Cameras may also vary in recording format. How to choose a digital video camera for shooting high-quality video? For this, two video recording formats are suitable - HDV and AVCHD. The only difference is the compression algorithm. The AVC / H.264 codec in the AVCHD format is faster and better. Such compression is used today mainly when writing to Flash-cards. But in order for a high-quality recorded video to realize itself, you also need an appropriate matrix, optics.
In order to correctly answer the question “How to choose a video camera?”, You should find out what it consists of and what functions its individual components have.
This is a lens system that has one task - to focus the light flux on a photosensitive matrix. But not every lens does this very well. The principle of “price equals quality” is also true here. Therefore, video cameras of the lower and middle price segment are not able to boast of a good lens. And the main difficulty in choosing a camcorder is that it can be problematic to determine the quality of the lens directly in the store. Only working with a video camera will determine the quality of the lens.
It depends on the focal length of the lens. The smaller the focal length, the larger the picture gets into the lens. But with a significant decrease in the focal length, optical distortions appear, and to eliminate them, a more complex video camera design is required, which affects the price. Therefore, manufacturers in budget models limit the minimum focal length.
Often when shooting a video, I want to zoom in or delete the subject. Changing the distance using optics or electronics without loss of quality is possible only taking into account all the features of this process. So, the optical zoom (Zoom) is produced by moving the lenses and can vary from 10 to 25 units. The object is approaching or moving away. An indicator of 10 units is quite suitable for ordinary shooting, while 20 units already require the use of a tripod, because the camera begins to respond to the slightest hand tremor.
Optics of a video camera transfers everything “seen” to a CCD matrix, or rather its sensitive elements. The CCD matrix converts the image into an electrical signal. Moreover, the larger the size of the matrix, the better, as this allows you to better control the lighting and darkness due to greater photosensitivity. The standard diagonal of the matrix is 1 4-6 mm or 1 3-8 mm. The resolution of the CCD is measured in pixels. To avoid factors such as matrix noise and grain size, the number of pixels should be large (min. Resolution - 500 thousand pixels (0.5 megapixels)).
Professional cameras boast 3CCD (3x CCD) technology. In these devices, the light layout is made in three color tones: the light entering the lens breaks up into red, blue and green, and each of them is processed by its own matrix. At the end of the processing process, they are again combined into a single stream. In this way, color rendering is improved and color gamut distortion is eliminated. For home shooting, a single-matrix camera is enough.
Types of Camera Viewfinders
There are two types of viewfinders: optical and mirror.
- Optical image biases, which is noticeable in projection.
- Mirroring clearly and accurately conveys the picture in the frame, and there is no image shift to the side.
But both cope with their tasks: help in choosing the most suitable angle for shooting, setting up the video shooting process and continuous monitoring of what is happening in the frame. In addition, viewfinders come in color and black and white. The former retains its natural color reproduction and tone, while the latter retains better clarity. Since all models of modern camcorders have a liquid crystal screen, shooting is quite easy, even when in an uncomfortable position (holding the camera over your head or even sideways).
Decide which storage medium for the camera is most preferable for you, where the image will be recorded. In modern camcorders, 4 types of media are used: cassette, hard disk, DVD disk and flash card. Moreover, they do not affect the image quality. The most convenient to use are cameras with a hard disk (HDD) and with a flash card.
HDD models are convenient when you plan to shoot continuously for several hours. This media allows you to not change periodically flash drives, disks, etc. However, viewing the footage on a large screen is possible only by connecting the camera to a TV or by copying a video, for example, to a DVD disc. A flash card will allow you to view the footage on a tablet, on a phone, on a laptop and on many modern devices and save a lot of space in your pockets compared to, for example, DVD discs. Basically, the role of a flash drive in video cameras is played by SD or microSD cards.
In order for the captured material to be viewed on a laptop and on a TV with a diagonal of 32 inches without loss of quality, you need to pay attention to the type of matrix of the camcorder. The matrix is abbreviated as CCD and CMOS. Both types allow you to shoot video with good color reproduction and resolution up to 1080 r. CMOS matrices are more popular due to their low cost compared to CCD. Moreover, the amateur will not notice the difference between them. CCD matrices are justified in semi-professional or professional devices. You should also pay attention to the size of the matrix. Каче inch or 6 mm is enough for high-quality shooting.
Modern camcorders have a special device that helps to avoid image fluctuations when shooting. This device is called an “image stabilizer." It can be optical and electronic.
- The electronic stabilizer works using a part of the matrix, the information from which is transmitted to the processor for processing. Great for amateur photography and home video.
- Optical works due to an additional set of lenses. Information, using certain sensors, is fed to the video camera processor, which decrypts the data and controls stabilization lenses. The transmitted information is the speed, amplitude and direction of oscillation. That's why the image does not go beyond the boundaries of the matrix and remains motionless. This type of stabilizer is more preferable, as noted by those who purchased a camera with this stabilizer.
Zoom is a must
To zoom in and shoot distant objects, you need zoom. The camera’s 15x zoom is enough. You can do more, only in some models at maximum magnification the picture quality may suffer. Zoom is designated as - 15x (15x magnification).
For those who like to take the camera on travel, an electronic image stabilizer is simply necessary in order to avoid blurry images during movement and light shaking. This option will be useful to those who like to shoot on the dance floor during rock concerts. After all, holding your hand right while shooting is simply impossible.
Scanning is interlaced and progressive. At the first - objects in the camera move smoothly. But when viewed on a computer monitor, a “comb” appears, which is easily removed by the video editor. In the second, smoothness is lost, but if the footage is viewed exclusively on a computer, then progressive scan is preferable.
Almost all modern cameras are equipped with a rotary LCD display for easy shooting from different angles and angles. Also, the display allows you to view the footage in the interval between shooting. And it’s better if it is touch-sensitive, which will make camera control more convenient, and the camera itself more compact.
And, of course, in order for the shooting not to stop at half the stage, you need to pay attention to the battery life of the camera. It is better to immediately buy a spare battery, especially when you go on a long tour.
LCD screen and battery
Most of all, buyers are attracted when the camcorder has a large and bright screen - then it is very pleasant to work with it. The picture can be viewed in detail.
But the larger the screen, the less battery life the camera has. A capacious battery will not interrupt shooting at the most unexpected moment.
If everything is clear with the types of video cameras and their device, then it's time to move on to the question of how to choose a video camera of a particular model. To do this, you need to determine the price of the issue by comparing models of different manufacturers.
It is better to choose a model with the maximum size of the CCD. Equally important is the number of effective pixels. It can be different in models with the same sensor parameters.
It must be decided whether analog inputs are required along with digital. And if the second is necessary in the case of HDV and MiniDV, then the first can be easily abandoned, if, of course, the plans do not include digitization of old archives.
If in the first place is the quality of the recorded material, then you should focus on models with a reasonable aperture and minimal "zoom". Maximum aperture required when shooting in low light conditions.
Large digital “zoom” should not greatly affect the choice, since its use significantly reduces the quality of the picture.
If the choice is between several similar cameras and their differences are only in the “bells and whistles” (sports and portrait mode, flashlight, backlight, backlight compensation function, additional megapixels for the photo mode, etc.), then you should buy a younger model. It is more correct to spend the saved money on useful accessories (illuminators, tripods) or an inexpensive camera that can take many beautiful photographs without involving a video camera in this process, which is not intended for this.
Electronic stabilizer proved to be good (Sony models are especially proud of it), an optical stabilizer, all other things being equal, is preferable.
Many people believe that three-matrix systems give better resolution and color reproduction, and less color noise. There is some truth in such opinions, but today there are models with one CCD matrix that are in no way inferior to their three-matrix counterparts.
It is also worth paying attention to the dimensions of the camera and the scope of delivery. A miniature camera in the hands of a moving person looks spectacular, but a film shot with such a camera does not look so good. The camcorder for shooting high-quality video should be held with both hands and held with the second hand behind the lens, but not in the viewfinder.
Therefore, when choosing a video camera, you should hold it in your hands to make sure how well and convenient it will subsequently work with it. In addition to the manual and the camera itself, the package should include: a battery, a charger, one or more connecting cables, sometimes a control panel is provided. In addition, there may be a disk with software for video editing.
When the choice is narrowed down to 2-3 models, test them in the same conditions. This will help make the final decision.
In addition to standard functions, each model of the camcorder can have additional features that can be both useful and not very good.
Manual White Balance
Under different lighting conditions, the white color in the camera may have different shades. And so that the white color remains white, the camera automatically adjusts the white balance. But automation can also fail. And the processor does not always adjust the white balance quickly. That's why the manual adjustment of this parameter is a significant plus for the camcorder.
Manual Focus Function
As with white balance, automation does not always accurately focus on the subject. Sometimes a camera can just defocus when you don't expect it. Therefore, temporary switching to manual focus can be very useful.
In general, we can say this: the presence of manual adjustments of shutter speed and aperture, and other modes of manual image adjustment can significantly help in the video process.
The camcorder is designed for video shooting. And photographs should be taken with cameras. Even the most budgetary “digital dust camera” will take a better shot than a standard video camera with a similar function. Its necessity could be considered justified if there were a matrix in the video camera with the number of pixels more than 2 million. But such a number of pixels will reduce the quality of video recording.
Digital faders, or built-in effects, such as the effect of specular reflection, shooting "antique", the effect of crooked mirrors, etc., are most likely created for the banal pumping of money. Any video editor will allow you to do something breathtaking from the captured video and give any effect, while the source will remain clean. While a video shot with an effect is difficult to bring back to normal.
Another way to spend money in vain. Only dedicated cameras can shoot in low light conditions. Minimum illumination plus night mode in a standard camcorder is a terrible picture with many artifacts and noise. If an object moves, it will be blurry. In many video editors, the captured material can be highlighted and get a better picture.
How to choose an outdoor surveillance camcorder? First of all, you need to pay attention to the presence of infrared illumination. Infrared illumination was originally intended for this type of camera. And even in them it is not always qualitatively implemented. In a conventional camcorder, it looks ridiculous, although there are such models.
Defining a point of sharpness or a point of illumination
This function allows you to directly indicate on the LCD screen the point at which the brightness and sharpness are adjusted. This helps both when shooting several similar objects, to highlight the most important of them, indicating the point of sharpness, and when shooting a moving object, when the background of the object is constantly changing from light to dark. By specifying a point of illumination, you can avoid darkening or exposure of the object.
One of the useful features, according to the reviews of the owners of cameras, revealing "overexposed" areas. On the screen, such areas will be shown as completely white. Using the viewfinder, it is not always possible to determine the true illumination. Here the zebra function will come to the rescue.
Who is in the market?
How to choose the right camera when there are so many models from completely different manufacturers on the market? The original rating of video cameras presented in the article should help in this. In fact, the market is divided between four main players: Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Canon. Sharp has only three or two MiniDV cameras in its assortment; they are practically not represented in our market. At Hitachi DVD-cameras are not in special demand because of the commitment of models to exotic discs for recording (Mini-DVD-Ram). Samsung has a wide range of cameras, but Koreans still have a lot to learn from their Japanese counterparts.
Budget MiniDV Models
Budget models of MiniDV cameras start at $ 250. So minimal
the threshold is for everyone who wonders how to choose a digital video camera. What is bought for that kind of money? 1/6 inch CCD and 800 thousand pixels, of which only 400 thousand are used when shooting, since the rest are assigned to the tasks of an electronic stabilizer. Lens with excessive zoom. These cameras are very sensitive to lighting, or rather to its lack, due to the low sensitivity of their tiny sensor.
Therefore, when shooting indoors, additional lighting will be required. A small number of effective pixels will not provide accurate color reproduction and high resolution, and excessive "zoom" badly affects the quality of the "picture". In general, the budget models presented on the market are shot the same. Panasonic, JVC and Canon are the main manufacturers whose products should be paid attention to when choosing budget equipment. Their initial models do not have “bells and whistles” (flashes, backlights, recording to a memory card, etc.). But, as mentioned above, this does not significantly affect the quality of shooting. Therefore, with a limited budget, this is a good choice.
MiniDV cameras. Average price range
The price of these cameras lies in the region of 500 dollars. And, choosing such a camera, you should first of all pay attention to the quality of shooting, but not to additional functions. ПЗС-матрица – 1/4,5 дюйма, «зум» объектива не выше 15х.
Цена = качество
Новички не покупают видеокамеры за 650-850 долларов. Но камеры этой группы превосходят более дешевые аналоги по такому немаловажному параметру, как чувствительность.
Hi-End класс MiniDV
Качественная видеокамера быть дешевой не может. Именно такой девиз у фирм- производителей. Стоимость видеокамер этого класса начинается в районе 1000 долларов.
В классе Hi-End видеокамеры MiniDV успешно заменяются камерами HDV. So, Sony is represented by two models - HDR-HC1E and HDR-HC3E. The first has more affinity with semi-professional models (higher resolution, instead of the dial switch - manual focus ring), the second has greater sensitivity and the dimensions of the camera are smaller, and it has an HDMI connector, which allows you to connect to other HDV-devices by "digital".
The number of models of this type of camcorder on the market is not so great when compared with MiniDV. It is for this reason and because of the “fashionable” recording format that manufacturers raise prices, which does not justify the quality of the video recording made by these cameras, as noted by those who have already purchased this type of equipment. And most budget MPEG2 camcorders fully follow this trend. It is very difficult to find a reasonable price here. HDD and DVD cameras cost more than $ 500, and models with Flash cards are even more expensive. This situation is smoothed out a bit when moving to the middle and Hi-End class.
Much more can be written about the design of video cameras, the pros and cons of individual models and rulers in general. Conventionally, all video cameras can be divided into two large categories. The first should include models for novice operators, cameras for undemanding people.
If the question is how to choose a camcorder for the home, then cameras from this category are ideal. They will not have high-quality optics, an optical image stabilizer, a large photosensitive sensor and viewfinder, and a high-quality LCD display. But then these cameras are affordable in terms of price - 9-12 thousand rubles.
The second category includes cameras with a “claim”. They are intended for professionals or for people who already have experience with this device. These are cameras with good optics, optical zoom, a large CCD (best of all, three large matrices), black and white or color, but of high quality, the viewfinder, large sizes, high-quality liquid crystal display and much more.
If, despite all of the above, the question of how to choose a video camera is still open, then you can study the forums with reviews, view the rating of video cameras on other sites, and consult with the owners.
These are the simplest, cheapest and most compact camcorders of all. They do not have interchangeable optics, which degrades the quality of shooting in some conditions, and the video in such models is recorded on a regular flash card. The built-in microphone is small, often simply hidden in the case.
However, the functionality even for amateur models is quite decent and allows the inexperienced user to "play around" by exposing various shooting modes. Previously, such cameras shot movies only in the SD format, that is, 720x576 pixels. But today you can find good models that work with HD and Full HD resolutions.
- Acceptable picture quality
- Light weight and dimensions
- Easy to use
- Compatible with any computer via USB,
- Low cost.
- The video quality is worse than other models,
- The minimum range of the microphone - "catches" only the sounds next to the camera.
The next step in evolution is the intermediate link between amateur and professional cameras. Such devices often have three matrices with a size of at least 1/4 ", which means they more reliably reproduce the color of the image. Semi-professional cameras weigh from 2 to 4 kg - you can’t carry it in one hand. But the recording, like in amateur devices, goes on removable memory card This technique shoots video in HD 960 × 720 or HDV 1440 × 1080 pixels.
- Decent video quality
- Average weight
- A good microphone that can pick up sounds up to 25 meters away
- Up to 4 recording channels
- Image stabilizer already in use,
- A wide selection of manual settings,
- Large LCD screen.
These are serious devices intended for use on television and in documentary. Such cameras weigh quite a lot (from 5 to 15 kg) - you won’t hold such a “colossus” in your hands. There are special belts and tripods for this, and shooting in motion has to be done from the shoulder.
Professional video cameras always come with three color matrices no smaller than 1/2 "in size. The optics are exceptionally interchangeable. The microphone is separate and has a rather large length (the so-called" gun "). However, there is often no LCD screen and autofocus here - they are not pros for what.
Such serious cameras often shoot video in the AVCHD format (1920 × 1080 pixels), but are also capable of working in 4K, HD, SD, MPEG, etc.
- Wide functionality (image stabilization, night video mode, manual focus, etc.),
- Very high picture quality,
- The microphone catches at fairly large distances - up to 50 m,
- Often there is the ability to record 5.1 surround sound,
- Compatible with other professional television equipment.
- Very high cost
- A lot of weight.
These compact head cameras are needed by athletes, extremals and video bloggers to record their tricks or record what is happening around. Such devices are equipped with matrices from 5 to 12 megapixels, have fairly wide viewing angles between 90-170 ° and record video on a memory card in a format not lower than Full HD with resolutions of 1280x720 or 1920x1080. The battery here is able to work up to 2.5 hours, the weight of action cameras can range from 70 to 200 g.
- Excellent stabilization
- The ability to conduct accelerated shooting,
- High quality pictures with accurate color reproduction,
- The minimum area of "dead zones"
- Reliable fastenings for any surfaces,
- Rugged and often dustproof housing
- Reasonable cost.
- The battery runs out quickly, especially Wi-Fi
- Unsuitable in everyday life.
Here, the choice largely depends on what equipment you will view the footage on and what processing will be required for this.
Despite the abundance of existing formats, there are only 3 generally accepted standards:
1. SD - the simplest, initial level, giving a picture with a resolution of 720x576 px. Gradually a thing of the past, although it is still used on amateur cameras. When viewed on any external monitor gives a noticeable grain.
2. HD - good quality, but when viewing on a large screen, the picture often has to be stretched, which can lead to distortion.
3. AVCHD - allows you to immediately record the image in Full HD (1920x1080) or even 4K, and if necessary, compress it to any desired resolution.
Which camcorder to choose
1. Those who are engaged in professional shooting need appropriate equipment that works with the AVCHD format and records the picture on the hard drive. Matrices - only 3ССD, progressive scan, and better combined. There are no specific requirements for a full-time lens, since it often goes interchangeable, although optical image stabilization should be here in any case. Functionality - the richer the better. But you should pay close attention to the microphone. It must be made and with a good range. Ideally, if you can record sound on 5 channels, but 4 will do.
2. If you are a “home” director or are engaged in video journalism, take a semi-professional model with a CMOS matrix - then charging the battery will last for a longer period. It is desirable that it supports Full HD shooting format, but in extreme cases, you can limit yourself to HD. Stabilization is required, and, as in professional equipment, optic should be preferred. It is better to take the device with a slot for a memory card and a rotary display with the maximum possible diagonal. Typically, these cameras have a fairly rich functionality, so you will often have to work with the on-screen menu.
3. For entertainment and home use, a compact amateur model with one CMOS-matrix and recording on a USB flash drive is enough. The recommended format is HD, but if the budget is limited and you are ready to put up with blurry images, you can stay on SD. Choose a wide-angle lens if you plan to take the camera with you on a trip and take landscapes, or telephoto if you just want to capture households.
4. For athletes and adrenaline maniacs, the only right choice would be an action camera with helmet mounts. You don’t need to check any parameters here, since all modern models have the necessary functions: Full HD or 4K recording, wide viewing angle of about 160-170 °, shooting acceleration for slow motion, etc. The only thing is to pay attention to the resolution matrices: an indicator of 8 megapixels is considered optimal. Everything else depends on the amount you are willing to spend: the more expensive and modern the camcorder, the higher it will be protected from water and dust and more shooting modes.
The cost of camcorders
1. The cost of professional models ranges from 50 thousand rubles to 4.8 million.
2. For a semi-professional model will have to pay from 5 to 200 thousand rubles.
3. Amateur cameras are sold at a price of 1500-15000 rubles.
4. Action cameras come from 1800-2000 rubles. for the simplest models with a matrix of 1-5 megapixels up to 40 thousand for supermodels recording UHD 4K format and having a resolution of 8-16 megapixels.