Camcorders for Everyone in the Family

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As video capture and online sharing explode, more people are coming onboard to tell their stories.Whether it's the view from a skateboard, fairway, or wedding, a camcorder can capture the expereince. For the budding filmmaker, there's an array of products that will meet or exceed your expectations. For the more advanced videographer there's a variety of equipment for every application at a range of price points.

One type of video camera that seems to be exploding into the mainstream with no signs of slowing down is the direct-to-web camcorder with direct access to video-sharing web sites such as YouTube. This particular type of camcorder is designed to be extremely portable, easy to use, and trendy—often at the expense of video quality—but that will soon change. One example that comes to mind is the 2GB Flip Digital Ultra.

Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder                    Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder                  Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder

Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra 60 Minute Camcorder

It includes proprietary software to help organize, publish, and archive footage. This is great for individuals who need to incorporate video into their daily work lives. Imagine a person who sells real estate for a living. Perhaps they have a potential client out of state, but would like to offer them a streaming, almost real-time video that highlights the subtleties of the property. This would be a perfect moment to break out the Flip. It is a step ahead of its direct-to-web rivals, due to its design and extreme ease of operation. The unit will work in both a Windows and Mac environment. The chic camcorder's user-friendly features include a USB port, which flips out on top for easy download of videos, and an LCD screen that makes it easy to preview footage in any light.

Sanyo VPC-E2 Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder           Sanyo VPC-E2 Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder           Sanyo VPC-E2 Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder
Sanyo VPC-E2 Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder

Have you ever wished that you could take your camcorder on your next rafting trip without the need for a bulky waterproof housing? Have you ever wished that your video camera had been waterproof before the kids dropped it into the kiddies' pool? Have you been wishing for a waterproof video camera but thought that it would cost you an arm and a leg? The Sanyo Xacti E2 Waterproof Camcorder helps you break the water barrier by providing waterproof performance down to 5 feet for as long as 30 minutes. It sports a sleek, ergonomic design and is also attractively priced. At only 9 ounces, this little unit is easy to handle while snorkeling, capturing some fun on the slopes, or shooting that rainy-day football game. The 2.5" display will rotate to give you flexible viewing options, and its 1.7-second super-fast startup time will guarantee that you will not miss any of the action. The unit comes in blue and white.

Twenty20 VholdR Wearable Camcorder                Twenty20 VholdR Wearable Camcorder
Twenty20 VholdR Wearable Camcorder

Capturing POV (point-of-view) action video can be both a tricky process and a downright unsafe endeavor if you are trying to hold a video camera in one hand and keep your balance with the other. The Twenty20 VholdR is your ticket to hands-free, easy-to-use action shooting. Mount its rugged brushed-aluminum casing to your helmet, handle bars, boat mast, and roll cage or in almost any other position you can dream up. The single-button record control is easily accessed with gloved fingers and an audible beep confirms that you are rolling and ready to go. If you are being splashed with mud from your dirt bike, or sprayed with fresh powder from your best friend's snowmobile, the sealed housing will protect its silicon-treated inner workings. Dual lasers keep your shots level in the field and mini USB 2.0 output makes computer uploading a snap when you get home.

Panasonic SDR-S7               Panasonic SDR-S7               Panasonic SDR-S7
Panasonic SDR-S7

Let's face it; if you are out shooting the action, chances are you are going to wind up in the middle of it from time to time, and not always on purpose. The Panasonic SDR-S7 records directly to SD cards for a mechanism that offers superior shock-resistant performance with no moving parts to be jostled around. Slip it into your pocket on the way to the game and prepare yourself for beautifully smooth sideline action footage or on-the-field close-ups through its 2.7" wide-screen LCD. And if your camera was not rolling right before that last goal, or just as Dad lost his balance while water skiing, the 0.6 second startup time and three-second prerecord function ensure that you won't miss a thing. With a design that feels comfortable in the hand, you will no doubt have fun creating countless hours of footage that you can rearrange with the included MotionSD Studio software. The built-in stereo mic will offer you zoom and wind-noise reduction, while its USB output will let you connect directly to a DVD burner.

Canon ZR-900 MiniDV Camcorder
Canon ZR-900
MiniDV Camcorder

The aspiring film maker has never had it so good. The Canon ZR-900 MiniDV Camcorder delivers key features like high-powered zoom and full 16:9 Widescreen HR video capture in a well-designed and friendly priced package. It even features Quick Start recording, which initiates shooting in under a second, to help keep you on top of those fast-paced, unexpected opportunities. Many manufacturers of camcorders in this price range have forgone any form of microphone input, making it more difficult to maintain control of your audio signal. The ZR900 provides an external microphone input, which is an important feature for the up-and-coming film student who is trying to become acquainted with the contrapuntal relationship between high-quality audio and video. Smooth zoom control, Level Shot, Grid markers, and DIGIC DV image processing are but a few of the features that make this camera a fantastic choice.

Sony DCR-DVD810
Sony DCR-DVD810

The versatile Sony DCR-DVD810 Hybrid DVD/Memory Stick camcorder brings true harmony to the multi-media household. Not only is it easy to navigate on its 2.7" touch panel LCD, but it frees you to record to DVD, an internal 8GB flash memory drive, or removable Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo, making it a great family camera choice. You may like to use Memory Stick for your own shooting, but your son or daughter might prefer DVD's so that they can play their videos for friends on their computers, Blu-Ray Disc players, and even Playstation 3 video game console. If you don't want to pack any media you can always record directly to the internal 8GB flash memory and dub video and still images from internal memory to Memory Stick, DVD, or your computer. Now you'll never have to say that you forgot to bring along the film. The amazing video footage you record will be enhanced by the DVD810's Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization that ensures smooth traveling shots, a specially designed Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens, and a Super NightShot Plus Infrared System that allows for detailed filming at the campsite, or for catching family's expressions as the birthday candles are being blown out.

Panasonic's SDR-H40/H60 camcorder                Panasonic's SDR-H40/H60 camcorder
Panasonic's SDR-H40/H60 camcorder

Being able to film hours upon hours of footage without having to reload tapes or discs is a luxury, and that is exactly what you get when you purchase Panasonic's SDR-H40/H60 camcorder. The unit is a compact standard-definition camcorder that records onto a hard disk of 40 or 60GB respectively, which holds up to 36 hours of video. Included in the camcorder is an SD and SDHC memory card slot just in case you need to store even more video footage or digital photos. The unit has some helpful features. It includes a night recording mode, which lets you capture video in low-light environments. It comes with one-touch navigation and a joystick for easy control. The SDR-H40/60 also includes a built-in zoom mic and a 2.7 inch-wide LCD screen. Speaking of widescreen, the camcorder offers 16:9 widescreen modes for video and digital photos. To ensure good-quality audio, the microphone automatically identifies the sound of your subject(s) as you zoom in and out.

Canon VIXIA HV30
Canon VIXIA HV30

The Canon VIXIA HV30 is heavy on the "pro-" and easy on the "-sumer." Experienced or budding documentary filmmakers, who don't want to break the bank, look no further. Get the features of a $3,000 camera in a compact $600 package. Its large 2.96MP 1/ 2.7" Full HD CMOS with an internal RGB filter separates the light into red, green, and blue color components, and is responsible for delivering razor-sharp, vivid imagery that competes with higher-end 3-CDD HD camcorders. Its main selling point is 24P and 30P frame rate capabilities, coveted by many videographers who want a "film look." These features, even a few years ago, were unheard of in a compact, clean package. As the multi-format war continues to rage, the HV30 strategically dodges the flak. The HV30 provides reliable, old-school MiniDV HDV recording capabilities with new-school functionality. You can't go wrong with this camera, consistently hailed as the best camcorder of the prosumer category.

Sony HDR-SR series 10, 11, and 12                 Sony HDR-SR series 10, 11, and 12
Sony HDR-SR series 10, 11, and 12

This year, Sony continues its hard-drive camcorder line with an outstanding series of high-definition, hard-drive camcorders. Its HDR-SR series 10, 11, and 12 are superior camcorders of which families and professionals are taking advantage. They offer the flexibility of hybrid HD recording onto either a large internal hard drive or to a removable Memory Stick media card. I've attended many lectures at which these hard drive cams are employed. To focus on one model, the HDR-SR11 includes a viewfinder, a beefy 3.2"–wide, high-resolution monitor that has a very bright display, a large CMOS sensor, and a 60GB hard drive that records up to 7 hours and 10 minutes of HD footage. This camcorder adds personal family touches by providing 10-megapixel still image capture capabilities with face detection technology. This technology ensures that your video and stills will be breathtaking and stunning, with the correct sharp focus, colors, and exposure—automatically. Thoughtfully, Sony also includes in the accessories a central docking station. When you're finished shooting, place your camera into the dock, and simultaneously upload your footage to your computer, watch the footage on your HDTV, and give the camera a charge with direct AC connect. A 15x optical zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens with the T* coating reduces and prevents flare and glare in your images, and the onboard zoom microphone captures 5.1 surround sound audio to enhance your home theatre experience.

Sony HDR-FX7 3CMOS HDV 1080i Camcorder
Sony HDR-FX7 3CMOS HDV 1080i Camcorder

The Sony HRD-FX7 1080i HDV format camcorder, Sony's least expensive 3-chip camera, doesn't skimp on details. Manual controls, primarily distinguish this camera. Dual independent zoom and focus rings provide precise and detailed control over your image, and selectable exposure and iris control fine-tune the amount of light entering the lens. Stunning detail can be achieved with a 20x optical zoom Carl Zeiss lens coupled with 3.5" LCD for monitoring. The 3 ¼" CMOS ClearVid sensors maintain color integrity. The FX7 overall is an excellent workhorse prosumer camera for the advanced amateur, serious filmmaker, or pro videographer on a budget.