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Why You Shouldn’t Spend a Lot of Money on Your First Camcorder

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

All Excited About Buying Your First Camcorder? Hang on a moment. Your excitement may die off within days after purchase and you may end up not getting your money’s worth.

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    Short Excitement Span

    Used camcorders are among the most popular items sold in an online marketplace I used to visit. A typical advertisement goes something like this:

    Camcorder Brand XYZ for Sale. Still New. Hardly Used. 9 months warranty available. Going Cheap.

    Most of the time it is a top-end model with all the bells and whistles. Why would the seller be disposing off a model which can make great video for a cut-price? I figured out that the owner must have got tired of using the video camera after a few attempts. Maybe he could not cope with the hassle of taking it out of the bag, charging the battery, loading a tape, hanging it around his neck and start shooting.

    Then after shooting, there’s the trouble of connecting it to a TV set and playing it back. Then when he learns that making great video really starts at the editing stage, he throws in the towel. He decides it’s not going to be worth his while to learn video editing The camcorder he has once coveted becomes redundant. Now he desperately tries to sell it off to recoup his large cash outlay.

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    Unsound Advice

    If you have been reading a typical camcorder buyer’s guide the advice given is usually to buy the best camcorder your budget will allow you. Is this sound advice?

    No, it’s not sound advice for a first-time buyer. Unless you have been using camcorders on a regular basis, you are not sure whether you’re going to like using your camcorder after buying it. For most, when the initial excitement wears off, it will be a great pain to even take the camcorder out of the bag, much less load a tape, shoot and edit the footage.

    If you really can’t resist the impulse to buy a camcorder, go for an entry-level model although you have the budget for a top-end one . But can you get good video with an entry-level model?

    Why not? Camcorder technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the years. But what about the features you will be missing out on if you buy a budget model?

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    You Don’t Need All The Features

    The salesman at the electronics shop would like to persuade you to buy an expensive model so that you could enjoy all the cool features. He may say you need a three-chip camera with manual focus, widescreen and manual white balance capabilities for good video. Unless you are planning to make videos for the local television station or for corporate clients you can do without them.

    If you’re a first time camcorder buyer, chances are you’ll be making videos for Youtube or putting together the odd birthday DVD. And for that an entry-level mini-DV camera is more than sufficient.

    All you need is a Mini DV Camera with a firewire port to get your feet wet. By the time you learn the ropes you will know whether camcorders are your cup of tea. Then you can decide whether you need to graduate to a higher-end model.

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    Two Tips

    Here are two tips which could help you make an informed decision before buying a a new camcorder.

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    Borrow a Camcorder and Use It For A Few Days

    Get a camcorder from a friend. Go through the whole process from charging the battery to editing the video footage. How well do you cope? Would you want to do it again or find the process tedious?

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    Learn Basic Video Editing Skills First

    If you’ve no access to a camcorder, play around with Windows Movie Maker. Do you enjoy the video editing process? If you do, then you are justified in acquiring a camcorder. Even then go for an entry-level model. You can always give it away as a gift to a loved one when you outgrow it and graduate to a higher-end model.