by Laura Leiva
Hand-held camcorders can be great for recording special gatherings. Capturing family moments on video is important -- especially milestone events like graduations, weddings, and birthdays -- but sometimes the video quality doesn't turn out quite right. To help, here are a few tips to help you get the perfect shots when shooting with your digital camcorder at the next family gathering.
Get the right lighting. Lighting can have a big impact on the images that digital camcorders can pick up. Digital camera sensors aren't as sensitive as your eye, so they don't function well in poor lighting conditions. When indoors, keep an overhead light on to improve visibility. During the day, open curtains or blinds to let in natural light. If you see too many shadows in the room, turn on a few lights. When filming outdoors, keep your back to the sun, so the light is on what you're shooting rather than creating glare on your camera lens.
Eliminate ambient noise. The built-in microphones on camcorders capture voices, but it picks up everything else, too. To ensure that camcorders capture great sound, eliminate as much background noise as possible. Close the window if there is traffic nearby. Turn off the television, the stereo, and fans; even if they don't seem loud, they may create ambient noises that will make voices hard to distinguish. When you use a video camera outside, try to be aware of background noise. If sound is very important, you may want to look for an external microphone to record with your video camcorder.
Keep the camcorder steady. Keeping a steady hand during filming produces a better video. If you plan to film for long periods of time, like at a graduation, birthday party, or wedding, place your camcorder on a tripod to keep it steady. The support of the tripod prevents that bouncy, dizzying effect that is so common in home videos. Some digital camcorders have anti-shake features, but a tripod is still best. Remember to practice good filming etiquette and set up camcorders and tripods so you don't block the vision of others.
Adjust video resolution to save memory. Digital video takes up a lot of space on your memory cards. HD camcorders will especially eat up storage space in a hurry. If you adjust the resolution downward, you can still have a great picture without running out of camcorder memory too early.