Sunday, February 24, 2008
As gadgets go, camcorders have come a long way since they were first introduced in the nineteen seventies. In fact, the camcorders of the present resemble those video tape based monsters about as much as the video tape based camcorders resembled thirty five millimeter home movie cameras that came before them!
There are a number of advantages that newer video cameras have over the video tape based technology of decades past. Perhaps the biggest one is all digital format. Digital video produces a much clearer picture than the older analog recording format, but it can also be manipulated in a number of different ways. For example, it's possible to record in various formats that compress the video to a different extent- MPEG-4 format takes up only a quarter of the storage space that the same video stored in MPEG-2 format does with little, if any, degradation of quality!
Another huge benefit that comes from digital video is the ability to easily load it onto a computer. Once it's loaded onto a computer, video can be edited (a simple broom handle can be turned into a lightsaber for example) and uploaded to the Internet to be shared with others. Also, regardless of the format in which it was recorded, digital video can be taken form a computer's hard drive and burned onto a DVR after editing. This can allow you to share your videos with others regardless of their (or your) Internet connection speeds.
There are a number of newer gadgets that make recording video easier than ever before. These devices take advantage of high capacity memory cards to store massive amounts of video in extremely small and energy efficient units. For example, one of the better gadgets is Sany's new Xacti E1. The Xacti E1 can record in standard definition resolutions that look great on a variety of different screens. The recordings are stored in MPEG-4 format which allows it to cram massive amounts of videos on high capacity SDHC cards. Plus, the MPEG-4 format makes it compatible with lots of different video editing programs. This gadget is also waterproof to one and a half meters. Which makes it useful for snorkeling until you accidentally drop it in water that's more than chest deep.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Mustek DV520T. Besides having a cryptic name this device has the inconvenience of producing pictures that you'll never actually want to watch on a TV screen. The picture that this gadget produces does look good enough to appear on a video sharing site or for any kind of online video conferencing though. The lack of zoom options and fact that the device isn't compatible with SDHC cards make it a poor candidate for any kind of cinematography beyond what will appear on YouTube. It is cheap though.
While there are a number of digital video cameras that record directly on DVD's, they have some disadvantages compared to these devices. For one thing, it takes a lot more juice to power a laser than it does to record to flash memory or SDHC cards. Of course, these gadgets do have the advantage of recording video onto a type of media that can be played directly on a DVD player without the computer as a middle man.
In all, if you're into making your own videos, there are a lot of great gadgets out there for you to choose from.