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Gets Great Shots in Little or No Light, Plus an Audio Zoom Mike
Sharp's VL-WD450U ($949.95 MSRP) represents the transition from basic camcorder to video/still image Combo-Cams. The VL-WD450U not only records video to the Mini DV video format, it also captures digital still images to a removable SmartMedia card, giving you the best of both worlds. Other notable new features include a 780:1 digital zoom, and perhaps more useful, a Super "Cat's Eye" night feature for shooting in extreme low light. The most obvious feature is an external zoom mike for much better audio pick-up.
When contrasted against many other camcorders today, the VL-WD450U could be described as a bit bulky. However, its ergonomic design is such that once its in your hands you barely notice the size. The unit has a wide base, slightly less than 4 inches, making it rock steady when placed on a desktop for editing or downloading images. Height is slightly less than 5 inches and overall length is 7.5 inches. Still, the unit weighs in at well under two pounds (without battery and tape) and grips comfortably in the hand.
The VL-WD450U's supplied external zoom microphone is a unique addition to the typical camcorder package. The small but powerful zoom mike attaches, or mounts, on the camcorder hot shoe. The shoe isn't really hot, in that it does not have any power, such as for an external light. However, it does have an audio jack designed for use with the zoom mike. The mike plugs in neatly, with no wires or other plugs to mess with. The zoom mike significantly increases your audio signal pick-up, giving you better recordings of the voices and other sounds of your subjects.
Like most camcorders sold today, the …