Camcorders have gone through major transitions over the last few years. MiniDVs, which dominated the market until recently, are now being phased out because flash and hard drive-based camcorders are far more compact and offer richer feature sets. Flash memory-based camcorders also less likely to break down as they have fewer moving parts.
Both flash and hard disk-based camcorders offer substantial storage space. Flash memory supports just about 16GB of space whereas their hard disk counterparts offer as much as 240GB. Here are important guidelines to follow when buying a camcorder:
Build Quality: The overall build quality is vital. A better build ensures that parts don’t come loose over extended use. Keep the quality of construction, firmness of moving parts such as battery compartment and port flaps in mind.
Ergonomics: A good camcorder is user-friendly. The overall design should be such that you find it easy to use and navigate between the various functions. Consider features like button size/ spacing and grip along with easily accessible controls.
Resolution: A camcorder with a higher sensor resolution will not only deliver a better video output, but will also capture decent still images. An HD camcorder is also useful if you’ave already got an HD-ready TV.
LCD screen size: Look out for a camcorder with a decently-sized screen and a bright display.
Storage capacity: Look for a camcorder with a high capacity drive as it will allow you to record for a longer timeframe. Also ensure that the device comes with an SDHC (memory card) expansion slot.
Optical zoom: Good optical zoom value allows you to zoom into the subject without compromising on the overall picture quality.
Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS): This is the most important factor to consider when buying a camcorder with high optical zoom. It will help in maintaining jitter-free video at full zoom. Test the camcorder at full zoom to check out the IS.
Warranty: Since camcorders are considered expensive and delicate, it is important for them to be backed up by warranty and support.