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Digital Camcorder Buyers Guide

Mar 22 2011, 1:03pm CDT | by , in Shopping | Shopping Tips

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Digital Camcorder Buyers Guide
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The camcorder market is booming and there are a huge number of offerings on the market today. For the most part camcorders have gone to flash storage and internal HDDs to store video. One of the key places where there is a difference in price on camcorders today is the amount of storage.

The storage on camcorders is rated in gigabytes (GB) just like the storage on your computer or notebook. The more storage you have, the more video you can save before you have to offload it to a computer for editing or sharing with friends. Some of the cameras on the market will have SD card slots or slots that other forms of memory cards can fit into. These cameras are very nice because as long as you have memory cards you can continue to record.

Many of the moderately priced offerings will have expandable memory. Some of the really small and lower priced camcorders will not offer a memory card slot for you to store to. Another thing that you need to watch out for when you are looking at camcorders is the zoom offered. Some of the lower priced camcorders use only digital zoom, which is worthless. Digital zoom will destroy the image quality of your pics in short order. If zoom is necessary for your need, ignore the digital offering and get a camera with optical zoom.

Another thing that some people don't think of when shopping is how wide of an angle the lens is. If the lens is too narrow in its range you will find you have to stand far back to get your entire subject in the frame. That is not ideal. A camera with a wider angle of view is preferable for most folks. Some cameras still don’t record in HD quality wither, so watch the resolution. Full HD means 1080p, which is as high as you can get with 720p being the second highest resolution available.

You can also get camcorders that are ruggedized. This is a great option for the user that will be using the camera outside a lot to record sports or other things where water, drops or falls are a big risk. You also want to keep an eye on what sort of software is required for editing and uploading the videos to sharing sites like YouTube or Facebook. Many of the cameras will come with the software installed on its internal storage. That is ideal because you can plug it into any computer and have what you need to edit and upload video.

If you are in the camcorder market and need, some options to consider check out my list of some of the best camcorders on the market today. Happy shopping!

1. Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera - The Zi8 is one of the new breed of small pocket camcorders that is intended to be compact enough to take with you everywhere. You can get it in black, raspberry, or aqua colors. It can record 1080p video at 30 frames per second in 16:9 aspect ratio, which is full motion suitable for an average full HDTV. It has an integrated USB cable and the software for uploading to YouTube is included. The viewfinder on the camera is a 2.5-inch unit and it ships with cables for shooting your video out to a TV. Storage is to SD/SDHC cards up to 32GB. You can pick the camera up right now for under $180.

2. Flip UltraHD Video Camera - The Flip UltraHD is one of the most popular camcorders on the market. It lacks any optical zoom, but it is priced well and records in 720p HD at 60 frames per second making slow motion possible. It has 8GB of storage onboard, which is enough for 2 hours of recording. It offers integrated software and an integrated USB arm. It will work with a Mac or PC. It sells for about $199 and it has a small rear LCD for viewing the video you recorded. It also has an HDMI output for viewing on your TV.

3. Kodak PlaySport Zx3 Camcorder - People that like to spend a lot of time at the lake or beach or around the pool and want to record their fun without fearing the camera will get wet need to check out the cool Kodak Zx3. It records in 1080p resolution and is water resistant to 10-feet. That means you can actually record underwater with the camera. It has electronic image stabilization and can shoot 5MP still shots as well. The rear LCD for viewing video is 2-inches wide. It stores video to SD cards and is available now for about $150.

4. GoPro HD Motorsports Hero - If you are into car racing or other motorsports and you want a small camera that can be attached to your vehicle or other surfaces the GoPro HD motorsports Hero is for you. This camera is water resistant and rugged when inside its little plastic enclosure. The suction cup mount is strong enough to stick on the outside of your car at high speeds and it has many other mounting options too. It sells for right at $300 and records to SD cards. It lacks a LCD screen by default, but you can buy one as an accessory for an extra $80. The camera records in 1080p, 720p, and a few other resolutions ad has different viewing angles as well. It is waterproof to 180-feet when inside its housing.

5. Sanyo VPC-GH4 with 10x optical zoom - Anyone that plans on having to record from a distance from the action will want a camcorder with optical zoom. The Sanyo VPC-GH4 is one of the cheapest optical zoom camcorders around at $129. It can record in 1080p resolution and take 10MP still shots as well. It has embedded software and when in still shot mode it has 5x optical zoom. The camera stores to SDGC cards up to 32GB. The flip out screen on the side measures 2.7-inches and it has embedded software for sharing photos and video.

6. Sony Bloggie Touch - This is one of the most compact little camcorders you will find. It offers 8GB of internal storage and no memory card slots for expansion. The camera is tiny at about the thickness of the iPhone and roughly half as wide. It will record full 1080p video and it has 12.8MP still shots that can be taken while video is being recorded. The back has a high-resolution 3-inch LCD that is touch sensitive for making the camera focus and browsing menus. The USB connector is built-in and it has embedded software too. The biggest problem with this camera is that the digital zoom sucks. The camera sells for about $163.

7. Samsung HMX-H300BN HD camcorder w/ 30X Zoom - If 10x optical zoom doesn't get you close enough to the action the H300BN from Samsung will with its massive 30x zoom lens. This camcorder isn't nearly as portable as the other camera we have looked at, but it has major zoom levels. It can record for three hours per charge and can record HD video. It’s doesn't spell out if the resolution is 1080p or 720p. Video is stored to SD cars and the camera can take digital still photos as well.

8. JVZ GZ-HD500 80GB HDD camcorder - If you don’t want to mess with memory cards, the HD500 has an internal HDD that has 80GB capacity. That will be enough space to record hours and hours of video. It also sports a 20x optical zoom lens and can record 1080p resolution. If you do run out of space on the huge 80GB HDD the camera also has a microSD card slot for expansion. The downside is the camera is big and sells for $339 making it one of the most expensive cameras on the list.

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