A digital camera takes great photographs but can be a little unwieldy for those who are not confident with a technical manual. A camcorder has the advantage of being able to record and play back video. If you decide to purchase a camcorder, try to find one that records in standard definition and comes with a small built in monitor. It might not be the easiest device to use, but it will allow you to make videos and then upload them to your computer where you can edit and store them.
Camcorders vs Digital Cameras
Camcorders are portable devices that use either videotape or digital media cards to record video images. The footage is saved on removable media, rather than being stored on a computer’s hard drive like digital cameras do. Most camcorders have built-in memory cards so you can start shooting right away without having to connect them to a computer first.
Digital cameras are small electronic devices with an integrated lens used for taking photographs. Digital photos are usually stored in an internal memory card inside the camera until they’re transferred to a computer or other device for viewing and editing online or on your TV screen at home. Most digital cameras have built-in flash memory storage for storing images temporarily until they’re transferred to another device, though some models do allow you to save images directly onto an SD card instead of using internal memory storage alone.
Modern camcorders can do anything a digital camera can do, but they’re not as good at it because they were designed to be more of a jack-of-all-trades tool rather than a specialist. A camcorder is like a Swiss Army knife, with lots of different tools in one small device. A digital camera is like a scalpel: it does one thing very well — taking pictures — and nothing else.
The differences between camcorders and digital cameras are many, but two main areas stand out:
Video quality. A camcorder records video at higher resolution than a digital camera, which means that if you’re shooting video that’s going to be shown on television or projected on a large screen, you’ll want to use your camcorder. If you’re just going to upload your videos online or burn them onto DVDs for home viewing, however, then the difference won’t matter much because online video quality is limited by bandwidth anyway.
Zoom range (see below). Camcorders typically have better zooming capabilities than digital cameras because their lenses are larger and there’s no zoom lens to change out when you need more magnification.
Digital cameras use memory cards to store images — these can be removable or built-in. Most have a sensor that captures light reflected off objects through the lens onto an electronic chip called a CCD (charged coupled device). This produces an image that’s stored in computer memory. Digital cameras also have internal processors that process the data from the sensor and store it on a memory card.
Camcorders use magnetic tape or hard disks to record images and sound as they’re captured by a lens similar to those used on digital still cameras. They also have internal processors that process data from the sensor, but unlike digital still cameras, this processing happens continuously during recording so there’s no need for a pause before you can view your footage immediately afterward.
What Should You Use?
For those who want to take the next step up from a point-and-shoot camera, a digital SLR is a good choice. But for those of you who are more interested in shooting video than stills, there’s another option: camcorders.
Digital camcorders have been around for a long time now and offer many of the same features as DSLRs, but with one major distinction — they’re designed to shoot video first and foremost.
So what are the benefits of owning a digital camcorder instead of a DSLR? Well, if you’re looking to shoot short films or other videos that require high-definition quality and professional sound like music videos or documentaries, then having access to features like manual controls and interchangeable lenses can be very useful. You’ll also find that most DSLRs have a fixed lens so you don’t have much flexibility with changing focal lengths or zooms (although you can use external lenses).
The digital camera is a great tool for recording family vacations and parties. It’s also handy when you need to snap a picture of something that’s not moving or in a low-light environment.
If you’re looking for something more versatile, however, a camcorder might be the way to go. Camcorders are portable and can record video as well as take still photos. They’re also great for capturing fast action — think sporting events or your child’s first steps.
But in general, it is always up to your needs to choose a digital camera or a camcorder.