Digital Video Cameras

They're an ideal way to record footage of your family, friends and those special occasions: but which one is right for you?


DV and the Web

Modern PC systems can quickly and easily capture video from a camcorder or webcam, ready to edit and deliver to viewers online. There are some issues to consider. Do you want to stream the video or send it in as a complete file? Will your audience be a targeted group such as an e-mail list or just one individual? Will it be available to everyone on your homepage?

A popular way to create small audio and video files is to use MPEG.

MPEG-1 was the format devised for VCD and also happens to be a good option for Internet distribution over a broadband connection due to the transfer rate of 1500Kbps, which is comparable to a high-speed broadband connection. However, the widespread adoption of MPEG-4 by most movie makers wanting to show their video on the Web, makes MPEG-1 a less attractive option for video distribution.

MPEG-4 is a great video format for the Web because it can deliver good video quality at extremely low data rates, even down to 10Kbps. Yet, when needed, the bit rate can be lifted to around 1Mbps, providing near-DVD quality video. DivX, one of the most popular formats on the Web for distributing movie titles, is based on the MPEG-4 format.

Camcorder makers such as Sony, Canon and Panasonic are providing live Web streaming capabilities using an MPEG-4 encoder in their DV camcorders, with the latest models taking advantage of the greater transfer speeds available when using USB 2.0. This allows you to connect your camcorder to the PC through a USB connection and send live video over the Web at various quality levels, depending on the internet connection speed of your audience.

Another option with many new camcorders is to record Web-quality video to removable storage media such as an SD card or Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro. This option allows you quickly and easily to transfer your video to the PC via a USB connection or through a card reader.

MPEG-2 is the format used in DVD video distribution and has playback rates from around 500 to 1000Kbps. By altering the playback or delivery rate, users can tailor the delivery of a video to meet the speed of a connection or to store more video on a DVD disc. The arrival of MPEG-2 camcorders allows users to distribute video immediately via the Web through the PC, or through wireless technologies such as Bluetooth.



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