It was a lot easier to choose a videocamera a few years back when they all recorded to tape and had fairly similar specs. Today, video cameras and much more advanced and use various different formats to record video to.
Unfortunately, it's not so simple to say that one type of videocamera is the best, as different types have their advantages and disadvantages and are suitable for different applications. Therefore it is important that you think of what you would like to use your camera for before you buy one.
There are essentially three different categories when it comes to video cameras, such as compact and handheld video cameras for amateurs, professional cameras that capture the highest quality video and sound, and the small and very robust action cameras that you can attach a helmet when riding down the mountain on your mountain bike.
In this guide we're going to concentrate on the first group and what qualities you should look specifically at, when choosing from vast amount of cameras on the market.
Just a few years back you were given the option of either choosing a HD or standard definition video camera. The argument for opting out of HD, was of course a lower price. If you didn't have a high-definition television, and didn't intend on using the camera to record things in the highest resolution, you could save money by buying a camera without HD. Of course, in this day and age, it's becoming rarer and rarer to find cameras without HD resolution, and standard definition may only be available on the very cheap cameras, which may not be worth buying at all.
Today's modern video cameras will come with either 720p, 1080p or 4K HD resolution. 4K is still quite new at the present and you will naturally need a 4K television to view videos at that resolution. It is nevertheless important to remember that even if you do not have a ultra high-definition television today, you may in the future. Or you may want the kids to enjoy recordings you made of them as a baby when they become adults, and therefore it may be worth spending a little extra to get a 4K video camera.
When choosing the quality of a videocamera you also want to closely look at colour rendering, exposure, noise and sharpness. When shooting movies, it is also essential that the camera has a image stabilizer function - this is particularly important when zooming in on subjects from a long distance.
It is a great advantage if it is easy to use the videocamera, for example, how the buttons are placed - especially if you want to use manual settings. The menu should also be logically structured and easy to navigate. If you go in to an electronics store looking for a new videocamera, you will discover that cameras today have a very similar design and layout. They have been designed to make everything as easy as possible and effortlessly to carry with one hand, and with a screen that can be tilted to almost any angle.
It's ideal to have a relatively large screen on the videocamera, so you can see how well you are filming. On the display may also be where the menu is located, so you should check that the menu is easy to navigate, and that you are comfortable with the touch screen function. Check if possible how easy it is to look at the screen in direct sunlight. There's nothing worse than having a screen that you can barely see in strong sunlight.
Current models either have a built-in memory, where you can store several hours of footage onto the camera itself, or it will use a SD card that can be removed and inserted into your computer when you want to download the footage. Small action cameras usually use microSD cards as these are even smaller. Capacity of SD cards have dramatically increased in size in recent years and are now available up to 512 GB in size.
It's good to be able to zoom in on what you want to shoot, but you should not automatically select the camera with the highest zoom setting, until you have compared other properties - and also tested how the zoom the works in practice.
It is essential to have a long battery life on a videocamera. It's also a good idea to check how much it will cost costs to buy an extra battery or two for the particular model you're interested in, as this will be essential if you plan on shooting long scenes outdoors. It's also a nice option if you can charge the battery via a USB cable which you can connect to your computer or other portable devices.
You won't get particularly great sound when recording with amateur video cameras, but it is certainly an advantage to be able to hear what people say, especially if you're filming a wedding. You should also check how the camera records audio, and if it allows the option of connecting an external microphone.
As you can see, it's always worthwhile to spend some time selecting a videocamera beforehand. Then you will be able to find a model suitable for your use, whether you're an amateur, pro or on budget.
If you want a model that isn't the most expensive, then one with 720p resolution is the obvious choice. If you want one with the best quality available then you should look at 4K resolution cameras.
Once you've chosen the model and bought the camera, it pays to read the manual thoroughly, as they come with a lot of features and in the long run it will make you a better videographer.
If you have made up your mind, as to which is the correct video camera for you, why not visit our dedicated video camera page.