2011 Digital Video Camera Buying Guide


In the past people were perfectly happy with digital still cameras but these days digital video cameras are quickly becoming the preferred method of recording those special events in our lives.  The choices in digital video cameras are increasing in number and features, and it is easy to become confused and overwhelmed by the available choices.  A digital video camera buying guide can help you sift through the available options and choose the camcorder that is right for you.

The first step in buying a camcorder is to identify the primary use for your camera.  You may only need a basic video camera for occasional use.  On the other hand, you may be looking for a video camera with more advanced features for professional recordings.

In order to find the right digital camcorder for your needs, you should know something about the different features and functions that various models offer.  This buying guide for digital video cameras will help you narrow down your choices.

1. Zoom

Look at the camera’s optical zoom ratio and simply ignore its digital zoom.  The optical zoom is what you need to achieve great-quality images from afar.  Digital zoom simply enlarges the image, making the video look grainy.  You will want at least 10x optical zoom.

2. LCD screen

Inspect the LCD screen in daylight or under bright lights.  Make sure you can easily see what you are recording.  Some screens will wash out when viewed under bright sunlight.

3. Image Stabilizer

When buying a digital video camera these days, an image stabilizer is a must-have feature.  A stabilizer will keep your video recording steadier, which means less fuzziness in your video clips even if your hands are shaking.

4. Microphones

A digital video camera with microphone will allow you to capture audio clips along with the images.  Some camcorders have built-in microphones.  Front-mounted microphones provide better results.  External microphones can also improve the audio quality.

5. Recording media

There are various types of recording media available, including Hard Disk Drive (HDD), DVD, and SD or SDHC memory cards.  Determine how much recording time you will need on average and find a digital video camera that can record for the requisite amount of time.  Don’t forget to take the battery life into consideration.  You may need extra, high capacity batteries too.

6. Camera’s controls

This feature is usually neglected in many digital video camera buying guides.  Before buying a camcorder, check out the camera’s controls.  Smaller camcorders may be difficult to use if you have large hands.  Make sure the buttons and controls are logically arranged and comfortable to use.  If the camcorder is touchscreen-based, make sure the interface is responsive and intuitive.

7. Ports and connectors

Your digital video camera should have the necessary ports and connectors needed to connect to your computer or store recorded video clips, such as USB and DV in/out.  An AV Out port is necessary if you want to view your videos from the camcorder on a television.

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