Asking for opinions/comparisions/differences


New member
First of all, let me say hello! It's been a long time since I've been on the forum as I've been busy.

Now, second let me say that I will do my best to keep this as far away from a "which camera gives me everything for 50 bucks!" thread.

I already have my main camera, and am getting ready to buy a second camera for an upcoming shoot. I've already decided that I don't need "much" camera and don't need a ton of manual controls. A small form factor is actually a plus for me based on a few uses I have planed. Not to mention that I won't necessarily be the one operating the camera, so I don't want to pay a lot for someone else to break it ;) (that was a joke, by the way :p).

Basically, there are two features I feel I really need on the camera. The first is miniDV format. My other camera is miniDV and I feel this offers me the best format to record on right now. The second option I want is a microphone input so I can plug in an external microphone. When I do need to use the audio from this camera, I'll be using an external mic to have better sound pickup as well as no motor hum (after using external microphones I'm not sure I'll ever go back to on-camera mics).

That being said, I've researched cameras that fit this bill and I think I've settled on either the Canon ZR800 or ZR900. From what I can tell, the 900 is simply the '08 model and offeres slightly better zoom (something that doesn't really matter to me). I'm trying to find the differences to determine if the more expensive 900 is worth it. This is surprisingly difficult because there aren't that many "professional" reviews and the cameras just seem so similar. Here are the differences I have been able to find so far.
As I stated earlier, the ZR900 has a slightly longer zoom (41x vs 37x optical if I remember correctly). This really isn't a big deal to me, especially since I won't be using the max zoom very often (if at all).
Another difference, if I've read correctly, is that the 800's tape mechanism is bottom loading where as the 900 is top loading? My other camera (Sony VX2000) is top-loading, so I've only really had experience with top-loading. The only downside I see with the bottom-loading is I'd have to remove it from the tripod to remove the tape? That could be a pain, but I'm not sure a $40+ pain.
Based on the few reviews out there, several people seem to like the button layout of the 800 better. Obviously I hope to be able to experience both of these cameras in person before buying, so I'll hopefully be able to determine if this is true based on my preferences.
Both cameras are 1CCD cameras, and the marketing specs of the 800 say it's a "1MP" where as the 900 says it's "1.07MP". I know these are the still photo specs (I won't be taking still photos), and it's pretty useless to look at those specs when shooting video, but is that a sign that the 900's image chip is better (and if so, by how much?), or is it more of a marketing ploy? (That would be my guess).

Well, I'm not really sure what I hope to get out of this thread... I know it's impossible for someone to say "this is the right camera for you". The best thing is for me is probably to just take a look at the cameras in person, but hopefully I can get a few opinions or points of interest to look into further with these cameras. In the end, they are probably so similar of a camera that it won't matter. After all, the camera is the tool and I'm what makes it look good :).

Thanks for any input you might be able to throw my way! :)