Hitachi Announces First-ever Blu-ray Camcorders

Hitachi has been aggressive in the camcorder market, obtaining bragging rights for being the first manufacturer to have a “hybrid” camcorder that has a both a hard disk and a DVD recorder. And now they’re flexing their muscles again, bringing the first Blu-ray Disc camcorders to the Japanese and US markets. Their Hybrid camcorder move was timed well, but we have to wonder if a Blu-ray camcorder is a little premature. We understand the value of being first to do something, but we also understand that there is still a format war going on between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. We also can’t imagine the financial pain one might experience paying a high price for 8cm Blu-ray media at around $20 a pop. Fortunately, Hitachi has taken the best of both their achievements and made a Hybrid Blu-ray Disc camcorder, helping shooters avoid or at least minimize the need for Blu-ray Disc media.

The Hitachi DZ-BD7HA Hybrid Blu-ray Disc camcorder sports a 30GB hard disk drive and a Blu-ray read/write drive. This model is capable of dubbing from its hard drive to an 8cm Blu-ray disc (both BD-R writeable and BD-RE re-writable discs) or standard 8cm DVDs. For standard DVD media, the Hitachi DZ-BD7HA will either record in SD or downconvert from HD resolution to SD resolution upon dubbing from the hard drive. The other model Hitachi is introducing, the DZ-BD70A, does not have a hard disk drive, but only a Blu-ray read/write drive. Both the Hitachi DZ-BD7HA Hybrid and the DZ-BD70A have 1/2.8″ CMOS progressive sensors that record 1920×1080 pixels in the 1080i video format. At the highest recording quality mode, using the DZ-BD7HA’s hard disk, one could record up to 4 hours, or up to a single hour on a single-sided 8cm Blu-ray disc for either camcorder. The Hitachi DZ-BD7HA Hybrid Blu-ray camcorder and the DZ-BD70A Blu-ray Disc camcorder will be on sale early October for $1,499 and $1,299 respectively.


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Canon’s New AVCHD Hard Disk Drive Camcorder

The HG10 AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) camcorder marks the first hard disk drive camcorder for Canon and rounds out a variety of recording formats that Canon has adopted after the successful HV20 HDV camcorder came to market.

The HG10 has many similarities to the HV20, including Instant AF (auto focus), Cine Mode, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) out, a mic input and more. The HG10 can shoot in 24p mode to mimic the temporal motion of film. The HG10 stores AVCHD video and 3-megapixel still photos on its 40GB hard disk drive. It can also capture 2-megapixel still photos while the camcorder is recording video.

One of the standout features, as far as AVCHD camcorders go, is the 15Mbps maximum recording bitrate, which is one of the highest we’ve seen from a camcorder that utilizes AVCHD (or any other MPEG-4-based camcorder we’ve seen to date, for that matter). At this bitrate, we suspect the quality of the video could be stunning. We’ll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, we’re left to simply admire from a distance. And, we must say that the HG10 looks to be one of Canon’s more attractively-designed camcorders. The Canon HG10 should be available now for $1,299.

Panasonic Brings Two New AVCHD Camcorders

Panasonic is continuing its AVCHD support as well as continuing to be a leader in the market with 3-CCD consumer camcorders. The Panasonic HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 both record video at 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels in their “HG” shooting mode at 13Mbps. Both, as well, record to SDHC memory cards, which gives the shooter high-capacity record times. It’s no mistake that Panasonic also announced its new 8GB SDHC memory card.

The Panasonic HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 are nearly identical AVCHD camcorders, the main difference being the additional DVD recording drive featured on the HDC-SX5. The HDC-SX5 AVCHD camcorder also records in standard definition, while the smaller, lighter HDC-SD5 records only in high definition. The most significant advantage the HDC-SD5 has over the HDC-SX5 is that, with the absence of the DVD medium, the camcorder consumes much less power, extending the battery life. Both camcorders feature three 1/6″ CCDs, 10x optical zoom and advanced optical image stabilizer. The Panasonic HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 are now available at $999 and $899 respectively.

Sony Intros New

Sony has announced a new camcorder that breaks its traditional Handycam mold and ushers in a new Net-Sharing CAM product line. The Sony NSC-GC1 Net-Sharing CAM is built more like a compact digital still camera than a palm-sized video camcorder, measuring 1-1/2″ wide by 4-1/8″ high by 2-1/4″ deep and weighing 5 ounces. It’s tiny enough to fit in most pockets, making it easy to take on the go.

With the new Net-Sharing CAM, Sony hopes to give young shooters the tools to shoot and share video in a way that’s never been easier. The NSC-GC1 records video clips at small file sizes with a widely-adopted format (MPEG-4) and has a unique Share Mark button to flag video clips and still images for immediate upload to the Internet. The software used to transfer and upload files to the Internet is embedded in the camcorder itself, making it possible to share your video wherever a USB-equipped, Internet-enabled computer is found. The software can also be installed on your local machine and, more importantly, can remotely access your Web accounts to automatically upload video and still photo content you’ve flagged during import. Sony’s Net-Sharing CAM and recent acquisition of the online video community, Grouper (now Crackle), illustrates its intention to be a major advocate for online video content creators. The NSC-GC1 goes for $200 and should be available now.

JVC Announces

In the September 2007 issue of Videomaker, we reviewed JVC’s latest and greatest high-definition Everio camcorder from the consumer division, the GZ-HD7. Well, they’ve done it again, and now we have the GZ-HD3 high-definition Everio camcorder. The JVC GZ-HD3 has basically the same components as the GZ-HD7, except that there is no native 1920×1080-pixel recording format. Instead, the GZ-HD3 records 1440×1080 pixels (including the HDV editing-friendly CBR mode), using its three progressive CCD sensors. The GZ-HD3 is palm-sized and poised to be an everyday, casual shooter. It’s also sporting a 2.8″ 16:9 LCD, iLink connection, HDMI output and a 60GB hard drive. The JVC HD Everio GZ-HD3 is available now for $1,300.

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