By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Camcorders have become fairly common these days due to falling prices and an increasing number of features being packed in. Basic camcorders compete with mid-range digital cameras in terms of price! They're getting smaller too, and you can now carry one around in a waist pouch. Most people want to own one, but don't know how to decide on one. Here's some clarity.

Questions To Ask
What formats are supported?
Camcorders most commonly record to Digital 8, MiniDV, MicroMV, DVD-RAM, and hard drive. In camcorders that use tape, Digital 8 was the traditional standard, but is fast fading: Digital 8 camcorders are bulky and heavy. MiniDV is the most popular format around: MiniDV camcorders are small and lightweight. MicroMV is a relatively newer format for camcorders, and offers very good recording quality. MicroMV cameras are very small, but expensive.

DVD-RAM-based camcorders use DVD-RAM instead of tape. DVDs offer more recording time than tape drives; they are cheaper and are easy to store as well. Hard drive-based camcorders use an inbuilt hard drive to store the videos. Since you can erase from a hard disk, the recurring cost of buying new media is eliminated. Also, you typically get more shooting time with a hard disk-based cam.

How will I transfer videos?
Camcorders support USB 2.0 or FireWire. Check before buying one whether your computer supports the interface.

What cables are bundled?
Check whether the camcorder comes with an AV-out cable to connect to a TV. Don't forget to enquire about the USB / FireWire cable. Some camcorders don't bundle a transfer cable; you need to purchase it, so factor in that cost as well.

What video editing software is included in the package?
Most camcorders bundle along some sort of video editing software. If video-editing software is not bundled, factor in that cost as well.

Future Trends
If you happen to have an HDTV set, you're probably going to want an HD (High Definition) camcorder. It'll let you record videos with really classy quality that you can enjoy on your HDTV set. As of now, HD camcorders cost way too much for most of us, but looking at market trends, prices will drop in the near future.

With the world going digital, most camcorder owners transfer videos to their computers to preserve them for the future and to share them with friends. This is one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of hard drive based camcorders.

Usage Tips
Keep your camcorder safe from moisture and dirt. If you take it on a trip, use a good case to protect it from the elements.
When not in use, remove the battery and store it separately. This prevents any battery-related accidents like short-circuiting due to moisture.
Keep the camera lens clean; a clear lens is the key to good video capture. Use the cleaning material specified by the manufacturer.
For events such as weddings or parties, use a tripod. This helps keep your videos jerk-free.

What To Look For
The number of CCDs
Most camcorders available make use of a single CCD (Charge-Coupled Device), while some high-end ones have three CCDs-one each for red, green and blue.

Optical zoom and image stabilisation
Basic camcorders come with 10x optical zoom; some go as high as 30x for a few thousand rupees extra. Make sure it also features image stabilisation.

The batteries
Look for the type of batteries the camcorder uses. Most come with Nickel Cadmium or Lithium-ion batteries. The latter charge faster and don't suffer from the "memory effect" as with NiCd batteries. We strongly recommend Lithium-ion. Look for a battery life of at least 90 minutes.

 Night mode and flashlight
If you intend to use your camcorder mostly for outdoor use, look for a flashlight as well as "night mode". An integrated flashlight gives better recording by illuminating the object.

Night mode, on the other hand, uses infrared to capture the picture. While most camcorders generate black and white images in night mode, some camcorders can generate colour images with reduced colours.

Photo shots
All camcorders offer a limited capability to click photos. When you connect a camcorder to a TV and check the pictures, they may look good, since TV is low-resolution. To check for the true quality, ask the dealer to demonstrate the pictures on a computer, and you'll get the real idea.

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