Hard Drive vs. DVD Camcorders

Some of the most popular types of digital camcorders are hard drive camcorders. When you're shopping around for a new camcorder you might be surprised to learn just how many different types there are. It's important to understand the differences and the benefits between the main types so that you can make an informed decision.

What is a Hard Drive Camcorder?

A hard drive camcorder is any type of digital camcorder that stores the videos you record onto a hard drive. The hard drive is built inside the camera and not accessible. The hard drives used are the same type you would find in a laptop computer. These are available in very large sizes which exceed even the biggest memory card currently available.

What is a DVD Camcorder?

A DVD camcorder is another popular type of digital camcorder. Instead of recording onto a hard drive, these store the videos onto miniature 8" DVD disks. There are advantages and disadvantages with each of these different options. You will need to spend time choosing the right format for your needs.


Although a few hard drive camcorders can be expanded with SD cards the storage is mostly limited to a certain size. Although this may hold many hours of footage it's not possible to add any more. This could be a problem if you take it on holiday or don't have access to a computer to wipe some of the videos off.

A DVD camcorder on the other hand can be expanded by simply carrying more DVD discs with you. These DVD's can simply be inserted into the camcorder and you can carry on shooting as many times as you want. As the DVD's are rewritable it also makes it possible to reuse them once they have been read onto your computer.

Ease of Use

When using hard drive camcorders it's possible to pull the pictures off the camcorder and load them straight onto your computer using a USB or firewire cable. The videos are in a format that the computer automatically understands. When using a DVD camcorder you will need to convert the footage before editing which will take time. Either put the DVD into the drive or connect the camcorder to the computer using a USB lead.

A DVD camcorder does have the advantage of being easier to play on a TV. The DVD can simply be put into a DVD player and watched on most TV's.

Life Span

A hard drive should last much longer than a DVD. Although the DVD's are rewritable they still have a certain read / write limit. Hard drives are a very reliable piece of technology which should outlive a DVD. Also you don't have to worry about disks getting scratched or damaged.

As you're not opening the camcorder all of the time to change disks there is also much less chance that dust will be able to make its way inside the camcorders body which could damage the sensitive electronics and cause damage.


High definition hard drive cameras are available that  can store a decent amount of video. A hard drive is the best way to store the high definition videos because they consume so much space.

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