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Shopping for a Camcorder

Posted By On September 28, 2007 @ 1:43 PM In Multimedia | No Comments

Shopping for a Camcorder

Well, this is something we’ve never covered before, but I think a lot of you probably think about this type of thing a lot, so this should be very helpful for most of you. Let’s check it out!

If you are thinking about grabbing the next best camcorder deal for your holiday videos, birthdays or maybe a short movie, make sure you keep reading! It is very likely that most of you will be shopping online. With online shopping soaring to new heights of spending, that is pretty much a given these days. But, if this is your first time, the idea of buying electronic equipment may seem a little daunting. Don’t worry though! It is not a complex task.

First, take a look at the Web sites below to establish just why you would like to get a camcorder. The reasons for buying one may affect the price in the end. Are you going to use it for family video footage? Will it be used for a college project? Is it to be used for a professional movie? All in all, just know the reasons why you’re buying the camcorder initially. Let’s take a look at some of your options:

Canon http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/ [1]

Sony http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/

The manufacturer sites above are linked to USA sites, but there are links there for the UK and other countries as well. Be sure to select your correct location before you begin browsing around.

Canon cameras are very popular in how they are like mini-DV cameras as a pro-level camcorder, but at lower prices, such as the GL2 camcorder. Also, Samsung cameras are excellent choices for mini-DV users who want versatility, small size and cheaper accessories. In all cases, high resolution LCD monitors on the camcorder are a “must have” feature you should ask about when buying. Also, it’s a good idea to compare your desired camcorder to similar models on other sites, like Ebay, shop.com and Amazon. Make a short list of the attributes that make one camera seem more or less attractive than another. Perhaps the size is the biggest factor for you. Or, does it need to be very easy to use? You don’t want to be studying “how to use your camcorder” manuals for the next year, so be sure to ask the vendor for a demo at a local store. That goes for buying it online as well. Take a look at auction sites, such as Ebay, for deals as well. If you choose this route, only buy from vendors with positive feedback and/or actual camcorder sale records on their Ebay accounts.

Bear in mind that the digital world has developed DVD camcorders now as well. Buying tapes for camcorders could be a thing of the past, just like VHS tapes will be in a few years. Do not feel pressured into the technology conundrum though. Buy what suits you. It’s as simple as that. Don’t buy one just so you can boast about how great your camcorder is compared to others. If you do that, you may overlook a.) if you can use it efficiently, b.) that the attachment costs may be much higher and c.) how steep the learning curve will be for that camcorder.

Whether you’re shopping for a DVD or tape media camcorder, here are some points you should keep in mind when dealing with vendors upon buying camcorders and accessories:

  • If budget is an issue, try a second-hand camera, but do it only from a vendor who can offer a guarantee. Also, you will be buying accessories, such as memory sticks, so keep in mind how much money you’re really spending. That will depend on how often you’ll use the camcorder as well. You will love transferring the video onto your PC from these sticks at some point, I’m sure.

  • If camera size is an issue, your choices on whether or not to buy a DVD or tape camcorder are in question. DVD camcorders are usually a bit larger and therefore, more cumbersome. If you’re buying a DVD camcorder, ensure that you are aware of the media being bought for the camera. For example, DVD-R is read only and record once only, while DVD-RW allows for more than one recording and it can be rewritten to the disc. Tape camcorders are lighter and smaller. Mini-DV tapes add expense to your budget though. It’s not much, but they’re not as cheap as the DVD style either. Digital 8 tapes are cheaper and will suit beginner camcorder users who have a low budget. Digital 8 and mini-DV formats provide the best tape quality. Just keep all that in mind!

  • Check that the vendor you’re dealing with has credibility earned from good feedback, especially if you’re ordering online from a vendor who lives in another country. There will be shipping and handling costs involved too, so check the fine print. Also, ensure that you are receiving English instructions or you may have a manual that is written in a foreign language.

  • Always use your credit card to make the purchase. This goes for any merchandise. It is insured and the card company can help with any issues, such as a broken camcorder or non-delivery, by refunding your money.

  • Ensure the camcorder you get is a mini-DV and not a micro-MV. The mini-DV style offers great editing options for you if you like to edit your own movies.

  • DVD camcorders are supported by some great video editing software for your PC. Usually, this will accompany the camera when bought. If not, I recommend Adobe Premiere or use Jumpcut.com. Upload your recorded video to Jumpcut.com and edit it online using a very easy video editor. If you do that, there is no need for the software!

  • DVD media formats are cheaper by far. On Web sites like cnet.com, you can buy a bunch of 300 DVD-R or DVD-RWs for around $80. In the UK, rambox.co.uk has great deals on blank DVDs as well.

  • As it is likely you will be filming outdoors many times, check that the camcorder you buy has Image Stabilization. You may have to deal with windy conditions when filming. Carrying a tripod around can be cumbersome, so it is nice to have some extra stabilization that comes with this feature. The vendor should know if the camera includes that or not and it will be in the manual as one of the main features.

  • Always have an extra battery and a camera case with you when you’re traveling. You don’t want to be in front of that amazing piece of landscape or a funny family event with a dead battery. Again, this is an extra expense, but batteries are very important!

  • Check the specifications for the zoom. Do you really need to focus on the moon surface? Is it right for you? Ask about the optical zoom as well. If it’s high, that is a good attribute for a camcorder.

  • The CED, which is the camera electronic eye, should be described as being “high resolution” for crisp images to be recorded. Additionally, the camera’s true light rating, or better known to vendors as the Lux rating, should be low. The lower the Lux rating, the better the camcorder will be able to “see” in darkness or darker locations. The best camcorders will have flash units and some have on-board lighting units as well. All of that affects the price, but they’re good features as well.

  • Make sure you visit the vendor site for your camera make before buying the camera. It should have reviews from users who are beginners and experts. It will allow you to make an informed decision on the camera choice. There are reviews on the manufacturer sites given above and also on Ebay and shop.com

  • Lastly, do not let a salesman push you into the latest deal before knowing and being aware of all the above!

Well, that covers that. Stick to this list of recommendations and you will find that your camcorder purchase is a nice cool breeze!

~ Stephen Davies

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[1] http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/: http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/Camcorders.75052_11002_7000000000000005702