back Types of video cameras

Mini DV camcorders / HDV - Best for quality

  • This is the most sensible choice if you think you want to make and edit your own films and have good quality results.
  • These cameras come in both professional and amateur models.
  • These are the most popular and so there is a very large selection available.
  • The footage you record goes onto a Mini DV tape. These tapes cost about $5 each. You can reuse tapes, however this may degrade the quality of your footage.
  • Most tapes record for about an hour.
  • You can watch your footage back by using your camcorder or connect it to a TV.
  • Playing mini-DV tapes over and over again puts wear and tear on your camcorder and can damage your tape. It’s best to transfer the footage to the computer and then to a DVD for viewing.
  • Most editing software is set up to edit footage that has been shot on a mini DV.
  • It can take a long time to capture your footage to the computer. You will need to play the tapes through ‘in real time’.
  • Mini DV tapes are a good way to store your raw footage or to store a completed film project. They last well if kept away from the heat and humidity. 

Hard disk camcorders - Best for storage

  • The video that you shoot is recorded directly onto a hard disk installed in the camcorder. You use the disk for the whole life of the camera so you don’t need to buy extra tapes or disks for the actual recording process.
  • However, you still need to find a way to store your footage because it has to be deleted regularly from the hard disk of the camera. This means you will need to buy DVDs or an external hard drive.
  • The recording time for these cameras is controlled by the size of the disk. You may be able to record for many hours. However, once the disk is full, you will have to delete some footage or transfer it to your computer so that you can go on recording.
  • You can view the recorded footage directly on the camera or on a TV with the camcorder hooked up.
  • It is possible and simple to edit footage on the hard disk camcorder. It is also possible to import the footage onto your computer.

DVD camcorders - Best for instant movies

pic DVD camcorders record directly onto an 8mm mini DVD disk. You can put this disk directly into your DVD player and watch it without having to connect it to your computer or TV to watch it. Be careful however as not all disks are compatible with all types of DVD cameras so check first.
  • Different cameras use different types of disks. Some 8mm mini DVDs can only be used once. Mini DVD-RW disks can be used many times.
  • The amount of video stored on each individual disk depends on the setting you choose for the quality of recording. If you want to use the best quality recording setting then you can only record less than 30 minutes of footage. This could be very frustrating.
  • DVD camcorders record in a file format called MPEG-2. This is not very good for editing, as the quality will be less than if you use other file formats. Also, some types of editing software don’t support MPEG-2 at all.

Flash/Memory card camcorder - Best for compact sizes

  • Some camcorders record video onto a removable flash memory card. The benefit of this is that you can swap between the camera and a computer using a card reader.
  • These video cameras are also some of the smallest and most compact cameras on the market.
  • The main types of flash cards that these cameras use are SD/SDHC for Canons and Panasonics, Micro-SD for JVC cameras and Sony Memory Sticks.