Selecting Consumer Video Cameras
Although DSLRs and smartphones capture video, few have the all-round capabilities of consumer video cameras, which have the primary function of video recording. As technology has evolved, video recording abilities have improved; the size of camcorders is now at the point where consumer models are small, lightweight, easy to handle, and capable of stunning results.
How Video Cameras Work
Digital video cameras record motion and sound to produce movies. Camcorders use either CCD (charge coupled device) or CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensors to capture action and convert this information into a digital signal. The number of sensor pixels determines the camcorder's definition, while the size of the sensor affects its low-light sensitivity. Camcorders use digital viewfinders and LCD screens for monitoring filming. Data records to some form of memory for later downloading, editing, and viewing on computers or televisions.
Differences Between Standard, HD, and Ultra HD Camcorders
Early digital camcorders worked to the NTSC SD standard based on a resolution of 720 x 480 pixels, with a 4:3 aspect ratio. While still available, this isn't common, but has the advantage of smaller files that are easy to process and upload to the internet.
Full HD video cameras have a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1920 x 1080 pixels, identified as 1080i or 1080p. The difference is that 1080i signals are interpolated while 1080p aren't, but the latter offers slightly better definition. HD camcorders can film at 1280 x 720 pixels (720p) to reduce file size with minimal loss of definition.
Professional camcorders have ultra HD capability (4K) and produce the best results with a 3840 x 2160 pixel capability.
Recording Medium for Consumer Digital Video Cameras
Digital camcorders use various ways to record data, ranging from digital video tape to hard drives and flash memory. Many camcorders have some built-in storage capability, while others use removable media such as SD cards and memory sticks. When filming in HD and UHD, most manufacturers recommend fast SDHC and SDHX type cards. Some use CF cards and SxS express cards commonly found on used pro and prosumer camcorders.
Features of Consumer Video Camcorders
The range of features built into consumer camcorders is a major reason why they're so popular, and these include:
- Standard zoom lenses with high levels of magnification
- Variable frame rates, including 24, 30, and 60 fps, and slow-motion capabilities
- Robust action cameras and accessories for extreme sports
- Optical stabilization to reduce camera shake
- Several video-encoding options
- Range of finishes, such as a black or white camcorder
- NTSC and PAL options
- Good low-light sensitivity
While some DSLRs have similar capabilities, few are as compact and usable for video filming as dedicated camcorders that have the ability to get close to the action.
B&H Photo and Video stocks a comprehensive selection of consumer HD video cameras, as well as a wide array of related accessories. Take advantage of its stock whether you film on a daily basis or plan some casual vacation recording.