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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Still + Video Camcorders

Two cameras in one, digital camcorders can capture still photos alongside your HD video

Labels: Video CamerasGear



This Article Features Photo Zoom


Panasonic HDC-SD9
Capturing HD video and still photos sounds great, but carrying two cameras doesn't—today's consumer HD camcorders can deliver both. These cameras typically are sleek and strap snugly to your palm, so they're convenient to carry.

Format is another consideration when purchasing a camcorder. HDV (high-definition video) was extremely popular years ago and is still available. Footage is captured on a digital tape similar in size to a DV or MiniDV tape (originally developed for standard-definition recording). HDV is considered an inexpensive high-definition, video-recording format using MPEG2 compression to fit its HD content onto tape. Canon and JVC are two companies that still offer this format.

DVD is another popular choice as a medium to record HD footage. Obvious benefits include the ease and efficiency of its use, plus faster, easier access to specific scenes compared to tape. Solid state is yet another growing trend, where footage is recorded on a hard drive contained within the camcorder. Hard drive sizes vary, but most are usually 40 GB to 80 GB in size.

With no moving parts to break down, solid-state camcorders are considered the best option by most. Capture and transfer to a computer is simple, plus the newer AVCHD codec is usually available, a superior MPEG4 codec compared to the older MPEG2 version. You'll get less compression artifacts and thus better imagery from which to grab stills.

Flash-based HD camcorders are a popular choice, recording footage on memory cards. This allows for easy and effective capture of video and stills. The amount of content may be limited by the size of the memory card used, but with 32 GB cards in the marketplace, it's less of a concern. You'll find many HD camcorders offering both a hard drive and a flash-based memory slot. This is great because it allows you to record video and images on either medium.

Still Capture
High-definition camcorders capture in different modes, primarily 720p, 1080i or the best HD quality of 1080p ("p" stands for progressive and "i" stands for interlaced). It's important to note that you'll get a better quality image with a progressive HD camcorder compared to an interlaced image; the progressive image captures every horizontal line in sequence, whereas an interlaced line captures odd lines first and then even lines a fraction of a second later.

Although this is almost imperceptible in a moving image, re-creating a noninterlaced still image from that footage requires some interpolation, and any still shot grabbed from interlaced footage will bear some artifacts from that process. Therefore, it's best to set your camcorder to record in progressive mode if you plan to extract still images from your footage at a later point.



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