Serious cool gadgets. That's how I'd describe the modern digital camcorder. They're more compact.
They're fun and serve as a brillant creative tool, featuring so many more options than your iPhone or MP3 player. In this article, we'll take a look at the anatomy of a camcorder.
I'll look at the various components that make up a camcorder, both on the inside and outside.
Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to buy one that will meet your needs. Never be at a loss when you're shopping for a camcorder again!
The Panasonic HS300 is my chosen sample camcorder for this article. Sure, this model is top-of-the-range, but I thought it'd give us a very good idea on the stuff you can look out for in a camcorder.
This is a little window you can view and frame your shot. It is very rarely used these days due to the presence of large LCD screens on the camcorder.
The "juice" behind your digital camcorder usually lasts for about 90 minutes. That's not very long if you're out filming the whole day. Consider getting a second battery or make sure you factor in time to charge up your battery in your filming schedule.
Image stabilisation helps to reduce shake in your video when you're walking around and doing handheld shooting.
The memory card slot allows you to insert high capacity SDHC memory cards. The price of these cards are now so cheap they have become an alternative to storage media like tape and hard disk.
These sockets allow you to attach an external microphone to record audio. Some cameras have the microphone input built directly into the accessory shoe.
The internal storage for a camcorder may be MiniDV tape, hard disk, DVDs or flash memory. Memory prices are falling and it makes good sense to change your camcorder to one that stores video as flash memory.
A zoom rocker allows you to zoom in and out of a scene by depressing a little lever. You can also control the speed of zooming.
This is an all important dial on the camcorder - it allows you to switch between video capture, photo capture and also playback.
These are the trigger buttons to record video - press once to start recording video and press it again to stop. Although not found in this model, many camcorders also have a separate button for taking still photos.
A flash is essential for taking still photographs with the camcorder. Some advanced models have a video lamp that helps illuminate your video as your record.
A built-in microphone allows you to record
stereo or 5.1 surround sound. Lower end models don't offer the 5.1
surround sound capability.
The sensor lies behind the lens of the camcorder. Bigger sensors record higher quality video. Many advanced models have three sensors (3 CCD) to capture red, green and blue light.
A shoe allows you to attach external microphones and lamps. Note that some camcorders like those from Canon and Sony have their own proprietary shoes so you need to buy their own brand accessories.
A feature touted by many camcorder makers, face detection allows the camcorder to auto spot faces and adjust the exposure and focus to make them look good.
A LCD screen allows you to frame your shots and also view your recorded videos. These tend to be 2.7 inch widescreens in general. Some models have touch sensitive screens so you can focus on a subject by touching it on the screen.
A lens ring is for you to control focus and zoom manually. This is much more precise than using buttons.
A camcorder lens should typically have a long zoom range and a wide aperture to capture lots of light. The lens optics affects the quality of your video and is central to the focusing system of the camcorder.
So now you know the various parts that make up a digital camcorder. As you can see, there are many components in the device and you'll do well to understand what each of them does. When you next enter an electronics shop, you can more easily converse with the service staff and select a camcorder that is just right for you. Good luck!
You may also wish to read the following related articles:
An in-depth explanation of how a camcorder works
A guide to selecting and buying VCD and DVD authoring software
Digital video recorder reviews
7 things to look out for in a web video hosting service
How to jazz up your videos with professional DVD menus