1. Narrow Choices

3 Steps when buying a camcorder:

  1. Narrow down your choices
  2. Browse reviews and user feedback
  3. Find the best price

The tutorial below shows you Step 1. How to Narrow Your Choices.

The features in the video tutorial above are what you should start with to narrow your choices. Once you have a short list of camcorders, you can start looking up other features such as:

Optical Zoom – You want 10X (10 times) or more. Optical Zoom is true zoom. Don't pay too much attention at Digital Zoom – that's not real Zoom, that's stretching and losing video quality.

LCD Size – that's the size of your camcorder viewer – you know the little screen you clip open. 2.5" is common. Bigger is better but I wouldn't pay extra money for that.

CCD Sensor Size - In a prior tutorial I mentioned 1/6" is common for starter consumer camcorders and how bigger is better. If you missed that tutorial, here's the link: Single-CCD vs 3 CCD.

Still Pictures – Some camcorders can take still pictures as well. If you already own a digital camera, chances are your digital camera takes better pictures (higher resolution). Also, usually you need to buy the SD card that stores the pictures yourself. It doesn't always come with the camcorder, can you believe it?

Video Resolution – These numbers get tricky. Best if to read user reviews and get their feedback whether the images are sharp or not. If you like numbers, the number to look for is 340,000 pixels. You want a CCD Pixel Count Effective Video Resolution of at least 340,000 pixels or more. Make sure it says Effective Video, not Gross Video or Extended Video, those don't reflect true resolution.

External Microphone
– Some camcorders have an input jack to plug in an external microphone. Important if you think you'll be doing a lot of interviewing. Otherwise, the built-in microphone on your camcorder should suffice.

Once you have narrowed your camcorder choices, it's time to read what people say about them. Next: Step 2. Where to browse product reviews