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  • Understanding Digital Camcorder Formats: Pros and Cons
Technology Articles > Photo, Video & Audio > camcorders > Understanding Digital Camcorder Formats: Pros and Cons

Today’s digital camcorders make even the least tech-savvy consumer look like a pro. Whether you’re interested in recording your baby’s first steps or uploading your music videos to YouTube, each model features options that will simplify your experience. Selecting the correct model for your lifestyle will enhance your digital camcorder experience. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each digital camcorder format before you go shopping.

Mini DV
Digital does not mean saying farewell to tapes. While these aren’t the book-sized tapes you remember from the 1990s, MiniDV tape camcorders use small tapes to record your footage. Overall, they are more affordable and provide a higher quality picture. They are compatible with most editing software, including older PCs. The cons of MiniDV tape camcorders include: cost of tapes, increased storage requirements and the inability to ‘˜skip around’ between different events. If you archive your footage and have adequate storage space, this option allows you to have a physical place to store your videos and high quality.

Mini DVD
Mini DVD camcorders, offer the advantage and convenience of small DVDs. You can play the discs on most ‘˜pop-out’ DVD players, including those on your laptop. Owners of slot DVD players- beware. The small discs common with this camcorder often get stuck in slot DVD playback devices. Discs provide the most convenient format for editing. For those who desire a tangible storage medium, discs are significantly smaller than their tape counterparts; however, they are often more expensive, difficult to find and of lower image quality.

Hard-drive and flash-drive camcorders store your footage directly on your computer. This makes it easy to quickly edit and delete clips without the additional cost of tapes and discs. The downside? These devices are more susceptible to wear and tear and can clog up your computer’s memory. If you’re looking for a low storage option but are concerned about the longevity of your model, seek a hard-drive camcorder. The moving parts in a flash-drive model tend towards faster deterioration.

As SD and SDHC cards are able to store more information, SD and SDHC card camcorders are becoming increasingly popular. If you have a card reader, transferring videos to your computer is simple, doesn’t require the camcorder and is tape and disc-free. These cards are often compatible with other memory sharing devices including digital picture frames and entertainment units. Many other camcorder models feature SD/SDHC cards as an alternate recording method. Quick Tip: Search for Class 4 or 6 SD cards instead of a Class 2 card. They’ll speed up the data transfer process.

Bottom-line: Selecting a model that meets your needs is a trade-off between storage and quality. If you want the highest quality picture and have space to store tapes, a MiniDV tape is for you. Looking for complete convenience? Check out Mini DVD camcorders. If you’re seeking a portable, low-volume storage option a hard-drive and flash-drive or SD and SDHC card camcorder is your best bet.