camcorder (camera recorder)

A camcorder (camera recorder) is a portable electronic recording device capable of recording live-motion video and audio for later playback. Camcorders have three major components -- a lens that gathers and focuses light, an imager that converts light into an electrical signal and a recorder that converts electrical signals into digital video and encodes them for storage.

Camcorders, which became popular in the early 1980s, are also known as video recorders or video cameras. Professional videographers and filmmakers use camcorders to produce video segments and films for commercial sale. The devices are also popular with amateur videographers.

The first camcorders recorded in one of two analog formats, VHS and Betamax formats. Recordings were stored on video tape casettes and replayed with a video tape cassette recorder (VCR) hooked up to a monitor, typically a TV set. As technology improved, other formats such as S-VHS, 8mm, Hi-8, and digital video (DV) and high definition video (HDV) became available. These formats offered a sharper picture, better color, more hours of recording and more efficient storage.

Today, camcorders record in an assortment of formats, including MP4. Most camcorders can be connected directly to a personal computer with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) so that video can be edited. Some digital cameras, like the popular Flip camera by Pure Digital, have the editing software built right in the camera.

This was last updated in March 2009

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