The central part of a DV camcorder is the CCD, or
Charge Coupled Device. This sensor creates a video
picture by recording the light intensity to recognize
an image or shape, along with the color levels to
reproduce a full color picture.
There are several tape based DV camcorders that have
both color eyepiece viewfinders and a flip out TFT
LCD screen to view the action as well as the previous
recorded footage. Most tape-less models however,
only offer the TFT screen to preview your captured
video and to view while you make a recording.
When you need to get closer to the action, a zoom
lens can be a great feature. Don’t get swayed by
the digital zoom figure however; as no matter how
large it may be, you should always base your final
decision on the optical zoom.
The optical zoom will give you a true indication of
the video image, where digital zooms interpolate the
available pixels to zoom in on an image. Optical
zooms will normally range around the 10X mark, with
digital zooms ranging from 100X and above.
The auto focusing systems are great as well, although
manual focus options can be ideal for low light or
when focusing on a subject against a landscape. Being
available on most video cameras, the manual focus
control can be found as either a ring on the lens
or as a dual button system on the body.
Most video cameras these days will provide a tilting
feature in the camera itself, although this feature
should be avoided unless you don’t intend to edit
the video on a computer. The title effects on
many cameras are quite limited and cannot be
Almost all new high definition video cameras will
use a rechargeable Li-ion battery, even though a
spare battery might be useful as the batteries are
unique to each camcorder maker and normally each
Most of the latest cameras allow you to capture
digital still images onto a removable flash memory
card. The most popular media is SD or MMC, but
Sony and Samsung cameras often capture to a memory
If your video camera doesn’t offer still image
capabilities, you can always perform a capture of
the screen in your editing program. Always remember
that the image resolution when capturing a still
this way will always be 640X480, which is actually
less than 1 MB, or Mega Byte.