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Selecting a camcorder to purchase can be a daunting task, particularly if it is your first one. Unless you understand the ins and outs of what makes one camcorder better or cost more than another, the selection process can be quite confusing. So often the difference is in the details, with manufacturers offering several models that are virtually identical, except for a few features--items that quite possibly can only be discovered by an examination of the specifications.
So let's outline the questions you must ask yourself so you can make an informed and educated decision. By the end, you should have a pretty clear idea of the type of camcorder you want. It will still be up to you to analyze the different models, to compare and ultimately determine which camcorder is right for you.
1 WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
To be realistic, we have to start here. Prices on camcorders can range from less than $300 to more than $2,000. There is no sense wasting your time looking at top-of-the-line camcorders when you are only willing to spend $500 to $600 or less. If you have a fixed amount you are willing to spend, then much of the decision process has already been made for you. There are clear and definite delineations in format and features that fall within various price points, breaking down into good, better, best, and semi-pro.
If price is not a real concern, then you have the luxury of looking at all of the other aspects of camcorder design, making your decision based on the features and qualities that are important to you. Once you have established your list of must-have criteria, you can look to see how much a camcorder with all the features on your wish list will cost. If you find that to have everything you want goes beyond what you are willing to spend, at least you can decide which features to eliminate to put the price within your reach.
2 WHICH FORMAT SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Once you begin to talk about price, the question of format cannot be far behind. You'll find that camcorder price points fall right in line with the type of format offered. Tape formats also define the ultimate quality of your recorded images. Here's a breakdown:
The "C" in VHS-C stands for "compact." The tape itself is exactly the same as that used in the standard VHS VCR cassette, only in a smaller housing. VHS-C tapes are designed to play in any home VCR through the use of a special adapter. The primary benefit is convenience. With all other formats, to view your recorded tapes, you must use the camcorder for playback, make copies of all your tapes to VHS, or …