|Camcorder specs||What to look for|
Design and performance
Always try a camcorder before buying. If you'll be shooting handheld, make sure it's comfortable to hold and not so heavy that you'll end up with a sore arm. A camcorder with a side-loading cassette hatch is your best bet if you'll be using a tripod frequently. In general, look for a control layout that provides quick access to the most commonly used functions via buttons or other physical controls, and a menu system that's simply structured and intuitive. Look for a camera that responds quickly and accurately to both your commands and changes in the scene you're shooting. See whether the autofocus responds quickly and accurately to changing scenes or hunts around, trying to lock onto a subject. You should also be able to control the zoom speed easily and the autoexposure should adapt appropriately to lighting changes.