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A camcorder is a portable electronic device for recording both video and audio onto a storage device. The camcorder contains both camera and recorder in one unit, hence the name. This compares to previous technology where they would be separate.

Video is captured by way of the camera lens, and is sent to a CCD (charge-coupled device), possibly processed, compressed, and then to final storage.

We can generally distinguish between digital and analog camcorders. The market share for digital models is continually increasing, as models become cheaper and better quality. Any recent Personal Computer can be made into a digital video editing machine with the use of digital editing software - a light version with limited features is often included with digital cameras.

There are various storage devices and respective formats for camcorders, please see the video page for details. The latest camcorders also record on a flash disk memory device (in MPEG-1, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4) or directly on DVD (either DVD-RAM or DVD-R) in MPEG-2 format. Other digital tape recorders transfer their video content in digital (uncompressed) DV format over a IEEE 1394 connection to a computer, where the huge files (approx. 2GB for 5 minutes on PAL DVD resolution) need to be edited and compressed or played back on tape. The transfer speed is currently 1x, which means one hour footage needs one hour to transfer.

Besides classification in analog and digital camcorders, they can also be classified by consumer products, semi-professional products and broadcast quality products. Product cycles are 6-12 months, 2-4 years and 5+ years respectively.


In 1984, Kodak introduced the first camcorder. A year later Sony introduced the first HandyCam model.