Sunday, June 10, 2007

Self-Education in Digital Video Cameras

The camcorder has come a long way in the last ten years. Unless you've been paying close attention to the technology's progress, it's easy to get lost. Even I, a self-proclaimed geek, found myself in over my head when I recently went shopping for a new video camera. I'm not usually the type to slap down a half grand on a whim--I need to know what sort of bang I'm getting for my buck. While I would have loved to take a semester of Digital Video Cameras 101, my school didn't seem to offer that class. So I started my own self-study. I set out on the web to learn the fundamentals of the new technologies, get some information on specific models, and figure out how much I would have to pay for one of these fancy new gadgets.

I first checked out, "your easy guide to reviews and ratings of camcorders". There are several tutorial pages on the site including a fantastic Beginners Guide. The guide covered the important aspects of digital camcorders, including important concepts, intended use, and useful featuers. Another helpful article on the site was "Top 10 Things You Should Know When Buying a Camcorder." It clearly explained many things I had not considered, but made sense. There were also other articles discussing the "how-to's" of specific features, but those wouldn't help me until after I had a video camera in my hands. I had learned the basics and was ready for the next step. also has a page for rating the digital video cameras they've tested. This served as a jumping-off point for researching specific models. There were links to exhaustive reviews that detailed the performance of the important features. The reviews were all well written and informative.

I was also interested in reading reviews from other owners of some of the specific camcorders that ranked well and were in my price range. So, I pointed my browser to, where there are many "amatuer" owner-reviewers posting thier experiences, commentaries, and recommendations. Some of the reviews brought up factors that had not been discussed in the "professional" review from easycamcorders. The combination of the "professional" reviews from easycamcorders and the "amatuer" reviews on amazon were helpful in narrowing down my list of candidates to just three models I would be happy with. The only remaining factor was price.

Ordinarily, I would scour the web for the lowest possible price and order online. I usually use, and, two different product and price search engines. I also compare prices for electronics on,,, and But in this particular instance, time was of the essence and I needed to get the device in the same weekend. This time I headed to the local Fry's Electronics to purchase the video camera. My final bit if research was pacing up and down the aisles, trying to find any of the models on my list, and then comparing prices. I found two of the three, and purchased the cheaper one.

There were no textbooks or quizzes for my self-study Digital video Camera course, but there was a final exam: purchase a camcorder that you can be happy with. My grade? I got an A.

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