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Hey, Movie-Maker

These are the three key features you should consider when buying a digital video camera.

Visual Quality

For cinematic colors and ultra-sharp details, buy a high-definition video or HDV camera. Note, though, you should have a powerful computer and the latest software that can handle the workload of editing the HDV footage. Otherwise, go for the many standard definition (SD) models that record on the MiniDV tape. These use the DV compression standard that offers the best quality for consumer models, and convenience for editing your movie on a home computer.

For standard definition digital video (DV), go for 3-CCD (charged coupled device) or 3-CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) models, if possible. These provide three separate image sensors to capture the primary-light colors of red, green and blue (RGB), rendering true-to-life hues in your footage.

Media Type

Serious movie makers will stick with models that shoot on the MiniDV tapes to guarantee image quality, especially if they plan to edit the footage. But cameras that record on other media have advantages too. These record using MPEG-2 compression at a lower data rate. So, you end up with DVD-quality video that is harder to edit using consumer software, but which takes up less hard drive space than DV footage.

(An exception: the HDV-based models that record on MiniDV tapes but use high quality MPEG-2 compression that requires a top-of the-line computer for editing). Some people may prefer shooting video on recordable DVD discs that can be popped into a DVD player - without needing any form of editing. All the major brands have DVD-based cameras. Others may prefer shooting onto a hard drive inside the camera, doing away with the hassles of changing tapes.


If visual quality is not as important as portability, than pick one of the slim integrated video cameras that store the footage on SD Memory Cards- and that also double up as an MP3 player and voice recorder.

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