Digital Video Camera:
It's Not Hard to Shoot like a Pro If You Know the Basics!

Digital video camera

But... (you might ask)... a digital video camera has automatic controls that do everything anyway right…? So why bother to learn all this stuff...??

Here's why…!

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Knowing to perfection the fundamentals of how a digital video image is created... And... how to expertly operate your digital video camera to capture a perfect image is not only one of the hallmarks of a video professional... But also... of anyone who takes pride in the making of a great video for their audience!

How Do You Shoot Great Video?

*  If you know the basics of controlling and using your video camera (and have the right camera accessories) you will be able to shoot great video material no matter what the prevailing conditions are!

Depending on your camera's automatic controls is not enough... If you want to shoot great video!

The camera's automatic controls will produce good  pictures under ideal conditions... When the conditions are "perfect"... But... what are “ideal conditions ”?

Are they there all the time??... oany  of the time?? Usually not...! 

What do you do when the conditions are less than ideal or just plain BAD !!  Do you settle for BAD pictures or video? Or... NO pictures or video!!!  Well ... If you really know how to operate your camera fully (and have the right accessories) you will seldom (If ever) have to settle for bad or unusable video.

Having a good working knowledge of what the basic components of your camera are, how they operate and how to use them quickly and efficiently will make a world of difference when you're trying to capture great video!

The different brands of cameras each have slightly different ways of controlling each one of these components, but by and large once you've mastered them you can work with pretty much any camera.

Below are the primary components of a digital video camera...


#1: The Camera Lens System...
The Key to Capturing a High-Quality Image

Camera lens systemThe camera lens is the " Eye " of the camera. It gathers the reflected light from the scene and focuses it on to the light-sensitive electronic chip that will then convert it into a digital signal that can be stored and used!

A good quality lens for your camera... whether it is a...

  • Fixed lens
  • Wide-angle lens or
  • Zoom lens... Etc.

Is crucial... if you want a clear sharp image.

All high-grade professional type video cameras, DSLRs, Motion picture and Film cameras (and some of the prosumer video cameras) will except high-quality interchangeable lenses. Having that capability will allow you to select the best lens for the particular shot that you need.

The less expensive consumer cameras usually will have fixed (focal length) lenses so you must be careful when you're selecting one of these cameras. In these types of cameras try to choose the highest quality lens possible for your budget.

More on Camera Lenses...


#2: The Camera Image Sensor...
How Well Does Your Camera "See" the Scene You Are Shooting...

Camera image sensorThe image sensor is your camera's "retina"! It's the part of the camera that "see's" the image!

The Camera Image Sensor is a light-sensitive electronic chip (CCD or CMOS) that converts the light being directed through the camera lens into a corresponding pattern of electrical charges... Which are then read out electronically to provide the video signal to the camera. The video signal can then be saved to digital storage media for further use.

The camera image sensor also has a great deal to do with image size and the light sensitivity that is measured by the camcorder Lux ratings. 

Knowing a bit about the camera image sensor... What it is, how it works and how to read the specifications of the various kinds of image sensors will help you to get the best camera possible for your needs the next time you buy a digital camera!

More on the Camera Image Sensor...


#3: The Digital Camera Viewfinder and/or LCD Screen...
Setting up Your Camera and Framing Your Shot...

Camera viewfinderYour camera's viewfinder is where you have access to your cameras features and it's where you frame your shots!

The camera's viewfinder and/or LCD screen displays the video image enabling the camera operator to...

The camera's viewfinder and screen are the key to controlling your camera. Access to the operation of your camera features and the framing and focusing of your shot are all done through the viewfinder and/or LCD screen.

More on The Camera Viewfinder and Controls...

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#4: The Digital Camera Recorder and Media Storage Unit…

Camera digital storage mediaWhat is the best media for capturing and storing your video footage?

Once upon a time… Long long ago… In the 1970's and 1980's (smile)…We had just one type of video recording media for our camcorders…Large and bulky videotape…!!

Well… I don't know if you remember back that far but… Videotape back then was big and bulky… Video cameras large and heavy and video editing was mostly done "in–camera".

Now…  You can shoot high-definition video with your pocket camera phone and upload it or download it to your video editing computer or almost anywhere with the push of a button… Wow! Believe me when I say… Recording and the storage media for digital cameras has really come a long - LONG  way…!!!

Digital media storage – FlashFlash
Digital media storage – DVDDVD
Digital media storage – Mini DVMini DV
Digital media storage – solid-state driveSSD

More on Digital Camera Storage Media...


#5: Digital Video Camera Power....

Digital video camera power – batteriesNo Power = No Video!

The camera's power supply is usually a battery that fits into the camera making it portable and allowing it to be used in the field.

Digital video cameras are also equipped with an AC power supply that plugs directly into a wall power outlet for static or indoor use... and... is also used to charge the camera's battery as well.

More on Camera Power...


#6: Environmental Sound Pick-up...
The Video Camera Microphone...

Camera microphoneGreat video material includes clear and crisp sound…

The digital video camera microphone is built into the camera and is used for general environmental sound pickup.

External microphones can also be fitted on to the camera as well to enhance the ability of the camera to make complete and accurate sound recordings. Just remember... Nothing loses an audience faster than poor sound reproduction in a video!

More on Camera Microphone and Sound Equipment...


As I said at the beginning of this article… It's not hard to shoot like a Pro if you know well the basics of how to operate your camcorder…!

So... Learn how to operate your camera well and have fun shooting some great video for your next video production…!


Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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