Getting started in HD video, part 1

Everything you always wanted to know about HD video (but were afraid to ask).

Guide to HD.

These days, most people are pretty serious about digital video, whether they realise it or not. With new technology entering the marketplace — and camcorder prices constantly sliding — the archaic embarrassment of the ‘VHS-cam’ has become a thing of the past.

Whether you’re chronicling an overseas holiday for future posterity, or producing a Tropfest short in the hope of fame and fortune, there’s one thing we camcorder owners all share in common: the desire to make our videos look the best they possibly can. This is where high-definition enters the picture (and what a pretty picture it is!) Offering sharper image quality, richer colours and higher overall production values, it really is an essential upgrade for any self-respecting videographer.

Over the following weeks we’ll take you through all the essentials of high-def video; from choosing the right camcorder format, to building a non-linear edit suite. If you’re sick of living in the terminally beige world of standard-definition, this handy multi-part guide should deliver all the information you need. So without any further ado, let’s don a pair of reflective shades and step into the HD kaleidoscope!

HD 101: High-Definition Explained

HD video cameras have been around for quite a while now — over two decades in fact — but it’s only been in the past few years that they’ve become a viable option for consumers. The first commercially available models were huge and unwieldy things that could cost upwards of $5000. Most of them used a high-def version of the MiniDV format and stuck to digital tape. Since then, the options in the HD market have exploded to include a wide variety of competing formats and video codecs; we will look at each of them in turn. But before we do that, let’s talk about the concept of ‘HD’ itself. What does it mean? How does it work? And why do we need it?

Guide to HD.

An early HD-capable video camera.

‘HD video’ is a somewhat vague technical specification that encompasses anything above ‘standard’ definition (i.e. 576 lines of pixels in PAL territories). The two most common display resolutions found in HD camcorders are 720p (1280x720 pixels) and 1080i (1920x1080 pixels). As the numbers attest, the amount of pixels on screen is considerably higher than standard-definition (SD) video, which translates to sharper and more colourful footage.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Jager

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?