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Equipment for Video Podcasting, Part 1: Basic Cameras

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Jennie Bourne, coauthor of Web Video: Making It Great, Getting It Noticed, begins a new series on equipment options for video podcasting. In part 1, she covers options for the most basic camera choices, suitable for users who are just getting started with video.
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This is part 1 of a series of articles covering how to choose equipment for generating your own video podcasts. We'll begin here with a look at very basic equipment, for those of you who are just getting started in video, or perhaps are moving from audio to video podcasts, or who just don't want anything too elaborate or expensive. Future articles will cover equipment for more technically demanding video podcasts, as well as equipment you'll need if you're planning to shoot on location.

Quick Trip to the Bottom Line

While I'm trying to tell them how to choose the best camera for their needs, people keep interrupting to ask me, "So which camcorder should I get?" So I'll cut to the chase for readers who are in a hurry to make a decision. If you want a basic camera that will give you passable video (but not necessarily great sound), buy a Flip or a Sanyo Xacti. (The guys at Make: use an Xacti for their podcasts.)

If you have a little more money, you can get something like a Canon VIXIA HF-11 Dual Flash Memory camcorder, street price about $699 (see Figure 1). But there are a lot of cheaper models, such as the Canon FS-11 (see Figure 2) for about $350; this item includes a microphone input as well as hard drive or SD cards so you can drag-and-drop your video files into your editing program.

Figure 1 The Canon VIXIA HF11 Dual Flash Memory is a high-definition camcorder.

Figure 2 The Canon FS-11 Dual Flash Memory.

Mobile phone video is also getting better. The new Apple iPhone 3GS video phone (see Figure 3) shoots 30 frames per second (fps), and Nokia has a few models that work for video on the run.

Figure 3 iPhone 3GS.

Before making a choice, look at reliable review sites like CNET, Videography, and Videomaker. You should also join a mailing list like Yahoo! VideoBlogging, where you can find comments from people who actually use the cameras they recommend, and some very helpful people will answer your questions.

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