Camcorder Buying Guide – Introduction to Video Cameras

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The Home video camcorder has come a long way in a short time. From the large and often unwieldy VHS camcorders that were popular into the 1990’s, video has experienced a revolution. Digitization and miniaturization are just two of radical changes that have made video cameras more affordable, easier to use – and much higher in quality. No matter what level of videographer you are, or plan to become, this is an excellent time to step into the medium – or step up to a higher level.

From lens to battery pack, CCD to LCD, and MiniDV to 24p, there is much to consider before purchasing the camcorder that will do the job for you. Here at Vistek we carry camcorders for the home movie hobbyist, the budding independent filmmaker, as well as the seasoned professional. With video, the price range can be wide, stretching from a few hundred dollars to as much as fifteen thousand. So you’ll want to find the camcorder that meets all of your needs without stepping outside of your budget. This guide has been written to arm you with the knowledge of features and terms that will help you make an informed decision, so you get the most from your video making experience. There’s also a glossary of terms at the end of the Guide.

What kind of videographer am I?

For the purpose of this Guide, we’ve identified three categories:

1) The home video hobbyist

Your main goal is to record personal events such as vacations, amateur sports, family parties or a get-together. You may never need to edit the video footage you shoot, merely play it back uncut. Manual features are less of a requirement. Compact size is a priority, as is ease of use – and of course, affordability. Fortunately, there are many quality camcorder models to choose from at this level.

2) The aspiring prosumer

Like the hobbyist, you may also want to record family events – but you plan on editing your videos later using your home computer. Perhaps you or your kids will use the camcorder for school projects where the final result will be shown in class. Certain features will be necessary, such as the ability to attach a remote microphone, adjust focus manually, etc. You’re willing to spend a little more for higher quality features.

3) The experienced pro

You’re familiar with videography and may be looking to use your camera professionally, or simply obtain the highest quality video images possible. Resolution, colour, and tack-sharp clarity are important to you. You’ll definitely be editing your footage, so you’ll want to use a format that’s compatible with your editing software. You may be using special lighting, add-on lenses and additional audio equipment. You’re willing to pay for pro quality – remember, there’s a wide range to consider at this level.

Which camcorder is right for me?

Camcorder Buying Guide Page 1 - Introduction

While the professional videographer may demand the highest resolution possible, an indie filmmaker or home movie auteur may have to make some sacrifices in quality in order to fit their budget. That said, many lower priced camcorders include features designed for the home movie maker who does want to capture moments but not worry too much about the technical side of things. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of camcorders on the market, with qualities and features aimed at all types of video buffs.

Next – Recording Media