Choose a Camcorder to Suit Your Needs
Buying a camcorder can be can quite daunting if you’re a relative beginner, there are so many different manufacturers and prices can vary tremendously depending on the types of features they contain. It would be pointless to spend a lot of money for a camcorder if you only intend to use it occasionally for things like filming your family holiday or your child’s annual birthday bash. On the other hand, if you buy something too cheap, it may not be able to do things that you’re looking to try out and you may end up having to go out and buy another more advanced model, therefore costing you even more money. So, how do you know what to look for?
Analogue or Digital Format?As you’ll no doubt be aware, ‘digital’ is where it’s at when it comes to all forms of media and entertainment devices these days and camcorders are no exception to this. If you’re putting home movies together, you’ll likely be involved with editing your footage on your PC so digital is the way to go. They’re slightly more expensive than analogue versions but as consumer demand has become even greater, you can pick up a decent digital camcorder for around £250 to £400 and some can even be under £200. Prices however can go up to well over £1000 for a top of the range model.
What Type Of Features Do I Need To Look Out For?In order to work with your video on your computer, you must ensure that your camcorder is FireWire ® compatible. FireWire ® is the brand name for the IEEE 1394 interface which enables you to transfer data at high speed to and from digital devices so it’s essential in the world of home video. Nearly all camcorders have it these days but if you’re buying an older model second hand, it’s worth checking.
You should consider the lens quality and both it’s optical and digital zoom capability. The LCD screen size through which you view your filming is also something to consider as is optical stabilisation and, for some people, digital still image capability which basically means it can double up as a digital camera for taking still photos. That said, most people will already have a digital camera before they consider buying a camcorder so this feature may not be that important to some.
Although most camcorders have a built-in microphone, those who like to give a running commentary on their films or may wish to make films relying heavily on dialogue may want their camcorder to have an external microphone jack for connecting a better quality microphone.
Size, weight and ease of use are also things you may want to consider. If you’re carrying a camcorder around with you everywhere when you’re on holiday for example, you’ll not want to be lugging around a huge, heavy camcorder.
Ease of use is crucial. Not everybody is a ‘wizard’ when it comes to technical gadgets and, even though most manufacturers want to try to pack in as many features as they can, it’s useful to try out a couple of different models within your budget first. You’ll soon notice which menus are easier for you to navigate and this can often boil down to a personal choice in a similar way to that of a mobile phone, where people sometimes stay ‘brand loyal’ to a particular manufacturer as they find it easier to navigate their way around the controls.