Camcorders represent any camcorder capable of recording content in a digital format. There are numerous specifications revolving around camcorders and depending on the company each might have a different name, but represent the same thing.
The most important specifications to keep in mind when selecting a camcorder though are:
Lens: The lens is what determines the quality and clarity of the recorded image and is by far the most important specification on a DV camera. There are two types of lenses CCD or CMOS:
CCD Lenses have excellent light sensitivity and create high-quality, low-noise images due to increased pixel count. On the downside, CCD lenses consume 100 times more power than an equivalent CMOS lens which results in less battery life. In addition, CCD lenses typically are more expensive.
CMOS Lenses generally have average light sensitivity and produce lower-quality, lower-resolution images due to reduced pixel count. However, due to the reduced pixel count and sensitivity CMOS lenses are usually less expensive and have excellent battery life.
Focal Length: The focal length of a lens determines its angle of view, and also how much the subject will be magnified for a given position. This specification will be represented in a millimeter (mm) format. Recommendations for focal length measurements are listed below based on the type of angle you might want:
- 21mm or Less - Extremely Wide Landscape Angle
- 21-35mm - Wide Landscape Angle
- 35-70mm - Average Angle (standard point-and shoot angle)
- 70-135mm - Average Telephoto (zoomed-in) Angle
- 135-300mm - Extreme Telephoto (zoomed-in) Angle
Resolution: This specification refers to how high of quality the DV camera is capable of recording at. Important things to think about is where will the content be published at. Most content published to the web is degraded to web quality (640x480) even if recorded on a high definition camera. Standard definition refers to resolutions up to a maximum 720x486 (NTSC). High definition refers to resolutions up to 1280x720 or 1920x1080. The recorded resolution also affects the size of the video file drastically and must be considered as well.
Note: CPCC does not currently support web-hosted high definition video. All high-definition footage must be down-converted to standard definition for use online (CPCC Website, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.).
File Format: This specification generally is tied directly to the resolution specification. Depending on the video editing software you will be using with the recorded content, you will want to verify that the file format output by the camera is supported. IT Services recommends for standard definition cameras that the camera file format output AVI files. For high definition cameras, IT Services recommends that the camera output MP4 (MPEG-4) file formats. This ensures basic editor compatibility during post production.
Note: For high-definition devices, see note above.
Zoom: When looking at this specification the important zoom to look at is the “optical” zoom. The optical zoom represents the lens physical ability to magnify the object in question. For DV cameras, IT Services recommends that an optical zoom of at least 35x or more is chosen for getting close-up magnification and detail.
Recording System: This specification refers to where the content is digital stored on the DV camera. IT Services recommends the use of SD or SDHC cards as the optimal recording system as they allow continuous recording for long periods of time and are extremely durable. One specification to keep in mind when selecting SDHC cards is it's 'class'. SDHC cards have various classes which represent data transfer speeds when connected to a card reader, and could be quite important if you are transferring a long recording to a PC. Classes are listed below and their relative transfer speed:
IT Services recommends the following device(s):
Canon FS300 Camcorder
- 1/6" CCD Lens
- 37x Optical Zoom
- SD Card Compatible
- 640x480 AVI Movie Output