How to choose a digital video camera: basic parameters

How to choose a digital video camera: basic parameters


The first steps of the child, his first school call and graduation, victories at competitions and trips to the resorts: everything This is an integral part of the family video archive, saturated with memories and heart-warming moments. But in order to make the archive a real family heirloom, which one wants to leave for a long time, it is necessary to pay attention to how to choose a video camera. It is on the quality of her recording that the quality of emotions depends on viewing the video.

Once in a household electrical shop, you can get lost in a variety of offers from different companies, obscure functions and price categories of cameras. Today you can still meet analog models, but we will immediately bypass them due to the unconditional advantage of their digital counterparts.

And now, without losing your precious time, we turn to the criteria for choosing a digital video camera. We will consider them in order from first to less important. The proposed hierarchy was built on the basis of the experience of many camera users, who take pictures for many years.


  • 1Types of modern video cameras
    • 1.1DVD
    • 1.2Blu-ray
    • 1.3HDD
    • 1.4Flash
  • 2Matrix (CCD) video camera
    • 2.1The size
    • 2.2Resolution
    • 2.3Sensitivity
  • 3Optical camera system (lens and its capabilities)
  • 4Electronic Image Stabilizer
  • 5Adjusting the white balance
  • 6A few words about the viewfinder
  • 7LCD display for viewing video
  • 8Sound recording
  • 9Duration of autonomous work
  • 10Connectors for connection
    • 10.1Video: review of the new Sony FDR-AX100E video camera

Types of modern video cameras

When choosing a video camera, it will be correct to determine which type of media will be more convenient for you to work with. This will depend on the type of the device itself, and the maximum recording time that can be saved. If this is just empty words for you, read on.


Camcorders of this type are used as a medium (record video on) mini DVD. The recording is saved in MPEG-2 format and has a resolution of 720x576px. The presence of removable media allows you to take several disks with you and change them as you fill them.


In addition, you can immediately view the footage on almost any DVD player or PC that has a DVD-drive. But this type of video camera is not the best solution for the family, so we move on.


Unlike the previous type, these devices record on a Blu-ray disc (mini blu-ray), which allows you to save video in resolution up to 1920х1080 (Full HD). The reverse side of the coin of such an advantage will be the large "weight" of the finished media files, because of which the maximum duration of video recording will not exceed the hour.


In addition, these video cameras are much more expensive than others.


As you can see from the name of the class of devices, they use the built-in hard disk for video recording. Like dvd cameras, they record in MPEG-2 format (720 × 576). But thanks to the high capacity of the media, you can store up to ten hours of video (depending on the volume of the disc) in maximum quality without having to vacate the occupied space.


Today this type has received the maximum distribution, since the most convenient. Such camcorders use flash memory (usual memory cards sd, micro sd, compact flash, etc.). This allows you to take with you a few "flash drives" to replace them almost without detachment from the shooting. In addition, the finished material from memory cards can easily be transferred to a PC or laptop (using card readers).

Cameras of this type and weigh a little, and do not take up a lot of precious space in the suitcase. And the device can be easily operated with one hand.

In order to understand how to choose a video camera, knowledge of media types alone is not enough. Therefore, we proceed to the next step.

Matrix (CCD) video camera

The matrix in the video camera serves as a retina in the eye of a person. It collects and processes light signals, converting them into electrical pulses that form the image. Matrices have three main parameters:

The size

It can be measured both in millimeters and in parts (fractional: 1 /, /, / 6 ...) from the "full format" (35 mm film having a size of 32 * 24 mm). The larger the matrix (or the smaller the second digit in the fraction), the more light it will be able to assemble the sensor without losing quality, and the more "voluminous "livelier" will be the picture.

In addition, in conditions of poor lighting, cameras with a large matrix can avoid the appearance of unwanted "noise" on the video. They occur if a small sensor is supplied with a high voltage in order to increase its sensitivity.


This parameter specifies the number of active pixels of the photosensitive sensor (for example, Mn reports the presence of 1300000 pixels). The best camcorders have a resolution of -3 MP (try to select a device in this range).

It would seem, why do not we talk about 15-20 Mp, which modern cameras can offer? Unlike them, the camcorder does dozens of frames every second, and at the moment there are no processors capable of processing "heavy" frames at this speed. And since the video objects are in constant motion, small flaws are simply "smeared" and remain invisible.


This ability depends on the minimum degree of illumination, in which shooting will make sense. Try to choose a digital video camera with good sensitivity (the higher it is, the better). The parameter is measured in lux (lux), and an excellent camera will be one that is able to shoot at, lk (with a minimum of light).

The ability of the device to capture more light is affected by the quality of the optics (including the degree of transparency of the lenses) and the photosensitive element - the CCD matrix. If you plan to shoot in poor lighting, take care of buying special lighters that can improve the quality of the video.

Modern cameras can have at once three CCD matrices (3CCD), each of which serves to fix only one color (red, green or blue). This "distribution of labor" allows you to get a better color rendering, while avoiding color distortions. Of course, the price for a device with three sensors will be higher, and the camera dimensions will be more than usual.

If you want to use the camcorder in ordinary household conditions, removing only home video, it will be more appropriate to choose a model with one matrix.

The light is fixed by the sensor of the device, but in order for it to reach the target, an optical system is needed - the object of attention of the next chapter.

Optical camera system (lens and its capabilities)

One of the most important elements of any camera is its optics. When evaluating it, you must pay attention to the minimum viewing angle and the smallest focal length (the largest viewing angle). Two of these parameters determine the possibility of shooting in small rooms, where it is impossible to take a couple of steps back to "capture" more objects.


In addition, a qualitative optical zoom (magnification) will also prove useful. It will allow you to zoom in on distant objects, eliminating the need to approach them. Pay attention to the optical zoom factor (8, 0, 5x, etc.) as the main indicator of the quality of the zoom. Digital zoom uses the electronic filling of the camera to enlarge the image (with loss of quality). This can be done later, in the video editor on the computer (and much better).

Do not overpay for extreme zoom (more than 20-30x), if you do not use it in everyday practice.

In addition, this increase will require shooting from a tripod due to the fact that any oscillation of the camera will be repeatedly amplified and adversely affect the quality of image perception.

Electronic Image Stabilizer

It is necessary to give preference to models of video cameras having an image stabilizer. This function will minimize the "jitter" of the picture when shooting without a tripod. Virtually all cameras are now equipped with a stabilizer, and the difference will be only in the principle of its operation: optical or electronic.

The first involves the use of an additional set of lenses, which quickly adapt to the chaotic motion of the camera. The processor detects deviations from the main plot and corrects the picture with the help of additional "glasses".

The second way to stabilize the image is to "cut off" a small area of ​​the CCD matrix, at the expense of that the processor has the opportunity to operate with the remaining image, aligning it with necessity. Of course, the picture quality in this case will be slightly lower.

Regardless of what type of stabilizer you decide to choose, they will both perfectly cope with the task.

Adjusting the white balance

If you want the white color in the frame to be white rather than yellowish or bluish, it's better to choose a good model with the possibility of manually adjusting the white balance. It allows you to specify the camera, in what conditions is the shooting.

If you are recording a children's morning performance in the school's assembly hall, where the incandescent lamps are installed, the image will be yellow. Conversely, when shooting in an office space under fluorescent lights, the spectrum will "fall" into cold tones. Just to correct such shortcomings, it was possible to specify the color temperature manually.

Of course, modern camcorders are equipped with automatic white balance adjustment, but it will be better if you can adjust it manually.

A few words about the viewfinder

The viewfinder allows you to observe the process of shooting, to properly build a frame and quickly change the angle. Therefore, trying to figure out how to choose a video camera for home, give the viewfinder a special attention. It can be either optical or mirror.

Optical does not allow you to see the real picture, as it is slightly displaced from the axis of the lens, because of what the operator and camera "look" at what is happening at different angles. The difference is not significant, but to avoid it, we recommend choosing a video camera with a mirror-type viewfinder.

Also, viewfinders can be either color or black and white. Each has its own "minuses" and significant "advantages". Black-and-white allows you to quickly adjust the sharpness, and color will give the ability to adjust the white balance and color management without interrupting the shooting.

LCD display for viewing video

All modern camcorders are equipped with a LCD display, which can also be used as a viewfinder. Rotary screens will give the opportunity to shoot from the most uncomfortable point. For example, you can lift the camera on outstretched hands from the crowd and turn the screen towards you, freeing yourself from having to make your way to the front rows to get better shots.

In addition, on a small screen you can immediately see the footage. In order to better choose a good video camera, evaluate the capabilities of its display. It is necessary to take into account its size and resolution (the more, the better), and also to inquire about the availability additional functions, such as manually specifying the lens focusing point or extracting all information about shooting.

Modern models are increasingly equipped with touch screens: they make it easier to control the process of shooting, but also require increased attention due to high exposure to mechanical damage.

Sound recording

The times of silent cinema are a thing of the past, and today we want to enjoy both a good image and sound on video recordings. It will be better if the camera you choose to select will be able to record sound in stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 format (useful when listening to a multi-channel audio system). In addition, the device must have a connector for connecting an external microphone and be able to write sound to two channels (will later be able to impose comments or a background melody on an existing record).

Duration of autonomous work


If you do not want to get into dependence on the outlets and do not want to be nervous because of the constantly ending charge, it is better to choose a model having a good battery. Today, lithium-ion (Li-Ion) and lithium-polymer (Li-Pol) batteries are used. You do not have to think about which battery to buy - for each model there is a unique "source of energy".

It is necessary to find out whether it is possible to increase the capacity of the battery that comes with the kit. If there is an alternative that allows you to increase the operating time (in comparison with the "native" battery) - purchase it.


In order not to get into an embarrassing situation due to a battery not being discharged in time, it is better to purchase 1-2 spare ones. Particularly relevant will be such a solution when shooting in the cold, or using an energy-intensive recording mode (using LCD, backlight, zoom, etc.).

Connectors for connection

The footage should be easily and quickly transferred to other devices. And it will be correct if the camera has a whole set of connectors, such as:

  • S-Video. Useful for connecting to a VCR and a TV for analog data transfer.
  • HDMI. Allows you to watch video from the camera in excellent quality (digital transmission of information).
  • DV. Used to transfer materials to most electronic devices (PC, projector, laptop or other digital camera).
  • USB. With it, the "skid" of video recordings on a PC will be simplified as much as possible.

On this, we finish the review of 10 basic criteria that you need to use to choose a video camera that can better capture the highlights of your family's life.

Video: review of the new Sony FDR-AX100E video camera

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