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Camcorders Glossary


HDTV 1920x1080 resolution interlaced scan signal. HDTV television programs are usually 720p or 1080i.  
16:9 aspect ratio

Width to height ratio for widescreen video and television screens.

High-definition progressive scan format that matches film's 24 frames per second frame rate.

Near high-definition progressive scan 852x480 resolution signal used by progressive-scan DVD players and Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV).

HDTV 1280x720 resolution interlaced scan signal.
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HDTV 1280x720 resolution progressive scan signal with 60 frames per second. HDTV television programs are usually 720p or 1080i.
8 mm

Tape format with 270 resolution and 120 minutes of recording time at standard speed. You can only play back video by connecting the camcorder to a TV or VCR.
Accessory shoe

Slot on a camcorder that accepts an accessory such as a power supply or light.

Jagged lines in a pixilated image.

Signal that fluctuates exactly like that of its original source. It can also represent a device with proportional input and output.
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Analog input

A camcorder's ability to accept audio and video from an analog source such as a VCR.

Feature that helps prevent aliasing in digital images.

Adjustable opening in a lens that allows light to pass through onto a pickup device. Also called an iris.  
Aspect ratio

Width to height ratio of a display.
Auto exposure

Feature that allows a user to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and depth of field using pre-set modes.
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Feature that focuses a camera's lens on what it perceives to be the central object in a scene.

Camcorder feature that automatically adjusts aperture.

Audio/video in: Ability to accept and record analog source material from another device.

Audio/video out: Ability to output an analog signal to another device.  

Bright light behind a subject. It often creates a silhouette effect.
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Backlight compensation

Increase in gain or aperture to brighten a backlit subject and reveal more detail.
Barrel distortion

Curved vertical distortion that creates a barrel shape. It occurs when using a wide-angle lens.

1/2-inch videotape format with 300 lines of horizontal resolution. It stores luminance information on one track and chrominance information on another.
Betacam SP

1/2-inch videotape format that stores luminance information on one track and chrominance information on another. It has 340 lines of horizontal resolution.
Betacam SX

Digital version of Betacam SP. It is compatible with Betacam SP tapes.
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Short-distance wireless networking that works up to 30 feet. The technology is available in certain desktops, laptops, cell phones, PDAs, and camcorders.

Indication of how light or dark an image appears on a screen.
Carl Zeiss

High-quality camera lens named after optician Carl Zeiss.

Data storage media that contains two reels and a strip of magnetic tape that moves between them to record and play back audio and video.

Charge coupled device: Electronic memory that records shades of light to capture images, including video. An analog-to-digital converter translates the light information into pixels, with more pixels offering higher resolution. Listed actual pixel count is more than the effective pixel count.
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Compact Disc: Polycarbonate and metal storage media. The term is also used to describe a read-only CD that contains music or video. Only some DVD players can play back video CDs (VCDs).

Nickname for a CCD.

Color aspects of a picture.
Color temperature

Relative redness or blueness of a light source measured in degrees Kelvin.

Difference between black and light in a picture.
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Control L

Jack found on some Digital8 and Mini DV camcorders that allows two-way communication between the camcorder and a remote. Also called LANC.
Date/time stamp

Feature that allows you to record the date and time on the corner of a recording.
Depth of field

Distance in front of and behind a subject.
Diffusion filter

Lens filter that disperses light. Lighting appears softer, images seem smoother, and the resulting scene may look a little out of focus.

Information represented by a non-linear series of zeroes and ones. The non-linear nature of digital video allows a user to choose an exact point in a DVD movie, for example, instead of forwarding or rewinding through an analog VHS tape.
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Digital Betacam

Digital videotape format used for standard-definition digital video. Abbreviated Digibeta or d-beta.
Digital lens

Lens that can store and reproduce focal and zoom positions with help from a chip.
Digital zoom

Zoom effect achieved by enlarging pixels. As the amount of digital zoom on an image increases, quality decreases.

DV compression format that can record to standard Hi8 and 8mm tapes. Although most Digital8 camcorders can play back analog Hi8 and 8mm tapes, they cannot record analog signals.

Process of converting analog audio and video signals to digital format.
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Damage to a videotape resulting in a loss of frames. Dropout often appears as a white or colored block.

Digital Video: 1/4-inch digital videotape format. Full-size cassettes hold up to three hours of video. Mini DV cassettes hold up to one hour of video.

Digital videotape format originally created for use in electronic news gathering.

High-definition digital videotape format offering 720p or 1080i resolution.

Digital Versatile Disc: Storage media that holds movies and other data. Storage capacity starts at 4.7GB.
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Effective Pixels

Pixels on an image sensor (CCD) that output actual image data. Additional pixels are used for image filtering, which is why the total number of pixels in a camera is greater than the number of effective pixels.

Electronic image stabilization: Camcorder circuitry that alters an image to counter shaking. It can make an image more blurry.

Electronic Viewfinder: Viewfinder that displays an image that has been recorded, processed, and projected onto a miniature display.

Lens calibration measuring an iris opening. Larger numbers equal smaller openings.

Gradual dimming effect often used to change between scenes.
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One of two scanlines in a frame.

Apple Computer's name for IEEE 1394.
Fluid head

Tripod mount that facilitates smooth camera movement.
Flying erase head

Feature on Hi8 and 8mm camcorders that removes video noise between sections of recorded video on a tape for almost seamless transitions.
Focal length

Distance from the center of a lens to the surface of a CCD measured in millimeters, centimeters, or inches. Long focal lengths have small-angle views. Short focal lengths have wide-angle views.
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Focus ring

Moveable ring around a lens barrel that allows a user to manually adjust focus.

Measurement of light falling on an object. Abbreviated fc.

One still image in a moving picture. In video it is two fields of interlaced video. In film it is a single piece of celluloid.

Amplification of a video signal. It often increases luminance.

High Definition Television: Highest-resolution digital television programs, usually 720p or 1080i.
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Analog camcorder format that can record to Hi8 or 8mm tape. It records at 400 lines of resolution for Hi8 and 240 lines of resolution for 8mm.

Description of a unique color. For example, yellow, green, blue, and red.  

Sony's name for IEEE 1394.
IEEE 1394

High-speed standard for transferring data from one device to another with speeds up to 400Mbps.
Image stabilization

Feature that compensates for shaky movement in a video.
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Feature that can sense or beam infrared light to illuminate low-light scenes.

Process of creating a television picture by sequentially drawing odd and even lines on a screen. The process is used by NTSC and several digital television signals.

Adjustable opening in a lens that allows light to pass through onto a pickup device. Also called aperture.  
Jog dial

Small rotating dial that allows a user to scroll through menus.

Standard for compressing image data developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group.
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Local Application Control Bus System: Jack found on some Digital8 and Mini DV camcorders that allows two-way communication between the camcorder and a remote. Also called Control L.

Liquid Crystal Display: Display technology that works by shining light through pixel cells to produce an image.

A piece or pieces of glass that concentrates and directs light to a CCD or film to create an image.
Lithium-ion battery

Rechargeable battery that fully charges over a period of four hours, typically at 4.2 volts. Users do not need to fully discharge the battery before recharging.

Image brightness.
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Lumens per square meter: Measurement of low-light sensitivity indicating how much light a camcorder needs to record a usable image. Camcorders with a lower lux rating offer better performance in low-light situations. The ability to shoot at 0 Lux is often called nightshot, night vision, or a similar name.
Manual focus

User-selected focus settings. Some camcorders provide pre-sets and others use a focus ring similar to those found on still cameras.
Maximum CCD resolution

Total number of pixels in a sensor.

Measurement of digital photo image quality equaling one million pixels.
Memory card

Removable storage media used in some digital cameras, MP3 players, PDAs, digital video cameras, cell phones, and photo printers. Cards are available in a range of storage capacities and formats including CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SecureDigital, SmartMedia, and xD Picture Cards.
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Digital videotape format that uses MPEG-2 compression.

Device that converts sound waves into electrical energy.
Mini DV

1/4-inch digital tape format.

Effect that breaks an image into small squares.
Motion sensor

Feature that tells a camcorder to start recording when it detects movement.
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Moving Picture Experts Group: Organization that develops video and audio encoding standards.

Video CD format that includes the MP3 audio compression format.

Video and audio standards for digital broadcast-quality television.

Alternative to MPEG-2 that expands MPEG-1 to support Digital Rights Management and 3D content.
ND filter

Neutral density filter: Lens filter that helps prevent overexposure. Prosumer camcorders have built-in ND filters.
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Nickle-Cadmium: Type of rechargeable battery used for many portable electronics. They are about the same size as alkaline batteries.
Optical zoom

Zoom achieved by moving elements in a lens. There is no loss in quality.

Picture Element: A single point in an image. You see a complete image when multiple pixels are put together.
Progressive scan

Process of creating a 720p or 480p image on a HDTV monitor by displaying horizontal and vertical picture information on a screen simultaneously.

Equipment with higher quality and cost than consumer-level equipment and lower cost and quality than professional-level equipment.
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RC time code

Re-writable consumer time code: Feature on digital camcorders that creates reference points on a tape in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames.

Screen image quality and clarity measured in pixels. Higher resolution offers a clearer picture.

Red Green Blue: Colors captured by CCD sensors. The color of each pixel is a variation of red, green, or blue.

Super-VHS: 1/2-inch videotape format with 400 lines of resolution.

Four-pin connector that transmits the luminance and chrominance portions of a video signal separately. Many camcorders use an S-video cable to output information to a television.
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Intensity of a hue.

Special effect that removes color from a picture and adds a brown tint to give an image an antique look.
Signal-to-noise ratio

Ratio of a desirable video signal to the amount of unwanted noise mixed in with it.
Spot focus

Ability to select and adjust a specific area of a frame.
Spot metering

Feature allowing a user to select a spot on a LCD and adjust exposure.
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Telephoto lens

Lens with a narrow field of view and long focal length that makes distant objects appear larger.
Time base correction

Electronic correction of abnormal time code to stabilize images on a videotape during playback.
Time code

Numbers embedded onto videotape and digital recordings that indicate hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. Time code is used as a reference tool for video logs and editing in and out points.

Feature that allows a user to create on-screen titles, captions, or comments.

Stand with three legs used to stabilize a camcorder.
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Variable-speed zoom

Ability to adjust zoom speed as a lens moves from wide-angle to telephoto.

Video Home System: 1/2-inch videotape format offering 240 lines of resolution.

Video Home System - Compact: 1/2-inch videotape format with 240 lines of resolution that comes in a smaller cassette casing than standard VHS. A VHS player can play back a VHS-C tape with the help of an adapter.

Built-in camcorder monitor that allows a users to watch a scene. Viewfinder images are small compared to viewscreen images, but do not look washed out in direct sunlight.

Small LCD screen (two inches or larger) that flips out of a camcorder, serving the same function as a viewfinder while providing a larger image.
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Camera that can be attached to a computer and, with the help of software, send images over the Internet.
White balance

Function that neutralizes color to prevent video or still images from taking on an unnatural hue.

A lens' maximum focal length. Wide-angle lenses have a short focal angle, allowing a 70-degree or wider view.

Cover that fits over a microphone, allowing speech while blocking unwanted noise from wind.

Effect that pushes a scene to one side.
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XLR connector

High-quality, balanced audio connector that has three prongs. It is used to connect microphones to camcorders and connect other high-end recording equipment.
Zebra stripes

Feature available in some camcorders that highlights overexposed areas of an image with a striped pattern.

Shift in lens focal length used to change the apparent distance between an object and photographer, videographer, or filmmaker.
Zoom lens

Lens that has variable focal lengths.
Zoom range

Ratio of how much the focal length of a lens can adjust from telephoto to wide angle.
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