When the Zickster and I were in Guatemala last spring, we watched in amazement as our pal Keith Hansen used his rather chunky video camera on a shoulder gunstock mount to get great footage of all the best birds, most notably the painted redstart, pink-headed warbler, and horned guan. The only one of these three I was able to digiscope was the guan, and kind of poorly at that. Though I knew nothing would ever replace my beloved digiscoping (except a REAL digital still camera rig, with a big lens and the time to use it) I was intrigued by the possibilities of getting video footage of birds.
When we got home I dug out and dusted off our old Hi-8 video camera. It no longer works for more than 30 seconds at a time. And it is the size of a lunch box. This would not work. I've spent the ensuing months casually considering video cameras, all the while missing great bird filming opps and watching the adorable things the kids did and said disappear, unrecorded, into the ether.
Yesterday I bought a new video camera. It's a digital video camera and unlike the high-profile, record-to-DVD cameras being marketed, my new camera records to TAPE! Why? Because we're Mac people, dude. And we wanted a camera that was plug-and-play with a Mac.
Oh we danced a long and flirty dance with the fancy-pants DVD cameras--even carefully considering a few cameras that record directly to an internal hard drive--no media required! I can now tell you with complete confidence that it's nearly impossible to get any helpful, straight dope from the young blokes who work at the big box electronics stores. We spent valuable time in a Circuit City and a Best Buy with young fellows who avoided eye contact and mumbled sentences only tangentially related to the questions we were asking. Grrrr. You're not getting my money, bro.
Furthermore, I think the big box stores may change the model numbers on the items they display and sell. Why do I think this? Because I printed out the Consumer Reports pages on all the digital video cameras they tested and NOT ONE on our list match with any of the 25 or so cameras at yesterday's Best Buy store in Columbus, Ohio. A few were close--maybe even the same camera, but how could we be sure? So, abandoned by Roger, our sales-slacker, once he realized we would not be an easy mark, we left.
I remembered seeing video cameras at The Apple Store in Columbus, so we called for more details. Then we went there. Got help from two different and helpful Appleonians, and bought the Canon ZR700 DV camera. All I needed to hear was "These are the only cameras we sell because we KNOW they work great with Macs." SOLD! It was about $350.
Now I have to learn how to use the dang thing.
"C'mon kids! Do something adorable!"