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Voucher
#1

78

Sony HXR‑NX80

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£2,099.00

12x
Info
120g
Info
5MP
Info
1920 X 1080 (Full HD) pixels
Info
Sep 2017
The newest 3D camcorder around
Voucher
#2

74

Canon XF105

5 Reviews
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£1,000.00

10x
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1.1kg
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2.37MP
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1920 X 1080 (Full HD) pixels
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Apr 2011
A classic and good spec 10x optical zoom, 1.1kg video camera

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QWhat is an 'action camcorder'?
AAn action camcorder is a very small recording device meant to be worn on clothing or attached to a helmet. It's normally used to film extreme sports or give a 'first person' view of what the subject sees.
QWhat's the difference between 'optical' and 'digital' zoom?
AOptical zoom uses the hardware of the camcorder to physically move the lenses, enlarging the captured picture. Digital zoom uses software to further enlarge the picture. This means digital zooms can go far beyond the range of optical zooms, but the quality is much worse, and degrades sharply as the image is zoomed in.
QWhat is an 'image stabiliser'?
AAn image stabiliser detects and compensates for small judders and shakes while filming, meaning the resulting video is far smoother and still.
QWhy is a big sensor size important?
AA larger optical sensor produces better quality videos, because more light can be brought into the lens at once, This leads to larger, more highly-detailed videos and photos.

3D Camcorder Buying Guide

3D Camcorders

3D Camcorders are a special subset of camcorders, that are capable of recording video to be played back on 3D-enabled TVs and displays. The camcorder actually shoots 2 slightly different versions of the movie at once, which are then spliced together to 'trick' the eye into seeing a 3D image.

Please note that in order to make the best of 3D camcorders, you will have to have several pieces of equipment - these include a TV or display capable of displaying 3D images, and special glasses for interpreting these images correctly. So while there is a lot of setup needed to properly use 3D camcorders, the end result is a far more immersive video than could be taken with any standard 2D camcorder.

Although VHS players are long gone, everybody still wants to preserve their best memories. Pictures are great ways to do that, but for many occasions you really need a video to put yourself in the moment again. Or perhaps you are a film maker looking for a professional camera that is not too bulky? Do you post video diaries on YouTube during your trips? Whatever you like to do, there's a camcorder for that.

Of course, this isn't 1997 anymore, and your choices are not limited to Super 8 and VCR. Before buying a camcorder, you need to look at what kind of video camera and quality do you need, how often you will use it and how you plan to watch the videos.

By knowing your needs and matching them to the options available, you will be able to shoot your family videos, that great football match, the concert ever of your favourite band and your YouTube blog too!

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Key Camcorder Features

Resolution

The image resolution determines the number of pixels the image you shoot contains. In most cases, this is the most important factor to look at when choosing a camcorder. Today, a good camera will have a resolution between 1080p and 4K. These are also known as Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) and Ultra High Definition (3840 x 2160 pixels). Although a 4K camera sounds attractive, it is only worth the higher cost if you have the ability to view the result on a 4K screen. TVs and monitors that work at 4K UHD are becoming more widely available and 4K recording will become more widespread in the future too.

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Sensor Size

The larger the resolution on a camera, the larger the sensor needs to be in order to capture the video in good quality. While most cameras with the same output resolution will have a similar sensor size, sometimes there are differences. Some 4K cameras for example use 1” sensors but others used 1/2.3” sensors. While a smaller sensor will work for average recording conditions, a larger sensor will show its worth in low-light scenes as it allows it to capture more light.

Bit Rate

In terms of image quality, the bit rate is usually the third item to look at when comparing two cameras that have the same resolution and sensor size. The bit rate describes the amount of data that is generated by the camera when it records. The more data it produces per second of film, the better the image quality will be. A difference between a 24 MBPS (megabytes per second) camera and a 28 MBPS one will be very subtle, but still noticeable. The bit rate is also important for another reason: file storage. At 25 MBPS it takes about one hour to fill up a 16GB card. Recording at a higher bit rate means your memory card will fill up more quickly.

When recording at a higher bit rate it is usually a good idea to invest in a memory card with higher capacity or download the content onto a computer at regular intervals.

Image Stabilisation

Unless you are filming from a tripod or have very steady hands, having a camera with good image stabilisation is essential to prevent your recordings turning blurry, particularly when using zoom. There are two main types: optical and digital image stabilisation.

Optical Image Stabilisation

Optical image stabilisation is the most effective type to keep your videos sharp. Small gyro-sensors inside the lens shift moveable glass elements to offset the motion of the camcorder.

Digital Image Stabilisation

Digital image stabilistaion uses software to calculate the best way to avoid shaky images. It might mean that only certain pixels of the camcorder’s sensor are used for the final image. Digital stabilisation is not as effective as optical stabilisations and it is worth checking the type used before buying a camcorder that id not specific about the stabilisation type it uses.

Zoom

A good optical zoom can make a big difference when you are recording. If you are shooting sports, wildlife, airplanes, concerts and anything else, which is a considerable distance away, a minimum of 25x optical zoom is recommended. Filming people only a few metres away can be done with 10x or even 5x zoom. Optical zoom is always preferred to digital zoom because it captures the full frame at the highest quality. Digital zoom simply crops and enlarges a portion of the image reducing the resolution of the result.

Aperture

This is especially important if you are going to shoot in low-light environments like concert halls, caves and at night. The aperture of a camera defines how big the opening in the camera lens is which allows light in. The larger the opening, the more light is allowed in and the higher the quality of a low-light image will be. Aperture is measured in f-stops, with a smaller number representing a larger opening. For example, f1.8 is great for low-light settings whereas f5.6 and higher might result in an image that is too dark.

Audio Quality

Good quality audio is essential to capture the atmosphere of a football match or the music of a concert. It is important to check the quality of the built in microphone when buying a camcorder. Most budget options will have a mono microphone, which records only one channel. This can make the audio feel lifeless and flat and a high quality stereo microphone will be a much better option. If you are after the highest sound quality, using an external microphone will give the best results.

Memory

Most cameras will offer a certain amount of internal memory. Some camcorders used to have and internal hard disk drive (HDD) but this is now becoming less common as flash memory has become cheaper and takes up less space.

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The internal memory can be extended by inserting an SD card. If you use your camera for short scenes or are downloading files to your computer frequently, a relatively small SD card will be sufficient. To shoot hours of video at a time will require a large SD card or even multiple cards that can be exchanged when full.

WiFi

Being able to connect to your camcorder wirelessly opens up a lot of possibilities which you may or may not find useful. WiFi can allow some cameras to connect to a smartphone, which can then be used as a remote control.

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Battery Life

If you plan to record for a long time, or be outside and away from a plug, a long battery life is essential. Battery life can vary between camcorders so it is worth checking the manufacturer’s specifications before making your decision. Batteries can be replaced on some camcorder models allowing to extend recording times. You can replace the camcorder battery with a spare one when it runs out and continue recording straight away.

Camcorder Types Explained

After checking the specifications, you probably have an idea of what you need in a camera. This brings us to the next step: finding the type of camera that has all the features you need. Most camcorders fall into one of four categories:

Mainstream Camcorders

These are the workhorses of the family. Here you will find the camcorders that pack all the basic features, can record footage at good quality and will serve the regular home user very well. Examples here include the low-ends of the Canon VIXIA, Sony CX and Panasonic V ranges. Despite being relatively simple, most mainstream camcorders will work for sport events, concerts, family videos and much more while having a lower price tag than other options. These are the best choice unless you have more specific requirements.

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Advanced & Professional Camcorders

At some point the good old family camera may not make the grade, and then comes the time to look for models that pack in some high-end features. You will only be in this situation if you have specific requirements for which the good old mainstream camcorder wasn't made for. This includes very low light capture, 4K capability, image stabilisation, HD audio and other specific features. Each advanced camcorder has a different range of features, but most will give you high end results that can benefit both professional and demanding amateur users.

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Pocket Camcorders

These small camcorders allow you to take them with you wherever you go without having to take a bag, and they are usually very affordable too. One of the downsides are a usually a compromise in image quality. While you can still find good options in this range, there are physical limitations to the size of sensor that can be built into a small camera. For the usual blogger who just needs a basic camera with low-end HD options, this will do. If you need more options or features (including handles), look at mainstream camcorders instead.

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Wearable/Action Camcorders

If you are planning to attach your camera to something that will move, shake, turn or swim, you definitely need an action camera. The most popular and recognised camera in this niche is the GoPro series, but there are alternatives from Sony and other brands too. Most action cams are waterproof making them ideal for surfing, swimming, snowboading and diving.

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Finding the Right Camcorder for Every Situation

Home Videos

Taking home videos of your children and family can be done in reasonable quality with a less expensive camcorder but you might still prefer Full HD resolution to less detailed alternatives.

Sports

If you like filming sports, particularly ones played in arenas and other settings where lighting may not be ideal, a camcorder with a good low-light performance is crucial. Look for a long zoom lens and optical image stabilsation to make sure you can capture the action without losing focus.

Video Blogging

If you tend to record mostly at home, a pocket camcorder might be all you need. This is an inexpensive way to get started. You could even consider using a good quality webcam. If you plan to film outside you might require more features like a good optical zoom and image stabilisation.

Film & Documentaries

With YouTube, Vimeo and other online streaming services allowing Ultra High Definition Uploads, a 4K camcorder might be worth considering to make sure you achieve the highest possible quality and prepare for the future. For the best results, look for good image stabilisation, a big aperture and a large sensor that can handle low-light shots. A powerful zoom wouldn't go amiss either if the action is happening further out. Alternatively, if you are working on a set where you have the ability to adjust the lighting and prevent unexpected camera movement, a high-end 1080p camera on a stable mount might be adequate.

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