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Showing 1-10 of 136 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 155 reviews
on June 21, 2015
I gave this five stars because of what is delivered at this price. Some have complained about focusing and audio issues. First the audio - go into the menus and turn OFF AGC. This will allow more of the bass frequencies through. Focusing depends on the amount of light available. The on-board IR light is pretty weak. External IR lights will cover more area and allow more IR light to reach the sensor. I find this really helps the focus. I've not had problems with focus in the daytime so far. The BT-S7 batteries (1900mAh) available through Amazon with travel charger should cure most peoples battery problems for a very few dollars. And for those interested, when going into or out of IR mode, you can hear the IR blocking filter being moved out of the line of fire. Listen closely. Also, the logo lights up when either light is turned on. Cover this with black electrical tape if you don't want your subjects to be startled. So here we go:

Pros:
Very inexpensive for what it delivers.
Good to Very Good daylight videos
Fair to Good indoor videos depending on the amount of light.
Good to Very good IR video depending on the amount of IR light
Battery - 1 to 2 hours depending on use of Zoom and playback. Use of either light will reduce this. Spare batteries are available, see above.
Threaded for 37mm filters.

Cons:
Limited range for IR - correctable with external IR lights
Focus issues under IR - correctable to a great extent with external IR lights.
No external mic jack - would be nice to have but would cost extra dollars
Resistive touch screen - can be temperamental and could be corrected with a capacitive screen, again would increase cost of the camera.
No manual focus - But then again, few if any camcorders at this price point have manual focus.
No hot/cold shoe - the camera is the size of a 12oz soda can. There is only so much real estate. There are all kinds of brackets available to mount accessories to.

Lets face it folks, even Canons and others don't have externally charged batteries unless you buy the camera as part of a "package" that contains accessories. I would love to see a capacitive touch screen, external mic jack, hot or cold shoe (see above), manual focus, manual iris (so that I can determine depth of field), headphone jack... All of these things cost money. This camera brings IR to the masses filling the gap between the old Sony Nightshot and the much more expensive cameras with Night Vision. When I have the money saved up, I will be purchasing a Sony 4K with night vision (and all the other options I love.) But until then, this little jewel will do the job.

And for those interested: Bell and Howell does not manufacture or market this camera. Their name is licensed to Elite Brands who do market the camera. It is currently (spring 2015) most likely a BenQ M33 with the firmware set up to display Bell and Howell.
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on December 28, 2012
The night vision on this camera is amazing! the camera is light weight and perfect size to hold in your hand. Only thing is when you zoom in it takes a moment to adjust. But otherwise its awesome! I would say if your considering buying this do it. Oh and also the memory card does hold two but only one regular size card and one micro card.
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on March 10, 2014
Some have written reviews, asking for more information on this little camera. In keeping with that request, here are the good and bad on the little Bell & Howell IR camera.

The camera itself is attractive, comes with a small pouch to put it in, as well as USB and other cables for connectivity to your computer, TV, etc. They supply one battery with the camera, and a charger. The battery has to remain in the camera for charging. The battery is a very compact Lithium Ion, 3.7 volts and hardly weighs anything in your hand.

The camera has a decent swing open viewfinder that when opened will automatically power up the camera, producing a Bell & Howell startup screen. It's a simple touch-screen, and seemed to work just fine, although it absorbs fingerprints quite easily. In the manual, it mentions using a fingernail.

There is a built-in lens cover, actuated by a flip-swtch on the side of the lens. There is NO manual focus knob or thumbscrew anywhere on the camera. On top of the lens is a speaker grill. There are two tiny dots on the front side of the video touchscreen, that when you have it open are supposed to be microphones. An odd placement for them, and I tried to rotate the camera to see if it picked up two channels of audio, but it sounded mono to me. The manual doesn't elaborate, but after testing it sounded quite tinny. No low end, so I don't know how this camera would perform if you were trying to record a musical event. In comparison, the GoPro Hero 3+ produces excellent audio and is half the size of the Bell & Howell camera, although the Hero 3+ doesn't have a zoom lens.

The camera uses either an SD memory card or a miniature card -- either singularly or at the same time. There is a limit of 32GB, and I guess that they mean per card. The card slot(s) is on the bottom of the camera, and has a flip-open cover which worked fine. There is also a standard tripod mounting hole on the bottom of the camera as well as a rear battery release tab. The covers for the cards as well as the access ports were plastic and worked well, and there were no rubbery covers to fall off like some cameras use.

On the inside, once you open the viewfinder, is a port for a mini HDMI cable as well as a USB 2,0 cable. The USB port also is used for charging the battery, as well as downloading your pictures or video to your computer. A red light comes on while the battery is charging, and goes out once it's done. The manufacturer recommends a 4 hr charge on a new battery, first time around.

There are multiple menus on this camera and they are controlled via the touchscreen as well as a four-way button inside. Two more buttons at the top of the side of the camera are simply for power and video vs playback modes. There is also another mode button near the top of the camera close to the zoom control, for selecting video or still photos. The zoom is noted as 10X, and there is digital zoom, which I wouldn't recommend using.

The 1/3 inch CCD chip is 5 mega pixels. Nothing to write home about, but not terrible. (Most cell phones are at least 8MP nowadays). It did have a tendency to flatten whites, like clouds, which lost their detail in my shot. The camera boasts of its infrared capability, but the manual barely mentions it at all, and not much explanation is given on how it works or how to use it. It is not like Sony's former "Night Shot" mode where the images turn green and you can see in the dark. The camera has two LED lights on the front. One of them is white and is useful to add light to your shots. The other is red and illuminates in IR mode, an infrared light that doesn't light up the area like visible light does, so you won't startle animals or people that you'd like to film in the dark. Beyond that, you're on your own. Good luck.

The manual says that either light is optimized for 1 meter from the camera, so that means that both lights are quite wimpy, but I would say that they reach further than the manual says they do, but not a great deal further. So, does that mean the camera can "see" Infrared light all the time, or only when the LED is on? Is IR filtered out in normal mode? Could you see infrared objects emitting light at night without the IR light on? Not much help at all in any description of this as it is ignored in the manual -- surprising since this is one of the camera's selling features and is also printed on the side of the camera!

The pdf manual is very basic in the specifications. For example, there is no indication what mode your video is saved in. It is compatible with Windows or Mac, but the editing software that comes with it is not Mac compatible. The movies play on Mac without a problem. This is probably because the files come up as .mov which is a good thing, compressed in h.264 mode at 1920 X 1080, making it compatible with YouTube video as well. You can select NTSC or PAL. The audio comes up as DVI ADPCM. I don't know what sample rate since none is specified. I had to get info on the video on my computer, just to know what format the camera shot in. It should have been in the specs page, but only the resolution was noted.

There is an AF (auto focus) mode that is pretty much worthless. This is the camera's Achilles heel. At night, say you'd just like to take a simple shot of the moon -- the camera is incapable of doing it. The whole time, the auto focus is searching back and forth, making any night shot of that type impossible. I let it stay on the moon for several minutes, and it could never find the focus. I also tried reducing the exposure setting, and it made no difference. However, with the camera running in IR mode indoors, it did find focus on dimly lit buildings and such. I guess it all depends on the situation, the available contrast, etc., but a simple manually operated focus knob would have made this camera far more useable. If you have a camera equipped with night shooting mode, then one would expect you to be able to shoot the night sky with interesting results. It's not possible for this camera to work that way.

So, we have an HD camcorder here that fails to really excel in any area. It is small, lightweight, and looks good in your hand. It's sound is poor to mediocre at best, and the video doesn't come close to video shot on an iPhone. There are manual audio controls for sound via the touch screen, but no headphone jack to hear what you're shooting. In short, the camera is like so many others in this price range, but doesn't measure up to some of the others that are similarly priced, like the JVC or Sony or Canon camcorders that have enhanced light options, but don't say anything about their IR capabilities, which it seems none of the cameras actually have anymore.

My hopes for the Bell & Howell camera were because I was trying to find a camera with IR, and this one failed to meet my expectations. Without a decent IR mode, there was no reason to buy this camera that can't hold its focus. It's going back.
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on August 15, 2015
So far so good. Takes good video in the daylight and good video in the dark with the IR turned on. Add a external IR light and it can really reach out to capture night creatures. We use it for Squach hunting. He can run but now he can't hide in the dark.
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on April 25, 2016
If you are going to use this camcorder for ghost hunting, there are a couple of things you need to know. 1. you will need an additional IR light. The one that is on the camcorder is not bright enough to light up the room. 2. I have found that if you set the camcorder for full HD the auto focus is slow. If you set it for 720p and 60 frames per second it is quick to focus.
Overall it is working well.
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on June 15, 2013
We bought this for the night vision aspect. It's okay...Without spending the money on an extra illuminator it doesn't light up an area of more then maybe 6 feet. Also, I wanted to leave it on for overnight and it only comes with a 2 hour battery and bell and howell does not offer any replacement or extra batteries, nor could I find any on amazon. The battery also cannot be removed and set on a charger. It has to be plugged in. So even if I used a back up, I would have no way to charge the original in the meantime.
I also have a Sony Handycam with many extra batteries and was hoping they would be interchangeable, they're not. I think that Sony makes a way better product.
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on February 5, 2015
Its a fantastic camera the only problem with it is that the threads on the bottom are plastic. After mounting it on a tripod and bracket with metal threads the ones on the camera were completely stripped. The only reason I didn't return it was because my brother was able to re-thread the camera with a metal thread rather than a plastic one.
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on September 16, 2014
I got this camcorder to use in analyzing my sleep along with several other apps I use on my iPhone and iPad. Naturally, I needed the IR capability to record at night. The filming was to verify what my apps have been recording and also to give me a visual of what I am actually doing in my sleep.

First of all, I set the camcorder up on a tripod about 6 feet away from the head of my bed. I used the supplied AC cord so as not have the recording stop after the battery ran down. I set the IR light on, locked the autofocus, and covered all the lights on the camcorder, including the LCD screen. I wanted a perfectly dark room.

I used a Transcend 32 GB SDHC card, adequate to record about 8 hrs, 42 minutes of video with the camcorder set at normal quality. Since I usually only sleep between 7-8 hours this would just suit my purposes.

I set the time/date so the video could later be compared to my Apple apps.

What I have found after having recording 4 different nights is good and bad. First, the good.

The IR light was more than adequate for my purposes. I had plenty of time on the card. I was able to see every little movement and hear every sound. The microphone was very sensitive. I was able to see, and hear, exactly what I do in my sleep with different combinations of initial sleep position, different pillows, etc.

Now for the bad.

*The touch screen is incredibly difficult to use even after I set the controls.

*The IR light drifted in and out of focus, sometimes making it difficult to see which way my head was turned. This despite the fact that I always locked the auto focus.

*On playback, I soon found that the elapsed time was always running but the date/time stamp was all messed up. The date was right but the time was only right on the start of recording. When played back on the camcorder LCD screen, the time would keep resetting the minutes incorrectly, so bad that I had no idea what time any sleep occurrence was actually taking place. I had to add the elapsed time to the start of recording time to get an idea of the actual time. When I placed the SD card in my laptop I soon learned that I had to download QuickTime to play the video, or should I say, videos. Each time I recorded a 7 hour night of sleep, the video was broken down into separate files on the SD card of approximately 1 hour, 4 minutes each. Each file had the same messed up time stamp. The date stamp was always correct. I always had to add the elapsed time to get an idea of an actual time. This was a very tedious amount of work to do so that I could correlate the video with spots on my iPhone/iPad graphs. Afterwards, I would check the settings on the camcorder and found that the time was now incorrect. I was very careful to always check the time before recoding, making sure that it was properly saved.

I do not know what is making the time stamp go wrong. I am in the process of recording smaller videos to see if the length of recording is somehow causing the problem.

If the time stamp was working properly, I would give 4 stars even with the drifting IR light focus. If the IR focus was working perfectly all of the time, I would add another star despite the time stamp problem.

All in all, if I had it to do over again, I would have spent more money and gotten the Sony IR camcorder which I saw elsewhere on Amazon. You get what you pay for.

An interesting note, the Bell & Howell website is not accessible, at least not on my iPad.
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on August 5, 2016
although I love the camcorder as a whole and the IR truly works great my only issue is the focus and mic speaker if not for the issue with the focus not functioning properly I could live with the mic issue otherwise nice cam but could use longer lasting battery will need to buy extended time batt separately all in all worth the money and on a even better note i just found out that this camera aldo can be used as a static cam in other words u can use the usb cable and plug it in and record without using the battery at all and actually the speaker seems to work just fine do far as for the micro SD/SD cards when one is full it seamlessly changes to the other one without disrupting recording again a great camera for the money
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on May 26, 2016
This was great camera for the first 4 months it takes great high quality video, and pictures, somehow something internal broke, after that it would not take pictures or video. USB connectivity, as well as an SD card for fast file transfers to PC or video editors.

Fortunately I bought a SquareTrade warranty. They were unable to fix it, but gave me enough money to replace it. Lets hope the 2nd one works a bit longer.
A lot of options only available on higher priced cameras. Actually, I think people are starting to realize the quality and value of these cameras, as the price increase quite a bit from the time I purchased the first one to the time I bought the 2nd.
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