Video Camcorder Buying Guide
There are hundreds of makes and models of camcorders
available, with prices ranging from under £60 to several thousands
of pounds. With so many specifications itís hard to decide which
camcorder is right for you.
Starting with the cheapest,
Pocket Camcorders come with a price tag of around £50 to £200
and are perfect for anyone looking for a reasonably priced,
portable camcorder. Theyíll easily fit in your handbag and are easy
to use to shoot and upload your videos. The MPEG-4 codec the
majority use mean they suffer slightly in video and audio quality
although this is offset largely by their portability and ease of use.
Other drawbacks include the lack of manual controls and a
relatively small amount of memory, unless they come with the
ability to use removable memory cards to store your footage. Think
8GB equates to around 2 hours of 720p HD
For buyers who are looking for slightly better
quality video without the price tag, look towards a Standard
Definition Camcorder. Whilst these are fast becoming out of date,
plenty of good quality SD camcorders can be found for around
£120 to £200. Advantages include the fact that the video will use
much less storage space than HD video and the camcorders
themselves are usually smaller and easier to use. That said, HD is
fast becoming the norm and a HD camcorder is likely to be a worthy
investment for the future, especially if you have or are planning on
purchasing a HDTV.
The HD Consumer Camcorders
offer a much better quality video in HD for a reasonable price.
Expect to pay between at least £250 for a HD Consumer
Camcorder, with top of the range models costing around £750.
Whilst they are larger than their pocket counterparts, itís not by
much and one could easily fit inside a handbag. The majority use
AVCHD codec that is pretty heavy going on a standard PC although
preserves all the crispness of the original video. Memory, lenses
and sensors are all scaled up from the Pocket Camcorder and LCD
screens are the norm, often with touch screen facilities. Despite
this, battery life is often short with LCD screens and HD capture
using a lot of power.
In any case 1080i or 720p high
definition is likely to be suitable for your video format, with a 10x or
greater zoom enough for the majority of users. A 1/6 or 1/4 inch
CCD sensor with a minimum of 2 megapixel effective resolution for
HD and 2 megapixel effective still image resolution will be fine for
shooting anything from holiday footage to semi professional music
videos. In regards to ports and connectors look for USB 2.0, a
microphone terminal, FireWire and S-Video to be able to upload
everything to your PC.
If youíre paying anything
upwards of £800 youíre venturing into the realms of professional
video capture and producer camcorders.