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Ask a Geek Girl: What to Look for in a Camcorder

TeamSugar user PeachyKeen19 recently wrote me asking for advice in buying a new gadget — a camcorder.

A video camera is definitely something you don't want to buy without guidelines, and PeachyKeen19 needs one that can take great quality video for short films and have the whole package: great audio and video. It also needs to be up-to-date and simple to use (just how I like my gadgets).

To see my suggestions for great camcorders, just

The first thing you should decide is whether you want a camera that has an internal hard drive, one that uses memory cards, or one that uses tape, (some even have a combination of the three). The simplest option is using mini DV tapes — just pop it in your camera and go (you get about an hour of video with each tape). I also recommend getting a non hard drive camera because it's a pain to get the footage off the camera, and then you have to store that video on your computer.

If you do go with a hard drive camcorder, be prepared with a lot of space to store your footage. However, if you go with a camera that takes tapes, you can archive the tapes and not worry about cluttering up your computer's hard drive.

I wouldn't worry about audio too much, since it's generally good across the board with name-brand cameras; what you should worry about more is video.

My specific choices? Sony has cameras that work great in low light and give consistently good audio and video. I like their Mini DV Handicam ($300), which uses tapes but is not HD.

If you're really looking for the best picture quality, go with an HD camera. Even though you may think HD is too high-end for now, you should consider it; even if you're not watching your footage on an HDTV, the picture quality will still look amazing. Plus, it's a future-proofing option and you won't regret not upgrading later.

For entry-level HD cameras, I recommend Panasonic; check out the HDC-SC9, which uses SD memory cards (which are pretty cheap themselves); at $800, it's much more than my previous rec, but it may be worth it if you want the visual quality.

Good luck and happy shooting, PeachyKeen19!

beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
thanks for the recommendations everyone! i have been looking into getting a camcorder for a while now. i want to be able to edit videos on my computer, so i have been looking for an HD one. The canon one that was recommended looks really good. 48x zoom? wow!
kev23777 kev23777 9 years
I'm a big fan of the Canon FS100 It's takes SDHC cards. It will record ~3 hours of widescreen SD footage on a 16GB card at the highest quality setting, ~10 hours on the lowest setting. Getting the video footage onto your computer for editing and uploading is as simple as coping and pasting the file. No waiting for the tape to play to transfer the video to the computer. Also no accidentally recording over previously recorded video since each clip is it's own file on the card. Canon also makes an HD camera that records to SDHC. I would have bought the HD version, but from what I've read the video format that it uses isn't quite mature yet, and isn't the easiest thing to edit at the moment.
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 9 years
You're the best!! I'm going to check this out right now, :).
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 9 years
Thanks a million GeekSugar!
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