Top MiniDV CamcordersHide

Top MiniDV Camcorders

Sony - The largest camcorder manufacturer offers a number of standard def MiniDV models. The best of 2006 was surely the DCR-DVD96, which scored well in our performance tests. It will be carried into their 2007 line, and notably is the only model left to offer analog input. Their entry-level models rank high in ease of use, but low in image quality.

Panasonic - Panasonic once made the most coveted consumer camcorders on the market, including the PV-S400  which commands high prices even years after it was discontinued. The best years of Panasonic MiniDV are still in the past, and are worth searching out on the used market, particularly the PV-GS250, which was released in 2005.

Canon - Canon too has scaled back on their standard definition MiniDV line, and opted not to renew their high-end Optura line in 2006, though the Optura 60 is a good value is one can be found used. Their mid-level series, the Elura, saw only one release last year - the Elura 100 - but managed to win our Camcorder of the Year award for outstanding value and superb quality for the price. The entry-level series, the ZR line, makes up their largest DV line, with three models in 2006 and thre models in 2007. The lowest-end models, the ZR500 (2006) and the ZR800 (to be released January 2007), both feature mic inputs.

JVC - JVC, like Canon, has receeded from high-end DV, and now only offers entry-level models, a tight market in which JVC can hold its own. These camcorders have a higher profile in the European and Asian markets moreso than the US. The GR-D395 held some charm for our reviewers, with a long-life battery and huge 32x zoom.

Samsung - Samsung fares less well when it competes in the entry-level DV market, if only because the bigger manufacturers are able to take their years of expertise on making higher-end and professional models and carrying features down to the line. The SC-D365 is a good example of an entry-level that scored moderately in every category, but when added together can't match the stronger features of the competition.

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