold 20G of data which at the time was a pretty big memory. For our use, this still is a large memory. There is also an SD slot for inserting an external memory card, so you can extend this a bit if you want to. We were not worried we were going to be running out of memory or having to deal with tapes, and it seemed pretty perfect for our use after chatting to the salesman in the shop.
In practice, this is an easy machine to use. There are not many buttons to press, so it does work well for novices like myself who can just press a switch and go. We have also been able to pass it to friends or family members, and they have just needed to press the record button to capture things like us helping the kids blow out the candles on their birthday cakes.
The camcorder screen is a hinged section to the left hand side of the machine, so that and the fact the hand strap is on the right hand side means you are really meant to hold this in your right hand to operate it. I find I get best results if I hold it with my hand pointing upwards through the strap. I can then cradle the device with my fingers around the top and my thumb underneath, and this is quite stable and my thumb can comfortably reach the record button.
The screen tilts so you can film things lower or higher than your eye height easily. It also rotates 180 degrees and back onto the machine so you can watch the videos that you have just been making on the machine. I like this as when the kids ask to see the film, you are not worrying about them pulling at the screen as it is safely clipped back against the body of the camcorder and not at risk.
For the person who wants to play more with the buttons, the main one I use is the Zoom feature. There is up to 32x optical zoom operated through a little joystick type button on the side of the screen. Here you can also alter light settings to adapt to different light levels and get a better picture. Ours is mainly used on family occasions and events through the day, so light levels are good and we don't need to play as the picture is already good. From other reviews I have read, this machine is better for daylight filming rather than in low light levels.
There is a slide button hidden on the main camcorder where the screen sits. Here you can turn it to a camera mode and take still pictures using the record button to snap.
Playback of your video is operated via a slide switch on the top of the machine. I found this a bit tricky at first, as you have to apply some pressure down while sliding it to make it work. It means it can't get turned on accidently, but it is not easy to operate without practice if you are trying to capture those early moments in family life that happen quickly.
I also found that this meant it got left in a position which didn't look on, but was still draining the rechargeable battery, so the amount of times I went to capture something and it was flat and then I felt like throwing it out the window are too many to mention. Now, we tend to plan to use this. Eg. me, Christmas Eve, saying to my husband could he make sure it was on charge so that we knew we would be able to film on Christmas day. This does mean I will never win £250 for capturing a hilarious moment for You've Been Framed.
The camcorder came with the cables and software that you need to transfer to your PC and to watch on the television. It also came with a nice case to keep it in. Not top of the range, but adequate for our needs. We haven't backed up in a good while I have to say, as the large storage on the devices memory means that it is not short of space, and the ability to delete anything unsucessful straight away means there is no useless data taking up space. I should do it really in case it gets damaged, but it is a bit of a faff finding the cables. I do this regularly with our digital camera as I much prefer being able to remove a card and slot it into the PC quickly.
Overall, it is lightweight, easy enough for amateurs to use, but I think there are better camcorders about nowadays. At about £85 now on amazon, it might suit someone younger as a first camcorder, but I think you will get better picture quality and features on a newer model. We will continue to run it as it is not broken, but I wouldn't buy the same model again due to the lack of spontaneity in our use of it. You can't say to the kids can you just do that again for me, as the majority of the time life does not work out that way.
I recently upgraded my camcorder from a sony one that took 8mm tapes to the JVC hard drive 20gb.
The JVC is very compact it has the video and it also has a built in digital camera which is an added bonus the camera isnt excellent but its just as good if not better than the £80 digital cameras you can buy, the only thing the JVC didnt have which the sony did was night vision mode which i found to be a great extra on the sony, what the JVC had instead was a light at the front which can be turned on by a button on the side and to be honest its not that good, It does light the room up but the picture doesnt seem to be very good when you play it back, another reason i bought the JVC was the high zoom it offered 32x optical zoom so i couldnt wait to try this out but to my anoyance its really difficult to get the picture you want and even when its on a tripod the picture is very shaky, added on the optical zoom is a high digital zoom which is not even worth putting on because the picture just shakes every where, and also on the site i bought my camera from it boasted 4 hour battery life which sounded great because it was a really small battery and made the camera look really small and compact but when i used the camcorder the battery only lasted 60 minutes, so i looked around and i had to buy a diffrent battery for the camcorder that made it capable of lasting 4 hours but the battery is nearly as big as the camcorder, and makes it look quite silly.
The things i liked about the camera where when you have finished filming one film and then you go to another it automatically puts it at the end of the last film no more looking for the right place on the tapes and when you want to browse through your films its made very easy with a handy little joystick on the end of the pullout screen, it also has a slot under neath where you can put a SD card for extra memory and in the menu you can pick to have your photos put directly on to the card.
The camcorder comes with a step by step manual which is easy to read through and easy to follow
No more messing about with tapes and has big memory
Very simple to use
Very light weight and compact
Bright lcd screen
Short battery life
Hard to keep still with hard zoom
Performs badly in the dark