Camcorder Buying Guide

A camcorder lets you capture memories forever. This camcorder buying guide outlines the different camera types and features to consider.

Camcorders 101

Camcorders, also known as video cameras, are a must-have for recording important family milestones and capturing the fun and excitement of holiday getaways. And like so many other electronic devices, they're getting smaller and simpler to use all the time. With no preparation, you can pull out your pocket camcorder and easily take movie-quality video of family events or gatherings with friends. For sporty types, a helmet-mounted action camera is a great way to share biking or skiing adventures. New parents can realize peace of mind by using a baby camera to monitor their young children and even talk to them.

Whether you’re filming the next great indie sensation or saving family memories for the future, there’s a camcorder with everything you need.

Types of Camcorders


Digital Camcorders

With an HD camera, you're able to capture special family moments and adventures in crisp, clear detail. In fact, the image quality produced by HD camcorders rivals that of the professional digital cameras used for big screen movies. Compared to SD cameras, HD models produce images that are sharper with more noticeable colour contrasts. You also typically have the option to film in 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio. If you plan on showing off your videos on a big screen television or projector, an HD camcorder is an absolute must.

HD Camcorders

With an HD camera, you're able to capture special family moments and adventures in crisp, clear detail. In fact, the image quality produced by HD camcorders rivals that of the professional digital cameras used for big screen movies. Compared to SD cameras, HD models produce images that are sharper with more noticeable colour contrasts. You also typically have the option to film in 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio. If you plan on showing off your videos on a big screen television or projector, an HD camcorder is an absolute must.

3D Camcorders

Bring the excitement of 3D blockbusters to your home videos with a 3D camcorder. The latest in video camera technology, 3D camcorders use two cameras set very close together to put viewers almost literally into the middle of the action. Some models have a small stereoscopic screen, so you can see how your 3D movie will look in real time. Note that 3D videos can only be viewed on 3D televisions and projectors, but most 3D camcorders can also film in 2D, meaning your videos can be played on regular 2D screens.

Pocket camcorders

Pocket camcorders are lightweight and small, a convenient choice for impromptu videos and filming during physical activities. These camcorders use mostly digital features, such as digital zoom and image stabilization to save space and reduce the number of movable parts that could get broken. Pocket camcorders are a versatile option because they put ease of use and durability first. Compact and hardy, these camcorders are perfect for filming anything from cliff jumping to a fun day at the playground.

Dashboard Cameras

A dashboard camera, sometimes called a car DVR or car camcorder, records video automatically while you keep both eyes on the road. Choose a model with a wide-angle lens to capture all the details and easy-to-use controls for quick adjustments. Dashboard cameras often come with GPS and geotracking, so you know where you are no matter where the road takes you. The right mount is essential when buying a dashboard camera. Look for rotating mounts to capture the best view possible and a simple on/off mechanism so it's easy to remove the camera when you're not using it.

Action Cameras

To film your next extreme adventure, you’ll need a camcorder designed to keep up, whatever you do and wherever you go. Action cameras are built for maximum portability and durability. Some models come with interchangeable mounts for dashboards, helmets and even handlebars. When buying an action camera, look for built-in Wi-Fi, so you can share your exploits on the fly. You should also consider a waterproof case to protect your camera from moisture and rain.

Baby Cameras

A baby camera is an effective way to keep watch over your child and enjoy healthy peace of mind when you're not in the same room. Many baby cameras come with wireless connectivity, letting you check in remotely from outside the home via your smartphone, tablet or computer. Especially for monitoring newborns and young children, consider a baby camera with night vision technology. This allows you to see your child clearly without the need to physically enter the room and potentially disturb sleep. To see your child and talk back and forth, choose a model with two-way voice communication.

Camcorder Buying Tips:

• Determine how you will use the videos you create and then choose a camcorder that films in the appropriate quality
• If you're mainly creating videos for posting on social media sites, an SD camcorder should meet your needs
• If you plan to show your videos on a widescreen TV, consider purchasing a higher-quality HD camcorder
• Tripods are a great accessory if you want to taking stable shots
• If you intend to edit your videos, make sure your camcorder and favourite video editing software use compatible file types so nothing is lost in the conversion process
• A camcorder with night vision will allow you to shoot great photos after the sun goes down
• With a waterproof case, your camcorder can become a waterproof camcorder

Camcorder Features

Manual Controls +

For the perfectionist, or anyone who wants their videos to look their best, manual controls are essential. Many camcorders have default modes that automatically adjust to changing lighting and environments, but you may want to experiment a little. Manual controls can let you override the default settings, tweaking the shutter speed, exposure, focus and other elements for the specific results.

Optical and Digital Zoom +

To get a shot that's close up and personal, you need to zoom in. Most camcorders have either an optical or digital zoom function, or a combination of both. With an optical zoom, the lenses physically adjust to enlarge the image without sacrificing image quality. A digital zoom uses digital technology to enlarge the image. As a result, the cameras are smaller and lighter, but the image becomes increasingly pixelated as it enlarges. Consider a digital zoom if you’re posting your videos on the Internet, where image quality is not as essential.

Image Stabilization +

Image stabilizers help reduce blurring when you're filming on the go. Just like the zoom function, a camcorder's image stabilizer can be optical or digital. Optical image stabilizers use the lenses and other mechanisms to reduce vibration. The technology makes for a slightly heavier camcorder, but your videos will be sharper. With digital image stabilization, the electronic image is slightly shifted from frame to frame as required to compensate for small movements and vibrations.

Video Formats +

Every digital camcorder stores images as a certain file type so you can play them back, edit and share them with others. Each file type has benefits and advantages. MPEG-2 is a very common file format and compatible with many video editing programs. In fact, it's the same format movie studios use to save their films to DVD. AVCHD is well suited for shooting HD videos and compatible with the high-density Blu-Ray disc format. If your videos are going online, look for mp4 or avi files as most social media sites prefer these file types.

Memory +

Most camcorders have an internal flash drive for storing your videos. When your flash drive fills up, you need to transfer the footage to a separate memory device such as your computer hard drive. If you plan on filming lots of footage away from your computer, consider a camcorder that accepts removable memory cards. When your flash drive gets full simply pop in a memory card and keep shooting. Memory is a key consideration for all camcorders, but it's especially important for 3D and HD cameras because they use memory at a higher rate.

LCD Screen +

Just like your smartphone and digital camera, many camcorders have an LCD screen, which displays the scene that your camera is viewing. Some models feature touchscreen controls, making it super easy to adjust the camera settings, focus on certain points and playback other videos. Flip camcorders feature a LCD screen that folds closed when you're not using the camera or want to use the viewfinder.

Viewfinders +

A viewfinder gives you a clearer view, especially in nonconventional situations such as filming in direct sunlight, when glare can make screens difficult to use. Viewfinders also don't drain your camcorder battery, which is a problem with LCD screens. However, the reality is that many manufacturers are eliminating viewfinders in favour of LCD screens to make their products more compact.

Ports and Connectivity +

Additional ports can take your camcorder to the next level, letting you accessorize your camera for better sound, picture quality and overall versatility. Many camcorders feature ports for external microphones and headphones to give you more audio control, while spaces for extra lighting will help illuminate subjects in low light. And, when all you're done filming, HDMI, FireWire and USB ports will let you easily upload your video to your computer or play your movie directly through your HD television.

Wi-Fi +

Wi-Fi connectivity lets you pack away your USB cords and upload your finished videos directly to your computer or the internet, but that’s only the beginning. Other functions made possible through Wi-Fi include remotely controlling your camera settings and lens angle, and live streaming your videos onto smartphones, tablets, computers and social media sites.

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Camcorder Maintenance Tips:

• When moving your camera from cold to warm temperatures, place it in a plastic bag to reduce the chance of condensation
• Use only lens cloths to clean your camcorder’s lenses and micro-fibre cloths for any LCD screens
• Your lens cap should be firmly affixed anytime the camcorder isn’t in use
• A camcorder bag will keep your camcorder protected and give you somewhere to store extra batteries, lenses and memory cards
• Never use solvents to clean your camcorder. Instead, use a damp cloth or a mixture of mild soap and water
• Try to keep your hands clean when using your camera to keep the buttons and screens free of dirt, dust and oil
• Always bring your camera as a carry-on when travelling to protect it from rough handling
• Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for care and cleaning
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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