Monday, October 19, 2009

Camcorder Buying Decisions - Power Sources

I'm still waiting for that quality hand cranked/solar powered camcorder. In the meantime, there are considerations about the kind of power source you purchase when you buy a camcorder.

There is an additional cost that you might want to factor into your purchasing decision.

The choices currently are:
  • Batteries - AA/Lithium/NiHM/Rechargeable
  • Batteries - Proprietary
  • A/C or Mains Powered
Batteries - AA/Lithium/NiHM/Rechargeable

I lean toward camcorders that have replaceable batteries for a number of reasons. I can be anywhere in the world and I can buy AA batteries. This does not mean that I can use any AA battery.

Digital camcorders use a lot of power. The ones that sell at the 99 Cents Only Store or Dollar Store do not have the juice required. You would be lucky to get it to turn on, let alone record for any period of time. In an emergency, you can use Alkaline batteries but be forewarned, your camcorder may or may not operate.

On the back of many battery packages is a rating scale that will tell you what the intended use of the battery. If you see headphones, clocks or remote control symbols that means that the battery is designed for low power devices.

The type of AA batteries required by digital cameras and camcorders are going to be more expensive. Lithium and NiMH level batteries or batteries designed for high power usage are the way to go. Currently these cost about $6 to $10 a pack, depending on the number of batteries included.

Lithium and NiMH one time use batteries are a great option in a pinch but you don't want to keep spending that kind of money on a regular basis. That is when to start looking at rechargeable batteries. $20 to $40 will get you started with the recharger unit and two sets of AA batteries.

It can take from 10 to 18 hours to recharge a set of batteries so you want to rotate between having fresh batteries in the camcorder and a set charging. Cost wise this is going to save you the most money in the long term. These batteries don't last forever but should get you through the year.

Camcorders that accept rechargeable batteries include:
Proprietary Batteries

These are batteries provided by the manufacture for their products. They are made to the device specifications and who knows better than the manufacturer. The only problems is, once you run out of juice you are done.

Many manufacturers sell higher capacity batteries so that you can record for longer periods of time. These are not the ones you will receive when you purchase your camcorder, you can general get an idea of the cost of the higher capacity batteries from the vendor website. You want to know before purchase if your camcorder battery can be recharged by an independent battery charger, by a wall socket or a USB port.

Camcorders that have proprietary batteries include:
Before you rush out to make that purchase you might want to factor in the cost of running your gear. This really is a matter of preference and managing expenses.

I like having the option of stepping into a retail store that has batteries designed for photo level use. That said, I do have proprietary batteries on other camcorders. It is not a deal breaker for me. It is just don't like running out of power while recording.

I also don't like spending money on buying batteries if I can help it. I use rechargeable batteries when possible.

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