Camcorders buyer's guide
Why choose a camcorder? Your mobile phone or digital camera can record video so you might not think you need one. The short answer is that camcorders are designed solely to record moving video and offer a number of advantages, not least a design shaped for easy handling.
Camcorders often offer a fold-out screen that can be twisted to enable video capture from any angle. Importantly, they usually have image stabilisation technology to help steady video while you’re moving and support standard TV resolutions, which most phones and digital cameras do not.
Other important features that you may not have considered are the quality of audio recording, battery life and recording capacity. Some camcorders will also provide editing features from a touchscreen display.
These use inexpensive mini videotapes to store around one hour of high-quality footage. Video can easily be played back on a TV or transferred to a PC.
Record up to an hour of footage directly on to mini DVD discs and the footage can be played immediately on a standard DVD player or computer.
SD memory cards are the smallest and lightest available, but can still offer high-quality Full HD recording. With capacities of up to 64GB available they can store hours of footage and easily transfer files to a computer.
Using an internal hard drive to store many hours of footage these latest models offer effective video capture and easy transfer to a computer for editing.
Styles and shapes:
Hard drive camcorders are generally found in this design. They are not too bulky and the hand can move around the camera easily to find that comfortable position.
Traditional shape found on tape camcorders and DVD versions. This is easily held in the hand at eye level.
A convenient upright shape that is increasingly popular with people on the move and those participating in action sports.
Styled more like a standard camera these are easily slipped into the pocket and transported, although they may not suit extended shoot times.
Additional features to look for:
Check for stereo sound recording, ideally with Dolby Digital or other sound enhancements.
More expensive models will offer 16:9 widescreen recording alongside the standard 4:3 mode.
Camcorders come in standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) models. SD models offer around 800 thousand pixels, 720p HD has over 900 thousand pixels and 1080p HD has over 2 million pixels.
A measure of how dark the conditions can be for the camcorder to capture an image. 1-lux equates to night-time with a full moon and 3-lux is twilight.
Camcorders features & videos
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