Digital Video Equipment: Guide to selecting & buying the best digital camcorders, video editing hardware & software. Find out what sort of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, professionals use to shoot commercials and documentaries.
If you’ve spent time looking for digital video equipment, you should know that there are lots of products out there that seem to do the job, be it camcorders, video capture cards, video editing software, video accessories or books on digital video.
Here we take a look at the various video products available in the market, especially on camcorders/video cameras and video editing software. We regularly update this page with reviews of new products, so do come back to read reviews of the latest digital video equipment.
Once you have an understanding of the video creation process, it becomes easier to take the first step towards deciding what digital video equipment would be needed to setup a video production system.
That still leaves questions around what factors to consider when selecting those hardware and software. This article will provide you with all the necessary information, to help you select the best desktop video equipment.
From your side, you need to know what you want to shoot. Are you going to shoot simple home videos… or do you want to do some high quality work?
So here we go!
Selecting & Buying a Digital Camcorder
A camcorder is your first requirement if you want to shoot video. Though analog camcorders still exist, it is digital camcorders which everybody is using.
Even within digital camcorders, the price range could vary a lot, so you need to be clear about your budget and what you intend to shoot. If you intend to shoot only home videos i.e. basically some events around friends & family, a low to mid-range digital camcorder should suffice.
Read here for more on digital slr cameras that also have the capability to record excellent videos nowadays. For more on traditional hand-held video cameras, read here.
For technicalities, look at factors like firewire support, lens quality, still image capability, etc. For more information, you can read the following articles.
Buying a Computer for Video Editing
Computer is the heart of your video production system. It is where you will do things like editing, adding effects, adding soundtrack, etc. and come up with the final DVD.
So your computer needs to have a good configuration, else you are not going to enjoy this process, since it will take ages to do all the processing.
If you already have a computer at home, you will need to check its configuration and maybe upgrade it. If you are going to buy a new one, you need to consider factors like CPU, RAM, Hard disk, upgradability, Monitor size, etc.
Buying a Video Capture Device
If your video is stored in digital format (digital camcorders) then your computer will need to have Firewire card…to be able to transfer the video to your computer (Firewire gives you extremely fast transfer speeds than USB).
If your video is stored in analog format (VHS tapes) then you will need an analog-to-digital conversion device to do the transfer to your computer. It also becomes easier to preserve those videos once they are converted to the digital format.
Buying a Video Editing Software
Broadly speaking, the various video editing software packages are meant for either Amateurs (Home Users) or Professionals. They are further classified based on whether they run on windows or Mac.
Final Cut Pro (Mac) and Adobe Premiere (windows) have high end features and are used extensively by pros. For that reason they are expensive as well.
On the other hand, if you are an amateur or intend to make home videos, Pinnacle Studio Plus or Roxio would be more suitable, considering your requirements and budget.
Buying VCD or DVD Authoring Software
DVD authoring packages are quite cheap and affordable nowadays. Besides, they are becoming popular because of their ease of use. The process of burning a VCD or DVD is greatly simplified using an authoring package. They also let you add VCD menus and DVD chapters for easy navigation.
Ulead Systems is an industry leader for these products; you can buy such software packages from them. For more information, you can also read this article on Buying DVD and VCD authoring software.
Typical Equipment Used By Professionals
So what sort of video equipment do professionals use, say for commercials or for shooting documentaries?
Though the exact brands and models may vary a lot from person to person, there are many who feel that they can achieve far better results based on their knowledge of how things work, and so they don’t necessarily go after the most expensive stuff.
First thing is obviously a video camera. Digital cameras can start anywhere from few hundred dollars to few thousand dollars. Most of them use mini DV cameras as the quality is good and can be shown on television.
The second important thing is audio; you want the captured audio to be good. The built-in mics are okay but for best results experts use a good external camera microphone. Depending on what you are recording you may require clip-on mics, hand held mic or boom mic, but the important thing is to have good mics.
Lastly, you need good professional lights, such as aluminum scoop lights or halogen lights. For best results, your lighting has to be good and that is where these come in handy. Whatever you shoot, just make sure you have several lights for the video production job.
This is what most professionals use, basically it boils down to camera, audio, and lights.
I think this article pretty much sums up the digital video equipment needed for computer video production. Basically, you’ll need a Video Camcorder/camera, editing software, camcorder microphone, external hard drive, DVD burner, tripod, video Bag, and some lights.
You have lots of choices, both in terms of brands and budget. This is good from a buyer’s perspective but at the same time it can get confusing as well.
The important think is not to get carried away and buy what suits your budget and requirements.