Digital Camcorder Information, Guides, and Reviews

If you've been thinking about replacing your video camcorder with a new digital camcorder, or have never owned a video camera before, we provide basic information to help you with your decision. Included are digital camcorder features, places to go for more information or to buy one when you're ready, and information on some of the top brands. They're available in many video formats, so study those as well to see what you think will be the best for you. Some media for your camcorder are more expensive than others, keep that in mind as well. Consider whether you'll be using your digital camcorder for basic home movies, or if you have other projects in mind. Before buying, find out all you can about digital camcorders. You'll make a better choice when buying if you do your homework first.

Why Should I Buy a Digital Camcorder?

Digital camcorders have revolutionized the video world. They are smaller than previous camcorders, and are capable of a higher quality video and sound. If you've never bought a camcorder before, or are still using one of the older models, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what the new models can do. For example, you can download your video onto your computer for editing purproses, or to share with others. Your video can then be burned onto a CD to share, or if you're sharing with someone who doesn't own a computer, they can still be copied to a VHS tape. Plug your camcorder into your TV or computer and you can see the video instantly. You'll be amazed at the difference in sound and picture quality over older versions.

Where Can I Go For More Information?

The Internet is chock-full of informational sites on digital camcorders. We've included only a few of the many available sites. Information on brands and models, comparison between brands, what's available by price range, and more, are available at the following places:

  • camcorderinfo.com provides camcorder articles, reviews, ratings, buying guides, and comparisons.
  • digitalcamera-hq.com has reviews, advice and prices on the most popular brands of digital camcorders. There is even a section specially for the first time buyer.
  • Digital camcorders reviews and ratings, most popular digital camcorders, buying guides, prices, and comparisons are available from cnet.com
  • Dell not only sells their computer packages, they sell digital cameras, too. If you're ready to buy, check them out.

Digital Camcorder Formats

Digital camcorders come in a variety of formats. You'll need to know a little about these before you buy. The most popular is the miniDV. MiniDV tapes are much smaller than the standard VHS tape, inexpensive, produce a high quality video, and are compatible with most film editing software. Additionally, you can play them from your computer or TV immediately. MicroMV is even smaller, so if smaller size is important to you, check these out. This format is not compatible with most film editing software, and the tapes cost more. There are some digital camcorders which use Mini DVD-R and DVD-Ram format. These types of cameras record on discs rather than tapes. The only appealing thing about this format is being able to play it immediately on a DVD player. There are some drawbacks, however, and the discs are more expensive. Digital8 is another format, capable of recording digital video onto analog (non digital) tapes. The advantage is the inexpensiveness of the tapes, but the cameras are bigger and bulkier.

Popularity Contest

From the sites we've visited, the following seem to be the most popular models of digital camcorder:

Canon Elura 80, is mini DV format, weighs a little over a pound without the battery pack, can shoot videos and photos simultaneously, and allows for easy editing and sharing. The price for this model is around $300, a little less depending on where you buy from.

Panasonic GS500 is a little more spendy, but has some features that were previously only available to professional broadcast level cameras, including 3CCC configuration (three chips instead of one). Price is right around $600.

Sony DCR-SR80 is tapeless, has a 60GB hard drive for storing videos. Bigger than many models, it has a one-touch DVD burn button that allows for easy DVD burning on your computer's DVD drive. Price runs around $600.

Sony DVD 405 writes directly to 8cm dvd's, small and simple (weighing under 1 1/2 pounds), runs around $600.

The Last Word

This is a complicated business, and a lot of money is on the line. We recommend doing a bit of research before spending your money to be sure you get the digital camcorder best suited for your needs. While some models may be more pricey, you may find that the features available in higher priced models may be worth the extra money. Weigh your camcorder wants and needs together with price and features, to get the most for your money.

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