Learn How To Use Your Video Camera
Most camcorders today have several common and popular features, but also unique functions and controls.

One button might get you going, but you can learn how to get the most from your camcorder ahead of time by following the tips below.

1.You’ll want to know the layout of your camera. While looking at the manual, have the camera in your hands. While it is still ”˜Off’, take a physical tour of the unit. Touch each button and switch, locate the cable connection ports, see where a tape or memory card goes. Check the lens, flip out the screen, adjust the hand strap, and get comfortable with your camera.

2. Locate the main Power or On Off switch. It may have more than one function, like Record, so check it carefully and become familiar with its look and feel. There may be a separate Record button, and some units have more than one. The other main button or switch is ”˜Auto/Manual’, but there can be many other buttons, switches and on-screen menus.

3. Depending on the model, camcorders will have a battery to attach or other power source to plug in. Connect or attach the power source carefully, and take it off and put it on a couple of times to get comfortable with the procedure.

4. Depending on the model, camcorders will have a place to put a record tape in, or a slot to slide in a memory card. Some have built-in hard drives that you will never touch so check the manual. If needed, practice inserting new recording media, and ejecting used tapes or cards.

5. Now, with power and media in place, you can turn your camcorder on!

6. With the view screen open and the lens cap off, you will have a video image on the screen of the scene in front of you. It may also show a display of the camera’s operating status with text and numbers on-screen (they can probably be turned off), or a main operating menu is displayed.

You will want to learn about the displays, menus and full capabilities of your video camera sooner rather than later, but with most video cameras you can start shooting right away.

7. Learn the zoom capabilities of the lens by practicing a smooth zoom in and out, fast and slow. Become familiar with the widest (most zoomed out) shot and the tightest (most zoomed in) shot. Record some scenes and some moves.

8. The Automatic settings of your camcorder will take care of most shooting conditions for you, making sure the video picture, brightness and color are OK.

But Manual switches and settings will give you greater control and creative ability, so read your user’s guide and scroll through the menu. Make some adjustments just to see what happens, and record some video to watch later.

9. Most camcorders have audio and sound capabilities. They can have built-in microphones, places to plug in external microphones, or both. If so, learn about them by recording various sounds at home ”“ talking, music, pets, TV, whatever. Check for auto settings or manual adjustments to get the sound you want.

10. Most camcorders are their own playback devices, or hook it to a TV to watch the test recordings and sample shoots you’ve done. You’ll quickly learn how to get better looking videos and the most from your camcorder.

Extra Advice:

• No matter what you plan to videotape, you will always record more! Make sure you have plenty of batteries ready to go, or other power sources available. New cassettes or extra smart cards are a must.

• Some camcorders give better video with adjustments when moving from indoor to outdoor shooting. Familiarize yourself with your camera in several different shooting situations. The more you shoot the better.

• Learning about your camera is a process of practice and trial and error. Doing things ”˜wrong’ before you go out to shoot something important is a good way to know how to get it ’right’ when it counts.