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Matching a DV Camcorder to Your Shooting Style

You shouldn't choose a camcorder based on its feature set alone, however impressive it might be. Camcorder features are only important in relation to your style of shooting. You'll have very different sets of requirements for shooting in:

  • News style
  • Film style
  • Multicamera style

News Style

Whether you're actually covering news or simply can't afford to field a crew, here are the camcorder features you'll probably want for running and gunning:

  • A bracket (called an accessory shoe) for attaching a photo floodlight
  • A built-in microphone
  • The size, weight, and balance that work best for you
  • Camera mounts for shoulder braces and specialty rigs
  • A wide-ranging zoom lens (no time to change lenses)
  • Broadcast-spec color space and SMPTE/EBU timecode
  • Automatic controls (although you'll begin to avoid using them as you gain skill operating manual controls)
  • Low-light sensitivity
  • Advanced editing support

Film Style

Because shooting film style usually means single-camera setups, meticulously planned, lit, and executed, you'll need:

  • Manual overrides for automatic controls
  • Progressive scanning (one aspect of "film look"; for more information, see "Making Video Look Like Film" later in this chapter)
  • An assortment of interchangeable lenses
  • Manual, mechanical focus control
  • A separate/detached zoom control
  • Camera mounts for tripods and dollies
  • Professional-style audio connectors
  • 24P scanning mode, if your output is film, or a film look

Multicamera Styles

For studio productions such as newscasts and game shows, as well as for sporting events and weddings, you'll want camcorders (or cameras) that feature:

  • Outputs for studio switchers and VTRs (including component-color signals)
  • Multicamera synchronization (including SMPTE timecode)
  • Output matched to other cameras in the studio (so colors and details look the same when you switch camera angles)
  • Support for advanced editing systems
  • Selectable film or video look (interlaced or progressive scanning and variable frame rates). (For more information on scanning, see "What Are NTSC / PAL / SECAM Broadcast Formats?" later in this chapter.)
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