Digital Camcorders

Written by Charles Peacock
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Digital camcorders are making it possible for everyone to be a film maker. While VHS cameras made it easy to capture home movies, the nature of the format made it difficult to do things like editing and distributing copies to friends. Digital camcorders change all of this. Digital video is far more flexible than analog videotape, giving the home enthusiast a whole host of new possibilities.

What to Look for in a Digital Camcorder

The first thing you need to decide when buying a digital camcorder is which storage format to go with. There are quite a few options, each with its advantages and disadvantages. DV and digital Hi8 are both tape formats that look a lot like traditional videotapes--except they store a digital picture instead of an analog picture. These formats are cheap and are good for holding a lot of video on one tape.

The problem with video tape (even if it's digital) is that you can't instantly skip around through your video--you have to fast forward and rewind just like on an old VHS tape. Newer tape-less cameras solve this problem by storing your video on fast-access media like DVDs or digital memory cards. They are generally more expensive (and hold less video than a digital tape), but they have a lot of benefits.

If you choose a camera that records on an internal hard drive or a memory card, keep in mind that you probably don't want to permanently store video on either of these initial storage devices. Most of these cameras are made to synch up with your computer, so you dump video that you're done with onto your computer for editing or burning to a DVD. If you're comfortable with this process it can make saving video very cheap: simply buy a single card (or use the camera's internal hard drive) then back everything up--free of charge--to your computer's hard drive.


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