Video cameras and birdwatching

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Video cameras and birdwatching
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2000 09:32:06 -0700
Hello Birding-Ausers all,
(I tried to send this message a few days ago but without success.)
A short time ago I announced that I had acquired a digital video camera recorder for the specific purpose of obtaining video and 'snap-shots' of the birds I see.
I also said I would put some details of my video-ing experiences on my web-site as soon as possible.
Well..... after the obligatory 'delays-beyond-my-control', eg, domestic problems and broken tripod (the two are not connected!), that information is ready for viewing at: 
or go to my website (see below) and click on 'Bob's Camcorder' on the home page.
When viewing the stuff on my website please keep in mind that these are my impressions and experiences only and may differ considerably from those of other people.
My intention is to provide a little more information about specific items of equipment and some details that may not be immediately obvious.
Unfortunately, it is often the case that some aspects of devices such as camcorders are not revealed until after the device has been used for some time.
So, I believe any extra bit of information acquired before purchase of relatively expensive gear is worth having.
This is not intended to be a commercial for Sony products.
I make nothing personally out of describing my experiences with this particular video camera recorder other than the feeling that I may be helping someone else in their deliberations over the purchase of a similar device.
Briefly, I am reasonably happy with my choice of camcorder although I have not been able to compare it 'in the field' with other digital camcorders.
The video produced is excellent and the 'snap-shots' are at least adequate for my purpose.
Of course, if high quality images are required a 'film' camera would still be the choice.
I would say that anyone seriously considering a digital camcorder for recording their 'wildlife' experiences should be happy with one of the many models amongst the various brands currently available.
However, choice of a particular model would probably come down to such things as the size of the unit and the power of the lens.
The Sony D8 is by no means the smallest camcorder on the market but, then again, it is not overly large either. 
'My' Sony D8 has a 25x optical zoom whereas most other camcorders on the market have 20x or less.
Note that these figures are not a good guide by themselves as the focal length of the lens must be considered also.
For example, at 20x zoom (4/5 of the maximum zoom range) the Sony D8 lens is equivalent to approx 950 mm in 35 mm camera terms whereas, I calculate a current Panasonic NV-DS15 camcorder lens at the maximum zoom of 20x is equivalent to approx 800 mm.
However, at the other end of the zoom scale the Panasonic has better 'wide-angle' capability.
The Sony D8 camcorders are larger than some of the Mini-DV camcorders partly as a consequence of the more powerful lens and the larger 8mm type tape cartridge used. It is also basically designed in the fashion of the 'traditional' Sony Handycams.
Anyone wanting a smaller, more compact camcorder will have to make do with a considerably less powerful lens.
But they will have a more 'modern' design.
Possibly the biggest point against the Sony D8 range is that all except the 'top-of-the-range' model, DCRTRV820, have a monochrome viewfinder.
The DCRTRV820 also has a 4" LCD and a built-in printer!
Anyone wanting more information or who wants to comment on what's on my website or provide a correction is welcome to contact me directly by email.
I will attempt to respond but please do not expect too much from me as I am still in learning mode.
Bob Inglis
Woody point SEQld,
27 deg 15min 18 sec S; 153 deg 5 min 38 sec E
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