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Digital Camcorders

Welcome to our digital camcorders page. With the rapid advancement of technology, digital camcorders now make it easier and cheaper than ever before to create your own professional standard home videos. Below we answer frequently asked questions about digital camcorders, and you will also find links to some of the best digital camcorder retailers in the UK.

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What's so good about digital camcorders?

- They offer near broadcast-standard picture and audio quality at an affordable price.
- You can connect them to a home computer (PC or Apple Mac) for video editing.
- As your home movie is recorded in a digital format, there is no loss of quality when you transfer it from device to device (e.g. from the camcorder to a computer for video editing, and then to a DVD for distribution).

What features should I look for in a digital camcorder?

Optical Zoom. Assess your camcorder on the basis of optical zoom not digital zoom. Optical zoom tells you how much zoom the optics (i.e. lenses) of the camera are capable of. Optical zoom is better than digital zoom because picture quality deteriorates when digital zoom is used.

DV-In enabled - Make sure DV-In is enabled as this allows digital video input to be recorded on the camcorder. This is used to transfer digital video edited on your computer back to the camcorder.

LCD Screen - Shows you what you are recording, so you don't have to keep your eye to the viewfinder.

S-Video In connection - Allows the camcorder to record from a VHS video recorder, so you can transfer old VHS home movies to digital.

Steadyshot - Helps to stabilise your movie when the camcorder is not being held steady.

Nightshot - Some camcorders have nightshot capabilities which allows the to record movies in low light conditions.

Which recording formats for digital camcorders are available?

MiniDV - This is currently the most popular format and records video in the standard DV format. It is the preferred format for broadcast-quality video, and is also highly regarded for audio quality.

Digital8 - This records with the same quality as MiniDV, but the tapes are bulkier. This digital format is useful if you are upgrading from an older Hi8 camcorder as you can use your old Hi8 tapes and transfer your old Hi8 footage to digital.

MicroMV - A proprietary format from Sony which uses MPEG-2 rather than the existing DV standard. MicroMV tapes are one third the size of MiniDV tapes. Many computer editing packages don't support this format yet.

DVD - Digital camcorders that record video directly onto DVD discs are now available. This is an emerging technology, so MiniDV still has the edge in terms of video quality, but DVD is likely to be the format of the future. DVD camcorders utilise the MPEG-2 standard to save your home movie to a DVD. DVD camcorders can be connected to your computer for video editing via the computer's USB 2.0 socket (chosen because of it's ready availability on new PCs). There are a number of DVD formats available in camcorders as follows:

Mini DVD-RAM The Mini DVD-RAM format is a rewritable format that allows recording and re-recording of movies. At the moment the number of DVD players and PCs that can play DVD-RAM discs is limited. Direct digital access to DVD footage requires none of the rewinding or fast-forwarding necessary with tape formats. With DVD-RAM, each movie clip is presented as a thumbnail on the LCD panel. Simply cursor to the desired clip and select it for instant playback. With DVD-RAM discs, one can perform a host of in-camera editing features including fading, moving, dividing, deleting and combining of clips. This format is available in digital camcorders from Panasonic and Hitachi.

Mini DVD-R The Mini DVD-R format is a record-once format that can be played back on most DVD players. This format is available in digital camcorders from Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi.

Mini DVD-RW The Mini DVD-RW is a rewritable format (allows rerecording approximately 1000 times). Playback support for DVD-RW is not as widespread as for DVD-R, with only newer DVD players being able to playback DVD-RW. This format is available in Camcorders from Sony.

How do I edit the home movies made on a digital camcorder?

Use a computer (PC or Mac) and a video editing software package.

Video Editing Software for PC: Adobe Premiere Pro

Video Editing Software for Mac: new Macs come ready equipped with iMovie.

 

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