How To Take The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews

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How To Take The Pain Out Of Performance Reviews

By: Lora J Adrianse

The Painful Approach

For many years, "performance management" was of an annual event dreaded by both the management and the workforce. For a week or two every year the manager would virtually isolate himself and ponder the stack of review forms staring him in the face. Chances are there was very little data tracked, so he'd try to rack his brain for the past year so he could "evaluate" his employees. In the meantime, a silent tension was building within each of the employees. Always anticipating a "surprise", they had no idea what to expect. After all, "how far back could the manager remember?" and "what will he remember?" Regardless of the outcome, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief when it was over.

It's Different Today

Today more than ever before, the entire performance management process is in the spotlight. Companies need factual, reliable systems to make tough business decisions. Performance management data is being used not only to measure individual performance, but also to measure benchmark strength, the potential human capital, and the performance of segments within the company. It's all crucial today, and it's here to stay.

The timing is perfect for managers to optimize performance review processes and engage each employee in the process.

The Possibilities

Imagine what it would be like if the annual performance review process transformed into an annual strategy session. No tension, no getting blindsided and no negative energy. A time for the manager and employee to come together to reflect on the past year, formally acknowledge accomplishments, strategize development opportunities and identify goals. Yes, there would still be a fair amount of time involved, but wouldn't it be worth it if both the manager and the employee could walk away feeling good about it?

Creating a partnership approach to the performance review process not only produces powerful results, but also empowers employees. By proactively contributing to the process, employees feel more in-control, and are motivated to perform better and achieve more.

How To Create A Partnership Approach To Performance Management

The First Ground Rule

As with most new processes, communication is the essential factor that can determine the success or failure of your initiative, and especially a change. So, the ground rule is, communicate openly, honestly, often, and completely.

Getting Started

Start with communication to your team. Tell them what, why, and especially, what's in it for them. Then schedule a series of meetings with them to work through the details as suggested below. It's extremely beneficial to get a volunteer to document the outcome of each meeting. After the meeting send the document back to the group to confirm and/or clarify agreements.

Establish Shared Understandings

Establishing shared understandings and agreements takes the guesswork and assumptions out of the performance review process.

Work with your team to create a list of performance management criteria that needs to be understood by all. Some examples:

  • Definitions of each performance competency
  • Definitions of rating scales or systems
  • Performance standards
  • Success indicators
  • What will be measured
  • How it will be tracked

Create Support Processes

Creating support processes will become nucleus of the partnership approach. In other words, the support processes you create with your team become their critical opportunities to contribute to the process.

Again, work with your team to create the processes that will support your performance review process. Some examples:

  • Weekly or bi-weekly meetings to discuss progress, roadblocks, etc.
  • Monthly, quarterly or semi-annual reports to track accomplishments, progress, etc.
  • A proactive ongoing feedback process - both employees and managers actively seek feedback regularly (what's going well, what can go better, what needs to change)
  • A year-end process for compiling the information and planning for the annual strategy/review discussion
  • A self-review process for employees - managers can request that self-reviews are submitted before the manager writes the review.

Integrate The System

Now, put your process in action. Think of your "shared understandings" as your guide to performance standards and measurements. Your support processes are the tools you use to gather and compile performance data. Now, all you need to do is to integrate the information into your performance management system and schedule the actual review meeting.

Reflect And Improve

At the end of each performance review cycle take time to get feedback from your team. It's as simple as scheduling a meeting or sending an email. It's a great time to review your shared understandings and support processes. Here are some questions to ask about the process:

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What needs to change?

In Summary

When it's time for the annual performance review process both employees and managers have plenty of factual information, will already know how they're doing, and best of all, will have established relationships and rapport.

The annual strategy/review discussion becomes a time for the manager and employee to come together to reflect on the past year, formally acknowledge accomplishments, strategize development opportunities and plan for the upcoming year. And best of all, the painful surprises have been eliminated.

About The Author

Lora Adrianse is passionate about inspiring the enrichment of growth and development in others. During her 28-year corporate career her most gratifying accomplishments included leadership development, customer/vendor relationship management, mentoring and training. Today, as the owner of Essential Connections, she is a catalyst for clients who aspire to achieve extraordinary results. She is the coach of choice for people who desire to unleash their potential and maximize their personal and professional development. She can be reached through her website


Learner 31.03.2012. 18:58

Feeling Bitter after Raise was Denied? Yes, I get that "corporate" isn't handing out raises etc. etc., but I feel cheated and disrespected to be denied a raise after putting in consistent effort and quality into my work (and being told the same over and over in my performance reviews). Please suggest some ideas on how I can calm myself down. Thanks.
Thanks gardensallday, that helps.
Thanks for your kind words and excellent tips, Jody.


Admin 31.03.2012. 18:58

What a crappy deal!! All you can do is cope until other opportunities come along, which maybe you can create opportunities. But you can ask that in the career section of yahoo :-)

I'll give you my depression tips, because most of that is about stress reduction and coping skills, and ignore the stuff that doesn't apply to you. Try not to dwell on the setback too much - distraction can be a terrific coping skill, once you did all that you could about the situation (such as, creating new opportunities, which is usually a long term strategy).

Generic Practical Depression tips (PRINT THEM OUT):

The library has self-help books on depression.

Many meds cause or worsen depression, including birth control, blood pressure, pain, acne, antipsychotic, anxiety (benzos) or sleeping medications, alcohol, illicit drugs and MANY others.

Hypothyroidism mimics depression . Too little sleep, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea, or interrupted sleep (crying baby, barking dog) can cause depression.

If depression is worse in winter, use a light box (10,000 Lux (light intensity) at about 20? - about $300 online, you don't need full spectrum, Sunray is a good brand). I have extra windows, painted the walls peach & yellow & have a skylight. There's a link to a cheaper lightbox & more info at Also you can try 1000 to 2000 IU of Vitamin D in winter. It may work, or may be placebo treatment.

Try meditation like progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery. See The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. Free 15 minute guided imagery at and many free meditations at youtube.

Go out with friends, & if you don't have any, join a club e.g. hobby club, bowling league & MAKE yourself go. ?Isolating? makes depression worse!

Exercise 1/2 hour a day, & anytime you feel depressed or anxious. LOTS OF RESEARCH SUPPORTS THIS as the most effective depression treatment of all.

Insomnia?: Go to bed & get up the same time each day, even weekends. Don't use your bedroom to watch TV, read or use the computer. Don't do stuff that revs you up before bed, like exercising & using the computer. Light from computer screens & TV wakes you up. Blue light is the worst offender ? dim the lights and use an old-fashioned incandescent bulb the last hour. Make the bedroom very dark, even cover up the clock. Mask disturbing sounds with a fan or try or youtube, etc. Avoid caffeine after noon.

Put colorful, happy things around the house. Do nice things for yourself. Make a list of things that make you happy, like: bread fresh from the oven, the crisp sound of a saltine cracker breaking, fresh sheets on the bed, touching frost on the windowpane, etc. Read that list when you are down. Use comforting scents. I like vanilla & cloves.

Work on time management if you are overwhelmed. Cut back on other responsibilities so you can spend more time with friends & family. Ask for help with chores.

Spend more time with your pet, if you have one.

DON'T listen to sad music! Listen to upbeat stuff- same with movies & novels.

DISTRACT yourself. Read a novel, watch a comedy, go out with friends, play cards or a video game, whatever keeps your mind busy.

Volunteer. Helping others makes you feel better about yourself & you make a difference, too. If you are religious, your religion may help keep you involved in the community.

Put a half-smile on your face. Changing your expression is proven to help change mood.

Try free computerized cognitive behavioral therapy at Also, if you have an abuse history, it is likely to be a major cause of your depression.


??????? ?????? ???????? ?????? 18.05.2011. 03:45

What is your honest opinion of the (Kate/Gerry) McCanns & the McCann case/review? Also what is your views on the 3.5 million review, the political interference. Many things bug me about this case is the refusal to answer 49 questions an refuse to do a Reconstruction, if it was your child would you do a reconstruction. So many cases have had breakthroughs through them! Have you also read the book what did you think?

Thank you for your replies

??????? ?????? ???????? ??????

Admin 18.05.2011. 03:45

I haven't read Kate's fictional fantasy book and won't ever buy it. I felt sorry for the McCanns at the beginning, but began having doubts as time went on and more facts about them were revealed.

The money being wasted on the review just for their case is simply wrong, couldn't the McCanns have paid for it from their ever expanding fund?

If it was my child that went missing, i'd be a complete wreck and willing to do anything to help get him/her back. Any decent loving parent would, so it puzzles me why two supposedly innocent parents were so reluctant to help police in their enquiries.

Compare their reactions to finding their daughter missing to that of Sarah Payne's mother, who was an emotional wreck and visibly lost weight after her daughter was abducted. Her daughter's abductor and killer was found and I never doubted her once, even if he hadn't been caught. The pain was clear to see in her eyes and it was heartbreaking to see.

Whereas Kate was out jogging and playing tennis after her daughter disappeared, the last thing a distraught mum would do. Some may say that Kate is hiding her grief well, she deserves an oscar for her performance then as she hides it so well. I just can't believe that the McCanns are innocent victims here, some may disagree, but I just can't believe it.


Pewpew 24.12.2007. 23:54

What if your muscles tighten up after you run, did you not stretch enough? And how do you relieve this pain? just let it sit out and rest?


Admin 24.12.2007. 23:54

Stretching might be one of the problems, not the solution, as stretching reduces speed, power, force production, and doesn't decrease (actually can increase) the chance of injury.

Don't stretch before you run.

And it could also be from lack of proper hydration. But you're likely to feel some soreness if you haven't run for awhile. As you continue to run more and more, it'll become easier for you. But make sure you don't stretch, and make sure to properly hydrate yourself.

Now as to why you shouldn't stretch (the science of it):

"When muscles are stretched beyond natural voluntary ranges of motion, the muscles and tendons are stretched unnaturally. Excessive stretching damages tissues and promotes inflammation" (Yang, Im, & Wang, 2005). Continual stretching can lead to "lengthened" muscles. That condition leads to two performance altering states.

1) The range of movement of the joint about which the lengthened muscles gird is increased. That results in the range of effective contraction of the muscles being altered. Maximum muscle performance will have to occur in a different range of motion to the original natural range. IF a lengthened muscle is required still to perform in the orginal natural range, then performance in that range will be reduced because of the extra stretch. Maximally lenghtened muscles about a joint are associated often with a loosening of the joint. Increased leaxity can expose the joint to increased injury through collisions or simply through maximum efforts. Intra-joint movements can also stimulate aggravations to other structural tissues as well as bony structures.

2) If continued for a long time, muscles, tendons, etc... will start to loose some of their elastic properties, which would further decrease power and speed [and will increase the chances of injury]."

If you do sprints, from The Science and Art of Baseball Pitching, 44.4: "Running economy is actually improved when muscles are stiff. Craib, Mitchell, Fields, Cooper, Hopewell, & Morgan (1996) concluded running economy needs natural tightness in lower leg muscles and connective tissues to maximize the storage and return of elastic energy, and reduce the need for stabilizing activity. Continuing with the theme that the elasticity of muscles needs to be preserved for high performances, Jones (2002) attributed running performance to metabolism in the muscles and stiffer musculotendinous structures that facilitate a greater elastic energy return during the shortening phase of the stretch-shortening cycle. A certain level of muscle stiffness preservs the storage and return properties of elastic energy that can be used to generate energy in an activity. The contribution of elastic energy to overall muscle performance is as much as 25-40% (Cavagna & Margaria, 1966; Cavagna, Saibene, & Margaria, 1964).

Nelson, Driscoll, Landin, Young, and Schexnayder, (2005) found that stretching before sprinting, slowed 20-meter sprint times. A review of data-based investigations led to the conclusion that stretching did not improve performance capability (Ingraham, 2003)."


Calvin T 28.10.2008. 23:47

are these tennis strings too good to be true? i've heard about the high performance and durability of luxilon tennis strings. but the prices are so deceiving. some run from 15-16 dollars. i also saw some other brands online at tennis warehouse that are like 8 dollars! are they any good for their price? will they last pretty long?

Calvin T

Admin 28.10.2008. 23:47

Luxilon tennis strings are mainly known for their durability, at a fairly reasonable price. From personal experience, I can tell you that stringing a racket using only luxilon feels pretty crappy. They're quite stiff and dont have much control. However, a lot of players prefer doing hybrids, with luxilon (or any other durable string) on the main and strings with more control and feel on the cross. I definitely agree with the comment above that pro hurricanes are a great choice for durability and feel. If you string your own rackets, luxilons are a bit of a pain. They're extremely stiff and are hard to string. However, places like Sports Chalet offer free stringing if you buy the strings from them. My personal preference for strings, is wilson enduro pro (a lot like luxilon big banger but only about 5 dollars for individual packs and 4 dollars per stringing if u buy a reel) with a hybrid of wilson synthetic gut (also only a few dollars per stringing). Check out or for more reviews on these strings. Hope this info helps. Cheers.


U.N Owen Was Her? 04.04.2009. 17:03

What would be good shoes for running in with fallen arches? I have really bad fallen arches and I want to start doing running everyday, so I was wondering what type of shoes would be best to run in. Also, I do have insoles but I'd like some good shoes too. C; thanks.

U.N Owen Was Her?

Admin 04.04.2009. 17:03

your mind will be blown if you get gels, you will never want another pair of any kind. they completely support your arch

these are hands down the best bang for the buck
GEL-Kayano 14 Running Shoe

Overall Rating 4.4 out of 5
Rating Snapshot (8 reviews)
5 stars 6 4 stars 1 3 stars 0 2 stars 0 1 star 1
Comfort 4.4 out of 5
Fit/sizing 4.3 out of 5
Quality 4.6 out of 5
Value 4.3 out of 5
Performance 4.5 out of 5

these are the best on the market but pricey somewhat, well worth it

here is a 10.00 off coupon too
my baby has these and the Asics Women's GEL-Kayano 15 Running Shoe. She has shin splints, after running for 2 months she never complains from pain. she would take 800 mil of motrin 2 times a day. She stopped having to take motrin.


Jay 09.10.2007. 20:16

Can my employer terminate me for missing work due to illness that came from auto accident? I have worked at my current employer for 4 years. Very good attendence, very good performance, top notch employer. Two months ago I was the victim of an auto accident. In that time I have missed about 100 hours from work. Missed work was due to doctors appt., physical therapy appts., psychologist appts., all of which I had a doctors note each time. The other times I was out was from not being able to get outta the bed from my lower back pain. All this they are aware of and they haven't said anything to me other than I hope you get to feeling better. Then they had a meeting with me today & wanted to know what's going on & what can be done to help my production. They commented that I have always been a great employee but now it's going down hill and they claim they understand because of the tragic accident I was in but the way they sounded is I better shape up or they'll ship me out. They said I need to get with HR & show them all my medical notes. I am scared. Can they fire me?


Admin 09.10.2007. 20:16

Dont worry. They will not fire you. It is a process required at the end of HR in almost all companies. They cannot fire you if you are sick and you presented your medical certificates right in the required time frame. They have held your meeting with HR to review your documents. If you have all the medical certificates then you dont need to worry about anything. They cannot fire you for this reason. It can only be done if there is mutual agreement between you and the company that you cannot perform any good for the company due to continous sickness and you resign in that case but you cannot be fired.

The last thing which you wrote:

"They commented that I have always been a great employee but now it's going down hill and they claim they understand because of the tragic accident I was in but the way they sounded is I better shape up or they'll ship me out. "

This is a very professional phrase used by employers over employees. The employer never says " Your performance is miserable!" Instead they always say like " Well you have been such a great performer lately. Is there any reason why you are not performing so well nowadays?


Ricky P 07.11.2009. 01:00

SSI wants to know why my condition limits my ability to work? They are reviewing my case 10yrs ago I had severe osteoporosis and suffred over 20 fractures. Now I suffer from those injuries and am in pain most of the time. They also want to know what a normal day is for me. What are the right words to make the cut?

Ricky P

Admin 07.11.2009. 01:00

Daily pain, can't lift no more than (whatever is your limit)
Driving limitations,
Do meds have side effects that would effect performance? drowsy,dizzy,
Can you run? if there was an emergency where you were like a fire could you get out without help
How does your body respond to noise, stress?
What would your employer have to do to accomadate you?


Joe B 31.01.2010. 05:14

What are some good after pitching stretches? I'm just wondering because myarm begins to hurt 2-3 days after pitching. Does this have to do with me pitching from a 3/4 arm slot?

Joe B

Admin 31.01.2010. 05:14

There's a difference between pain and it being sore.

If it's pain, then... there's a whole different check list of questions

But if it's sore (as in, the same kind of soreness you'd get a day after working out), then I can narrow it down more easily.

Things to reduce soreness = good aerobic level (you recover faster), eat healthy, proper mechanics (if you do have any, which, most likely there's some), dynamic warm up (talked about below), making sure you're hydrated, and conditioning yourself to the activity you are doing.

Now, what do I mean by that last one? Well, quite simply, if I were to have you train for a 100 yard sprint, do you think I'd have you just run 25% intensity for a quarter of it, and hope you'd be ready for competition? No, that would be stupid. And the same exact training principle is to be applied when it comes to pitching.

1) If you're just coming back to pitching after a long break (talking months here), start on flat ground, playing CATCH, work up the intensity until you're ready to get on the mound.

2) Once you're there, while throwing in blocks of 6-10 [that means you throw 6-10 pitches to a specific spot, take a break, review what you are trying to correct, and do it again] for a total of about ~35-45 pitches. Start small. Do 2-3 bullpens a week.

3) Gradually build up your volume through the weeks until you're at the amount expect of you. If that's 12 pitches an inning for 7 innings, then make sure you can do that in practice (at full intensity).

What happens a lot is people will throw 40 pitches in a bullpen, just boom! Right out of the gate. That is a no no. Doesn't mean you'll get injured, but you have a higher chance. Also, they'll throw 40 pitches, and then throw 100 in a game, and wonder why they hit the wall during the game and why they're so sore. It's because they have not conditioned themselves to pitch X number of pitches.

So, follow 1-3, and then this advice below:

Make sure you do a dynamic warm up before you exercise, and before you play in any sport, as stretching reduces speed, strength, and force production, and doesn't decrease the risk of injury (it can actually increase it). It also increases DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

What you want to do then is a dynamic warm up:
High knees
Butt kickers
Side shuffles (feet nearly touch in between each rep)
Backwards running
Lunges (get low)
Arm Swing, circles
Running, sprints
Push ups

Or if you live close enough, a hot 10 minute shower. The goal is to raise the body temperature 1 - 1 1/2 C.

"Stretching reduces the strength-endurance capability of a pitcher (Kokkonen, Nelson, & Arnall, 2001).
Excessive stretching in warm-ups inhibits strength performance (Kokkonen & Nelson, 1996) and force production (Behm, Button, & Butt, 2001; Evetovich, Nauman, Conley, & Todd, 2003; Fry, McLellan, Weiss, & Rosato, 2003).
Stretching routines should be moderate to minimal and cease at least one hour before the game (Fowles & Sale, 1997).
Stretching reduces throwing velocity(Noffal, Knudson, & Brown, 2004).
Stretching does not prevent injuries (Herbert & Gabriel, 2002; Wilkinson & Williams, 2003).
Some researchers have said that no stretching should be performed at all before explosive activities (Young & Behm, 2003)."


iiGOTCHA. <3 29.04.2009. 21:48

What jobs promise me at least 50k after getting a BA degree? I want to be able to live comfortably
in a decent sub division
and be able to shop
at Jewel instead of Wal-Mart,
if you know what I mean.

No offense if you take any.

iiGOTCHA. <3

Admin 29.04.2009. 21:48

52,000 a year gross pay is about $25 an hour working full time (40 hours a week)

Some $25 an hour jobs:

1. Market analyst -- $27.18/hour
Market analysts work in government agencies, consulting firms, financial institutions or marketing research firms, where they research and predict the sales potential of a particular product or service. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for many jobs; however, a master's degree in a field such as business administration, marketing, statistics or communications will provide more opportunities.
Average annual salary: $56,541*

2. Chemist -- $25.16/hour
Chemists search for and use knowledge about chemicals to discover and develop new and improved products, processes to save energy and reduce pollution, and advances in fields like medicine and agriculture. A bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related discipline is the minimum educational requirement; however, many research jobs require a master's degree or doctorate.
Average annual salary: $52,333

3. Civil engineer -- $25.29/hour
Civil engineers plan, design and oversee engineering for building projects like airports, bridges, buildings and irrigation systems. They often need a degree in civil engineering or certification as a registered civil engineer.
Average annual salary: $52,605

4. Social worker -- $25.06/hour
Social workers work for places like community centers, hospitals and penal institutions, where they develop programs to help individuals and groups enhance their personal relationships and social development. Social workers receive accreditation through a four-year college degree program in social work and on-the-job experience.
Average annual salary: $52,119

5. Human resources generalist -- $26.90/hour
Human resources generalists work to improve working conditions within an establishment by identifying, evaluating and resolving problems in employee relations and work performance. A combination of directly related training and experience is typically required for carrying out the responsibilities for this job.
Average annual salary: $55,959

6. Architect -- $26.41/hour
Architects apply their knowledge of design to plan and supervise the construction of building projects according to their clients' needs and financial resources. Architects need a degree from an approved school of architecture.
Average annual salary: $55,060

7. Speech pathologist -- $25.05/hour
Speech pathologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disorders and study the science of human communication. Practice requires a four-year degree in the field of health sciences.
Average annual salary: $52,105

8. Budget analyst -- $26.71/hour
Budget analysts review financial plans and help institutions prepare budgets, improve efficiency and lower costs. Budget analysts typically have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business, public administration, economics, statistics, political science or sociology.
Average annual salary: $55,579

9. Detective -- $27.02/hour
Detectives carry out investigations to prevent crimes or solve criminal cases. Detectives are appointed based on their eligibility under civil service regulations, their performance in competitive written exams and their previous education and experience.
Average annual salary: $56,197

10. Physical therapist -- $25.68/hour
Physical therapists plan and administer medically prescribed treatment for patients suffering from injuries or certain diseases to restore function, relieve pain and prevent disability. A combination of training and experience is typically required to practice, as well as compliance with state licensing requirements.
Average annual salary: $53,410


$50 an hour jobs:

1. Doctor
2. Captain/Pilot
3. Physicist
4. Data Warehousing Manager
5. Commercial Loan Officer
7. General Counsel
7. eCommerce Manager
8. Professor of Mechanical Engineering
9. Estate Planning Director
10. Construction Safety Manager


meOh 19.06.2008. 01:48

What Would I Look for in a Good, Affordable Camcorder? Me and my mom were looking for a new recorder.
We're really clueless as to what we should look for, and what we might want to avoid.
Anything under $1000 would be ideal.


Admin 19.06.2008. 01:48

That's a great question, and I'm glad to see you have a reasonable budget (when most people say "affordable", they want the perfect camera for like $100-- it's really kinda annoying)

Anyways, you must first decide on a format. With $1,000, I expect you want an HD camera, and in that case here are the formats:
1) HDV: records to inexpensive, reusable miniDV cassette tapes. This format is recommended. It has the least compression, meaning it has the best quality images, and it is the best for video editing on a computer. All you need is a simple firewire cable. And it works with pretty much every editing system. I HIGHLY recommend HDV :)

2) Hard Drive (HDD): this is a decent option. HDD camcorders record to the camera's built-in hard drive. Several problems: 1) you only have a limited space on the hard drive meaning you cannot archive your footage like the miniDV tapes and you have to upload the footage to the computer before you want to shoot more (2) there are less programs compatible with HDD (less than HDV anyway). Your otions are Sony Vegas Pro, Final Cut Express, and some versions of Pinnacle Studio 11 (3) HDD compresses more than HDV= lower quality

3) DVD: cameras the record directly to DVD. I have a DVD camcorder, and hate it! Many like the convenience of DVD cameras, but they are a massive pain to edit. You are limited to very few options as far as programs, like the Ulead Video Studio. And it compresses a lot

4) Flash Memory: cameras that record to flash memory cards. I hate this format more than DVD! Flash memory cameras are usually the flip camera kind, and they produce horrible footage. Sure its nice and convenient on the go, but don't count on producing anything near decent.

Here are some HDV camcorders I like:
1) Sony HDR-HC3 and the newer version: HDR-HC9
2) Canon HV20 and the newer version HV30

In general, the pro reviews for the Sony HDR series are considerably better than the Canon HV cameras; they supposedly have better picture performance. I like the HC3, but I am more familiar with the HV20. I really like the HV20. It's an excellent point-and-shoot camera. Personally, I prefer manual controls, but the HV20 is the best camera in automatic mode. I hate manual mode though, but then again, you can't find good manual controls unless you get a prosumer camera. Getting back the HV20, it has the best, the fastest, and most accurate autofocus function I have ever seen [even compared to the prosumer cameras I have used]. It has excellent excellent color saturation for amazing picture quality. I have never used the HV30, but as far as I'm concerned, there's not much point in spending $200 more for it....there isn't many noticeable changes.

I love the Sony HC3 as well. I can't say as much about it, but it produces very crisp, vivid picture. From what I've heard, it's slightly better than the HV20, but I saw no such distinction.

....oh, and with a HD camera, you will find that you won't be content with Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Here are some better choices:
- Pinnacle Studio- inexpensive. easy to use. decent, but not extremely impressive.
- Sony Vegas Pro- this is probably the most popular program for consumer HD editing. I personally don't like it. I gave it a try with the 30 day trial, and cut footage from my Sony VX2100 (standard def), and it sucked. I don't know. Maybe the trial is worse quality. the Sony Vegas does give you nice editing tools though.
-Final Cut Pro (macs only). I love this program. It is the same one many pros use for feature films! It's kinda expensive, but you can get it for 1/2 the price with a student discount. If you are a college student, you are eligible for a student discount. It costs $600 with the discount.
-Adobe Premiere Pro. I really really like the program. It's a pro level program, with pro quality video editing and pro tools, but does not have the status of Final Cut Pro or Avid systems. You can get a discount if you are student K-12 or college, you can get it for $350 on
-Avid Media Composer: My personal favorite program (though Final Cut Pro comes close). Its the program most TV shows, and movies are edited on. It's super awesome. And it's the cheapest pro program (with a student discount). If you are a student, you can get it for $295!!!! That's cheaper than Adobe or Final Cut! However, the Avid systems are real picky. They only work on really powerful computers; Avid has a small list of "qualified workstations". If its not on the list, they can't guarantee Avid will work.

I know you probably didn't want to hear about editing platforms, so sorry about that. I got a bit carried away :)

Anyways, in your camera hunt, here are a few things to keep in mind:
(1) Don't let anyone tell you different: the amount a camera can zoom is not as important, as a Best Buy or Circuit City employee says. Sure, its nice to be able to zoom, but if a camera has a zoom of more than x20, its probably not that good of a camera. Some people will try to tell you the higher the zoom, the better the camera, but in reality, its almost the opposite. A good camera won't zoom too much (esp. HD cameras)...If you zoom in 20x or more, good luck keeping that steady, even with a tripod. It also gives you poor picture quality, even on Optical zoom.
(2) If you don't want one of the cameras I have listed, here are some features I'd look for:
- Resolution. Some cameras will say they are HD when they are not. So, look at the resolution. 1920 x1080 is true HD, but most cameras have less than that. Just beware of HD cameras that have resolutions much lower, esp flip cameras.
-Image Sensor; Either CCD or CMOS. its the devices that picks up color and light. the bigger the image sensor, the better (eg) a 1/3" CCD is better than a 1/4"CCD...
Its also better to have 3 image sensors rather than 1. 3 image sensors gives you better color accuracy. Most cameras have one, and thats not all that bad. Many do perfectly fine with one, like the HV20 and HC3.
-Microphone input: It's always nice to have an external mic input because the audio on the camera is NEVER good. Mic inputs give you the option to upgrade to an exteranl mic.

Well, hope that helped a bit. Sorry for the long response....Anyways, have fun and Best of Luck!!!!! :)

PS: try
I always buy stuff from them...super reliable, and great customer service..good prices too :)


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