Sony Handycam minidv hdv camcorders

Holding the Picture in Your Hand

One of the most important features of any camcorder is portability. The smaller it is, the easier it is to carry and the more likely you are to have it when you want it. 

What's the Difference Between MiniDV and Digital8?

Both Mini DV and Digital8 are digital videotape formats found in a wide range of digital camcorders. Both formats offer similar base quality, recording at approximately 500 lines and using PCM audio. Despite this there were a number of differences between the two formats.

  • Digital8: Deriving from the earlier Video8 and Hi8 formats, it features an 8 mm cassette and allows up to 60 minutes of recording on a two-hour analog tape. Its primary advantage was its backwards compatibility with the existing 8 mm infrastructure, making it a popular choice for people who already had 8 mm camcorders.
  • Mini DV: Released as an open standard and using a 6 mm DV tape, this was a notably smaller format. While it originally matched Digital8 for resolution, the later HDV standard used the same tapes for HD film thanks to MPEG-2 compression, which reduced the video signal bandwidth and enabled higher resolution on the same medium.

What Should You Look for in a Camera?

When looking for an HDV camcorder there are a number of features that can make your video experience more satisfying. These range from video quality to lens type and even recording modes. Consider two HDV camcorder models from Sony, the HDR-FX1 and the HVR-V1U:

  • HDR-FX1: This camcorder features 3 1/3-inch sensors for 1080i color video recording. It offers image stabilization as well as 12x optical zoom. The large 3.5-inch LCD screen crops down from 16:9 to 4:3 for previews but does allow for HD widescreen playback and recording. 
  • HVR-V1U: With a 1/4-inch triple sensor this camcorder also records in up to 1080i resolution. It bumps the optical zoom up to 20x by increasing the focal length of the lens, while foregoing digital zoom. 

Recording in HD

Anyone looking for a Sony HDV camcorder should pay attention to a number of features in addition to resolution and optical zoom. Battery life always matters as that determines how much time you spend in recording mode instead of sitting on the charger. Low-light capability is always good, as is the ability to set the white balance manually. Some camcorders even feature touchscreen controls, and many can act as a digital still camera and take pictures that store on a Memory Stick. It's all about understanding what you want so you can find the camcorder that meets your individual requirements. Taking videos from nature may require more zoom, while a wider angle may be better for capturing more of the family at a shorter distance.

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