Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Camera

Thursday, August 31, 2006
If I'd had a video camera, you would be enjoying footage of the nighthawks that were flying across this sunset at Chautauqua.

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!"


On August 31, 2006 at 9:33 AM Egret's Nest said...

You'll be glad you got the mac one anyway. Tapes are great storage devices and you'll definitely want to use the great Mac software for manipulating the video into little mini-movies. A DVD of the raw video footage would be a little old after awhile.

Enjoy your new toy.

On August 31, 2006 at 10:15 AM Rondeau Ric said...

The image addiction continues to grow.
Welcome to the next level.

On August 31, 2006 at 4:03 PM Patrick Belardo said...

Cool. Now that's a gadget I need. We have one at work that is great. It's so easy to upload videos to Google or YouTube too. Does the camera take stills? What kind of zoom does the lens have? I could go look it up myself I guess...

On August 31, 2006 at 5:11 PM Anonymous said...

The companies that supply the big box stores make different model lines for them. That way their other customers - the smaller places - can claim that nobody can beat their prices on the same item - the places with better prices do not have the same item.

On August 31, 2006 at 6:51 PM Anonymous said...

We've had similar frustrations with trying to get info from store employees. My husband is an inveterate researcher when it comes to camera gear, etc. Almost always he knows volumes more information about the item than anyone in the store. He finds great irritation at not being able to get specifics from these folks. I have heard the same gnashing of teeth when we are shopping in the big box places and camera stores. Happened when buying computer peripherals and 35mm digital camera, trying to find compatibility data on all our Pentax 35mm lenses for film camera. GRRR indeed.
Caroline in SD

On August 31, 2006 at 9:46 PM Susan Gets Native said...

I'm hoping that Santa drops a new video camera in my lap this year.
Have fun with your new one!
(And by the way, your kids don't have to DO anything adorable...they just ARE)

On September 28, 2006 at 5:30 AM Alice said...

Unfortunately, that`s not a suprise that there are many store employees that are not well-qualified and know not much.