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This month: December

Last month we talked about firewire and this month is about DV video cameras. I've change this thought a bit. Its actually the features and parts of the camera that should be the important points and making your own buying choices when selecting the final DV camera. Keep in mind that new DV camera are coming out almost each month. The prices are falling and the quality on most are going up. The technology is the same just designed to work faster and more accurate. When buying a camera price maybe in comparison to the features on that camera, make sure that those features are what you need to get the job done.


This month December 1999

  • Digital language
  • Format
  • Stabilization
  • Focus Free
  • CCD
  • Lux
  • Viewfinder
  • Recording Time
  • Microphone
  • Firewire 1394 Port

There are some many great video camera out on the market today to meet just about everyone's budget and with features that will make your projects be the best. I've been doing this research to fined the perfect video camera for myself over the last year. My criteria were that it would shoot good quality video, that it had to produce fairly good stills and that it would not break the bank. I found many components similar to all cameras only the features and price would determine the choice of camera to buy. I bought the software and hardware well before I had a camera. So let me tell you what I was looking for in that camera and than let you be the final judge when choosing your perfect camera.

Analog to digital is slowly disappearing with the introduction of the Firewire IEEE 1394 port. The digression of picture quality in the transfer from an analog video tape is all but gone with the DV or digital camera and along with the extra cost too. The tape and cassette are similar in design to that of the analog cassette. Digression is important especially if the transfer is being done many times. With digital the digression would be unnoticeable with the human eye. The camera shoots the tape with a digital language the same that your home computer understands and knows all very well. Since the original is a digital signal downloaded into the computer and the quality stays the same until altered with special effects and editing. But the quality of the original is there even if the movie is recopied many times after the original. So look for a DV camera with the capability of connecting to your computer via firewire IEEE1394 port. The fastest computer and lots of ram is still a must. Although I like SCSI opposed to IDE the later is being used with a 400 or fast MHZ computer. Both the Macintosh and the PC run fast enough to edit video with out slow rendering or the dropping of frames.

The camera comes in two formats. The first format is the Mini-DV often gives you the most options and is the preferred choice for the professional. The second is the Digital 8 costing less; however,which today is limited by fewer models and less options.

Most camera offer an image stabilization system. This allows for smoother pans when holding the camera in your hand. Picture playback is not jerky or cause on during motion sickness when viewed.

Camera have focus free lens, letting the camera do the work. Some higher costing models allow for manual control of the camera or auto. The lens will allow for micro shots, telephoto, and panned into the distance shots. Not all camera give you fine micro so check to see that the camera will work with in the needed focal distances.A critical component is the CCD chip. A cheaper camera will offer one where a more expensive camera will offer you the maxim of three. If you can stomach the price the three CCD is the one you want. This chip is responsible for sharpness and the quality of the image being taken by the camera. Most camera can record in an area of limited lighting often called a LUX i.e. A two lux camera is able to handle filming in next to no light in the room or environment.

Viewfinder use to be an eye piece visible with a black and white image even though it was shoot in color. Today cameras come with to viewing options and with color. The eye piece is still available in color on almost all DV cameras. A new feature that first found its place in analog video camera is the large LCD screen often mounted on the side of the camera. Sizes vary from a 2.5 inch LCD screen to a lager screen of 3.5 inches.

Standard Play is always the best quality in which to shoot your digital film. Often camera will offer two speeds the SP and the EP or extended play. In the EP mode you will shoot longer on one tape but the image quality will go down considerable.

All have microphones but the placement on the camera can determine good clean sound. It would be ideal to buy a camera that offers a jack for and external microphone.

One last comment all these cameras will offer Firewire 1394 port support. Its with firewire that makes this type of camera so appealing to many. These cameras make taking pictures and editing fun. Most of the guess work is done automatically by the camera circuitry. After the movie is shoot with the camera the creativity is left up to you to create and mold your creation into a movie that you can be proud of.

I hope that this article helped you to get started in the right direction. I hope to see you in March. But until than have a great holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Some further reading:
Digital Camera & Photo Magazine November 1999 issue
DV Digital Video Magazine April 1999

Next article in March 2000.

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