25 January 2009

The great camcorder con-trick

After using video cameras in my work (and leisure) for as long as they’ve been around, I’ve become increasingly frustrated that so many manufacturers have done away with view-finders and replaced them with silly little screens that stick out at the side of the camera.

I’m told that this is to keep them as compact and as cheap as possible, which would be all very well if it didn't completely ignore a fairly obvious problem that will afflict any customer who wants to use a camcorder in bright sunshine (i.e. most of them) when on holiday – where they’ll soon discover that glare and reflection make it almost impossible to see anything at all on the screen.

This happened to me twice last year, first on a Nile cruise and then on a skiing holiday. Whether you’re pointing the lens towards an ancient ruin or someone whizzing down a ski slope, your main resource is guesswork, and it’s become a matter of luck whether you end up with anything worth watching again.

To make matters worse, some of the top manufacturers (e.g. Sony) don’t seem to realise or care that the by far the best and easiest video-editing facilities are to be found on Apple computers, and are so complacent that they only supply software that’s compatible with Windows.

As far as these 'we know best' merchants are concerned, ‘the customer is always right’ is presumably no more than a high-sounding principle for paying lip-service to whilst completely ignoring it in practice, and we can only hope that disappointing sales and complaints from frustrated users will eventually bring them to their senses.

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