Satisfaction Guaranteed: Purchasing a Video Camera

Finding the right video camera requires a few simple steps. Start by researching the various products available in the marketplace.

If you’re unfamiliar with video cameras, doing your homework now can better ensure you’ll be satisfied with your final purchase. Many consumers are use to particular brand names, and the quality and features associated with each. If this is your first video camera, you may want to take the plunge and purchase a truly top-of-the-line model, or just get your big toe wet with a less expensive unit. The challenge is in selling yourself that the extra cost, whatever it may be, will be able to generate the results you need to make it all worthwhile.

This research process can be used when making any type of photo purchase. First set the price range. How much are you willing to spend? Determine if you’re looking for an amateur or a professional grade camera. Even if you’re an amateur, sometimes the pro shops can offer some surprisingly accessible products. Regardless, it’s helpful to go to a major photo and video supplier’s Web site to check out what’s available.

There’s one more step to be taken. Locate other folks who had already made purchases and shared their thoughts. User expectation is a big factor in a consumer’s experience. For instance, one person may make a negative comment about a feature. However, that feature is irrelevant to your need for that product. Read the good comments and the bad. Then shift through the details for what really matters to you.

Before, after or as you read consumer reviews, make a list of all the realistic scenarios as to how you plan to use the video camera. Will you use it in low light conditions? Do you care about audio? Does it need to be compact and portable? Will you need to carry it a distance? Will you be able to react to impromptu situations? Does it have a million accessories and how much do they cost? How long does the battery last? Is it complicated to download the contents? How much data can be held on the storage device? Will you need a tripod?

The next thing, to ask yourself is “What are you willing to sacrifice to get the majority of what you want in the price range you desire?” There is no single perfect camera (in an affordable price range of most consumers). Remember that old expression, “you can’t be all things to all people.” It’s called an average camera.

There’s a professional photographer who wanted to move into video. His choice for this first-time buy was a JVC video camera. It’s a lower end price range professional video camera ($2,000-ish). JVC has a reputation for making some great DVD/CD and stereo equipment leading one to believe that all their products should offer similar performance. The runner up was a highly rated, semi-amateur/professional Sony camera in a mid-range price ($1,200-$1,300). Then there was the highly-rated Panasonic for $900. It was reported that the results for this camera in low light conditions were poor and grainy. All things considered it was still a good camera. Like all video cameras, the built-in audio is considered sub-par. If you plan to digitally add sound that should not be an issue.

So ultimately what was the professional photographer’s choice? The photographer opted for the Sony.

Buying cheaper is not always the best option. Being happy with the equipment and using it rather than having it sit in the box makes all the difference.