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Video: How to Choose a Camcorder

Julie Govan is the Brand Manager at Crutchfield, and has been writing about consumer electronics since 1999. Her areas of expertise include home theater, surround sound, digital cameras, and HDTV. In her spare time, she also writes book reviews and fiction. She earned a B.A. in English from Davidson College, and went on to receive a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia.

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In this video, we'll cover key camcorder features, so you have the info you need to start shopping. Get the scoop on pocket cams, high-definition camcorders, and pro-style camcorders, and find out which one might be right for you.

Video Transcript

Julie: When it comes to choosing a camcorder there are a lot of different features out there and a lot of different models that have those features. So what we're going to do today is try to show you some of the most important features to think about when you're shopping for a camcorder. And the best way to do that is to think about how you're going to be using the camcorder. For example, if you plan on taking a lot of short videos that you're going to post on You Tube, you'll want to think about a pocket camcorder. These camcorders are small. Many of them are pretty rugged. Many of them shoot HD. And some of them, along with being shock proof, are also water proof, like this one. Still works.

If you think you're going to be using your camcorder primarily for special family events you want to make sure that the model you choose can capture really accurate, beautiful video. Now the key to that is making sure it is a full HD camcorder. And that's not just about the resolution of the video. That also often means that the camcorder comes with a really great lens. I also think it's a nice idea to get some more zoom so you have more flexibility when you're shooting.

One nice feature on some models is a touch screen. Not only does it let you control the camcorder a little more easily but you can also tap the subject on screen to tell the camcorder that that's where you want your focus.

A really great feature to have if you expect to do a lot of hand held shooting without a tripod is optical image stabilization. It does a really nice job of reducing the effects of hand shake.

Last but not least be thinking about memory. That's important for all camcorders, but the more memory you have the more video you can capture. If you have a camera with internal memory, look for more gigabytes. If you're using SD cards look for more SD cards or larger SD cards.

If you think you're going to be doing a lot of traveling with your camcorder, you can look for one that has built in GPS. Not only does that let you keep track of where you are when you're on the move during your travels, but it also can tag coordinates or even the names of famous landmarks to the video you're shooting so you have that available when you get home.

If you're really serious about shooting video and you're going to need a lot of really pro-quality footage, then you're going to need a camcorder with pro-style controls. Camcorders like this will let you add microphones and they'll also give you manual control of things like focus, exposure, white balance. They also deliver just plain better video quality and some of that's to do with better lenses but some of it's to do with things like a 3-chip sensor. Now a 3-chip sensor will give you much more detailed color, accurate video than a regular camcorder can give you. And we're big fans of some of these camcorders and we're actually using one of them to shoot this video today so say "Hi John."

John: "Hi there."

Julie: When it comes time to actually choose your camcorder, one advantage to getting it from Crutchfield is that you do get lifetime technical support. You can just call and we'll step you through whatever is going on. Now if you need more info on specific models there are lots of ways to get in touch with us. You can chat on line, you can e-mail us, or you can just call Crutchfield.

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