Personal Camcorder Buying Guide

Introduction

A camcorder is a video camera designed to take and record videos. It can take still pictures though this function is not as specialized as with digital still cameras.

Types of Personal Camcorders

Mini-DV

Videos are recorded onto small cassettes. These can then be transferred to a PC and edited. This camcorder produces very high-quality video recordings. Also, using small cassettes makes it small and easy to carry around. This type of camcorder is very common on the market and, there are many types of editing software available. A disadvantage of this type of camera is that it is not easy to playback. If one wants to get a particular segment, they have to rewind the whole video. Also, editing can take a very long time since one has to transfer the video to a PC.

Micro-MV

This camcorder utilizes very small cassettes as a storage device for videos. The camcorder allows for editing of videos thus produces high-quality videos. The camcorder is also compact and stylish.

DVD Camcorders

Videos are stored on DVDs. They are three types depending on the type of DVD used. DVD-RAM Camcorders allow for editing, DVD-R, and DVD-RW limit editing. One can watch the video immediately after recording. Some also have slots for memory cards or have an built-in flash that gives more space for storing the videos. The video quality produced is not very good however, and this limits their use to production of home or amateur videos.

Hard Disk Drive Camcorders

These have built-in hard drives for storage of videos. The videos produced are of good quality. It is very easy to playback and locates a specific segment. Also, since hard drives are very big, large amounts of content can be stored.

Flash Memory Camcorders

The storage device of this camcorder is a memory card. Memory cards are usually very small. This camera is also very small and can be carried round by just about anyone. They may also have built-in flash instead of a memory card

Pocket Camcorders

This camcorder is small enough to be carried around in your pocket. It has a small SD card where videos are stored. It also has a standard quality definition. They also have more internal memory for storage. The most significant advantage of this product is its compactness. Its memory, however, is very small, and this limits the amount of video content that can be carried in this device.

Mixed Camcorders

These are relatively new in the market. They have two area of storage. They have an built-in hard disk that can hold many hours of video content. They also have a removable flash drive, which can hold much more footage. When the internal hard drive fills up during recording, a memory card can be inserted, and the recording can continue without hitches. Other mixed camcorders use both disc drives and hard drives. These camcorders offer the user increased flexibility. They also offer large storage space so more content can be recorded. This would be especially useful for professional use.

Pay attention to these features when buying a camcorder

Screen

A larger screen means better resolution, therefore, clearer videos. Resolution is affected by the ratio of the width to height of that image. If this ratio is high, the resolution will be high. The ratio produced by a screen, which is wide and short is closer to the aspect ratio of human vision. It is important therefore to choose a camcorder with a wide screen.

File formatting

There are many different types of file formatting. They include DV that uses magnetic tape for storage, HDV, MPEG-2, which uses hard disks as well as memory cards and MPEG-4, which is an improved version of MPEG-2. Other new formats include AVCHD AND ALSO Multiview Video Coding. Not all formats are compatible with every PC's software. Also, formats are set by the manufacturer and cannot be reset by the buyer. Therefore, it is important for one to know the format that will be compatible with their PC before they make the purchase.

Zoom Lens

The lens is responsible for magnifying faraway objects. This is important since a camcorder is going to capture scenes from a far as well as from a short distance. Lenses come with different optical specifications. These denote how much the lens can magnify an object. If the specification is x2 for instance, it means the object can be magnified twice. For standard quality videos, a specification of x10 is required. The zoom lens can be an accessory, which is attached when required or inbuilt on the camcorder. The specification that is chosen depends on the use of the camcorder.

Ability to stabilize image

If the camcorder shakes during the shooting of the video, the images produced will be shaky. People who shoot videos while holding the camcorder in their hands are likely to experience this kind of problem. When zooming is done when the camcorder is shaking, the shaking images are magnified. A good camcorder incorporates features that eliminate this kind of shaking. Such features include software that can correct shaky images after they are shot. Other cameras employ optical stabilization tactics. The shaky images are corrected in the lens before the videos are recorded.

Definition

Most camcorders in the market have the standard definition. These have resolutions of 704 by 480 pixels. Recently high definition ones have started making their entry into the market. These have resolutions of 1920 by 1080 pixels. High definition camcorders produce better quality videos. However, their videos take up more memory space. Standard definition ones produce standard quality videos. The definition that one chooses will depend on the use of the camcorder. For professional use, high definition would be paramount. For regular home use, standard definition would be sufficient.

Autofocus

Video images appear clearer when their sharpness is perfected. The autofocus feature allows the camcorder to sharpen images on its own without the intervention of the user. Some camcorders allow for manual focusing.

Top brands and product lines

Sony-Handycam CX405 Flash Memory

Canon VIXIA HF R52

Panasonic HC-V750K

Go-Pro Hero4 Session