A Flash memory camcorder is a video camera that records on SD, SDHC, Memory Stick, Compact Flash, and a few other types of memory cards. Flash memory camcorders are arguably the most prevalent and popular type of camcorder into 2010 and beyond. They have existed since the early 2000s, but their adoption did not begin until recently.
The format uses small "Flash" cards to store video, usually in the MPEG-2 video file type. Some camcorders also use MPEG-4, and many can also take still photographs, just like a traditional digital camera. These camcorders are usually easy to use, right out of the box, just like a conventional still camera.
In addition, most flash camcorders are extremely small, and so they are perfect for those who travel frequently. Many even fit into a pocket! Since memory cards are also quite small, the device and its media together provide a portable video taping solution. Memory cards are widely accessible throughout the entire world, making additional storage space a cinch to purchase.
A digital Flash memory camcorder is also remarkably durable, which gives it a leg up over its hard drive siblings. Unlike hard drive camcorders, Flash camcorders do not have moving parts, and is therefore shock-resistant. They can withstand a fairly wide range of pressure. See our camcorder video transfer page for tips on shooting.
Flash video to DVD conversion is fairly simple, since most Flash camcorders record video in the MPEG-2 file format, the same codec used by DVDs. However, that fact also is the main drawback to these types of camcorders: their weak editing abilities. MPEG-2 is simply not a format that was designed for significant video editing, and very few video editing programs are capable of interpreting or handling MPEG-2 files. Flash camcorders are outfitted with this format because it is highly compressed (thus using less drive space) and because of its quick compatibility with most computers.
Video quality varies widely between Flash video camcorders. Higher-end models arguably provide a better picture, although the incorporation of higher-definition video and better codes in smaller versions is drawing the two ends of the spectrum closer together over time. But most Flash camcorders are ideally suited to shooting casual video clips for Web use, not good-quality, archival video of your family's important events. Converting to DVD preserves the exact quality of Flash video, but cannot improve it.
Along those same lines, the current crop of "pocket" Flash camcorders should not be mistaken for their full-fledged video camera cousins. Pocket camcorders have lower-quality optics and a minimal zoom. They also usually only have three or four buttons and a very small microphone located next to the lens. These cameras' main selling point is their inexpensive price tag, and not the quality of their video. If you use a lower-quality setting on our pocket Flash video camcorder, your DVD video transfer may look very poor indeed!