Camcorders

Digital Video (DV) Camcorders generally give a much higher level of control over both picture and sound quality. However, they are usually physically larger, require footage to be digitized (whereas digital cameras record files that can be dragged and dropped), and accessories such as tapes, microphones, larger batteries, etc. can add to your load.

Despite these disadvantages, if you need the improved image and sound quality, the tradeoff is worth your while. Camcorders are great for any project that needs to look crisp on a fullscreen computer, TV, projector, or DVD.

Purchasing a DV Camcorder

DV CamcorderStandard or High Definition (HD) — HD is overkill for most web based video projects. Use the money you save on a nice microphone or better lights. If you’ve got the funds to go High-Def, see Choosing HD.

Recording medium — If you’re getting a DV Camcorder and want to edit your footage, we recommend models that use mini-DV tape. Some camcorders record to DVD or hard drive — they will compress your footage into a format that may or may not be compatible with your editing software.

Compatible computer port — Your computer needs to have an input port that matches the port on your DV camcorder, so make sure you check what ports your computer has in advance of making a purchase. At the very least, your computer needs to have either a USB 2.0 port or a Firewire port (also known as “i.Link” or “IEEE 1394”). Many PC laptops and some PC desktops do not have a Firewire port; all Mac computers have Firewire ports. If this sounds scary, see Matching Ports.

Battery life — DV Camcorder Review Sites are often a good source for finding realistic battery life (manufacturers often report optimistically high operation time). If you plan on recording outdoors for extended periods, you should consider a spare or higher capacity battery.

Image and sound quality — You can find examples of image quality on DV Camcorder Review Sites. Some sites even review the internal microphone quality. If you really want great sound, you’ll need to use an external microphone. Make sure your machine has an audio input jack to receive the sound.

Advanced Features

If you’re looking to get superior sound and video, here are several advanced features to look for.

Automatic gain control — for better audio, find a camcorder with the option to turn off Automatic Gain Control (ACG). ACG automatically changes the sensitivity of the microphone, such that in a low noise situation it will become responsive and pick up every little noise. In some cases this might be good, but often it is best to have manual control over the microphone.

“White balance” controls — For more control over the color balance in your picture, look for a camera with white balance settings. Pre-determined settings are okay, but manual white balance gives you the ability to make white actually look white, and make skin tones look more natural. If you’re using a professional editing suite, you can white balance during editing.

Ergonomics and user interface — Even if you buy online, we recommend checking out a few brands of DV Camcorders in stores. Hold a variety of models and brands to see which shape is most comfortable, or ergonomic, for you. Look into the viewfinder and make sure you’re satisfied with your ability to hold the picture steady. If you travel a lot, make sure it is a comfortable size.

This content is from Make Internet TV.

What Next? Digital Cameras

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