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A Guide to Selecting a Camcorder

Mark Schwarz

What is a camcorder?

A camcorder is a self-contained portable device that can record and play back live video and audio. Generally, a camcorder is composed of three major components: (1) a lens that focuses and gathers light, (2) an imager that converts light into an electrical signal, and (3) a recorder that codes the electrical signals into digital video for storage.

How should you choose a camcorder?

We are in the era of capturing moments with digital video. Be it a holiday by the beach or your kid’s first stage performance, we record it all. Camcorders are in vogue now, an essential gadget for preserving memories. After going through thousands of camcorder reviews on the internet, we present you with a guide to aid you in choosing the best camcorder.


What is the difference between a video camera and a camcorder?

A video camera records motion and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then recorded and stored on a separate device. Video cameras such as stationary sports cameras, news coverage cameras, and most television cameras are standalone video cameras that record high-quality video. In contrast, a camcorder incorporates both a camera and a recorder in one device. Unlike video cameras, camcorders do not require a separate recording unit, making them more portable. The disadvantage of this design is that part of the camera space is being used for the recording device, resulting in a reduction in video quality.

Types of Camcorders

What are the different types of camcorders?

The following are the 4 most common types of camcorders:

  • DVD Camcorders: Among the newest forms of digital video cameras are DVD camcorders. Recordable DVD discs such as DVD-R or DVD-RW are used which can be played on your home DVD player. Camcorders of this type are convenient and inexpensive, but the footage is highly compressed, so the quality isn't that great. 
  • Flash Memory Camcorders: This camcorder uses a memory card for storage and is popular for being compact and durable. The two most popular formats of flash drives are: (1) Memory Stick and (2) SD/SDHC . Flash drives have the advantage of not having moving parts like hard drives, so they are less prone to damage. The flash memory camcorder is known for being lightweight, which makes it ideal for travel. 
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Camcorders: In the past, when memory cards were more expensive and storage capacity was not as high as it is today, HDD Camcorders were very popular. They have hard drives with capacities ranging from 80GB to 240GB, as well as SD/SDHC card slots. Hard drives are built into HDD camcorders, helping users to save money since they don't require tapes or DVDs. Moreover, SD/SDHC slots let you expand the hard drive's capacity, and they also enable easy video and still transfers from the camcorder to a computer."
  • Mini DV/HDV camcorders: In Mini DV camcorders, a digital signal is recorded onto mini DV tapes. These camcorders are relatively inexpensive and suitable for shooting on a budget. With mini DV tapes, users can record up to 90 minutes on these tapes depending on your recording settings, and they're great for archiving and storing data in case of a computer or hard drive failure. Mini DV tapes, however, can tangle and jam, they don't provide random access, their drives can wear out, and their cameras are bulkier. 

Important Features

What to Consider When Buying a Camcorder

There are many types of camcorders that are available on the market. You might be confused in choosing the right device. We have put up a few factors for you to consider before you purchase the right one for you.

  • Go for a higher resolution: Select the device that has a greater resolution. This is measured by the number of pixels in the image. The greater the number of pixels, the better the quality of the picture. A high-definition camcorder has a resolution of 4000 pixels.

  • Consider the memory: Look for a camcorder that has an internal memory with a large capacity. An SD card or a mini-SD card can cost a lot, and you have to carry one with you in case the previous one gets full. So, buy a device which has enough built-in capacity for storing videos.

  • Check the size of the sensor: Go for the product which has a large sensor size. A larger sensor would help you in capturing videos of higher resolution, as well as shooting videos where there isn't much ambient light, as in a concert. The larger the sensor size, the better the quality of the video.

  • Check the bit rate: Choose a unit with a higher bit rate--that means that the camcorder has enough capacity for capturing large files.   

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