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A digital video camera boasts features like optical image stabilisation in both Standard Definition and High Definition. Baffled by terms like "flash memory" and "HDD"? Our buying guide will help you understand the choices in camcorders.
The main difference between digital video cameras is the way they record and store information. This affects the camera's size, its storage capacity, and how you access the recorded content. The most common types are:
Hard Disk (HDD): The most storage capacity of all camcorders.
Flash Drive: Often referred to as "solid state", flash drives are compact and light.
Hybrid models: Offer both internal and removable flash memory card storage.
Mini DVD: Record directly to a small DVD, which you can play (in a DVD player) immediately.
Removable flash memory cards offer extra storage capacity. Some hybrid camcorders allow you to record video footage and still photography separately on the hard drives.
High Definition (HD) cameras shoot video in a higher resolution than Standard Definition (SD), resulting in a clearer picture from a HD camera.
Automatic settings like focus, audio and colour balance make shooting on a digital video camera a breeze.
Use the camcorder's flip-out display screen to compose the shot. Most camcorder LCD screens are between 2.5 and 3.5 inches (measured diagonally). Some models offer touch-screen control and menu selection for ease of use.
Zoom lets you shoot a close picture of a distant object.
A camcorder's image sensor transforms light (captured by the lens) into a digital signal, which is then stored as a digital video file.
OIS reduces the shakes and bumps that occur in hand-held camera footage by varying the optical path to the sensor. This technology is implemented in the lens itself, rather than in the digital camera, making it a more compact technology.
A microphone with zoom or an enabled Bluetooth wireless microphone will help record audio from a distance.
You need to be comfortable pointing the camera for extended periods of time, and able to find the main buttons quickly and easily.
Camcorders come with a standard battery and charger, but it makes sense to get at least one extra battery. The video camera will indicate when your battery is running low. Most batteries are also available in higher capacities, compared with the ones supplied.
Face Detection: Automatically focuses on faces that appear in the frame, no matter where they are.
GPS: Some digital video cameras offer GPS, which is complemented by NAVTEQ digital maps. This allows users to "geotag" the location of specific photos and video clips, so they know exactly where the footage was shot.