Camcorder -- yay or nay

Old Mar 10th, 2002, 11:41 AM
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I packed a camera on a solo trip I took to Europe in 1995. It often felt like extra baggage, literally. With your camera, you'll have spare batteries, a battery charger, tapes, and you'll need to carry a 220-110 voltage adaptor. If you have a small, very compact mini-DV camera that can fit into a small handbag or a jacket pocket, you can't go wrong. If you have a large, VHS camcorder, it could get very cumbersome and become a more of an ordeal than it's worth.
I burned through about 10 60-minute tapes over a 6-week period. That's roughly 600 minutes of footage. YIKES! I still haven't watched ALL of my footage. Do you really want to sit through 600 minutes of video tape footage when you get home??? That's a question you should ask yourself when many tapes do you want to bring? Remember, you'll need to bring tapes from the US because it's not easy to find NTSC tapes in Europe; their format is PAL.
If you're still debating, consider this: a truly wonderful thing about a camcorder is that it records sound and there will be so many noises, voices and sounds you'll want to bring home. I brought home so much, including the music of an orchestra at a bullfight in Barcelona; the french speaking conductor over the PA in the Paris Metro; the chimes of a church in Amsterdam; the gongs of Big Ben in London; an Italian security guard kicking me out of Ft. Belvedere at night in Florence; so much more. Sounds are a sweet element to have and they're so often forgotten when not recorded.
Old Mar 10th, 2002, 07:05 PM
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Thank you Marc and Jennifer for the great info. I will check all of that out. And, I agree with you Jennifer, there IS a wealth of wonderful information to be had from the Fodorites!
Old Mar 11th, 2002, 05:04 AM
Keith Legg
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I think that still photos are great, but sometimes you want to get more of a feel for a place and capture some of the sound. We visited LA, Hawaii and San Francisco last year and the sound of the waves in Hawaii and the bell on the cable car in SF really remind me of the place - you will probably get the same feeling if you record in, for example, Montmartre.

I usually take tapes with me (and did last year) but I heard that it doesn't actually matter about where you buy blank tapes - the formats (NTSC/PAL/SECAM) are to do with how the tape is recorded, the actual blank tape can be used on any format camera. Can anyone help?
Old Mar 15th, 2002, 09:20 PM
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Keith, it doesn't matter where you buy your tapes, because you're right -- it is the recording, not the tape, that makes it NTSC, PAL, SECAM, etc.
One thing I would recommend for someone concerned about batteries: if you can justify the cost (about $150), get one of the 12-hour batteries, and that's all you'll need. I can use mine all day and recharge it overnight. I've never run out of juice yet. I don't know if they are made for all camcorders, but Sony does have one for it's analog camcorders (that's one reason why I haven't gone to digital -- I don't want to have to do without my battery).
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 09:53 AM
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Last year I bought a digital still camera with a high-volume storage system (a small CD disc) that also will take MPEG videos, which are low-quality and relatively short videos.

My travel companion initially hated having her picture taken, and we were concerned that taking pictures would interfere with experiencing the sights. However, the camera is so automatic that it is literally point-and-shoot, so the technical side of the photography was a snap. Also, I would take a little time to simply snap away at all the sights around us (e.g., on a train, in a forest, on a cruise ship) just for the sake of documenting the surroundings and because the digital shots were extremely cheap.

The bottom line, however, is that despite misgivings and some self-consciousness, we now treasure those many still pictures, and the jumpy little MPEGs. It is easy to flip through them on the computer (saved on a CD) and smile over all the pictorial reminders. The memory is always jogged pleasantly by a pass through the photos. The pictures can be printed on paper for those we want to hang or put in an album.

The inexpensive and high-quality digital photography freed me up to document the trip in many ways, rather than save the 35mm film for just those perfect-precious times where someone is standing in front of something, smiling woodenly.

The next planned purchase is definitely a mini-digital camera. They have some that are extremely small, easy to use, and very sharp. I know that in 10 and 20 years I will watch them with smiles and many fond memories.

Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 01:31 PM
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If it fits in your palm and is light, Take it with you. Buy a cheap video editing program when you get home, cut out all the inevitable crap that you shoot. Burn a DVD and watch it.
Also, make a digital copy and make a web site about your vacation so you can show your family. You will have a record of your vacation forever, and no photo albums to take up space.

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