Thursday, November 02, 2006

High-Definition Camcorders

Make no mistake: Both one-chip and three-chip cameras offer much better resolution than typical analog equipment-and general consumers looking to create home movies, corporate training videos, or Web content will rarely need to look beyond these cameras to produce professional looking results.

However, if you must deliver your final project for formats that meet today’s television standards-particularly the greater resolutions required for high –definition HD broadcasts-you might consider bumping up to the quality offered by formats such as DigiBeta (Digital Betacam) and DVCPro50. Typically, these camcorders are more expensive and somewhat bulky; however, crews use them to gather footage for TV news and sporting events, which they must often integrate with archival footage originally shot on analog (BetaCam) equipment.Camcorders made for these higher-end formats always use three CCDs, and frequently feature better optics, larger image sensors, and improved data compression to collect a greater range of color information-which ultimately produces a sharper, richer picture.

Sony DSR500 This high-quality DV camcorder can acquire a 700-line resolution in a native 16:9 aspect ratio. The three chip model features revolutionary CCD technology and digital signal processing that corrects color and image balance on the fly. This means you get professional-looking footage but can still connect to your consumer-level editing station - thanks to the inclusion of firewire. At a cost of less than $15,000, this camera will benefit commercial directors, corporate productions, and event videographers making a transition to digital tools.

In an attempt to look like film, some cable television programs have begun shooting episodes in Hi-Def with these high-definition (HD) camcorders. In addition, many documentaries and digital features are being shot with HD cameras to ease the technical difficulties of transferring video images to film stock before release to film festivals or theatrical distributors.

The major electronics manufacturers offer dozens of models of HD camcorders, with prices starting at around $15000. Because demand for these cameras is limited to a smattering of industrial customers worldwide, their prices never seem to drop dramatically. As a result, most filmmakers prefer to rent HD equipment for the duration of their shooting, thus avoiding purchasing a pricey camcorder that could be damaged or destroyed. It’s also important to note that accessories and services for HD cameras are more expensive and harder to find than consumer DV equipment. Thus, if you require a special lens or your camcorder needs repair, you may incur longer waits and bigger bills.l

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