The newest iPod Nano has a built-in video camera. Should we call it a portable media player that also shoots video? Or a camcorder that also plays digital media files? There are many mobile phones that can shoot video. Should we call these camcorders with a mobile telephony feature? Sony offers camcorders with a GPS receiver to facilitate Geo-tagging. Is this a GPS unit with a video camera feature? Microsoft Research developed its SenseCam. This is a wearable digital camera that snaps photographs passively, without the user’s effort, while it is being worn as a pendant. Is shooting video becoming so easy that no one has to really do it any longer?
There are several low cost digital camcorders produced by companies like Pure Digital Technologies’ Flip Video Cameras running around $120. Some say that they changed the game by making a bare-bones, affordable camcorder while the global consumer electronics giants (that sometimes advertise with Videomaker) were preoccupied with the status quo. Pure Digital has been so successful that Cisco acquired it in mid-2009. This has got lots of camcorder companies nervous because all the products above have eroded the market for stand-alone camcorders.
While there is certainly a role for very basic video recording, any reports of the impending death of the full function camcorder have been greatly exaggerated. Great media creators will opt for feature-rich tools.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the handiness of tiny camcorders or the video camera features of many of today’s devices. For many people, this type of video recording is perfectly sufficient. However, full-function camcorders tend to have larger lenses, which capture crisper images. They have audio and video controls for making important adjustments during shooting. Indeed, some of these adjustments can be made in postproduction. Today’s video editing software is very powerful, allowing for more fine-tuning than ever before.
When the stakes are high and you want the very best product, a full-function camcorder is a “must have”. You will capture the best image and audio. If the video project is casual and low budget, a tiny camcorder may be sufficient.
These tiny camcorders really have cut into the profits of the global consumer electronics giants. Just a few years ago, the vast majority of the market was the full function camcorders. Since their inception, the tiny camcorders have gained an increasing market share. Video recording will continue to appear as a feature in other devices (especially digital still cameras) in the years to come. There will be lots of choices, so choose your tools wisely.
Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.