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Flash Memory Camcorders: What to Look for in a Flash Memory Camcorder

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/6/2010

Mini-DV camcorders - though promising video quality - need a Firewire connection and ample hard disk space on your computer for transfer of video footage. If you don’t fancy putting up with these requirements, you should consider a tapeless option like flash memory camcorders.

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    The tapeless camcorder options that are available to you are hard disk camcorders and flash memory camcorders, like the Canon FS300. Both these formats allow video to be transferred to your computer via USB. So, you eliminate the need for a Firewire port and cable.

    Between these two options, why would you want to choose a flash memory camcorder? There are two main reasons. Firstly, hard disk camcorders are not suitable for use in robust conditions. If your hard disk camcorder inadvertently takes a knock, the chances of it malfunctioning are very high. Flash memory camcorder record on memory cards which are not sensitive to knocks.

    Secondly, with a hard disk camcorder, if you run out of recording space, you would need to connect it to a computer to clear some space. That’s not the case with flash memory camcorders. You simply replace the full memory card with an empty one and you can resume recording.

    Now that you’ve decided to choose a flash memory camcorder, let’s look at some tips that would help you make an informed decision when purchasing one.

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    Types of Flash Memory Camcorders

    There are three types of flash memory camcorders you can choose from - pocket camcorders, SD camcorders and HD camcorders.

    If you’re just capturing the occasional video clip to be shared over the Internet or mobile phone, you may want to consider pocket camcorders. They usually come with built-memory starting from 2GB with a slot for additional memory addition externally.

    Standard Definition and High Definition cameras would offer you better video quality and options for more storage space compared to their pocket cousins. If you have the budget, you should opt for these models. If you’re a beginner, it would do no harm to try out the standard definition models to get a hang of things before considering HD.

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    Storage Media

    What kind of memory cards do these flash memory camcorders support? The pocket camcorder models accept only SD cards, while the SD and HD models accept both the SD and SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards. What’s the difference between the two cards? SDHC cards have a much higher storage space – up to 32 GB. On the other hand, SD cards can support up to 4 GB. If a camcorder model accepts only SD cards, then you can’t use a SDHC card on it.

    Don’t be satisfied if your camcorder accepts SDHC cards. You must also find out if it accepts cards of higher capacity -16GB or 32GB. Not all camcorder models do.

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    Memory Card Speed

    Once you’ve determined the storage size of your memory card, you can’t just buy any type of memory card out there in the market. The memory card you choose must be compatible with your camcorder bit rate. In other words, you must buy a memory card with the correct speed.

    If you buy a slow-speed card, it may not handle the huge amount of data transfer to it, especially if you’re recording high-quality video.

    As a guide, if yours is a standard definition camera, a Class 2 memory card is enough to record video in the highest quality. For a high-definition camera, a Class 6 card can do the job. A Class 2 card can support data transfer of up to 2MB per second and Class 6, up to 6MB per second.

    You may be tempted to buy cards with speeds higher than the above on the advice of sales personnel. Refrain from doing so as you’ll only be paying for speed you don’t need.