Mark Harris
10 BEST CAMCORDERS - The Independent, 13 July 2004

Anyone can make home movies to treasure with these hi-tech cameras, says Mark Harris

Sony TRV-460 £500
This clever camcorder takes the sting out of upgrading from analogue to digital movie-making. It records in high quality Digital 8 format, but will also play back your old 8mm and Hi8 tapes and can accept video signals from all types of camcorders and VCRs. It has a huge 20x zoom and the only drawback is that it’s a fair bit chunkier than other models around this price.
Sony (08705 111999;

Panasonic NVS-G120 £600 – BEST BUY
The triple CCD imaging chips in this Panasonic give brighter, more realistic colours and are usually only found on professional camcorders. The G120 is also a good choice for anyone in a hurry, as it can be ready to shoot less than two seconds after powering up and sports a USB 2.0 port for high speed transfer of movies to your computer for editing.
Panasonic (08705 357357;

Hitachi MV-550 £700
Give Hollywood a run for its money by burning your movies directly on to DVD. You can use either high-tech re-usable DVD-RAM media, or cheaper write-once DVD-Rs that will work in almost any home DVD player. The MV-550 has an 18x zoom lens with image stabiliser and a large 2.5-inch screen. It comes with interchangeable covers to create three different looks.
Hitachi (08457 581455;

Choosing a budget camcorder needn’t mean settling for B-movie quality. This entry-level model has a reliable 800,000-pixel sensor, impressive 2.5-inch colour LCD and a generous 16x zoom lens. There’s everything you need for basic movie-making, from a built-in video light and image stabiliser to digital effects and a colour viewfinder.
JVC (0870 330 5000;

Mobi DV-H10 £180
This shirt-pocket camcorder records slim-line digital movies onto tiny Secure Digital memory cards; with a 128Mb card (£40) storing up to 30 minutes of footage. Fun features such as a rotating lens, built-in LED spotlight, voice recorder and even an MP3 player make up for fuzzy video that won’t give George Lucas any sleepless nights.
Firebox (0870 241 4289;

Canon PowerShot S1 IS £400
Although most camcorders can also snap still images, here’s a digital camera that’s beating them at their own game. On top of shooting flawless three megapixel photos, it can capture decent quality digital movie clips. It has a fast 10x zoom lens and lots of manual features but be warned, even a large 512Mb memory card (about £75) will store just five minutes of footage.
Canon (0800 616417;

Samsung VP-D6050i £800
If you thought ‘double-barrelled’ applied only to toffs and shotguns, check out this multi-functional marvel. The top lens is an 800,000-pixel MiniDV camcorder with a 10x zoom, while the lower one is a high resolution 5-megapixel digital camera with a 3x lens. There’s only one screen and set of controls to master, and you’ve even got a pop-up flash for perfect still photos.
Samsung (0870 242 0303;

Sanyo Xacti VPC-C1 £500
Because it uses slim memory cards instead of bulky tapes, the Xacti is by far the smallest and slinkiest serious camcorder here, weighing just 175 grams. It has a sharp 1.5-inch fold-out screen, stereo sound and can capture wonderful three megapixel still photos. But although the digital movie files it captures are ideal for sharing by e-mail, they can’t approach the tape camcorders for raw image quality.
Sanyo (01923 477 296;

Inject a little glamour into your movies with this stylish and simple to use camcorder. The IP1 uses Sony’s tiny MicroMV tapes to deliver full-sized films from a pint-sized pot. It has a good range of features, including a 2-inch LCD screen, widescreen recording and a comprehensive spread of digital connections, for editing or feeding your footage direct to a DVD recorder.
Sony (08705 111999;

Canon MVX-25i £900
This industrial grey plastic camcorder isn’t the most exciting to look at, but its two megapixel CCD (image chip) delivers where it counts. Play home movies back on your TV and you’ll be stunned by the razor-sharp detail and three-dimensional colours. With an image stabiliser on its 14x zoom lens and a built-in LED light for illumination, it’s especially good at low light and night shooting.
Canon (0800 616417;

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