Camcorder Buying Guide – Glossary of Additional Features

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Glossary of Additional Features

Many camcorders come with a number of additional features designed to provide a smooth and effortless shooting process. Chances are, no one camcorder includes all the features listed in our glossary below. The key is finding a model with the features you’ll use for your own type of videography.

Auto Slow Shutter Function – Ensures perfect exposure in low light by lowering your shutter speed. This will cause some interesting motion effects as well.

AVCHD – A new format for hard disk recording which makes use of a special compression formula that retains excellent colour, detail and crisp audio – and requires less storage.

Built-in Flash – Permits shooting of digital still images in dim areas

Built-in Lens Cover – Opens and closes automatically with Power switch – no worries about dangling or lost lens covers.

Built-in Video Light – A while LED allows for video recording in low-light conditions.

Cable-Free Operation – Found on DVD camcorders which require no connections for video playback, as the DVD can be placed in most DVD players for instant viewing of footage.

Colour Viewfinder – Allows user to preview and compose scene without using LCD, extending battery life.

Digital Photo – Allows you to take digital still images separately from video – usually at a much lower resolution that most dedicated digital still cameras provide.

Easy Mode – Simple, all-automatic mode ideal for people new to video, much like “Auto” setting on point and shoot still cameras.

Edit With Disk Navigator – Allows editing of scenes “in camera”, such as deleting or re-arranging order

Enhanced Battery Life – Advanced form of battery allowing more time between charges

Exposure Lock – Allows video shooter to zoom in and lock exposure settings then re-compose

Fade Effects – Built-in video transitions feature allowing blending of scenes with black, mosaic, monotone or white fades.

Firewire/IEEE1394 DV Terminal – A high-speed connection between camcorder and computer, permitting rapid transfer of video footage.

Hard Disk Drive (Smart Protection) – Safety feature: If camcorder is dropped, the power to the hard drive is turned off and video is recorded to a buffer.

Help Mode – Built-in explanation for camera controls on LCD monitor using icons.

Image Stabilization – Highly useful feature, allows smoother shooting when panning, zooming, moving, or recording without tripod.

Joystick – One controller easily governs a number of functions such as Playback, Exposure Lock, Exposure Compensation and more

Level and Grid Markers – One controller easily governs a number of functions such as Playback, Exposure Lock, Exposure Compensation and more.

Manual Focus – Marker grid is overlaid in viewfinder, helping more professional composition

Metering Modes – User can choose between such modes as Evaluative, Centre-weighted, Average, and Spot depending on lighting situation

Motion JPEG Mode – A high-compression recording mode, often used to place video clips on the web or allowing them to be shared by e-mail.

MPEG2 Engine – A form of video compression that renders fast, complex motions with exceptional precision.

Multi-format capability – A feature built into some DVD camcorders, allowing recording and playing of DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R DL, and DVD-R discs.

Night-Shot Plus – Special infrared system allowing capture of natural-looking video when shooting in low light

On Screen Zoom – Additional Zoom and Record controls on the LCD frame permit more flexibility when holding the camcorder in odd positions.

Picture Motion Browser – Software that allows user to easily browse, edit and manipulate still images and video recorded on camcorder or saved on computer.

Program AE Mode

Artificial Intelligence Auto Focus – A computer-aided program that ensures sharp images even when subject is off-centre or in low light

Progressive Photo – Progressive scan approach that provides sharper detail in still photography in video

Scene Modes – Automatic, accurate exposure in a variety of situations such as Portrait, Sports, Night, Snow, Beach, Sunset

Image Effects – Series of options on rendering of images, such as Vivid, Neutral, Low-Sharpening, and Skin Detail

Pure Colour Engine – A special image processing circuit available on 3CCD HD camcorders, designed to improve picture quality.

Quick Start – Allows camcorder to leap from stand-by to record mode in less than a second, helping ensure videographer does not miss a shot, and extending battery life.

Remote Control – Camcorder can be operated remotely, for smoother shooting or to allow user to place himself in the picture

SD Memory Card Slot – Allows capture of photos and short movie clips directly to SD or SD HC card.

Shock Proof – Feature designed to protect camcorder from damage after falling or knocking

Simultaneous Photo Recording – Permits capture of digital still photograph while recording video

Smooth Zoom Control – High-end feature has three preset zoom speeds to ensure professional, steady zoom shots

Soft Skin Mode – Detects skin tones and softens focus in that area of the picture; blemishes are reduced, while sharpness is maintained in other areas of the frame

Stereo Zoom Microphone – Camera-mounted microphone adjusts automatically according to lens zoom setting, bringing sound and images together

USB 2.0 Interface – Permits easy connection of hard disk camcorder to computer for fast transfer of footage

Water Resistance – Protects camcorder from rain or snow

Widescreen High Resolution Recording – Uses entire width of the image sensor to achieve true 16:9 widescreen “cinema” format without stretching the image.

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About Author

Woodrow Walden is a Toronto-based photographer and the Social Media Community Specialist for Vistek.