You know youre going to buy a camcorder for either a loved one or yourself. You have a good chunk of change and youre ready to start shopping. Trouble is, you dont have any idea of what exactly youre looking for, or your loved one hasnt specified the model theyre after. You havent had enough time to do thorough research or delve into the CamcorderInfo.com review archives. Now you find yourself standing in the store in a forest of gadgets and gizmos and pushy salespeople. One of them approaches you with an unctuous smile and a gleaming, beguiling camcorder. An alarmingly high price tag dangles from a string. Are you ready to defend yourself? Can you sort the promising from the pathetic? Here are essential tips that should be in everyones arsenal.
Flash Is King Flash memory rules the camcorder world these days, but options abound. We help you decide among SD-card-based camcorders, fixed flash drives, and other options
Low Light Performance Matters
How well your digital video camera performs in low light is as much about how well it shoots video in your house with normal interior lighting as it is about how well it shoots in the late evening hours or in a dimly lit basement. In most cases, low light for a camcorder means anything that's not outdoors on a sunny day. If you're buying a camcorder from a large electronics store, ask them to let you demo the camera back in the area where they have the HDTVs with the lights turned down - this will give you a better idea of how the camera really performs away from the bright lights on the sales floor.
Make sure you understand the recording format you are buying into. MiniDV is probably the best all-round performer in the consumer range see video formats for more information. HDD (hard drive) camcorders are also worth serious consideration. We do not recommend DVD camcorders.
Also make sure the camcorder uses the same standard as the country you will be using it in, e.g. NTSC for the USA, PAL for Europe, etc. Don't buy a cheap camcorder in a foreign country and find you can't use it at home.
Camcorder Video Formats Explained Can your computer handle AVCHD--and does that really matter? Learn the differences between digital video formats, find out more about codec basics, and see if your system is up to the task.
Read Camcorder Reviews
Check out Camcorder Recommendations for some of the best camcorders on the market. If you dont find what you need there, look in the Camcorder Reviews section for reviews of individual camcorder models.
If you think you might want to take photographs with your camcorder as well as shoot video, then you should read Taking Digital Photographs With Your Camcorder to understand how digital cameras in camcorders work.