4 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Digital Camcorder

You probably came across this because you’re looking to get a camcorder. Well, don’t leave! Read on. You’ll get the information you need to make that happen. I promise.

I was on YouTube a few weeks back watching performances by spoken word artists. Some of the videos were from big named television stations like HBO (Brave New Voices; Def Poetry Jam), while other were high-quality homemade ones (Lisa B., Joshua Bennett).  I sat there thinking, hmm that will be me some day, national acclaimed spoken word artist, Lassana Magassa.

Then I stumbled upon a YouTube channel, JerkTV. Though not quite my cup of tea in terms of content, I can definitely appreciate the production talent. I sat there thinking I can do that! I can create dynamic YouTube videos that people will watch and enjoy.

There was one problem though. I did not own a digital camcorder. It was then that I embarked on an adventure filled with research, research, research and decision-making.  My research included the advice of producer extraordinaire Julian Gerena-Quinones (my brother from another mother).

Below I will share some four (4) things you should consider when shopping for a digital camcorder.

1. What kind of digital camcorder should I get?

No one can answer this better then you! Investing in a camcorder is a pretty significant task. A good quality camcorder can easily cost you a thousand dollars ($1000.00) or more. So look around. Try to get a feel for the types of camcorders that are available–their features, average cost, etc. Some tools that can educate you about camcorders include:

  1. Bing Shopper: http://www.bing.com/shopping
  2. Google Shopping: http://www.google.com/shopping
  3. NexTag: http://www.nextag.com/

Next, read reviews to see what professionals and everyday users have to say. This can provide some valuable information about things the manufactures don’t tell you. Although the sites above provide access to reviews, other places to look include:

  1. CNET Reviews: http://reviews.cnet.com/
  2. Camcorder Reviews: http://camcorder-reviews.net/
  3. CamcorderInfo: http://www.camcorderinfo.com/

One thing I like most is that the sites allow you to segment items by categories including highest rated, store, price, brand, megapixels, and optical zoom rate.

2. Who Should I Buy it From & How much should I spend?

Look at what different retailers are offering and try to get the best price for the camcorder that fits your needs. This is a lot easier said then done! For example, I was looking at two Sony camcorders, the HDR XR550V and the HDR CX700V. The cost for the first was between 935.00 and 1650.00, while the second was between 999.00 and 1848.00. In the case of the first, that was a 715.00 difference between the cheapest and most expensive seller. For the later that difference is 914.00.

I didn’t know if this was because of false advertising or because some company’s were just charging more than others. So I asked!

After some research and feedback from Julian, I learned a few things:

  1. Look for authorized dealers. These are usually retailers/resellers that a camcorder maker has given a stamp of approval, permission to sell their product. Going to an authorized dealer will save you trouble if you run into problems after the purchase.
  2. Visit the store front. Google any reviews of the store, see how friendly they are on the phone and then visit the store. If you can’t go to the store, then be sure to call in your order!
  3. Be suspicious of extremely low prices! Some sites are selling refurbished items under the title of “Brand New.” Others are totally a scam (e.g. Over-Wholesale.com). Though it might look legitimate, it is not. Also, if they do not take credit card orders then they are probably not a legitimate company.
  4. Bundles are NOT as worthy as they appear to be. You many find is companies that sell legit digital camcorders at a decent price. They also offer “bundles” (see: SuperTVCity; 42nd Street Photo; Amazon) which come w/ a tripod, lenses, memory, a several other accessories.  “…sometimes the items they include make you feel like your getting a great deal… when they actually suck” (Julian). In many cases they are selling low quality products at name brand prices. (Julian).

3. What Accessories Should I Get?

Based on feedback from Julian:

  1. Extra battery: Having an extra battery will you have power when you need it most.
  2. Memory Card: You will be using it to transfer video and images from the camcorder to your computer,  so be sure to get a high quality one!
  3. Memory Card Reader: This is probably common sense. If you are getting a high quality card you should also get a high quality reader to retrieve the content from it.
  4. Tripod: There is nothing worse than those shaky videos, the ones that you feel nauseous after watching. Save yourself and your viewers the torment.
  5. Wireless Microphone: Something worse than shaky hands is poor audio. To ensure your viewers don’t have to strain to hear what you are saying invest in the appropriate tools.

4. Do I REALLY need the warranty?

In short, YES! Though the warranty’s seem expensive get get! They are probably one of the wisest investments you can make. As with the camcorder, be sure to read and/or call and ask about what the warranty actually covers.

Make sure it is a U.S. Warranty. If it doesn’t say it don’t get it. Some electronic goods come with warranties from other countries. Do yourself the favor and make sure your camcorder’s warranty is as American as apple pie.

Let the Recording Begin!

Hopefully this post has provided you with the information you need to avoid the obstacles people commonly encounter. If there is anything I left out or you just want to chime in, use the comments section below.

Look out for videos of me in the near future!

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