What to consider before buying a new camcorder

January 22, 2015

While many people are using their phones to record movies for social media, nothing compares to the recording quality of a camcorder. These video cameras have gotten smaller and more versatile in recent years. Here’s how to find one that works for you.

What to consider before buying a new camcorder

Types of camcorders

Choosing the right camcorder is about how you’re filming and what you're planning to do with your videos.

Digital camcorder: A typical camcorder that features an LCD screen, viewfinder and automatic controls. More compact models will sacrifice certain features to save space, but they’re much easier to carry around for impromptu filming.

3D camcorder: Create your own 3D blockbusters with a 3D camcorder. These cameras use twin cameras to record video for your 3D TV. Some models have a stereoscopic screen so you can see what it’ll look like in real-time. Most 3D camcorders can also record regular 2D videos.

Action cam: Lightweight and ultra-portable, action cams are designed to keep up with your adventures. They take many forms, from the helmet camera to the waterproof camera, but they all provide quality video in a compact and durable device.

Camcorder features

Camcorders have numerous features to make filming easier and look better.

Resolution: Video cameras record in standard definition, high definition or 4K. Standard definition has the lowest image quality but also uses substantially less memory. If you want to film in 16:9 aspect ratio, you’ll need an HD camcorder. Camcorders that film in 4K are usually expensive, but the image is unparalleled.

Manual controls: Most camcorders automatically adjust for the conditions, but more technical filmmakers will want to manually control the exposure, shutter speed, focus and other elements for the right results.

Zoom: Zoom functions come in two forms: optical and digital. Digital zooms sacrifice image quality and simply enlarge the picture, but optical zooms use lenses to get closer without changing the image quality. Compact models may sacrifice an optical zoom to save space.

Memory: Your movie camera will probably use an internal flash drive. More memory means you can record more before downloading to a computer. Look for models that support memory cards so you can record as much as you want when you’re away from a computer.

Ports and connectivity: While most camcorders easily connect to your computer, some can also hook up to your television and use Wi-Fi networks for downloading and uploading.

Factors to consider

Your camcorder will save your videos as certain file types, including MPEG-2 and AVCHD. Each file type has its own advantages, but make sure any editing software you have can support the files. Most social media sites prefer mp4 and avi files, an important consideration if that’s where your videos will end up.

A camcorder lets you capture memories and make home movies quickly and easily. With this information in hand, you can find the camera that works for you.

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