back Comparing digital video cameras


There are a lot of types of digital video cameras out there on the market. It can be hard to decide which one to buy. It’s best to do your research first. There are also some basic questions that you can ask yourself before choosing the right camera to suit your needs.

What do I plan to use it for?
Do you want to make videos that will have broadcast quality results? Or do you just want to record important events for the family?

What is my budget?

Cameras range in price from domestic camcorders to extremely expensive professional cameras. As with most products, the more you spend, the better the quality and the more features you will have.

Which format do I choose?
There are three main types of digital video recorders: Mini DV tape, DVD and hard disk. It’s helpful to understand the differences between these before you choose the one that is right for your needs. The next page explains these formats in more detail.

Which features do I need?
Read the list of things to consider when buying a camera and decide which features are important to you.

Things to consider when buying a camera
Pixels The greater the number of pixels the greater your resolution but check the effective number of mega pixels.

CCD Pixel info is captured on a CCD behind the lens. They come in different sizes. The larger the CCD number, the better your image quality.

The number of chips Three chip cameras record better colour information.

Zoom There are two types of zoom called digital zoom and optical zoom. The optical zoom is the important one as it maintains picture clarity. A large digital zoom actually only enlarges the same amount of pixels in your image so your footage actually becomes less clear.

Interconnectivity Check details about how the camcorder connects to your computer. Make sure you have the correct USB or Firewire ports on your computer.

LCD screen
LCD screens can be very useful to shoot footage from different angles however they also drain battery power. LCD screens can also be hard to use in bright sunlight conditions. Check the camera has a viewfinder as well as an LCD screen.

Sound Most built in microphones on digital cameras also end up recording the handling of the video camera. It’s best to get a camera that has a socket for an external microphone and a headphones socket to monitor your sound.

Manual features You may want to check for manual features for focus, white balance, shutter speed and iris if you want to have more control over the conditions you shoot in. And improve image quality of your footage.

Regional codes If you are ordering a camera from overseas via the Internet make sure you buy a PAL operating system camera as NTSC is only for the Americas.

High definition or Standard definition You can buy standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) cameras. The HD cameras capture excellent quality footage, however they are more expensive and not all video editing software allows you to edit HD footage. If you can edit the footage, the chances are you can probably only export it to a standard definition disk or view it with a SD TV or projector. In the future as HDTV becomes more widespread, HD cameras will be more popular.