Searching for an HD Video camera… an excercise in pain

ce24057-lWith some upcoming trips I thougt it was time for us to move to the world of HD video recording.  I bumped into a sweet deal at Costco on one and so picked it up (can’t remember the model… a Canon something or other).

Got it home and loved the quality of the video when plugging into the HDMI port and watching on my HDTV.

That’s where the fun ended.

When you save off the video from the camera it saved with a mt2s extension which is in a AVCHD format (yes those lovely acronymns of confusion).  There is most likely nothing on your computer that can read this format.  There are very few programs period that can read this format.  Most of the programs that CAN read this format, cost you some coin… sometimes some serious coin.

Our current video situation is using the video mode on our Canon S2-IS, that is 640×480 @ 30 fps.  The main issues I have with this is it’s not wide format, and can only go for 1GB at a time, or about 7 minutes. BUT… I can pull the video off of the camera and instantly watch it as they are simple .avi files which most computers have several programs that can read (my personal fav is VLC).

The fact that I had to download the video, and then run it through some converter (that I apparently need to pay for) before being able to watch it really bugged me.  I tried several freebies and all of them produced choppy results.  Even the esteemed iMovie on my work MacBook Pro came out choppy.

Not to mention the conversion process for a 2 minute video was like 30 minutes.

flip-ultra-hd-02aThis was plain unacceptable to me so I returned it to Costco (love their return policy).  A few weeks later we picked up a Flip Ultra HD.  This little unit has the advantage of being small, shoots 720p (for better then 480 quality, but not the ginormous size of 1080), shoots up to 2 hours of video (all at once if desired) and saves as .mov files for instant viewing.

The disadantages are it has no zoom (well 2x digital zoom, but yuck!) and no image stabilization. I thought I could live with this, but the image stabalization is REALLY getting to me.  Every one of our videos is incredibly shaky.  It also just seems to randomly skip frames or something, which I need to contact their customer support about, as it’s really bad.

So again, I am left wanting in the HD video market. Is it really THAT hard to come out with a useable product?  Something that has decent features including the ability to watch the videos I take without paying for additional software and goign through hours of conversion processes?

If anyone knows of something out there that has a decent 10x or so zoom, image stabalization, the ability to record for longer then 20 mins at a stretch (most photo cameras that do video have this type of restriction) and that I can watch as soon as I copy it to my comptuer, let me know.  I’d love to give some company my money, but no one seems to be ready to take it.