Camcorder Glossary


A setting that manipulates the amount of light falling onto the camera’s CCD(s). This control adjusts the size of the camcorder’s iris.


(charge coupled device) Light-sensitive integrated circuit in video cameras that converts images into electrical signals. Sometimes referred to as a “chip.”


Numbers corresponding to variable size of a camera’s iris opening, and thus the amount of light passing through the lens. The higher the number, the smaller the iris diameter, which means less light is able to enter the camcorder.


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focal length

Distance from a camcorder’s lens to a focused image with the lens focused on infinity. Short focal lengths offer a broad field of view (wide-angle lens); long focal lengths offer a narrow field of view (telephoto lens). Zoom lenses have a variable range of focal lengths.


Electromagnetic component within camcorders and VCRs that records, receives and erases video and audio signals on magnetic tape.

IEEE 1394

(FireWire, i.LINK) A high-speed serial interface developed by Apple and later adopted as a standard by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Notable for its ability to transfer data as quickly as 800Mbps (but usually at 400Mbps), giving it the ability to handle the large amounts of data required for digitized video.


Camcorder’s lens opening or aperture. Regulates amount of light entering camera. Diameter is measured in f-stops. [See f-stop]


A metric unit of illumination equal to the light of a candle falling on a surface of one square meter. One lux is equivalent to 0.0929 foot-candle.

phone plug

Sturdy male connector compatible with audio accessories, particularly for insertion of microphone and headphone cables. Frequently referred to by their sizes, usually 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch. Not to be confused with phono plug.

phono plug (RCA)

Shrouded male connector used for both audio and video connections. Frequently referred to as RCA plugs, they come in only one size. Not to be confused with phone plugs.

progressive scan

A method of displaying the horizontal video lines in computer displays and digital TV broadcasts. Each horizontal line is displayed in sequence (1, 2, 3, etc.), until the screen is filled; as opposed to interlaced scanning (e.g., first fields of odd-numbered lines, then fields of even-numbered lines).


Also known as Y/C video, signal type employed with Hi8 and S-VHS video formats. Transmits luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) portions of the video signal separately via two sets of wires (pins), therefore helping to prevent the introduction of artifacts like dot crawl.

tally light

Automatic indicators (usually red) on a camera’s front and within its viewfinder that signal recording in progress – seen by both camera subject(s) and operator.


Variance of focal length, bringing subject into and out of closeup range. Lens capability permits change between wide-angle and telephoto in one continuous move. “Zoom in” and “zoom out” are common terms.

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