Camcorders for Beginners

Answers to basic camcorder questions for potential new camcorder owners

IFA 2011 Consumer Technology Trade Fair
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

What's a Camcorder?

A camcorder is a handheld electronic device designed to capture video that can later be played back on a television or computer.

What does a camcorder record video onto?

Camcorders record video onto tapes, DVD, hard disks, or flash drives. This article on Camcorder Formats can give you a run down on the different types of camcorders available.

How is video recorded on a camcorder different than recording video using video function on my digital camera?

Digital cameras can usually only record video for a few seconds or minutes.

The video recorded on your digital camera is at a resolution appropriate for emailing or viewing on a computer, but will typically not look good when put on your television. A camcorder will allow you to record videos from 30min on VHS-C and mini-DVD camcorders to several hours with hard disk and flash drive camcorders.

Can I take digital pictures with a camcorder?

Yes. Many digital camcorders have built-in digital cameras. If you want to use your camcorder as a digital camera then you will want to select a camcorder with a high-resolution. A 2 megapixel built-in camera will allow you to print 4x6 photos, a 5 megapixel camera will allow you to print photos up to 11x14. Check out this article on About Cameras to find to what you can expect from each different megapixel.

How do I watch my videos?

All camcorders allow you the option of watching your video back on the camcorder itself. VHS-C tapes can be put in an adapter and played in a VCR.

Mini-DVD's can be put in a traditional DVD player to be played back. Hi8, Hard Disk, and Flash based camcorder require you to connect your camcorder to your television or upload your video to your computer using a video editing program in order to watch it.

How do I know what camcorder is right for me?

The right camcorder for you will depend on what you plan on using it for.

This article has a few basic questions you'll need to ask yourself before you begin your camcorder search. Once you determine what you plan on using your camcorder for you can find suggestions for features to look for and some camcorder recommendations in "Finding the Right Camcorder for You"

Answers to basic camcorder questions for potential new camcorder owners

What's a Camcorder?

A camcorder is a handheld electronic device designed to capture video that can later be played back on a television or computer.

What does a camcorder record video onto?

Camcorders record video onto tapes, DVD, hard disks, or flash drives. This article on Camcorder Formats can give you a run down on the different types of camcorders available.

How is video recorded on a camcorder different than recording video using video function on my digital camera?

Digital cameras can usually only record video for a few seconds or minutes. The video recorded on your digital camera is at a resolution appropriate for emailing or viewing on a computer, but will typically not look good when put on your television. A camcorder will allow you to record videos from 30min on VHS-C and mini-DVD camcorders to several hours with hard disk and flash drive camcorders.

Can I take digital pictures with a camcorder?

Yes. Many digital camcorders have built-in digital cameras. If you want to use your camcorder as a digital camera then you will want to select a camcorder with a high-resolution. A 2 megapixel built-in camera will allow you to print 4x6 photos, a 5 megapixel camera will allow you to print photos up to 11x14. Check out this article on About Cameras to find to what you can expect from each different megapixel.

How do I watch my videos?

All camcorders allow you the option of watching your video back on the camcorder itself. VHS-C tapes can be put in an adapter and played in a VCR.

Mini-DVD's can be put in a traditional DVD player to be played back. Hi8, Hard Disk, and Flash based camcorder require you to connect your camcorder to your television or upload your video to your computer using a video editing program in order to watch it.

How do I know what camcorder is right for me?

The right camcorder for you will depend on what you plan on using it for. This article has a few basic questions you'll need to ask yourself before you begin your camcorder search. Once you determine what you plan on using your camcorder for you can find suggestions for features to look for and some camcorder recommendations in "Finding the Right Camcorder for You"