- Analogue and Digital video
- DV camcorders: which one to choose?
- Tape-based camcorders
- HD-based camcorders
- Disc-based camcorders
- Controls and features
- DV and the Web
- Editing your video for the Web
- Entry-level video editing applications
- High-end video editing applications
- Camcorder pricing
Tape is not the only option when it comes to DV camcorders, for there is a variety of different media including mini DVD discs, removable storage and even hard drives.
DVD video cameras are one of the fastest growing formats on the market due to their familiarity and ease of use. Most of the big camcorder manufactuers have released DVD-based camcorders that can record from around 20 minutes up to 1 hour of MPEG-2 video (depending on the quality selection) directly to small 8cm DVD that can then be played directly in a home-based DVD player.
It is the best format for people who want to watch their home movies quickly, without any fuss. Because the discs can be played on most DVD players, there is no need to muck around with cables or computers before you watch the footage on your TV - simply transfer the disc from your camera to your DVD player.
One disadvantage of DVD camcorders is that they are not well suited for extensive editing. While it is possible to transfer DVD footage to a computer for editing, it can be a complicated process and the video quality can suffer during the conversion. Some DVD models from Panasonic and Sony record in high definition, using the AVCHD recording format. However, you will need a Blu-ray disc player or other compatible device to view these movies on your TV.
It's important to determine the compatibility with your home DVD player before going with a DVD Camcorder, as users are presented with the same -RW, +RW compatibility issues that exist with PC-based DVD recorders. The latest DVD-based camcorders also provide support for write-once discs such as DVD-R and DVD+R, which means that, once finalised, the disc can be played on most DVD players without any trouble.
Hard drive-based camcorders, utilising a non removable drive (about the same dimensions as one used in a notebook) to store video straight to the drive, have been around for some time. Hard disk camcorders operate by storing captured video in either MPEG-2, MPEG-1 or AVCHD format. Limitations include the inability to add additional storage, as well as the relative fragility when compared to other storage options such as Flash Memory and CD-based media. However, new models are entering the marketplace with increasingly impressive storage capabilities. The HDR-SR8E, for example, has a built-in 100GB hard drive, capable of recording up to 38 hours of high-definition footage.
Some companies have released camcorder models that rely on flash media - such as Memory Stick Pro Duo and Express Cards - for recording purposes. This has led to the release of a series of pocket-sized camcorders that can record over an hour of high-quality MPEG-2 video. Thanks to improved storage capacities in removable memory, some of these models can even capture high-definition video. Unfortunately, the current price of MS cards and related media (i.e. - $100 and up) makes these cameras expensive to run if you plan to record lots of footage.