17th Apr 2006

Digital Camcorder Glossary

8 mm - Leading tape format. It is not compatible with the VHS VCR. Playback needs to be done directly from the camcorder connected to the TV or VCR. 8mm has better sound than VHS-C. Resolution is 270. Recording time: 120 minutes at standard speed (SP), and 240 minutes at lower speed (LP).

Advanced HAD CCD - Hole Accumulation Diode CCD reduces noise in the video signal to improve signal-to-noise ratio by up to 6dB (2x better than a standard CCD). Particularly effective when shooting in dark situations.

Analog Inputs - Ability of the video camcorder to accept input from an analog video source, such as a VHS VCR, or another camcorder.

Audio Dub - Refers to the process of replacing all or part of the original video soundtrack (e.g., with narration or music), without affecting the video.

Auto Focus - It senses the distance to your subject and automatically focuses the lens correctly. Many camcorders offer a manual-focus alternative. Often you will want to use the manual focus to get and hold the sharpest image. If your cam doesn’t have a manual option, you will have to leave it to the camcorder’s electronics to “decide” for you the best focus in every situation.

AV-in - Some video cameras offer the facility to record-in from another video camera or VCR as well as play out. This allows new footage to be inserted over old in the form of an insert edit. Some DV and Digital8 camcorders have both AV-in and -out. It’s possible to transcode an AV signal an convert it to digital.

CCD - Chip that collects the video portion of the scene and converts it to electrical signals that can be recorded on videotape. Current digital video camcorders use at least 1 CCD.

CCD Size - Physical dimensions of the CCD. Generally, larger CCDs offer better performance.

Digital - DV (Mini DV) - Leading digital video format. It records images digitally on a mini-DV cassette. It has better picture quality regardless of recording speed than any other video format. Resolution is 500+ lines. Playback is directly from the camcorder to your TV, VCR or computer via iLink/Firewire/iEEE1394 port. Digital videos can be edited and copied over and over without any loss of original quality. You can copy to VCR/VHS tape, burn to CD / DVD or display as a video over the internet. You can even send DV as an email attachment on models which have MPEG Video Modes. Recording time: 60 minutes at standard speed (SP), and 90 minutes at lower speed (LP).

Digital 8 - Digital recording format using traditional 8mm tapes. Digital 8 camcorders can view 8mm and Hi8 tapes, but Digital 8 recordings can’t be viewed on an 8mm or Hi8 camcorder. Resolution: 500 lines. Recording time: maximum is 240 minutes.

Digital Camera Capability - Some camcorders can also be used as digital still cameras. However, image resolution is typically only 640 x 480 pixels (0.3 megapixels), which is quite low by the standards of dedicated digital cameras.

Digital Zoom - Ability to enlarge an image by manipulation of the pixels after being captured by the CCD. This is done in the camera by software that enlarges the captured image. Digital zoom is usually used in conjunction with optical zoom on a camcorder. For example, a camera with 12x optical zoom/120x digital zoom has a 12x zoom lens and software that makes the image appear 10 times closer, for a total zoom of 120x. Image detail will degrade as the amount of zoom applied increases.

Exposure Control - Automatic or manual control of iris.

External Microphone Input - Allows you to disable the onboard mike and, instead, connect an external microphone. Since the onboard mike that comes with most camcorders is not of the highest quality, this offers you the opportunity to use a much powerful, clearer mike, for better sound recording.

Fade - Special effect to use as a transition between scenes. When it is set one scene’s vision and sound fade-out as the next scene fades-in.

Flying Erase Head
- Allows you to start and stop the tape without having glitches show up on playback.

Focal Length - Photographic lenses are measured using a term called focal length. This refers to “size” of the lens, or the size of the image it will produce. Wide angle lenses produce a picture that includes a broad image - telephoto lenses help make faraway objects look closer.

Hi-8 - Just as VHS and VHS-C have a higher resolution version called Super VHS, 8mm has a sharper version called Hi8. It needs a TV with S-video input to see the effects.Like Super VHS, it gives about 400 lines of resolution. Recording time: 120 minutes at standard speed (SP), and 240 minutes at lower speed (LP).

IEEE 1394 - Also known as FireWire and i.Link, IEEE 1394 is a standard for high-speed transfer of digital information. IEEE 1394 allows loss-free digital transfers between camcorders. If your computer has an IEEE 1394 port, you can transfer, edit, and save video from your IEEE 1394-equipped camcorder.

Image Stabilization - Compensates for image shakiness caused by not holding the camera perfectly steady. Digital image stabilization crops the edges off of the image and uses these “spare” pixels to compensate when the camera moves.

Infrared Capability - Cameras with infrared capability have sensors that can “see” infrared light, enabling operation in low-light situations. Some cameras can also emit a beam of infrared light (watch for a small red LED on the camera) to illuminate completely dark scenes during recording.

Intelligent Accessory Shoe - Special connector on the accessory shoe transmits the power and control signals to synchronize the operation between certain accessories and the camcorder.

Interlaced - Interlaced video is created by capturing every other line of an image, every other frame of the video. Because the images are played back in quick succession, it appears that a complete image is being created.

Iris (Aperture) - Opening in the lens that acts like the pupil of your eye. It allows the light to pass on to the pickup device. To get the right amount of light for a good picture, what’s called a good exposure, the aperture must be adjusted properly. Without an aperture the camcorder would give you a “washed out” picture in bright light, and a picture with no contrast in dark light.

LANC - Sony interface for data exchange for controlling video equipment (camcorders, home video recorders and editing computers or controllers). Connection through 2.5mm stereo jack or 5-pole mini DIN plug.

LaserLink Wireless Connection - Extends the distance by 10 Feet over previous year models allowing the user to beam video and audio form the camcorder to a TV without need for wires, or adapters from up to 26 feet away using optional receiver.

LCD - Display on the video camcorder that can be used for composing the scene to be recorded, or for reviewing previously recorded scenes. LCD screen with more pixels will display a sharper image. The number of pixels the LCD contains does not relate to how clear the picture will be recorded.

Lithium-Ion Battery - Battery that does not have memory effect and can be recharded at any time without loss of capacity.

Maximum CCD Resolution - Total number of pixels that make up a camcorder’s sensor. The higher the resolution, the greater the detail in a picture.

Memory Effect - Nicad batteries should have all their capacity used or discharged before recharging, in order to maximize battery life. Lithium-ion batteries are free from this memory effect and can just be topped up as required.

Motion Sensor - Camera can be set to start recording when it senses an object moving into the frame.

Nightshot Infrared System - Allows you to record images up to 10 feet away in total darkness (0 Lux) using infrared technology. Images shot in total darkness appear as monochrome images.

Optical Zoom - Works like the zoom on a traditional film camera. Elements within the lens move, reducing the field of view and making the object that you’re shooting appear closer. Image quality does not degrade as the amount of optical zoom increases.

Progressive Scan - Ability of the video camcorder to record all lines of an image to the tape for every frame of video. Cameras with progressive-scan CCDs read each row of pixels on the CCD sequentially when recording an image. Older models of CCDs either read a pair of rows at a time or read all even rows as one frame, then all odd rows as the next frame. Both of these older methods compromise image quality.

Resolution - Number of horizontal and vertical pixels that a device or image contains, expressed as: (horizontal dimension)x(vertical dimension), 1024×768. In camcorders this can be applied to the CCD, LCD and viewfinder, as well as the recorded image and a photo if applicable. Normally a higher resolution is better than a lower resolution.

Removable Memory - Some DV camcorders are now equipped with removable memory cards. These allow still images to be recorded to the card. The number of still images that can be recorded to the card varies, depending on the size of the card - 4MB, 8MB, 32MB and 64MB and the resolution of the digital stills captured by the camcorder.

Shutter Speeds - Shutter electronically regulates the amount of times the light passing through the lens exposes the CCD. In normal circumstances the shutter speed is set at 1/50sec. but this will leave fast moving images blurred when they are viewed a frame at a time or in slow-motion. The fast shutter speeds vary from 1/120sec through to 1/10,000 - the higher the speed the more precise the detail and the less blur noticeable.

Still Memory - Removable memory card used for storage of still images.

Streaming Video - Web based Video that downloads and plays at the same time so you don’t have to wait for the entire file to download before you can view it.

SwivelScreen Display - Color LCD monitor that swivels 270 degrees for viewing at any angle and even goes into the ‘mirror mode” where the subjects see themselves in the LCD and the operator sees them in the viewfinder.

Touch Control Panel - Touch control panel LCD view screen allows you to zoom, focus and control brightness while recording. Even in playback, just touch the screen to zoom in on any part of the image.

Variable Speed Zoom - Let’s you change the speed of your zooming to provide different effects on your videos.

Variable Shutter Speed - Let’s you shoot fast moving subjects and, on playback with slow motion, be able to see all the action clearly.

VHS - Lowest quality camcorder. These camcorders record directly onto a VHS tape, which you can take out of your camcorder and put directly into your VCR. Cam resolution is about 250 lines. Recording time: 2 hours.

VHS-C - “C” stands for compact, meaning that you can place your video tape in a cartridge to play back in the VCR. The resolution is similar to Hi8 but tapes are shorter in legnth.

Super VHS (SVHS) - Format not compatible with a VHS VCR but can be played back with the camcorder attached to the VCR or by using an S-VHS VCR. Maximum recording time is 2 hours and resolution at 400, is better than the VHS, VHS-C, 8mm models. Comparable to Hi8 but with longer recording time.

Video Dub - Insert edit that records video without disturbing the existing soundtrack. Camcorder with this feature allows you to replace a segment of videotape with a new one, without any moir (lines of color distortion moving down the picture).

Viewfinder - Small view of the scene you are recording. This is normally a small LCD screen. The more pixels the viewfinder screen has, the clearer the image will be. The number of pixels in the viewfinder does not relate to how clear the picture will be recorded.

White Balance Control - Camcorders control the white balance automatically according to light conditions. Some models also have manual settings of the white balance.

Wide-Angle Lens - Wide-angle capability involves a separate lens that allows you to get up close to large groups (see also focal length).

Zebra Pattern - Shown as diagonal stripes, it helps to adjust the exposure and shutter speed so that you can get the desired picture.

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