Camcorders have long been the workhorses of the video camera family. For years, when you needed a video, you reached for your camcorder. Now, with advances in smartphone technology, DSLRs, and mirrorless cameras, the lines that once separated these tools are disappearing.
These days, even if it may seem like your smartphone can do just about anything, there are situations where keeping a dedicated camcorder nearby still makes sense.
Why Use a Camcorder? Looking at the Options
While you can achieve some great feats in video recording regardless of whether you’re using a smartphone, digital SLR, mirrorless camera, or camcorder, it’s important to know what each one of these is … and what it isn’t.
Digital SLRs are cameras in the traditional sense of the word. They’ve evolved to take great still photography and are compatible with a wide variety of different lenses which can be used in different situations. DSLRs can take video, but that’s not their main function. DSLRs can be great for shooting short video clips, but holding them for longer periods of time can be tiring.
The Mirrorless Camera
Like DSLRs, these are cameras that were primarily designed for still photography. Mirrorless cameras are like SLRs in that you can switch out lenses in different situations. The lack of a mirror means you can view live action video in the camera’s viewfinder as it records.
Mirrorless cameras are often lighter and smaller than DSLRs. While they’re a better fit for video recording, they’re still best used for still photography or relatively short clips.
Smartphones are jacks-of-all-trades. A smartphone is a computer, a gaming platform, an entertainment portal, a GPS, a camera, and much more. While dedicated devices perform each of those functions better than smartphones, the smartphone enjoys a key advantage: it’s small, portable, and likely to always be with you. When the moment unfolds, and when you realize you need a video, you’ll almost certainly have your smartphone on hand.
It’s certainly possible to shoot high-quality video with your smartphone. But if you’re looking to make video a key part of your strategy, it might be time to consider a piece of dedicated recording equipment—which brings us to the camcorder.
The Advantages of Using a Camcorder
The word “camcorder” conjures up images of the turn of the century, when home video cameras made videography widely available to the masses. In 2019, why should you consider buying a camcorder for your association?
1. Better zoom functionality
Camcorders have smaller imaging sensors than DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. While this makes them harder to use in low-light situations, it also lets them accommodate much longer zoom lenses.
Additionally, a camcorder’s rocker switch allows you to quickly – and smoothly – zoom in on the action. Try that with a DSLR and you might end up with a video that’s a shaky mess.
2. Longer record times
A lot of photo and video devices limit their recording times to 30 minutes or less. Why? When a device breaks the 30-minute mark, it officially becomes a “video camera” and is subject to price-increasing tariffs. If you need smooth, uncut video of an event lasting more than 30 minutes, invest in a camcorder.
3. Longer-life batteries and DC power
Camcorders typically don’t limit the time you can record. They also let you switch out their stock battery with a high-performance battery, which increases the amount of time you can keep recording. You can also plug your camcorder into a wall outlet. With that kind of reserve power, you won’t be distracted by the battery life indicator. This makes it easier to record longer events that you want continuous footage of, like lengthy speeches and interviews.
4. Higher quality audio
These days, many cameras offer mic jacks, just like camcorders. However, many camcorders go above and beyond, offering XLR inputs, dedicated tools for adjusting audio, and mounting points for your microphone. If audio is important in your video – and it almost certainly is – consider a camcorder.
In the age of smartphones, dedicated video cameras aren’t quite as common as they once were. That doesn’t mean that the age of camcorders is behind us.
When your association needs quality video footage of key events like interviews, press conferences, sporting events or user conferences, reaching for a camcorder still makes sense. When you have one chance to catch a moment on video, you want to be sure that the technology you’re using doesn’t get in the way.