DV Basics: How to Select a Digital Video Camcorder

The DV digital video camcorder has revolutionized video shooting and now almost anyone can take great looking video footage. Due to the wide range of models available in the market today, it sometimes becomes increasingly difficult to make a choice. You first need to consider the purpose you want to buy the DV camcorder for and your budget. Then, you need to decide on the features and the possible trade-offs you might need to make to fit it into your budget. Here are some points which are important to consider when you are selecting a digital video camera.

Step 1: Consider Image Quality

When you are selecting a DV camcorder, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the quality of footage you can capture. While taking still images, the higher the specs are for Megapixels, the better the picture quality. But surprisingly, this is not so while taking video. You need to consider the size and number of CCD in the camcorder. The more number of chips and bigger the size, the better the color depth and clarity of your footage will be. Many camcorders use a CMOS censor, and you need to consider the size of these sensors.

For image quality, the size and quality of the lens matters and so does image stabilization features. Many camcorders offer image stabilization feature which is digital. In this, a software and processor is used to correct the flaws in the image due to camera shake. Another type of image stabilization is the optical type, where mechanical parts in the lens, try to compensate for the camera shake. Between the two, avoid the digital type, as it can sometimes make the image a bit grainy.

Step 2: Consider Display and Ergonomic Controls

When you are shooting, your camcorder should be easy to handle and give you easy access to various controls. The LCD screen is important for framing your shots and it should diagonally measure at least a minimum of 3 inches. You also need to take the camcorder out of the shop and see if the screen is clear enough in daylight. Some models have a touch-screen LCD, which gives you various controls from the screen itself.

The placement of control buttons will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and how comfortable you find yourself handling them. Another important aspect to check out is the menus on-screen and their level of complexity. Go for menus which offer a simpler workflow.

Step 3: Consider Zoom

It is always better to have a zoom feature to get closer to the subject. Go for the optical zoom rather than a digital zoom, as this only stretches the image and reduces the resolution.

Step 4: Consider Recording Format, Storage and Connectivity

Camcorders today offer various types of video recording formats. There is internal memory supported by slots for memory cards, then there is a built in hard disk. There are also models which let you record directly on to a DVD disc. Each type has their set of advantages and drawbacks, and you need to choose according to your preference and budget. The storage size is mainly to be considered, as that will determine the amount of footage you can record at a time. The connectivity aspect has to do with connecting the camcorder with your computer. The camcorder should support either FireWire or USB connectivity.