a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Video: What Next?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Video: What Next?

  • SUMMARY: To buy or fix or neither.
Wayyyy back in 2001 when I got my agility van, my 3rd agility dog, my agility house, and my agility canopy, it seemed like about the time to fill in the gaps in my agility collection. So I bought my own camcorder. It was fancy-pants one; the feature I really wanted was that it would also use the old tapes from the video camera I'd been borrowing from my sister.

It had tons of bells & whistles that I thought I'd surely use, but in fact pretty much what I used was: record, zoom, play. It recorded on miniDV (?) tapes, and now after all these years I have many, many of these tapes filled with agility stuff, only some of which I've converted to VCR tapes. (Didn't have a way to do DVDs until recently.)

I used the camcorder less and less often. It's bulky (by today's standards), I have to find someone available before each run to videotape, I have to explain how it works. A pain. So mostly I didn't.

Back in '05 or '06, when I attended the CPE National Championships in Elk Grove, I pulled it out to videotape everything--and it wouldn't work. So there was Tika racking up the 1st places, and I have no video of that. It cost me a huge amount of $ to get it repaired, and I vowed I'd use it to justify the expense. But, once again, my usage dribbled off.

So, fast forward (oh, yeah, another thing I used, plus rewind) to just this past spring, when I decided that I really needed more tapes of my runs with Boost to help me figure out what I'm doing right or wrong, not to mention just having mementos of my runs. And something fun to post to my blogs.

Anyhoooo-- I got the camera out first thing that particular Saturday morning, checked to be sure it worked, handed it to someone, got one run done, and then it crapped out.

I can't find a local shop who'll take it. I'm supposed to send it in to Sony for repair, with a minimum $271 fee, plus parts and possibly additional labor. Sheesh! Nowadays, I can get a whole new camcorder for that!

OK, sure, there are professionals videotaping at trials, but at, say, $8/run *minimum*, for 2 dogs and 5 runs a day, that's $160 for one weekend! Obviously some people have that kind of money, but not in my budget. I've bought a few from time to time and they're great. But.

Here's the question:
  • Repair? Means I can still use the tapes I've got, and can play them back to be able to convert to VCR or DVD. Plus I hate just tossing something like that if it's repairable. But--$271+postage+insurance+parts? Yikes.
  • Buy a flip video. Have used a couple. AMAZINGLY convenient; can slip into your pocket, plus there's basically one red button in the middle that you push to record. How easy is that? But they seem to work only off internal memory, limiting them to 1 to 4 hours and then you have to offload onto a computer. And their zoom is awful; only about 2x. I noticed right away that that's not very helpful for big agility rings. But from low $100s for 1-2 hours, $250ish for 4 hours. Cheap! Would I use it more because it's so convenient? Or would I hate it because I can't see what's going on for lack of zoom and for really low-quality video?
  • Buy an HD camcorder. Have ruled this out: They're still very expensive, I don't have an HD tv and am not likely to get one, and I'm not making professional movies, just mostly things to play on my computer or tv sometimes.
  • Buy a regular quality camcorder. Image quality isn't as nice as HD, but per Consumer Reports, even the cheapest ones have obviously better quality than the priciest flips. Can get them to use tapes (probably same ones I've been using--bonus, could still play my old tapes), or memory cards (which aren't cheap--like what digital cameras use). Looks like I can get a decent one for $250-$350. 
  • If I get one that doesn't play tapes, I'll have to pay someone to convert my existing hours & hours of tapes to DVD for me. (Another time-sucking research project--)
  • Do nothing, as I tend to stop using it over time.

Choices. Sigh.


  1. Aaaaah, it is so confusing, isn't it. My instinct would say get something new... but beyond that I have no idea. Sigh.

  2. I have a Flip and a "regular" camcorder. I mostly use the Flip because of the convenience and ease and because most people don't do a great job of recording you anyway so a good zoom won't help if the person is mostly getting a good shot of the post holding up the arena roof :-)

  3. That is a good point, and I was considering "flip because I might actually find it easier to carry around and use or regular because the videos might actually be useful". I certainly have a good number of "the camera didn't seem to record" episodes over time because someone couldn't figure something out. A friend has a very small regular camcorder that she's never used (it was a gift) and I now have it in my possession. We'll see whether I use it at the upcoming trials!