Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Taking Care of Your Camcorder

Your camcorder is one of your most important weapons in the competitive war of digital filmmaking. Its also one of the more expensive weapons that you cannot afford to lose too soon - and hence, its always better to take good care of your DV Camera. However, you don't need to go to a film school to learn camcorder hygiene. Here are a few tips:

A camcorder can be irreparable if damaged with water. Protect it from rain and wipe off moisture from the casing. Salt water is especially harmful, and can do damage to the outer casing as well as the inner workings.

Some camcorders warn you if condensation is building up inside the camera and many will switch off automatically. To remedy this, take out the cassette, if the camera will let you. If it is not possible, switch off and wait 2 or 3 hours. Once you have removed the cassette, leave the cassette compartment open for 2 or 3 hours, to dry, in a non-dusty room at average temperature. Condensation is particularly problematic if you film in extremely cold places and the water freezes. If this happens, let the camera thaw naturally at room temperature and then go through the same process as for condensation.

Magnetized equipment
Any magnetic field can adversely affect recording. Television monitors, video games and loud speakers generate fields which distort picture quality. No lasting damage id done to the camera itself, but your footage could be ruined. Test how the camera performs if you are in any doubt and play back the results on a monitor. Occasionally, the actual mechanism of the camera can be affected, temporarily, but this is often solved by unplugging your power supply or removing the battery and then reconnecting.

Pointing the viewfinder at sunlight can do great damage to inner working parts. Worse, it can permanently damage your eyesight too.

Radio transmitters and power lines
If you have ever listened to radio near an overhead power line you will have heard an amount of interference. This noise badly affects your video recording, so avoid shooting near pylons or other high voltage lines. Radio transmitters will have a similar affect on the sound and image. Mobile phones also cause problems with sound interference while recording.

Excessive use
Many camcorders are not designed to be used for excessively long periods. as for example in surveillance filming; the inside temperature of the camera can cause malfunctions.

Dust and Sand
Take care when inserting the cassette that no fine dust or sand inters the camera. If you are using the camera in a potentially dusty environment, use a protective cover. If you don’t have a cover, you can improvise with a black bin-liner, wrapped around the casing. But beware that the camera could overheat over a period of time.

We shall continue with this topic in the next post.

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