Digital imaging has become synonymous with immortalising your dearest memories, writes Jan Vorster, Canon product manager at Drive Control Corporation. However, these images need not be still. Indeed, why not blow some life into your immortalised images by capturing them in both video and audio.
A digital video camcorder is a great step in the evolution of digital imaging, available in compact, and even robust designs that keep up with today's technology trends and aesthetic advancements.
And there is really no rocket science involved, these compact devices not only record great video quality, but are extremely easy to manage, edit, burn or even post on your favourite social networking site.
Furthermore, the market is jam-packed with options catering to your needs – the trick is to do your homework, assess what you will use it for and find a reputable vendor that offers you the necessary warrantees and support.
So how do you ensure that you invest in the right digital camcorder that provides you with all the above-mentioned features and more? For one, ensure that you understand what type of recording you will require. The latest models offer two great storage formats: flash memory and hard drive.
Flash drives are essentially those pint-sized memory cards that are inserted into your camcorder. Generally, these camcorders are lighter than their hard drive counterparts, and you can easily transfer video to your PC by popping the card into your PC or v memory card reader.
If you are looking for more 'bulk for your buck', so to speak, you should consider a hard drive-based camcorder that can store loads of videos – transfer is also dead easy, simply transfer your videos via a USB cable.
Additionally, these digital camcorders usually take good pictures which means you don't have to invest in a digital SLR or compact digital camera; this is a major plus to those users who prefer hybrid options. Images are usually stored on flash memory, which again can be transferred with ease.
Looking more closely at video quality, to future-proof your investment, rather opt for a high-definition (HD) camcorder – more pixels means better quality – which is available in both flash memory and hard drive and looks and sounds absolutely awesome on an HDTV.
These camcorders also shoot in widescreen format (16:9) which will give you a great cinema-like look and feel.
As mentioned, today's digital video camcorders are really easy to use, offering integrated features such as auto-focus in both optical and digital zoom. Another important feature to look out for is Image Stabilisation (IS) which will mitigate the effects of shaking when you're zooming or battling to get a proper footing.
It is also important to consider still imaging functionality; don't settle for less than five megapixels – your pictures will look grainy – and ensure it has a built-in flash.
If you are looking for even more, you can also consider the following emerging trends: surround sound recording in Dolby Digital; highlight playback, which incorporates intelligent indexes; and pocket camcorders.
The key is, however, to stick to what you really need while ensuring that you will be able to use your camcorder for years to come.