A hard drive camcorder is a digital
video camera that contains a built-in
hard drive for recording video digitally. They have been
popular for a few years, but are arguably being eclipsed
by the more durable, cheaper, and replaceable Flash memory
In general, hard drive camcorders are quite small,
and so they are a great option for frequent travelers and
vacationers. And conveniently, an HDD cam never
needs any additional media, be it a Flash card or a tape. All
of its video is stored inside the camcorder until it is transferred
to a computer or DVD, or deleted.
Naturally, this is also one of the drawbacks of
hard drive camcorders; if the hard drive fills up, the camera
is useless until footage is deleted or preserved onto a computer
Hard drive sizes vary widely.
It is not uncommon to find drives that are 30 GB, 40 GB, or
even 120 GB. A 30 GB hard drive camcorder, for example, will
store about 6–7 hours of good-quality footage, and about
twice that when set at a lower quality.
To transfer video from your hard
drive camcorder to DVD, you will either have to order
a DVD transfer of
your raw footage or save the footage to your computer's hard
drive. With a Flash or tape camcorder, you never need to stop
filming as long as you have additional supplies on hand.
Also, like Flash memory camcorders, hard disk camcorders
also use the MPEG-2 codec, which is not a file type used for
video editing. Consequently, the videos produced by hard drive
camcorders were not designed to be edited, and in fact, very
few programs can interpret MPEG-2 files.
Video quality varies in hard drive camcorders. Keep the quality
settings in mind. A built-in 30 GB drive, for example,
will hold approximately 7 hours of video. Switch the quality
to the lower-quality setting, and you will double the recording
time. However, keep in mind that the lower-quality setting will
also result in a lower-quality picture, which can be very apparent
when you convert
video to DVD for archiving purposes.
Another final downside to a digital hard drive camcorder is
its fragility. The hard
drive inside of these camcorders has moving parts, and although
they have shock protection, they are not shock resistant.
If the hard drive is spinning when it is dropped, it could be
rendered useless. If this happens, the entire camcorder will
likely have to be replaced – and the video on the hard
drive may be lost. Also, hard drive cams are also more sensitive
to atmospheric pressure than other camera types and most will
not operate above 10,000 feet in elevation.