10 Things to Remember Before Buying your First CamcorderBy soumitra, Gaea News Network
Monday, August 3, 2009
Buying a Camcorder can be troublesome. If you don’t know anything about them and this is your first purchase, you’re sure to feel lost amongst the huge number of camcorders that are currently available in the market. But with a proper homework and preparation I’m sure that you can get over it! Here we have listed some points that you should remember before buying your first camcorder. Take a look at it.
1. Sensor SizeARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW
Megapixels and Megapixels - this is going to be a word that you would hear when buying your first camcorder. Completely ignore the megapixels as they are the count of resolution of still pictures that they can take and has nothing to do with the videos. Focus on the size of the sensor instead. Average quality of a 1/3 inch processor will be better that average 1/4 inch or 1/5 inch processor. Larger size sensors are able to produce better videos and they can also be better at low light situations as they captures more light with more surface area.
Lens is the heart of any imaging system. Every camcorder comes with a zoom lens. Some are powerful and some are simply not-so-good. A powerful zoom lens will get you closer to the subject without having to move closer yourself. Try to get at least 10X optical zoom lens. You can also opt for a wide angle lens if you need to shoot some close up videos. And also beware of those 100X or 500X digital zoom specs. It will only make grainy, pixelated videos without adding any detail.
3. Image Stabilization
The main cause of jittery videos are the shaky hands of ours while shooting videos. Fortunately there are image stabilization mechanism that can make adjustments to produce stable video out puts. There are basically two types of stabilization mechanisms - optical and digital ones. The optical image stabilization system moves the lens system synchronizing the motion with the vibration and is better and costlier than the digital image stabilization system. If you can’t afford the optical stabilization systems try to get at least a digital image stabilization system that corrects the videos to remove the shake artifacts. Traditionally they were available in only the premium range of cameras but they are now available in even lesser priced models.
4. Comfort and Ease of Use
Try to get a camera that is comfortable to use. The camera which is too much bulky may be tiring and a very small camera can be uneasy to hold and control. Also check that that the control buttons are easily reachable and feels natural. Take a demo model and carry out some shooting to get a proper feeling of its design and weight.
Know beforehand what storage you’ll use to record videos onto.
MiniDV cassette is the most common format for recording videos. Depending on the record mode, each tape can store 60-90 minutes of video. They are very much affordable at around $4 each tape but they are slow in the sense that you have to play the video in real time to transfer the videos into computer which means that a 90 minute video take 90 minutes to be transferred to PC.
DVD is also a popular media to store videos onto. Many Sony handycams directly record videos on mini DVDs and you can get approximately 20 minutes of HD video on a mini DVD.
Hard Drive based camcorders are now becoming more commonplace as they provide the most easy way to transfer the videos to PC. Approximately 2GB of storage is required to record 1 hour of video. So a camcorder with 120GB of memory is good enough a travel shooting.
Flash Drives are also an option but they are more costly for same amount of storage required which is especially true if you need to take more than one card with you for recording all of those memorable moments.
6. Sensor Technology
The sensor used in the camera plays the main part of sensing the images cast on it. There are two types of sensors CCD and CMOS. The Both have their own Pros and Cons but as a rule of thumb the CCD sensors have better sensitivity to light than CMOS and better suitable for video camcorders. Modern CMOS sensors can be as good as CCD sensors but still they are considered as inferior sensors. The 3CCD sensors cameras are the unarguably the best and they have best color depth and picture quality(and also the higher price tag!).
7. Display Screen
Having a large LCD screen is always handy and they prove to be useful to easily see what you’re shooting as well as viewing them at your camcorder at a later time without transferring them to your PC. Also check that the screen is bright enough to be seen at bright sunny outdoors. If your camcorder shoots videos at 720 X 480 widescreen format make sure that your display is also widescreen.
Sound is also an important part of any captured video. Try to get a camcorder that has the microphone at its front. The camcorder which have the microphone at the top tend to capture the voice of the person who is operating the camera which makes the whole thing useless. There are also some models that has external port for plugging in an external microphone. They come very useful if you need to shoot an interview.
Though life of battery varies depending on many factors but you should try to get a camcorder that can record videos at for an hour without needing to be powered by an external source.
Most camcorders have at least a USB Port to transfer the videos to your PC and a A/V Port that can be used to watch the recorded videos on TV. The camcorder that you are buying most probably has more ports than this. Remember that more ports means more options for connecting your camcorder to other gadgets. Also don’t forget to check that your camcorder has the necessary microphone in port as stated above.