- Lighter Weight
- Highly Cost Effective
- No Digitization Required
- Lower Picture Quality
- Usually No External Mic
- Higher Picture/Lens Quality
- Often has External Mic Input
- Reliable Technology
- Often Bulky
- Time Digitizing Footage
*comparison is generalized, and against similarly priced camera/camcorder
Nowdays, many devices blur the lines we've drawn between the camera and camcorder. This mini-section can help you get sorted. (Click to expand)
What are the Differences?
When we say DV Camcorder, we're meaning a camcorder that records to tape and has a digital output. The Digital Camera we're talking about is of the point and shoot variety. It records to a memory card and shares more characteristics with hybrids, cell phones, and other newer styles video devices.
HD means a higher volume of video information is recorded, resulting in a better image. This feature is becoming increasingly common on consumer camcorders and hybrids, and will soon be standard on everything from point and shoot digital cameras to cell phones.
Hybrid Video Cameras
Hybrids help span the gap between digital camera and camcorder — they always record direct to a memory card, so no digitization is reqired. The quality of the lens, microphone, and hardware can vary greatly, but these are usually better for video than a similarly priced point and shoot digital camera. Higher end hybrids can rival quality (and price) of a more traditional camcorder.
Hard Drive Camcorders
Hard drive camcorders record video to a tiny hard disk drive, instead of a memory card. They are not recommended, because small spinning hard drives are prone to break. This technology may eventually mature, but for now you should steer clear.
Cell Phone Video Cameras
Picture quality typically diminishes as devices become smaller simply because their size makes it difficult to pack in decent recording equipment. Battery life and media length may be of concern, depending on the device as well.
Make sure your sales associate or smart friend teaches you how to record and upload video to your computer (or the internet) — these instructions vary greatly between devices. That said, cell phone video can be recorded extremely discreetly, and may be useful in documenting social issues or emergencies.
Should you use a Digital Camera?
The digital camera can be small, agile, and is generally easier to keep handy at all times. They can often be found for little money, and are non-intrusive and great for doing informal interviews. Also, it's pretty easy publish digital camera footage without editing it.
The downside is in the quality department. The lenses are usually cheaper and the cameras often don't have external micropone jacks. That said, they're simple, inexpensive, and great beginner cameras. I know professionals who sometimes choose to use a digital-type camera for ease of use.
Do you need a DV Camcorder?
DV camcorders generally give a much higher level of control over both picture and sound quality than digital cameras (especially at similar prices). A DV camcorder is often physically larger, and requires footage to be digitized (unless it's a hybrid that records to memory card), and accessories add to the bulk (tapes, microphones, larger batteries, etc.).
Despite these disadvantages, if you need the improved image and sound quality, the tradeoff is well worth it. Camcorders are great when you want higher production levels — just make sure you know how to properly light your shots before you make a huge investment.
Don't Forget the Tripod
Tripods are great for doing fixed shots, they can make video shot on a less expensive device appear more professional. If you want to move the camera (panning side to side or tilting up and down), you'll want a tripod with a fluid head — this will keep your movements from jittering. You can find consumer grade fluid-head tripods for under $100. Regular tripods can usually be found for cheap at garage sales or thrift stores.
We're always looking to improve these guides.
What is this page missing?