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Buying Video Gear for Your Small Business: Video Jargon (Page 2)

By Julie King |

(Continued from page 1)

Understanding Video Shopping Jargon

It's tough to compare products when the sales material is full of jargon-laden language. Here are some key things you will want to understand before you shop for a camera:

720p, 1080i or 1080p: Resolution is an important consideration when buying a camera, but what do these numbers mean?

According to Wikipedia, high-definition video is defined by three things:

  1. the number of lines (either 720 or 1080),
  2. the scanning system used to display the video: progressive (p) or interlaced (i); and
  3. the number of frames or scans per second.

There is an important difference between interlaced and progressive scanning systems, with progressive scanning generally being preferred. With progressive scanning, each time a picture is drawn on screen it includes full information for the image. Interlaced images display the information for the picture over two interlaced frames. Generally, 1080p is the ideal solution, but 720p may be preferable to a 1080i camera.

Frame rate: Although often related to resolution, the frame rate, which refers to the number of frames or fields that the camera shoots every second, are a consideration in your purchase. There are several common formats.

Maximum bitrate: Just how quickly can a camera convert incoming light into imagery? The maximum bitrate refers to the amount of data bits that can be processed in a set amount of time. According to Wikipedia, videophones use a paltry 16 Kbps (kilobits per second), HDTV rates range from 8 to 15 Mbps (megabits per second) and Blu Ray discs clock in at a maximum of 40 Mbps. Video cameras with a higher bit rate are better for capturing more complex movements and fast-action footage.

Sensors: The sensor plays a vital role in video quality as it has the job of turning incoming light into an image. You will find some cameras talk about charge-coupled-device (CCD) image sensors, while others use complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors. (It is common for cameras using CCD technology to use three sensors that work together, which are often called "3CCD" cameras.)

In addition to the type, sensors are also commonly reported as a particular size. Larger-sized sensors tend to perform better in low light. (If you check comments on online forums, one larger sensor is expected to outperform three smaller sensors in low-light conditions.)

Compression & compatibility: When I say that it can be frustrating to spend money on a camera, only to discover that your new gear does not work with your existing software and hardware, I speak from experience. There are different standards for recording HD video and some of them are inherently difficult to edit. That's because the format use does not include full-picture information for every frame, so the job of the editing software is significantly more difficult as it has to apply edits to places where the picture is inferred between two different frames. Similarly, if you were to buy a used camera online to work with your Windows 7 operating system, you might be unpleasantly surprised to learn that the new firewire standard in Windows is not compatible with older firewire camera.

The bottom line is that it's always important to make sure your hardware, software and video gear will work together before shelling out cash for new equipment.

Buying Video Gear for Your Small Business: Part 1 - Page 1

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