Getting started in HD video, part 1

Everything you always wanted to know about HD video (but were afraid to ask).

Hard-drive (HDD) camcorders

Guide to HD.

An early HDD camcorder model.

HDD camcorders utilise small, non-removable hard drives to store and record high-def media. Currently, hard disk–based camcorders are the fastest and best-selling format in the AVCHD market, although removable flash memory models are also gaining in popularity.

Hard disk–based camcorders offer anywhere between 12GB and 120GB of inbuilt storage space, depending on the cost of the device. One of the obvious advantages of HDD camcorders is that you don't need to carry around recordable media, such as tapes or DVDs. Not only is this more cost-effective, but it also makes them more user-friendly for beginners (all you need to do is turn the camera on and shoot).

One disadvantage of the HDD format is that you’re stuck with the storage space you pay for (with the exception of additional memory cards). Plus, if you happen to break your camera, any footage stored on the hard drive could be gone forever. If you haven't recently backed up your footage, this could result in hours of lost memories.

Bear in mind that HDD stands for 'hard disk drive', not 'high-definition'. Many HDD camcorders record in standard-def, so make sure the model you’re looking at is HD-capable.

Examples of HDD high-def camcorders:

1. JVC Everio GZ-HD6 (RRP: $2199) — “The Everio GZ-HD6 is a solid HDD camcorder that can match most high-def cameras when it comes to picture quality.”

Guide to HD.

JVC Everio GZ-HD6.

2. Sony HDR-SR12 E (RRP: $1299) — “The HDR-SR12E may be a little more expensive than most of its rivals, but it represents a bargain nonetheless. It ticks all the major boxes that make a great camcorder; including superb image quality and ease-of-use.”

Guide to HD.

Sony HDR-SR12E.

3. Canon HG10 (RRP: $2199) — “A great all-round camera, the HG10 is streamlined towards delivering high quality video in ideal conditions. The lack of manual controls may frustrate advanced users, however most will find it to be an excellent camcorder.”

Guide to HD.

Canon HG10.

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