Camcorder Basics: Mini Dv Vs Digital8 Vs Dvd

Compare the options and features of camcorders in MiniDV, Digital 8, and DVD formats.

Camcorders with MiniDV, Digital 8, and DVD formats all offer easy editing and exceptional video quality. Although at first glance it may be difficult to choose between them because of their similarities, there are some important differences.

MiniDV camcorders are some of the most compact models available. This makes them very useful to travel with. These camcorders are available in super-compact sizes, but even the standard-size models are small and easy to carry. More brands offer camcorders in MiniDV format, so generally there is a better selection available when looking for this type of camcorder. MiniDV camcorders also offer more advanced models with sophisticated lenses and better effects. The cassettes used in MiniDV camcorders are extremely compact, but they are also more expensive. These cassettes typically hold about 60 minutes of footage. To playback your MiniDV video, you can use the camcorder with a standard TV or VCR. There are also desktop and portable VCRs made specifically for MiniDV cassettes, but they can be very expensive.

A Digital 8 camcorder is going to be the best option for those who currently own a Hi8 or 8mm camcorder. Digital 8 camcorders offer playback options for your current Hi8 and 8mm cassette tapes. The Hi8 and 8mm tapes that Digital 8 camcorders use are more bulky in size, but are relatively inexpensive in cost. Typically, Digital 8 camcorders don't offer the same advanced lenses that many MiniDV camcorders have. Most Digital 8 models are small in size, but not as compact as some MiniDV camcorders. Digital 8 camcorders tend to be more affordable than other formats. As with MiniDV models, Digital 8 camcorders can be used with your TV or VCR to playback your footage. There are also a couple of Digital 8 VCRs on the market. These are portable, but can be expensive.

The most obvious advantage of DVD camcorders is the ability to playback the recordable DVD disc in your DVD player. Even if your DVD player isn't new enough for this technology, the camcorder can still be used with your TV or VCR for playback, just like MiniDV and Digital 8 models. DVD camcorders are generally small and lightweight, though still not as compact as MiniDV models. DVD camcorders typically use mini DVD-R and DVD-RW discs, and a few use mini DVD-RAM discs. DVD-RW discs have the capability of being re-recorded up to 1,000 times. Mini DVD-R discs are priced similar to MiniDV tapes, but DVD-RW discs can cost much more. Recording times on DVD discs range from 20-60 minutes per side, depending on the recording quality used. Another advantage of DVD camcorders is that the video quality will never degrade with repeated playback, unlike most cassette tapes. Digital editing can be extremely easy with DVD models, since the DVD disc can be transferred right to your computer's DVD drive.

Before you buy a digital camcorder, make sure to try out models in the store. Look for models that are easy to handle and controls that you feel comfortable with. Experiment with several models before choosing a camcorder.

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