Features of Pocket Camcorders
Why Wouldn't I Want One?Now, while these pocket camcorders may be portable, easy to use, and fairly inexpensive, that does come with some pretty significant drawbacks as well. Here are a few of the biggest reasons you may want to skip one of these in favor of a regular camcorder.
Low Light Recording: Of all the pocket camcorders, the best ones have what would be considered 'bad' low light recording ability. Some have what I'd call nothing short of stab-you-in-the-eye bad. These pocket camcorders are not designed for you to shoot video in a dimly lit bar with friends or anything like that. If that's what you're hoping to do with one of these bad boys, you may want to reconsider your purchase – keep your usage to well-lit areas only.
Less features: While these cameras are starting to add more and more features as time goes on, they still don't compare to a full-featured, full-size camcorder. Many standard features, such as optical zoom and image stabilization, are lacking on many of these models and, when they do appear, they aren't all that well implemented. If you're doing anything beyond basic point-and-shoot video, steer clear of a pocket camcorder.
Small LCDs: Many of the LCDs on these are small and, except for a few cases (Sony's model being a rare exception), do not have swivel screens, making it difficult to get into certain positions for recording. If you need a large viewing area, you might want to reconsider your purchase.
HD vs Non-HD, and How Does This Affect Picture Quality?As you are likely aware if you watch any sort of television these days, HD is all the rage. You'll have a hard time finding a non-HD television at stores anymore, cameras and video cameras all tout HD recording, and you even have attempts at capitalizing on the popularity of the term with things like the HD Wraparound Glasses. Pocket camcorders have not been spared from this. SD, 720p, 1080p and the like are thrown about constantly. What do all of these terms mean to you, though, and do any of them really matter?
Picture Quality: Picture quality on pocket camcorders ranges from bad to decent. While you're not going to get top-quality, cinema style video with these, what you will typically get is something that'd be considered pretty good and Youtube worthy, or something worth plugging into your TV and sharing with your friends. The reason for the lower quality compared to a regular camcorder comes down to lens quality and sensor size. The smaller sensor in these camcorders means that the image is, to put it simply, 'magnified' more. The more you magnify an image or video, the lower quality you will get.
HD vs SD: The big thing you likely need to worry about is the jump from SD to 720p HD. This will make a pretty significant difference in your overall image quality. While the overall video quality is not going to rival that of a regular camcorder that does 720p, you'll be able to tell the difference when you play the video on any sort of HD output source, such as your TV or a computer monitor. SD video will look grainy compared to HD video. However, an SD only camcorder will be cheaper than an HD one. If you're just uploading videos to Youtube and are not too concerned with quality, SD might be ok for you. For the wide majority of people, though, going with an HD one will be the best bet.
720p vs 1080p: These numbers refer to the resolution of the video recorded. Unless you have an exceptionally large television, you're not going to likely be able to tell the difference in the output of a 720p pocket camcorder vs a 1080p pocket camcorder. While high quality video makes telling the difference quite a bit easier, the video from these camcorders is already lower in quality than what you'd normally see. The jump in resolution is not going to increase the quality enough to be worth the jump in price.