While shopping for a new camcorder to shoot your next short for film class or record your sister's wedding, you might be left wondering about the differences between HD and standard definition camcorders. Does it matter which one you buy? Are there really any significant differences other than price?
Major Differences Between Standard Definition and HD Camcorders
Camcorders are a lot like TVs when it comes to high definition and standard definition models. The thing that makes a camcorder high-def is the video's resolution. Standard definition videos like ones made on camcorders including the Sony 80G Silver Hard Drive Handycam® are comprised of 480 horizontal lines. However, HD camcorders including the Samsung Switch Grip Flash Memory HD Camcorder create video with up to 1,080 resolution lines. As you might expect, the greater the number of resolution lines, the clearer and sharper the video will be when you play it back.
HD video is produced in three different resolutions: 720p, 1080p, and 1080i. As an example, the Samsung Switch Grip mentioned above records video in 1080i and plays it back in 1080p. There are differences even between these three resolutions. The p at the end of the resolution indicates progressive scan technology while the i indicates interlaced technology.
Progressive scan video records every line of the video in sequence without skipping any of the lines. One of the advantages of progressive scanning is that it usually looks better than interlaced video, particularly with action video. With interlaced resolution, only every other line is recorded. So, for example, scanning starts with lines one, three, five, and then later picks up the even numbered lines.
HD Camcorders 101
When you are out shopping for a camcorder, there are a few other things you should bear in mind, including the following:
Full HD: Full HD simply means that the camcorder records video in 1920 x 1080 resolution. In contrast to 720p camcorders, these full HD models offer a higher resolution. If you are looking to purchase the camcorder that creates the best picture, you will definitely want to choose a full HD camcorder.
Drawbacks of HD: As with similar technologies the higher the quality of the video, the larger the file. Storage space for HD files can be an issue, particularly if you plan to shoot a lot video. Playback on computers can also be an issue as HD video is more demanding than standard definition video.
File Storage: The camcorder you ultimately choose will also depend on your preference for storing video files. You might see the term AVCHD while you are researching. This refers to the way HD files are compressed for storage on different types of media including flash cards and hard drives. A number of other storage options are also available depending on the model. These include DVD, mini-DVDs, SD cards and Blu-Ray discs.
Although consumers seem to be buying more HD camcorders than standard definition models these days, there are still plenty of reasons to opt for the standard definition camcorders, not the least of which is that they are easier on the wallet.