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Thursday, January 11, 2007

High-Definition Video For Enthusiasts

New cameras and software are making HD video capture and editing available to anyone

Things To Look For In An HD Camcorder
The first consideration in buying an HD camcorder, of course, is your budget. HD camcorders range in cost from around $1,200 to considerably more than $50,000, the latter used for professional TV and news photography. HDV provides a cost-effective way to do HD video, with camcorders falling into three basic price ranges: less than $1,500, less than $4,000 and more than $5,000.

While camcorders with a single image sensor work quite well, three-sensor cameras (with separate sensors for red, green and blue) produce better images, and this is especially true for HD video with its higher resolution. But three-sensor cameras cost more—generally, a lot more. If it's within your budget, by all means, get a three-sensor camera. If it isn't, the single-sensor HDV cameras still produce much better image quality than SD cameras.

Other things to consider when choosing a camcorder include:

  • The camcorder's size and configuration. Larger cameras often have more and easier-to-use controls; smaller cameras are easier to carry and use in tight spaces.
  • The presence of an electronic viewfinder (EVF) as well as an LCD monitor. It's hard to see the external LCD monitor image in bright outdoor light.
  • Still-imaging capabilities. Some camcorders will produce good still images of 3 megapixels or more, while others won't. Look at some sample still images before buying if this capability is important to you.
  • The lens. Is the optical zoom range sufficient and the maximum aperture fast enough for your needs? In the higher-end models, what interchangeable lenses can be used?
  • Image stabilization. If you intend to do any handheld shooting, you'll want a camera with built-in image stabilization. Fortunately, most HD cameras have it, but check to be sure before buying.
  • Recording media. HDV camcorders record on standard miniDV tapes, but there are also camcorders that record on memory cards (some tape camcorders record still images on memory cards), mini-hard drives and even direct to DVD, and this could include HDV cameras in the future.
  • Ability to accept an external microphone (wired or wireless).

The accompanying photos and captions will introduce you to some of the HDV and other lower-cost high-definition camcorders as well as software available today. For more details, visit the manufacturers' websites.

Resources
Adobe (800) 833-6687www.adobe.com
Apple (800) MY-APPLEwww.apple.com
Avid (800) 949-AVIDwww.avid.com
Canon (800) OK-CANONwww.usa.canon.com
Canopuswww.canopus.com
JVC (800) 882-2345www.jvc.com
Panasonic (800) 211-PANAwww.panasonic.com
Pinnacle Systems (800) 293-2948www.pinnaclesys.com
Sanyo (818) 998-7322www.sanyodigital.com
Sony (800) 222-SONYwww.sonystyle.com
Ulead Systems (800) 85-ULEADwww.ulead.com

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