Guide to Understanding the Basic Features of a Video Camera

Today's camcorders have so many different features that you might find yourself wanting a video camera guide to help you make your purchasing decision. This article will help you get a understanding of the basic features found in a video camera so that you can find one that fulfills your needs while staying within your budget.

Tape vs Tapeless

When looking for a new video camera, you want to get one that records onto tapeless media. These cameras are capable of shooting high definition video thanks to recent advances in video compression technology. You get video that has a much higher resolution which means that it will be of a higher quality.

Internal Hard Drives vs Memory Cards

With a tapeless video camera, you have two options for your video storage. You can either get a camera that records onto an internal hard drive or you can get one that records onto interchangeable memory cards. Niether is better than the other so this decission should be made based upon your personal preferences. With the cards, you need to frequently transfer the video files to a computer in order to free them up. With an internal hard drive, it takes a lot longer to run out of space.

Many cameras with internal hard drives come in various sizes. The larger the drive the higher the price. You can save some money by getting the model with the small hard drive if you plan on often transferring the video to your computer to free up space.

Stills and Video

Most video cameras can also perform double duty as a stills camera. Even if you have a digital camera that you enjoy using, you should get a video camera that has the capability of taking quality stills photos should the occassion ever arise. If fact, you can now buy stills cameras that shoot high quality video as well. The Canon 5D and 7D models are still cameras which shoot such high quality video that they've been embraced by the film industry and have been used to shoot movies, television shows, music videos and commercials.

Ability to Shoot in Low Light

Cameras work by recording information about light, and you may find yourself wanting to shoot video in places that are dark. Fortunately, technology now allows cameras that can operate in these conditions. When you're looking for a camera, check out how it handles exposure. Play around with the settings so that you can get a feel of the camera's range.


Consumer camcorders employ a zoom lens and they are all not created equal. When you're at the store looking at the cameras, compare the zoom lenses to see how wide and tight they can get. Also, don't be fooled by the term digital zoom. All that does is just blow up and crop the image rather than optically zooming in on it.


You should also look for a camera that has the ability to handle various accessories. There should be the ability to add on lenses, a microphone input jack and a head phones jack to allow you to hear what you're recording. Some cameras also have an accessary shoe which makes it possible to add stuff like lights onto it.