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Camcorders

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Camcorder Buyers guide

Never mind the gadgetry - check out the video quality ratings first - in low light as well as full sun.

Budget camcorders

A budget camcorder is anything less than £200. Prices are just a guide, pitched at the lowest available at the time.

KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video Camera (£127 March 2009) - no playback on the camera itself!

Camcorder specifications

HD is all the rage but you don't 't really need it. Look for 720p and you'll get excellent resolution. Your PC probably can't handle the enormous files that full HD produces.

Which video codec?

"High-definition" means an image size of at least 1280x720 pixels – roughly three times as many as a standard television picture contains. "Full HD" stands for 1920x1080 pixels.

Mpeg2

Standard Defintion is Mpeg 2 720x576 and that is what your DVD films are using.

The DVD standard uses MPEG-2 video, but imposes some restrictions:

   * Allowed Resolutions
         o 720 × 480, 704 × 480, 352 × 480, 352 × 240 pixel (NTSC)
         o 720 × 576, 704 × 576, 352 × 576, 352 × 288 pixel (PAL)
   * Allowed Aspect ratios (Display AR)
         o 4:3
         o 16:9 (1.85:1 and 2.35:1, among others, are often listed as valid DVD aspect ratios, but are actually just a 16:9 image with the top and bottom of the frame masked in black)
   * Allowed Frame rates
         o 29.97 frame/s (NTSC)
         o 25 frame/s (PAL)

Source

H.264

Raw HD footage creates huge files and so camcorders usually use a compression codec currently defined as H.264 or MPEG-4 AVC/H.264.

How to Burn HD video

There are currently no HD burners available (July 2009). So what's the point?

You can save your HD video to a normal DVD but it won't play as a HD video on a High Definition TV. It will be downscaled and play as Standard or DVD video (Mpeg 2).

You can play the video back directly from your camcorder but sooner or later you will want the space on the SD card!

Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game consoles will play HD videos stored on portable drives that you can plug into their USB ports.

Blu-Ray burners are starting to appear but you'll need a Blu-ray player.

I suppose the only reason you would want to save HD video to a DVD is for future use - if you think your video clips are worth the trouble. How have we survived so far!

Camcorder buyer and review websites

http://www.camcorderbuyer.co.uk

http://reviews.cnet.com/camcorders

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/camcorders

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