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How to Choose a Consumer Video Camera

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It’s always the same question…”Which camcorder should I buy?”

I don’t know. That’s the simple answer. But I can help you with a list of things to consider when selecting a video camera.

The first and foremost factor is deciding how you want to use it. If you hope to make low-budget motion pictures for major market distribution, you’ll want a different camera than you’d want if all you need to do is document the birth of your dog’s new puppies.

Video cameras (not surprisingly) offer greater capability, depending on cost. So what’s you budget? There are three primary budget ranges to consider. $1000 and under. $1000-$4000 and $4000 and up. Most consumers are looking for something that costs less than $1000. Fortunately, there are many cameras that fall into that category.

Next on the list is format. Do you want to record to tape, DVD or hard drive. For consumer-level cameras, I usually recommend against DVD formatted cameras. Tape is the easiest to deal with, but does require that you budget for an ongoing expense.

Another consideration is what features do you need? Some that I suggest you look for include an optical rather than a digital zoom, a miminum of 720p HD quality, HDMI outputs, replacable-rechargable batteries, an easy way to mount the camera to a tripod, manual control over things like aperture and exposure and lastly, the ability to add an external microphone and to monitor the audio as it comes into the camera. The audio features are perhaps the most important to me personally, since I know that without good audio, it doesn’t matter what the video looks like.

Lastly, make sure your camcorder will work with the editing software you prefer. For instance, if you prefer iMovie 08, Apple has provided a complete list of compatible cameras here.


Written by scottbourne

December 3, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Articles, Gear

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