How-Tos

How to Choose a Camera: Video 101


The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

Choosing a camera is the first step on your way to making videos that you can share on Vimeo. There are a lot of options to choose from including camcorders, simple point and shoot cameras, and nowadays cellphones with built in video cameras. Where do you even start? Check out the video below for a quick run down of your various movie making options.

Let’s review the main differences between cellphones and camcorders video shooting capabilities.

Portability, you can’t beat being able to put a camera in your pocket that’s all built into a device that you’ll probably carry around with you most of the time. Cellphones are ubiquitous in our daily lives which means you won’t end up kicking yourself since you forgot to bring your camera on that night out on the town or whatever random adventure life might throw your way.

Mobile uploading, if you’re just shooting short clips you can upload them directly to Vimeo from your phone. Just check the upload email address specific to your account, it’s right on your upload page.

Image quality, cellphones have smaller, less sophisticated camera light sensors than camcorders or other dedicated cameras. That results in an image with less quality. You might not notice a big difference if you’re shooting outdoors in really bright settings, but indoors or at night those differences really start to show.

Zoom, some cellphone cameras have what’s called digital zoom, but all it’s really doing is cropping the image which will just end up look grainy and pixelated as you zoom in. Most camcorders have optical zoom which allows you to zoom in and get a close and clear image of an object even if you’re far away from it.

Sound, the microphone built into a cellphone will be somewhat adequate for picking up accompanying audio for your video, but if you want it to sound crisper, cleaner, and just plain better overall, then the dedicated microphone on a camcorder wins hands down.

Viewing, both cellphones and camcorders use LCD screens to show you the image that’s being captured. Your camcorder comes with a viewfinder so you can focus your attention on what your recording. It’s also pretty handy when you’re shooting video outside on a sunny day, since your LCD screen will be covered in glare. Your LCD will also have icons on it to show if it’s currently recording video, how much memory or tape is left, and how full the battery is.

Controls, camcorders come with manual features that give you more control over how your video will look. For example, focus. Being able to change how your camera is focusing images can really help give your videos the look and feel that you want. Additionally, the zoom manual control will help you get a nice smooth zoom in or out. Don’t forget that big red record button for capturing those great moments!

The right camera for you is the one that allows you to make the videos you want by giving you the tools and controls you need!

Ready for more? Check out this lesson on how to shoot your video or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.




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