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Camcorder Formats Explained

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Up until the mid 1990s, analog camcorders were the norm, and there were lots of different types to choose from. Big old ones used VHS and newer tinier ones the smaller VHS-C or 8mm tapes. The best models used Hi8. Then DV arrived and swept them all away.


For the best part of a decade, as analog models receded into distant memory, the MiniDV tape format and its associated compression system was the norm. All consumer camcorders used it, whether bargain basement or semi-professional. There were a couple of professionally-oriented variants - Panasonic's DVCPRO and Sony's DVCAM - but the vast majority of models stuck with DV.

Now, however, camcorder buyers are faced with a bewildering array of video formats and recording media types. Two transitions have coincided - from standard to high definition and from tape to media such as DVD, hard drive and Flash memory. So this week we present you with everything you need to know about all the myriad camcorder formats now available.

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