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How to Compare Camcorders

by Ty Arthur

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Digital camcorder

High-quality camcorders let you easily create crystal clear video, whether you are recording home movies or making your own theatrical production. Modern camcorders have a surprising amount of different options available that may make one particular camcorder much more useful to you than another. Always consider what options you want and what options you need before picking a new digital camcorders.

Comparing Camcorders:

  1. Determine how much video you plan to shoot at one time. Keep in mind that recording at a high resolution will fill up the camera's internal storage more quickly than recording at lower resolution. For example, 100GB of storage will get you about 7.5 hours or recording time at 1080p or upwards of ten hours at 720p. Make sure your camera's internal storage records at the resolution you want to use, for as long as you need to shoot.

  2. Check to see what kind of storage device the camcorder uses. Large storage capacities (generally meaning 32GB or larger) call for an internal hard drive. If you want a simple way to transfer stills or small segments of video to your computer or to another device, pick a camcorder that has an SD card slot or similar type of removable flash memory slot.

  3. Consider if you want to record the data directly to a DVD from the camcorder without using a computer. Pick a camcorder that includes a DVD slot if you want to record directly to a disk.

  4. Choose the appropriate zooming capabilities. Remember that an optical zoom will adjust the lenses of the camera to enlarge smaller objects, which provides as good of image quality as the lenses can provide. Digital zoom, on the other hand, basically enlarges the image that the camera's sensor has captured; using digital zoom can lead to pixilated images, although it does provide zooming capabilities beyond that of optical lenses. If you want to rely on digital zooms, be sure your camera can record a very high-resolution image so that the enlarged image doesn't become blocky.

  5. Consider the megapixel rating of the camcorder when it's used to take still images. A camcorder with a higher megapixel rating will save the pictures in a larger format so that more detail is displayed when they are printed in standard size.

  6. Determine which type of video outputs the camera offers. Digital cameras generally have data outputs as well as video outputs; the data outputs will be USB or Firewire, and are used to transfer the video to a computer or similar device. Video outputs are generally used to play the recording directly to a television; if your camera records in high-definition and you want to watch it on an HDTV directly from the camera, be sure it has HDMI or DVI video outputs. If you're willing to watch it at standard definition, lower bandwidth cables -- such as component, S-video or RCA -- will suffice.

  7. Read through the camcorder's specifications to find out if it includes face recognition and auto focus settings. Pick a camcorder with those settings if you want better lighting and clarity when taking still pictures.

  8. Read through the camcorder's specifications to find out if it includes face recognition and auto focus settings. Pick a camcorder with those settings if you want better lighting and clarity when taking still pictures.

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