Capture Baby's First Year with the Right Camcorder

Home movies have migrated from film to videotape to digital movie files, but parental interest in documenting their children's lives remains the same, regardless of the recording medium. To choose the best camcorder to capture the sights and sounds of your new baby's burgeoning capabilities and adventures, start by deciding what kind of footage you want to shoot and whether you plan to place your recording equipment within your child's grasp.

Assessing Needs

Capturing footage of your infant gives you a visual history of your child's development, but the type of record you want to create should determine the type of equipment you use. To stand back and capture the scenes from your child's birth onward into her first year, you can use any style of camcorder—pocket or palm-sized—or work with the video capabilities of your smartphone or tablet device. If you want a camcorder you can set in your baby's crib, take in the bathroom to shoot tub scenes or use without worrying about her tipping it over, however, you're looking for a different class of device than the traditional camcorder or the video capabilities of a mobile device.

Camcorder or Camera

From pocket cameras to devices with interchangeable lenses, the line between taking pictures and shooting footage has blurred. Many still cameras no longer limit their capabilities to portraits and action shots. If you want high-quality, large-sized photos of your baby as well as HD footage, you may find a camera that shoots video more to your liking than a camcorder that takes still photos. Camcorders typically shoot smaller photos than cameras do, which may limit their usefulness if you want to create poster-sized reprints or simply use your images at sizes suitable for standard prints. If video footage forms your first priority and stills serve as more of an afterthought, or you already own a camera that provides great photo quality, a camcorder makes a great fit for your needs, especially if you want image stabilization features and optical zoom that exceed the capabilities of your smartphone or other devices.

Point-of-View Devices

Also known as sports camcorders, point-of-view devices feature small, thin, typically rectangular cases that can attach to an armband or helmet to shoot on-the-go footage of sports action, hiking and biking, and scenes from the midst of active events. They typically offer resistance to liquids, including the ability to operate underwater at depths that can reach 15 feet or more, and can withstand the thumps and falls that come as a natural consequence of operating in the thick of the action. Dust resistance adds another element of ruggedness. Because of their sturdiness and imperviousness to threats from their environment, POV devices can survive close encounters with a little one who turns every object into a chew toy. Many of these camcorders record on the same types of memory cards that traditional camcorders use, although some incorporate built-in storage.

Traditional Camcorders

Besides the sports camcorder, you also can opt for a traditional handheld device. Because these camcorders no longer use tapes or discs as recording media, relying instead on thumbnail-sized memory cards, their hardware has shrunk correspondingly, becoming small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Some camcorders feature viewfinders that rotate from one side to the other to accommodate right- or left-handed users as well as to monitor vertical or horizontal footage. Although they may not include the ruggedized features of POV models, they typically offer longer optical zoom lengths, more recording-format options and greater audio-capture flexibility, including built-in stereo microphones.

Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/Demand Media

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