When I look at some features on my camera, I shudder. Things that just look cheesy when used, and don’t even do a good job. Even though I know better than to use them, I run into people who are just starting out with filmmaking who think that these effects are amazing and use them liberally. I’d like to warn anybody who might be thinking about using them, so here is my list of camcorder features that you should not use.
At the top of the list is Digital Zoom. Many people think that digital zoom is good, since it lets you zoom in farther. However, the digital zoom is not a true zoom, but rather a quite different effect. To understand digital zoom, take an image editing application, open any old photo, and enlarge it to something like 3,000%. Pretty grainy, isn’t it? This is the exact same thing that your camera does with digital zoom. If this is turned on when you buy your camera, you will want to read the manual to find out how to turn it off.
16:9 Mode is only a problem on certain cameras. Older cameras did not have the capability to shoot in true 16:9 mode. In order to get around this problem, camera makers just built the camera to shoot standard 4:3 pictures, and then chop off the top and bottom to make “widescreen” pictures. Obviously, this mode will only turn your carefully framed shots into nightmares. Even if it looks like your subject’s head is nicely on screen, this mode may cut off his head, leaving you with some nasty video.
I must add that many newer cameras have a true 16:9 mode, which does shoot in widescreen. How can you tell which ones have widescreen mode? The product description will probably say “True 16:9 Mode” or something along those lines. If you have one of these cameras, not only are you luckier than I am, you can also disregard the above section about not shooting in 16:9 mode.
Some people really like to use the built in Digital Effects on their cameras. While these effects do an okay job with the effect, they don’t give you the control over the footage that you will want later. It is always better to shoot raw footage and add effects on the computer than it is to shoot video with an effect applied, only to decide you want it a different way once you begin editing.
One more thing that I’d like to mention is Demo Mode. While this is not a real problem, many people are confused by it. Many camera manufacturers include an enabled demo mode on their cameras. This demo mode is designed to automatically start playing a tour of the camera’s features after a certain amount of time. The problem comes when you’re happily shooting video and demo mode suddenly kicks in, ruining your shoot. This can be avoided by simply turning the demo mode off (what a concept!).
Well, I hope that I have thoroughly warned you against using the wrong camera features. You can use this list as a camera shopping aid, since you’ll know which features you don’t care about having. And make sure you tell your friends about these if you see them turning to the wrong features.
By the way, you probably noticed that we have changed our look just a tiny bit. Okay, more like we made over the entire site! We hope that you like this new design. It’s just a taste of the new things to come. Leaving you in suspense, this is Jordan signing off.