Digital Video Camera or Pocket Camcorder Buying Guide 2011
It seems from camcorder reviews that everyone now feels the need to own a new digital video camera, either a Pocket Camcorder, Compact Camcorder, Sports-cam, Family HD video camera, Prosumer-cam or Professional camcorder now that Full 1920x1080p resolution is freely available on even the cheapest Pocket Camcorder and digital video camera models.
Therefore it would seem to be wise to take a look at all the options before rushing out and buying an HD video camera on price alone, or whichever one looks the prettiest.
Camcorder reviews suggest the best camcorder or digital video camera will record in 1920×1080, preferably 1080p for the very best resolution, AVCHD MPEG-4 compression with a BSI CMOS sensor for best low light shots, have a large touch panel LCD screen with an internal flash memory as well as an SD card or Micro SD card for extra storage.
Before buying a digital video camera, first considerations should be to ask what you will be using it for, will it be to record everyday family life, family football games, to capture action shots while skiing, cycling or skate park action.
Possibly you need to buy a digital video camera to record theatrical events or dancing displays which the children may be involved in, or you may have an ambition to earn some cash from your movie maker skills by recording weddings, special events, or by making your own special interest movies and sell these on DVD.
Only by considering all of these options, reading camcorder reviews before buying a digital video camera and knowing the use it will be put to, can we get what is best and right for our own use. This will allow us to move forward and consider other options, the most important which should be Features. Here are some to consider:
Buying a Digital Video Camera or Pocket Camcorder
This is the highest resolution available today. Notice the small p or a small i after the numbers 720 and 1080 indicating HD recording quality such as in 720i or 1080p. This indicates either interlaced scan or progressive scan. Progressive will give you the better smoother picture. Pocket Camcorder models with this feature usually record to MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 which is a superior Movie Recording Format.
AVCHD stands for Audio Video Compression for High Definition. Not all computers can handle this type of compression, but if yours can, it will allow you to get more recording time out of your SD/HC card or HDD.
The AVCHD Format was jointly developed by Panasonic and Sony for their HD consumer camcorders. AVCHD is a file-based format recording Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution video onto to a flash memory sd card, internal flash memory hard disk drives or DVD disks. JVC and Canon now also use the AVCHD flash memory format, with all four brands making a professional AVCHD camcorder. AVCHD is short for Advanced Video Coding High Definition and uses H.264/MPEG-4 compression.
When recording at the highest quality, you need to see those results on your TV set, and it is an HDMI output that will allow you to watch crystal clear high definition with a cable out of your HD video camera direct into your TV.
This feature is essential for direct uploading to the social networks with a
One Touch upload to YouTube. Every child movie maker will demand this from any digital video camera, and many adults will be thankful for this feature too. Every Pocket Camcorder will have one of these flip-out ports.
Before buying a digital video camera, know that the zoom may be either optical zoom or digital zoom, and optical zoom is better as it does not distort the picture, whereas digital zoom just enlarges the pixels in a picture and therefore dilutes the quality.
Optical Image Stabilizer
Image Stabilization may be quoted as optical or digital just like the zoom, and again, Optical is the better choice as it combines gyroscopes and image-sensors to give amazing image stabilization. Combined with Instant AF (Auto Focus) you’ll get ultra-quick, accurate focus.
Sony HDR-CX730 digital video camera
Touch Screen LCD screen
This is the flip-out touch screen viewfinder which as well as helping with framing your shots, if it also includes Touch Screen Face Recognition, allows you to lock the focus onto several faces for a better image (Face Detection). This LCD screen also displays remaining battery power, scene re-arranging on playback, date and time, and other data to help you get better recordings. Some Pocket Camcorder models have up to a 3.5 inch diameter LCD screen, the larger the better.
Every serious movie maker will insist on these, as they allow for better sound recordings and allow the sound to be monitored. With a bit of researching through camcorder reviews, these can be found on some really cheap Pocket Camcorder brands.
Lots of Pocket Camcorder models now have software on board, and one of the big benefits of this is to allow in-camera editing, another reason to aim for an external headphone jack.
Video Recording Format
Twin Media HD, sometimes called Hybrid may have either a hard drive or an embedded flash memory in the digital video camera as well as a slot or sometimes two slots for SD/HC memory cards. This allows for really long recording time capability.
SD/HC Memory Cards
digital video cameras are the cheapest option, SD/HC Memory Cards are dropping dramatically in price, and it’s so convenient to remove the card to place into the computer for editing. Some brands use MicroSD cards or MiniSD cards which serve the same purpose. These MicroSD cards have a number from 2 to 10 imprinted inside a tiny circle. The higher the number, the better the video quality.
The BI CMOS Sensor
Every camcorder needs a sensor which gathers light to record the video. Most sensors now are CMOS, and the size of the sensor determines the low light capability of the camcorder.
Sony, followed quickly by Samsung and other brands, improved on this by putting back illumination into the sensor, the purpose being to improve pixel quality rather than quantity.
So if you see a camcorder listed as having a BI CMOS sensor, subject to the size, that camcorder should be better in low light situations. Hope that makes sense.
Good low light performance is very important for indoor shots from any HD video camera. Some Pocket Camcorder models have a video light built into the lens barrel, so murky shots should be a thing of the past.
High Definition Pictures
An added bonus when buying a digital video camera is some models have the capability to take really high definition pictures. Even some Pocket Camcorder brands can take 14mp high definition pictures, and along with this may have a built-in flash.
Dual record capability lets you capture high definition Images while shooting high definition video, so you can capture those special moments without having to switch recording modes.
Some Pocket Camcorder brands now have this, sometimes called Interval Recording Mode. Have some fun with this, recording sunrises or sunsets, flowers growing or whatever you can imagine looking effective when played back at normal speed. A tripod is vital for this type of recording though!
Other features to consider may be a good wide angle lens (35mm is available now as standard on some brands), a manual focus ring as well as auto focus, essential in higher end Pocket Camcorder models such as a professional camcorder, and some digital video camera models now even have Bluetooth Wireless Technology, Wireless data transfer via Eye-Fi, and some now have inbuilt GPS.
Buying a Digital Video Camera or Pocket Camcorder
When buying a digital video camera armed with this knowledge, you should be happy with your purchase, whichever format or brand you choose. You may also benefit from watching YouTube movies from new owners and by reading camcorder reviews.
So before you buy a new digital video camera, either a Pocket Camcorder, Compact Camcorder, Sports-cam, Family HD video camera, Prosumer-cam or Professional camcorder, read some camcorder reviews such as you will find on the posts in this website before buying a digital video camera to be certain you choose the right digital video camera or pocket camcorder which best suits your purpose.
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