A camcorder is an electronic device originally combining a video camera and a videocassette recorder. A camcorder records video, but it does not use film. Instead, the lens focuses the incoming light onto an image sensor, which converts the light rays into a series of voltages. Additional circuitry then converts the voltages into a digital signal that can be stored on magnetic tape, a recordable DVD, a hard drive, flash memory or some other storage device. Each recording session creates a new video clip or video file. The video files can then be played back within the camcorder itself and viewed on its built-in LCD screen or copied to a computer or some other storage device for safekeeping, distribution or further processing.
Camcorders are sometimes referred to as video cameras and even video reorders. There are different types of camcorders available and they are:
Mini-DV Camcorders: This is a very popular format with documentary filmmakers. However, you should know that tapes are quickly becoming replaced by hard drives. Depending on your setting (standard play or long play), these tapes can give you 60-90 minutes of recording time.
DVD Camcorders: Although this type of camcorder is super convenient and relatively inexpensive, the footage is highly compressed and so the quality of the footage is not great. Although this is a fine choice for easy home movie making, this is NOT ideal if you want professional footage.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Camcorders: This is one of the newest types of camcorders. For this, the hard drive is built into the camera just like your computer. Hard drive camcorders save money because they eliminate the need to buy tapes or dvd’s. You just keep re-using the hard drive, just like you do with your digital photo camera. The exact amount of footage the hard drive holds depends on the quality of footage and how many GB are available.
Flash Memory Camcorders: These types of camcorders store footage on flash memory drives. They tend to be smaller cameras. The two most popular formats of flash drives: Memory Stick and SD/SDHC. The major advantage is that flash drives don’t have moving parts like a hard drive, so they are less susceptible to damage. However, flash memory is more expensive than hard drive memory. So with a hard drive, you get more space for less money, however, it’s not as stable. Also, hard drives tend to capture higher quality footage than flash, but the gap is closing.
Combo Models: Some of the newer types of camcorders not only have a removable flash drive, but also a built in hard drive. Here, you get the best of both worlds! This gives you the flexibility that if your internal drive fills up before you can export your video files to a computer, you can insert a removable memory card for extra flexibility. Other models have combo disc drives and tape recording.
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