There are many, many, many camera's on the market these days, both still and video, with some offering both. So finding the right one for what you want can be a little daunting, causing more stress than moving home in some cases. This is probably why many people just stick to using the camera on their mobile phones.
Anyway, over time I have used many cameras, owning most of them whilst borrowing others, and I have come across a wide range of 'feelings' for each and every one of them, from liking certain one to believing that others would be better if they were thrown into a river of molten lava so that no one has to endure the hatred that such a device can create.
One particular camera that I own, and have done for a while, using it quite often, although not as much now as I used to, is called the Philips CAM100, (which should not be mistaken for any other using a similar name).
This CAM100 is designed to be more a video camera but it can take still images as well, so it is a bit of both, but it does work best as a video camera. It doesn't look like your standard camera as it looks more like a small flat box. To be honest it look very similar to an external hard drive fro a PC, being about the same size and shape as some of them, but it is not a hard drive, it is a camera, so don't be trying to put all your files onto it as it just won't work.
Firstly, in the box you should get...
* The camcorder
* AV cable
* Hand strap
* Quick start guide
* A 1GB micro SD card to get you started.
So what does this camera look like then..?
The camera itself is a good size, being 55mm deep by 18mm by 100mm high, weighing in at a mere 80grams, and it has a lovely blue casing, which may not be to everyone's taste but it doesn't look that bad.
On the back, opposite the side with the lens on, there is the 2inch screen, with the Philips logo above it so you know who made it.
Below the screen there is a navigational control, which is a cursor type control showing the same buttons that you'd see on any other device of its kind, those being the forward, reverse, stop, volume up and down. In the centre of this cursor type button there is the 'record' button, which doubles as a 'snapshot' button.
To the side of this cursor control there is a single button which is the play/pause button, which, as the name suggests, plays and pause the footage you've taken.
On the top there is the speaker, then down the side there are more controls, such as the video/camera change button, the power button, the HDMI, headphone and Av output sockets, which are nicely hidden behind a cover. On the other side there is the MicroSD card slot
On the bottom there is a thread which can be used to secure this to a tripod. Then there's the USB connector which is cleverly housed within the bottom of the camera and is released by pressing the little button on the bottom. (this has a USB symbol on it so you know what it is for and where it is).
On the front, we have the most important thing on a camera, there is the lens itself, with a tiny little hole at the side of it which is the microphone.
Now for a few of the specs around this camcorder...
* It has a 1.1MP camera with a widescreen video capture facility.
* 2x optical zoom
* ¼ inch optical sensor size being a CMOS type???
* It has 64MB of internal memory, expandable via SD card.
* It has digital photo mode and digital video mode
* Offering special effects such as negative, black and white and sepia
* Other shot programs are backlight, beach/snow, sunset and soft skin.
* Digital video format is H.264 with a capture size of 1280 x 720 at 30fps
* JPEG image format
* It has a minimum shutter speed of ½ second to a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 seconds... what ever all that means?
* Built in speaker, microphone
* 2inch LCD display being full colour
* USB charging and transfer capability.
It has a few sockets so that you can connect to certain devices, such as...
* A headphone socket
* A USB port
* HDMI output
* Composite video/audio output
* Memory expansion slot
* To connect to your PC you do need certain requirements, such as a PC to connect it to for starters. But seriously, your PC needs...
* Operating systems Windows XP and above,
* It will work using Mac OS x 10.4 and above but you will need to add software
* CD-Rom drive
* USB port
And using it..?
This is as easy as using any video camera, being a simple matter of point and shoot. As long as you have it switched on then it will record what ever the lens is pointing at.
You can change a few of the settings using the menu button but the auto feature tends to do everything in a good enough way so that there's no real hassles in trying to change to many features in order to get a better picture. I tend to just let the camera do its thing and I've have many happy results.
Firstly, insert the SD card that comes with this device, 1GB is enough to get you going, or if you have a larger one then insert that instead, (this is still a review about a camera so don't start getting over excited ladies).
Anyway, once inserted you just switch the camera on by pressing the power button, then selecting whether you want to shoot a video or a single shot. This is done by sliding the button on the side.
Then, simply go about setting the language, time, date so that it leaves a stamp on the video you're shooting or the picture you're taking.
Now you're ready to begin filming that Oscar winning portrayal of your families historical facts.
So now you've shot that movie which even Spielberg would be jealous of... what next..?
As I said, you can either watch this straight away, be it on the smaller screen on the camera itself, or you can wire it up to your 60 inch television using the AV cable so that you can sit back and enjoy the Bafta nomination that you have created.
Or, alternatively, if your movies better than the Terminator saga then you may want to burn it to a DVD disc, which is easily achieved using the cleverly hidden USB connector that pops out of the bottom of the camera. Just pop the connector out, slot it into a spare port on your PC, wait for it to connect up and transfer your movie, (or pictures).
This camera sadly can't actually burn the movie onto a disc, you have to find a program to do that for you. But transferring it onto a PC this can do, the rest is up to you.
When you have this connected to a PC it does start to charge.
Speaking of charging the battery...?
This is done by plugging the USB connector into a PC USB port. A little light should start flashing orange, which should then turn green when the battery is fully charged. This takes about 3 hours in total from drained to fully charged.
There is another way to charge the battery but you do have to invest in a separate USB plug connector device sort of thing. You know the ones, they have a mains plug at one end and a female USB port at the other?
This method of charging takes a little less time, about two hours, to charge from drained to fully charged.
This is not a bad little camcorder, slim(ish), making it very portable and it does exactly what a camcorder should do, it takes video footage of anything that you point the lens at.
The screen may only be 2 inches, which these days isn't much of a size, but it offers a clear image of what you have either captured or what ever the lens is pointing at, ready for you to capture it in an instant. But if your eyes go crossed slightly after too much concentration on a small screen you can simply attach this to your television using the cable that comes with this camera.
On the screen, when it is on, there are several things displayed, such as the counter, whether your recording, battery life and more. But everything is clearly labelled and makes reading it as easy as reading a clothes label
The initial set up was the hardest thing about using this, but this still took only a matter of minutes to get everything sorted, which shows just how simple this entire device is to use. It's just a matter of setting the time, date and language, then away you go, you're ready to start recording or picture taking.
The quality of the video is second to none, especially using the higher settings, but even the VGA settings do a cracking job for viewing on smaller screens such as a laptop or monitor.
The microphone may only be a hole in the front, next to the lens, but it does a good job in picking up noises, even from a distance, giving clear results. The microphone also has the option of using what is called a wind reduction noise function, which means that if you're recording on a windy day the microphone works in such a way so that it doesn't pick much of the wind noise. But it does pick up some.
As for the lens, well, it may not be a Carl Zeiss but it still manages to capture a good picture, nice and clear, without any troubles at all.
It can take some cracking clear footage, be it the best on the 720p HD function or the lesser VGA, either way the images are clear and very well received indeed. It also takes single shot images as well, with some interesting results indeed.
The internal memory lacks a little but as it allows you to add a further 32GB using a microSD card, or SDHC card there's really plenty of storage room after all. And as it takes little effort to transfer the data over onto a PC there's always the good old fashioned delete all button, (although do be careful with this as once deleted there's no getting it back).
I like many things about this camera, the fact that I can play the footage back direct through a television, using the leads supplied with this, or, if I want to keep a copy, I can send this direct to a PC using the cleverly hidden USB connector.
The ease of use, especially as the settings all have an automatic feature, which is great when I just want to shoot something, but it also gives me the opportunity to personalise a few of the setting to make it more, well, personal. Although the auto settings tend to do a good enough job by themselves.
Then there's the way I can easily hold it without any real effort as it is small, lightweight and not at all 'ugly'.
As for actually holding it, this a matter of personal preference, but the best hold in my opinion is gripping it at the lower section, below the lens so that the lens and screen are both clear of obstructions.
Plus the fact it comes in a few colours, pink, red, black, (grey) and the one I have, which is blue. Giving everyone a choice to match there outfits for the day.
As for any negatives...
Hmmm, this one is tricky.
Maybe, if I'm pushed to give any downsides to this then I may have to say that it doesn't stand upright on a table, mainly due to the fact that it is slim and that the thread for the tripod sticks out a little so that the bottom of the unit isn't flat at all.
But if you want to have this sat on a table then a tripod cost next to nothing and as it's a standard fitting any tripod should do.
And the battery charging may take a while, 2 - 3 hours, depending on which way you charge it, but as it lasts for quite some time once charged, depending on what you actually use it for. I've managed to shoot a good 40 minutes of footage and still had battery power left.
But neither of those are 'true' negatives for me and would not have put me off buying this, let alone using it.
I shall say that they could have popped in a mains charger instead of asking people to pay extra for one but then again if they did then they may have upped the price a bit too much.
So what about the price of this camera then...?
This little camera sells for around the £40.00 region which, for what you get and the quality of the video that it creates, is well worth the money.
There is a more up to date version of this camcorder which sells at a higher price and offers more, so do not get them mixed up.
In all, it may not be the most sophisticated camcorder in the world and it doesn't have more buttons than a NASA control panel, but what it does have is the capability of recording what ever you want it too record without the hassle of figuring it all out.