Video Camera Media
This is the equivalent of film for a camera. If you have the wrong film, it won't fit your camera.
There are many incompatible cam corder media, and most of them are either obsolete or lemons, or not ready for real use as yet. As at 2004, the only media worth considering is MiniDV.
- Used by the majority of cam corders. It uses 66mm x 48mm x 12.2mm digital tapes. Records at 500 line resolution, and can also record CD quality audio. Connects straight to computer via a Firewire connector. If your computer lacks Firewire, you will have to update it.
- Yet another proprietary format from Sony. A third the size of MiniDV, however most computer software doesn't support it. Avoid it.
- Another Sony idea, compatible with obsolete Hi8 analog tapes. Only of interest to people with a large stash of Hi8 tapes, and even they should probably avoid this orphan media.
- Records on 8cm DVD disks. You will need a tray loading DVD player in your computer to read these disks. Also, some software is unable to handle input from disks (it expects input to come via Firewire). May become an important format in the future, but I'd avoid it in 2004.
- Camera Cards
- Various solid state camera cards. Too small and too slow for serious use at the moment, but their time may eventually come. Most video cameras include a camera card, but mostly these are used to record still photographs. Given the quality of these photos is lower than that obtained from a stand alone digital camera, I wouldn't consider this a replacement for a still camera, any more than a camera phone replaces a camera.
Only optical zoom is worthwhile. Ignore digital zoom figures.
Use of the internal camera microphone ensures you get motor and operator noise. Serious soundtrack capture requires an external microphone. Check what connections are available on the camera.
Camera shake is not a sign of a great cinematographer. Get a tripod and use it wherever possible.
Did it come with one?
Battery life is not great. If you do a lot of filming in any one day you may need a spare battery.
Convert to DVD using your computer.
Connecting CamCorder to a Computer
The only connection worth considering is IEEE1394. This is also known as iLink (Sony) and as Firewire (Apple). The socket on the camera is sometimes labelled Digital Video. Most cameras unaccountably fail to come with an $15 IEE1394 cable.
While IEE1394 is included with a Macintosh, you will need to add a suitable IEEE1394 interface card if using a desktop PC.
Many camcorders have a video in connection with a cable terminating in either SVideo or RCA
Selecting a cheap camcorder
Why the Canon MV700i?
Had the essential items, namely it used MiniDV tapes, and used Firewire to connect to a computer.
0.8 megapixel CCD is sufficiwent for reasonable (not top quality0 video.
Optical zooom is a rather astonishing 18 times, and you can turn the digital zoom off.
Image stablisation, albeit digital rather than optical. Required when using the zoom.
Colour viewfinder, not black and white, makes evaluating scenes easier.
DV-in allows you to record back ono your tapes.
AV-in allows you to connect a VCR and translate analog signals into digital.
Web camera capability.
easy to use controls.
Good image quality for the price range.
Lacks still camera facility in this model, however I think access to a camera card and USB is pointless when much better digital cameras exist.
Preparing a DVD
- Lock tape after filming
- Edit by sorting clips, cutting, ordering, adding transitions
- Add sound
- Add titles
- Output to DVD