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Camcorder Hints and Tips


Light is of course vital to any camcorder or camera.
Good lighting produces good footage, poor lighting will produce poor footage.
A camcorder set to auto exposure will do it's best to adjust to the prevailing lighting conditions, but cannot perform miracles.

An average room lit by a 150 watt bulb will be around 300 lux. Outdoors on a cloudy day will average 10,000 lux. A bright sunny day is around 35,000 lux. You can see from these examples that it is expecting a little too much to ask a camcorder to automatically cope by altering it's shutter speed and aperture across such a varying range of lighting conditions and still provide acceptable footage. Using additional lighting when filming indoors or in low light conditions, combined of course with a tripod, will greatly help to improve picture quality. This also holds true when using slow shutter speed and wide aperture settings to compensate for low light conditions.

New Tapes

Always 'condition' new tapes prior to use by recording from start to end with the camcorder lens cap on. This will apply a continual timecode to the tape making finding a particular frame easy. Also it re-tensions the tape, reducing the possibility of tape jitter.

Camera Angle

Changing the camera angle will change the viewers perception of the subject. A downward angle will belittle the subject, whereas an upward angle will add emphasis to its size.

Camera Height

Try filming at the same height from the ground as your subject. For example, when small children feature in your footage lower your camcorder to their headheight. When videoing small animals try some footage on their level.


Use your camcorders zoom function primarily for framing a shot. The eye does not follow zooms very well when used for effect within a clip or scene. If this cannot be avoided zoom slowly


Always, always find some support when shooting. Use a tripod. Use a monopod. Use a shoulder brace. Use a chest support. Lean against a tree, wall, car, anything stable. There is no excusing wobbly waivering video clips. O.K. we have all done it, but then we improved. Didn't we?

Converter Lenses

Wide-angle and telephoto converter lenses are available to change the range of focal lengths available from a lens. Shorter focal length = wider angle, longer focal length gives greater telephoto.

Macro Add On Lens

Use a '+diopter' add on lens for macro recording. They are available in varying degrees of magnifying power (+2, +3, and so on). Can be added together i.e. a +2 and a +3 gives the same as a +5. Also, using a +diopter lens means the zoom function is still available to frame the subject.

Skylight Filter

Cuts down haze, and also protects the (bloomed) lens from damage (fingermarks, dust, grit, grime, sand etc.) Fit it permanently. Much cheaper to replace than your camcorders lens

Polarizing Filter

Used to reduce or eliminate reflections (from glass and water etc.) Will also make the sky appear more blue. Ideal for those holiday videos.

Lens Hood

Use a lens hood to prevent unwanted light entering the lens from above, below or from the side. Also provides some protection for the lens

Tape ID

Labeling each tape with a unique number will make life easier, particularly when using an editing programs smart capture feature


Always monitor recorded sound through fully enclosed headphones, not the open back type often used with personal stereos

Wind Noise

Cover all the mike with fur fabric and / or open-cell foam to reduce or eliminate the effect of the wind on it

Battery Temperature

Remember the battery's charge will expire much sooner when being used in cold conditions, for example outdoors in winter. Also recharge times need to be extended in such conditions

Camcorder Care

When taking a camcorder from a very cold to a warmer place be aware of the risk of dew forming on the video head drum. Allow time for it to warm up to room temperature before using. Leave for 20 to 30 minutes with the cassette door open and tape removed to speed up this process.

Camcorder Lenscap (older models)

Stick a small strip or round dot of sticky back velcro(hook side) on the lens cap and another piece of velcro(fluff side)on to camera(ontop and out of the way of control buttons) to hold the lens cap without misplacing/loosing it or flapping around causing undue noise.Also if you need to mute the sound while recording buy a headphone plug and insert into"external mic"socket.I crimped the plug onto the cord of lens cap and the cord is long enough to allow the plug to be inserted and hold the lens cap on top of camera if mute is needed.(used this on a Canon UC8 Hi8. Purchased in 1996 and still going strong!!!)