A Glossary of Camcorder Terms and Definitions – Making Moving Pictures
Camcorders, movie cameras, digital camcorders, digital video cameras, mini DV camcorders, handicams – whatever you want to call them. The world of videography can be quite complicated. That’s evident just in the variety of descriptions. Camcorders are a technological wonder, and it seems that the more wonderful an electronic device is, the more complex its technology. So to understand this technology, or at least to simplify it, we’ve put together this glossary of camcorder terms and definitions. Our purpose is in direct alignment with that of the camcorder industry – to create a clearer, brighter picture, and a simpler one.
- Auto exposure modes
Most camcorders come with a variety of auto exposure modes. They’re designed to give you a desired effect as you film anything from fast-action sports to nighttime shots, by automatically adjusting the aperture, shutter speed and depth of field.
- AE shift
AE shift is a manual setting on a camcorder that serves the same purpose as auto exposure.
- Backlight compensation
Backlight compensation is usually done automatically, but some camcorders offer it as a manual option. What it does is compensate for too much light behind the subject, which would normally create just a silhouette. So, in effect, it reduces the backlight, while concentrating the light on the subject.
There’s a different bag for every camcorder. You can get one for any use you can think of. For example, how about a waterproof camera bag to go with your underwater video camera? Bags were originally designed for accessories, but you know how it is with a bag – you can put anything you like in it.
- Camcorder battery chargers
There are literally hundreds of camcorder batteries and chargers available on the market today. Check the Internet for the one that fits your camcorder.
- Camera tripods
Camera tripods are three-legged stands for mounting video cameras. They allow you to take videos without moving the camcorder around, except to swivel from one side to the other.
- CCD (charge-coupled device)
The CCD is the image sensor part of the camcorder that captures light from the lens, striking its millions of particles (pixels), which it charges with electrons. These charged electrons are then converted by the A/D (analog-to-digital) converter to digital data that can be stored.
- Date/time stamp
The date-time stamp lets you record the date and time of your filming as part of the image. That way, when you’re reviewing your movies, you’ll be able to “remember” when you took them.
- Digital camcorder
A digital camcorder is the successor to the analog video camera and recorder. It uses CCD technology to create an image that can be stored in digital form and later transferred to a computer for copying, editing, emailing, etc.
- Digital photo mode
Some digital camcorders have the capability of taking still pictures, using freeze-frame technology. They’re not usually as good a quality as actual digital camera pictures.
Digital8 is Sony’s technology that records digital-quality video on Hi8 or 8mm tape.
- DVD camcorder
DVD camcorders record to a DVD disc, as opposed to a cassette tape, that you can just take out and put into your DVD player for playback.
- Edit switch
An edit switch on a camcorder, when switched on, gives your video higher quality when you copy it.
- End search
When you turn on End Search on your camcorder, it automatically goes to a point 2 seconds before the end of where you last stopped recording.
Fader/Overlap is a camcorder option that lets you fade in or out with either black or mosaic.
Firewire (or iLink, if you’re using a Mac) is another name for IEEE 1394, which is a new computer port that lets you transfer large amounts of data, like video recordings. It’s becoming the industry standard for video transmission.
- Flying erase head
Flying erase heads are found on Hi8 or 8mm camcorder models. They eliminate what they call “rainbow noise”, which occurs every time you stop and start recording, thereby producing a smoother transition.
Hi8 is the best analog recording format available. Its biggest advantage is the small size of the tape, which allows camcorder manufacturers to make smaller units, which is what everybody’s looking for. The quality of the tape is equal to S-VHS.
InfoLithium is a battery pack made by Sony that has a chip inside that tells you how many minutes you have before your battery dies, if you continue to use it at the current rate of discharge.
- Intelligent accessory shoe
An intelligent accessory shoe is a place on the camcorder where you can attach accessories, like a video light. The intelligent part is that it shuts on and off in coordination with your recording.
LaserLink is a wireless technology that uses infrared rays (like some TV remotes), to transmit video and sound from a camcorder to a TV. It only works from a distance of 10 feet (3 meters).
There’s a huge variety of camcorder lenses. You can interchange them to create various effects and take videos from various distances.
Lux (lumens/square meter) tells you how sensitive your camcorder is in low-light conditions. The lower the lux, the better the filming in low-light conditions.
MICROMV is a very small videocassette (much smaller than the Mini DV) which records images and sound directly as digital data, using MPEG-2 compression.
- Mini DV
Mini DV is a small videocassette tape which records images and sound in digital format.
- MPEG/M-JPEG movie mode
MPEG/M-JPEG movie mode is a camcorder feature that makes it possible to send your movies via email, or to store them on the Internet.
- Photo mode
When your camcorder’s in photo mode, you can take still pictures for 7 seconds.
- Picture stabilization
If you don’t have a steady hand, you’ll probably get dizzy watching your videos unless you have picture stabilization. It compensates for movement of the camera while shooting.
A pixel (short for picture element), is the smallest unit of space on the surface of a CCD. It picks up an electrical charge and determines the color density of an image by how strong the charge is. The higher the pixel count, the sharper and brighter the image.
- RC time code
RC time code revolutionized film editing by designating each frame of a film with a number, including the hour, minute and second, so it could be easily tracked and marked.
The resolution refers to the number of pixels. Its expressed as horizontal pixel count by vertical pixel count (640 x 480). The higher the resolution, the sharper the picture.
Now you can brag about the stamina in your camcorder, too. By using InfoLithium batteries, you can boost your camcorder’s continuous recording time to 12 hours.
Titling is an option found on many camcorders that gives you the option of placing a title on your video. It usually offers you some popular title choices for common occasions. If you have index titling, the title becomes a marker so you can search for it later.
The viewfinder on a camcorder is the small window you look through to compose your image. It may be B&W or color.
A viewscreen is the LCD screen that serves the same purpose as the viewfinder, but without having to squint through the small window. On many camcorders, the viewscreen flips out to the side, and can be anywhere between 2 and 4 inches across.
- White balance
White balance used to be an option on camcorders, but now it’s fairly standard on most models. It adjusts the level of light in order to exactly duplicate the colors of the scene you’re taking a video of.
- Wind noise reduction
If you take a lot of outside videos, in windy conditions, you’ll need to make sure you have wind noise reduction on your camcorder. It does just what it says it does – cuts down the noise of the wind as it hits the microphone.
- Zero memory
Zero memory is used in editing your video. It lets you take a section of video and place it over another section, thereby deleting the first section. Think of it as a drag-and-drop action.
Zoom is a function of a camcorder that lets you take from wide angle shots to close-ups.
That’ll give you an idea of the basics of what’s available in camcorders these days, and some of the cool functions and features they offer. And you can find all the information you need on the Internet, from reviews to repairs. All the manufacturers, like Sony, Canon, JVC, Panasonic, etc. are doing their best to build a camcorder that’ll allow you to take videos in the simplest manner possible – and with the highest quality results. So go online, do some research, and the picture will be clearer and brighter!
About The Author
Gareth Marples is a successful writer for hire providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing fast digital multimedia projectors, flat projector screens and Canon digital camera ratings & comparisons. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.
This "Glossary of Camcorder Terms and Definitions" reprinted with permission.
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