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Part One: Capturing DV Footage > The DV Camcorder - Pg. 25

have to be much more careful about focusing. When you're zoomed out all the way, everything is in focus--things near you, and things far away. But when you're zoomed in, very near and very far objects go out of focus. Put into photographic terms, the more you zoom in, the shorter the depth of feld (the range of distance from the camera that can be kept in focus simultaneously). Finally, remember that magnifying the picture doesn't magnify the sound. If you're relying on the built-in microphone of your camcorder, always get as close as you can to the subject, both for the sound and for the wobble. Tip: As you'll discover in the next chapter, professional video and flm work includes very little zooming, unlike most amateur video work. The best zooming is subtle zooming, such as when you very slowly "move toward" the face of somebody you're interviewing. For this reason, when shopping for camcorders, test the zooming if at all possible. Find out if the camcorder has variable-speed zooming, where the zooming speed increases as you press the Zoom button harder. Some camcorders offer only two different speeds--fast and faster--but that's still better than having no control at all. (Variable-speed zooming isn't something mentioned in the standard camcorder literature; you generally have to try the camcorder in the store to fnd out how it does.) Buying a DV Camcorder Digital zoom Much as computer owners mistakenly jockey for superiority by comparing the mega- hertz rating of their computers (higher megahertz ratings don't necessarily make faster computers), camcorder makers seem to think that what consumers want most in a camcorder is a powerful digital zoom. Your camcorder's packaging may "boast" zoom ratings of "50X," "100X," or "500X!" When a camcorder uses its digital zoom--the number after the slash on the cam- corder box--it simply enlarges the individual dots that compose its image. Yes, the image gets bigger, but it doesn't get any sharper. As the dots get larger, the image gets chunkier, coarser, and less recognizable, until it ends up looking like the blocky areas you see superimposed over criminals' faces to conceal their identity on Cops. After your digital zoom feature has blown up the picture by 3X, the image falls to pieces. Greater digital zoom is not something worth paying extra for. Minutes-remaining readout Fortunately, the problems exhibited by camcorder batteries of old--such as the "mem- ory effect"--are a thing of the past. (When you halfway depleted a pre-DV camcorder battery's charge several times in a row, the battery would adopt that halfway-empty point as its new completely empty point, effectively halving its capacity.) Today's lithium-ion battery technology (used by DV camcorders) eliminates that problem. Sony's InfoLithium batteries even contain circuitry that tells the camera how much juice it has remaining. A glance at the viewfnder or a small side-panel readout tells you how many minutes of recording or playback you've got left--a worthy feature. chapter1:thedvcamcorder 25