View Full Version : Features in a video camera.
I have a Ciber Shot carera. I have been looking at these newer video camers, but I have no idea what to look at. Most seem to have the ability to take still shots. The flash drives are lighter then the ones with a built in hard drive. Some are X10 some X60. too many choices. What features do I need to be looking for when Im looking at a video camers?
If you want to take stills with it, then you have to consider how many mega-pixels it can take in camera mode. What resolution do you want for the video? Standard Def? High Def? If High Def, do you want full 1920x1080 or is 1440x1080 fine?
Not all comcorder's record as many samples/sec in a given resolution as others say 17Msps vs 24Msps which can improve quality somewhat. Some camcorders are better in low light. Some give more nature verses more saturated colors. Do you want one that can support a 24frame/sec movie mode for a more film look(all film movies are shot at this speed) while all camcorders 60I (Interlace frames/sec) and some will support 30P (Progressive frames/sec).
Do you want a tape one, a harddrive one or a flash memory based on? Tape can't support full 1920x1080 (only 1440x1080 or lower). Harddrives means moving parts on your bouncing and jarring trip. Flash memory is great except the max size is 32GB flash cards so you'll have to carry several or find a way to copy them onto a harddrive occasionally on a long trip.
The features that really matter to me are those that allow me to shoot for a looong time. That means big batteries and storage.
After that is image stabilization and optical zoom. Don't fall for electronic zoom. All that is is cropping the picture. You can replicate this by using a small rectangle cut into card board to show the center of your television, and the sit closer. Seriously. What sucks is that even those electronic zoom crops out the outer pixels, it doesn't even save you storage space.
Last for me is performance in low light.
I don't care much for resolution. The optics in video cameras is usually so poor that high resolution is defeated by blurry optics. I'd much rather have a low (640x480) camera with sharp optics than a high resolution blurry camera.
You really will not want to do any still photos with your video camera. But stay away from those cheap blister pack video cameras. You get what you pay for with video cameras.
If hiking with one, you want to consider weight and compactness. But your main options are stabilization, optical zoom, and low-light/infrared. HD would be best. Find something that has 16:9 format or something for widescreen shooting.
Then decide what format you want to record to: HDD, memory stick, MiniDV, or DVD. The MiniDV tapes will hold around 30-90 minutes depending on quality, but they can be bulky if you have to carry 4-5 at a time. HDD you will have to find a computer that you connect to to output your video, a little heavier, and will be prone to breaking when moving in a pack. DVD or memory stick maybe your best option. The DVDs are slim and compact. The hold about ~20-40 minutes depending on quality. And you just finalize the disc and view them in almost any DVD player.
You will also want to look into a polarized/ultraviolet filter lense. Telephoto or wide angle lenses if you want to do some far or artistic shots. Also check into battery life. A long life battery would be best, especially for being on trail.
But ultimately go to Walmart, BestBuy, or Target. And just start play with them. Also, look into getting the warranty if taking it on trail.
You really will not want to do any still photos with your video camera. I have to disagree on this one. I took over 3000 photos with mine on the PCT in addition to the numerous hours of video I shot.
An 8 megapixel photo shot in photo mode on my camcorder is a larger size (3264x2456) then what you get when shooting video in HighDef(1920x1080 or 1440x1080). Some scenes justify the extra detail. I also took several photos to piece together in photoshop to make large panoramic photos. It is also difficult to pan a camcorder smoothly without a tripod so the footage jumps around as you move (even with the optic stablizer turned on). However, it is very easy to pan smoothly across a large photo in whatever editting software you use (in my experience it just looks better).
Another feature that I didn't mention earlier is having a remote. While not necessary, it made life easier. I could set camcorder on a rock and use the remote to zoom on something without worrying about touching the camcorder(any jarring of the camcorder while zoomed shows up worse then when zoomed out). It also worked for taking photos as I didn't have to keep setting the timer and running. Though not as useful due to the small LCD size, you can see yourself as you are filming yourself away from your camcorder and can use the remote to zoom in tighter if desired and start/stop filiming.
I really like my Canon 550D. It's called the Canon Rebel T2i in the US. It has an 18 mega pixel sensor and takes great photos. It also has 1080 HD video, with a choice of frame rates. The video quality is superb, it looks great on my high definition TV.
I just purchased a Sanyo Xacti.
I like the swivel display screen to help get in the video. I like the MPEG-4 AVC/H264 format and the Full HD selections.
I had wmv format video. Horrible. It had to be the format, because it was a good camera.
Hmm... Maybe video from a camera with video will never be as good as video from a videocam? I don't know.
I know this Sanyo is lightweight, pocketable, and the video is a great improvement over what I had.