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What to Look for in a YouTube Camcorder

written by: John Garger•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011

In this first article in a series of four, we will discuss the ideal features a cheap digital camcorder should have for uploading videos to YouTube. The series continues to review the Flip UltraHD, SONY Bloggie, and Kodak Zi8 digital camcorders.

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    What to Look for in a YouTube Camcorder

    There is no denying that YouTube is the decade’s most influential social media site for sharing amateur video. Ranging from informational to comedy, YouTube videos are a great way to share your creations, ideas, and passions.

    At the heart of shooting and uploading videos to YouTube, the camera you choose can make the difference between a pleasant and frustrating experience. Popular among YouTubers are a variety of cheap digital camcorders that are often short on features but long on portability. The purpose of this article is to identify the ideal features a cheap digital camcorder (under $200) should have to make uploading videos to YouTube easy, efficient, and fun. The series then continues to review the Flip UltraHD, SONY Bloggie, and Kodak Zi8 in light of these ideal features.

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    Portability

    The best YouTube videos are impromptu captures from everyday life. To make that possible, the ideal digital camcorder should be extremely portable and ready to use at a moment’s notice. Portability, however, goes beyond just the size of the camera; it includes easy of handling, time from power-on to shooting, and battery charging/changing options. The ideal digital camcorder for YouTube should be easy to grasp and aim at the subject, power up quickly so unexpected events can be captured with having to stage them a second time, and offer multiple options when it comes to charging/changing the batteries in the field.

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    Video Quality

    Video Quality in Cheap Digital Camcorders Understandably, the video quality from a portable digital camcorder in the under $200 price range is not going to rival the quality available on more expensive cameras with larger lenses. Still, the quality must be high enough that it isn’t obvious that a video was shot with a low-cost solution

    One good thing about shooting video for YouTube is that the company does the video compression for you. This way, no matter what resolution or quality standards your digital camcorder is capable of, you know that the end results aren’t going to be that different from someone who invested hundreds if not thousands in video equipment.

    The ideal camcorder for YouTube, therefore, would be capable of shooting video in YouTube’s native resolution and format. You would then have the advantage of seeing what the video will look like before you upload allowing you to avoid having to upload the same video multiple times to squeeze every last bit of quality out of the final production.

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    Audio Quality

    External Microphone for a Cheap Digital Camcroder for YouTube When it comes to video recording, the biggest mistake amateurs make is relying too heavily on a camcorder’s built-in microphone. Although convenient, most built-in mics become useless if the subject of the video is more than 20 feet away from the camera. Even then, most built-in microphones pickup a lot of noise from the environment and sometimes capture the hum of the camera itself. The result is a sloppy and poor-quality end product.

    The ideal cheap digital camcorder for YouTube would have two features. First, it would sport a built-in microphone that is higher quality than the typical built-in mics found on other cameras. Second, it would feature an external microphone jack for those times when higher quality audio is essential. This is especially true for YouTubers who shoot video inside a studio when demonstrating a product or recording a musical performance.

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    Uploading to YouTube

    Finally, the ideal digital camcorder would allow the user to easily upload video to YouTube. This would include an easy-to-use method for transferring files to a computer, some software for basic video editing, and a way to instantly upload the final product to a YouTube account.

    All too often, manufacturers of camcorders force customers to carry around an array of peripherals just to perform the basic functions with the camera. Cables, software, and other devices external to the camera distract users from the purpose of YouTube; to be able to easily and simply create and publish video content to the web. The ideal digital camcorder for YouTube should be an all-in-one package so you aren’t tied down to one location when it comes to producing and publishing your video content.

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    Conclusion

    While it’s true that everyone has their own list of needs when it comes to creating video content for the web, the ideal cheap digital camcorder for uploading video to YouTube would be ultraportable, feature high quality video and audio options, and be an all-in-one package to allow users to avoid lugging around peripherals that are more cumbersome that the camera itself.

    The remainder of this series is dedicated to reviewing the Flip UltraHD, SONY Bloggie, and Kodak Zi8 against the ideal attributes discussed above. Let’s see just how much Cisco (the maker of Flip), SONY, and Kodak listened to consumers when it comes to a cheap digital camcorder designed to be convenient and compatible with YouTube.

Reviews of Cheap Digital Camcorders for Uploading Videos to YouTube

In the first article, we discuss the ideal features a digital camcorder should have for easily uploading videos to YouTube. The remaining three articles in the series review the Flip UltraHD, SONY Bloggie, and Kodak Zi8 digital camcorders.
  1. What to Look for in a YouTube Camcorder
  2. Creating YouTube Videos with the Flip UltraHD
  3. Is the SONY Bloggie a Good Digital Camcorder for YouTube?
  4. A Review of the Kodak Zi8 as a YouTube Digital Camcorder