Digital video essentials

More digital video tips & tricks

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Camcorder glossary

The language of video is complex and filled with technical terms and jargon. Here’s a guide to some terms you’re likely to encounter.

24p Video is usually recorded at 29.97 interlaced fps, but film runs at 24 progressive fps. Some high-end camcorders have a 24p mode, which records video at 24 progressive fps. While this mode does produce a film-like look, you don’t need it unless you really want to be the next Ang Lee. For a guide to 24p video, visit the Zerocut Web site.

CCD One of the two main types of camcorder image sensors, charge-coupled devices are found on many expensive camcorders. CCDs tend to produce better-quality video than CMOS sensors and are less prone to picking up electronic noise. Some camcorders use three CCD sensors, one each for red, blue, and green.

CMOS Image sensors using complementary metal-oxide semiconductor technology are often found in inexpensive camcorders. CMOS sensors are more susceptible to electronic noise than CCDs; this can result in noisy video in low-light settings. However, thanks to recent developments in image-sensor technology, the quality differences are less significant than they used to be.

iLink Sony calls the FireWire port on their camcorders an iLink port, but the two are compatible.

MPEG-2 This is the format used to store video on DVDs and many hard-drive-based camcorders. Because the format has numerous variations, Mac apps may have trouble correctly decoding these files.

MPEG-4 This compression format provides good-quality video in small files, and it’s based partly on Apple’s QuickTime technology.

[ Richard Baguley has reviewed digital camcorders and cameras for Macworld and PC World.]

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