Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Thinking of Getting a New Video Camera for Christmas?


Flickr photo courtesy: George D Thompson

I’ve recently started my holiday shopping frenzy and while buying gifts for others, I’m usually motivated to buy something for my favorite person, me!

One of the items I have been considering lately is a new video camera. Every time I shop for video cameras, I am amazed at how much the technology seems to be changing and how many proprietary format cameras there are out there. Over the last couple of years, video cameras that stored your footage onto a DVD were the big thing. Prior to that, there was MiniDV, Video8, Hi8, VHS, VHS-C. Now I’ve noticed that some of the new cameras are storing your footage on a chip which can be downloaded directly to your computer through a USB cable.
Format wars, or the competition between mutually incompatible data storage devices and recording formats for electronic media, have been going on since the early part of the 20th century. If you’re of my generation you’ll remember the cassette vs 8 track tape wars.

The thing to keep in mind when you make a choice of video camcorder is how will you store your media. The problem with recording directly on a DVD is that the camera automically compresses the footage so if you want to take your footage into a computer and edit it at a later date, you’ll be editing compressed footage and then compressing it again for output. Not the best quality film for sure. Plus, if you get a scratch on your DVD, you’re SOL as the DVD will probably be ruined and the footage lost forever.

That is the problem that I forsee with these new camcorders that shoot onto a chip. Yes, you can download the video directly to your computer but then what are you going to do with it? Hard drives are notorious for failing and uncompressed video requires HUGE hard drive capacity. These chips are costly to use as storage devices and your home computer is not the best place to be storing valuable footage or photographs.

So I will probably opt to go with the tried and true camcorder that records to miniDV. MiniDV is digital footage used for semi-professional and some professional purposes. I’ll be able to load this footage onto my computer, play with it until I’m blue in the face, and always have the original tape stored away as my backup. There’s always a possibility that something could happen to the tape but there is a much higher probablity of something happening to my computer.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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