Put Some Order in Your Camcorder


Grab your camera and go! That's what many of us think when it's time to shoot. But take a step back and think – would it have been better to get your camcorder? or something else? What do we actually mean when we say camera and camcorder? 

If you said one or the other, it could be that you have heard it from a manufacturer or retailer that their product is a camcorder. Perhaps you read a review that called it a camera, maybe you went to your smartphone and found both the camera and camcorder function. These two terms are so close, yet very different. Afterall, what do the major studios use to shoot movies and TV?

Hopefully you're at least thinking about what terms you're using by now, and it's time to drop some knowledge. Camera has a much older history, at least 200 years earlier than camcorder which was first used in the early 1980s. The definitions of a camera include a light capturing system with a dark chamber and are much closer tied to the film aspect of camera. (By the way, the terms film and movie can be the subject of a later discussion.) A camcorder's definition is much less storied and more plainly — the combination of a camera and recorder. To follow suit, it is generally a handheld device that is small, and did we mention audio? The earliest cameras didn't capture audio, but all camcorders can. On the other hand, a camera might be found coming out of your pocket or adorned with numerous attachments such as lights, external mics, hoods, adaptors, rods and wires.

If this all makes sense so far, you're in good shape to participate in further discussions on whether you grab Kleenex or tissue for a runny nose. While you're reading our magazine and online articles we hope you find us staying consistent and helping to reiterate that cameras are image capturing devices that can shoot video and camcorders are devices that shoot video too, except that typically they're small and designed for handheld use.

Whichever you end up on a shoot with, let it be clear and fun – don't let discussions like this cause disorder on your set.

Jackson Wong
Jackson Wong
Jackson is a fan of Star Wars, sports, foley, and games of all kinds.

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