If you intend to start shooting video to use on your website and for submitting to video sharing sites for more exposure and to drive traffic to your site then make sure to consider the following points and spend your money wisely.
It is all too easy to overspend and pay for features that you do not need. Think of all the features that your mobile phone has and you never use so don't make the same mistake with your camcorder.
The camcorder is the center piece and mainstay of your video production and if the camcorder you choose doesn't have the needed features, it will be difficult or even impossible, to produce a quality video.
Having a camcorder with the following features can be the difference between a video that will look professionally produced, or one that is obviously home made.
Here is a list of features to help you select the right camcorder.
MiniDV: The best and most flexible format. Consider HDD but give DVD camcorders a miss, if you do buy one then you will soon realize its limitations.
External Microphone Terminal: Required so you can plug in an external microphone. A must have. Check for the external mic terminal first, if it's not there, choose another camcorder.
FireWire Terminal. Might be listed as a DV terminal or a IEEE-1394 connection. A must have so you can send and receive digital video between camcorder and computer.
Remote Control: Needed so you can operate the camera while recording yourself. Allows you to start the record, zoom, pause, etc. Extremely useful.
Headphone Terminal: Required so you can use headphones to check the audio being recorded. Another must have.
1/4" or larger CCD: Avoid anything smaller. The larger the CCD the higher the resolution of the video.
10X Optical Zoom: Do not settle for less and do not be seduced by digital zoom which is pretty worthless for our needs.
Manual White Balance: Required to balance colors under all lighting conditions.
Image Stabilization: Steadies the image as you shoot. It doesn't compensate for bad camera work, but it can help smooth out a shot when you can't use a tripod.
Tripod Socket: You would be hard put not to find this but worth mentioning.
Top or Side Loading Tape: Inconvenient to have a bottom loading tape when using a tripod.
Analog Video In/Out: Convert and record analog video to miniDV format or miniDV format to analog. Can connect to a VCR or 8mm camcorder. Most useful.
Manual Focus And Exposure Controls: Having the ability to turn off automatic control leads to better production as you become more experienced.
S-Video In/Out: Needed so you can record input from computer screens. Most useful.
Size Does Matter: A camcorder that is too small can be difficult to operate, will also have a smaller LCD. Look for a medium sized camcorder. When out and about take your digital camera for unexpected shots.
Finally: Stick with the major name brands, Canon, Sony etc. Avoid the temptation to buy a used camcorder from eBay. No need to spend more than the minimum if you can buy a major brand with all the above mentioned features, unless you are planning on moving up a level in your production then go for a 'pro' quality camcorder. My Canon MVX350i has all these features and cost me less than $500.
Research online and narrow down your list noting the prices. Then visit a store and have a 'hands on' before making your final choice. Check on the stores best price and if they are much more expensive then order online and just be patient until it arrives.
Bruce Walls is an author and webmaster writing about internet video. Read this article and more at WebsiteVideoGuide