Mark Harris
10 BEST CAMCORDERS - The Independent, 21 May 2003

They're smart, PC-friendly and let you shoot hours of pin-sharp digital footage. So, asks technology writer Mark Harris, are you ready for your close-up?

JVC GR-DC70 750
A treat for the techies, the D70 has a 700x digital zoom and can squeeze footage anamorphically for perfect playback on widescreen TVs. Audio and video quality are great, which leaves only its dull grey plastic body as an excuse to leave it languishing on the shelf. But you’re not that shallow, are you?
JVC (0870 330 5000) www.jvc.co.uk

Hitachi DV-MV380 1000 -- BEST BUY
Tech doesn’t come much higher than a third-generation DVD camcorder that records directly to shiny discs. With flexible MPEG-2 recording, you can choose either extended recording time or higher quality footage. A standard DVD-R blank holds up to an hour’s filming and will work in almost any home DVD player.
Hitachi (08457 581455) www.hitachidigitalmedia.com

Archos 120 Jukebox Multimedia 410
If you believe tape is only good for wrapping presents, you’ll love a camcorder that feeds up to 40 hours of footage to a built-in 20Gb hard drive. Image quality isn’t up to DV camcorder standard and the 1.5-inch screen is on the small side, but the Archos can also store thousands of still photos, MP3s and data files.
Archos (00 33 169 331690) www.archos.com

Panasonic NS-GV50 550
Not all digital camcorders are bulky, shoulder-mounted monsters. Panasonic’s GS50 boasts full-fat features like a bright f1.8 zoom lens, 800,000-pixel CCD sensor and fast USB 2.0 computer connection in a package that’s slimmer than many digital still cameras and weighs a distinctly low-cal 435g.
Panasonic (08705 357357) www.panasonic.co.uk

Sharp VL-Z1H 450 -- BEST BUDGET BUY
George Lucas’s efforts to the contrary, you can make an all-digital movie for less than $300 million. This entry-level DV camcorder has everything you need to get started, including a swivelling action to allow bizarre filming angles and an advanced CG silicon LCD screen that works even in bright sunlight.
Sharp (0800 262958) www.sharp.co.uk

Sony DCR-TRV80 1200 -- BEST LUXURY BUY
Invest in a wireless future with a Bluetooth-enabled camcorder. This humble-looking model can beam high resolution 2 megapixel movies directly to compatible computers, PDAs and phones. It also shoots at a swift 25 frames per second for a more filmic look. Sure, it’s not cheap, but just think what you’ll save in cables…
Sony (08705 111999) www.sony.co.uk

Sharp AH-131H 370
Analogue format camcorders may be a little old-fashioned now but there’s nothing retro about the new AH131H. This Hi8 model is a real bargain, with a huge 3-inch rotating screen, a 16x optical zoom lens and a high capacity battery that you can recharge without removing it from the lightweight casing.
Sharp (0800 262958) www.sharp.co.uk

JVC GR-DV4000 1000
The DV4000 is fully webbed up, capable of streaming MPEG-1 video (about the same quality as VHS) to your PC, making setting up video conferencing a doddle. Image quality is first class, with a special processor delivering top-notch 540-line resolution from the 1.33 megapixel CCD sensor at its heart.
JVC (0870 330 5000) www.jvc.co.uk

Sony DSR-IPP55 1300
When it comes to style, Sony continues to produce the most lickable products. This camcorder-on-a-stick concept is made possible by the newest and smallest ever digital tape format, MicroMV. Surprisingly comfortable to use, the IP55 has a 10x Carl Zeiss zoom lens and a MemoryStick slot for shooting still images.
Sony (08705 111999) www.sony.co.uk

Canon XM2 2000
Stick this on your shoulder and you’ll soon acquire a Steven Soderbergh swagger. Canon’s pro-level camcorder sports three CCD sensors for the ultimate in image quality and a host of manual features that you should probably leave well alone unless you know what you’re doing. Even its lens hood oozes class.
Canon (0800 616417) www.canon.co.uk



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