Pocket camcorders are all the rage these days, in large part because they're so simple to use. And it's true! Unlike "traditional" camcorders that are jammed with features, pocket camcorders distinguish themselves by having almost no real features to speak of. There are few buttons to press and few controls to get lost in.
While the lack of features and controls make pocket models easy to use, they also impose some unique limitations. To get the best video from your pocket video camera, you need to be aware of those limitations and work around them.
So here are some shooting tips when filming with your pocket video camera:
#1 Slow & Steady: Since the majority of pocket camcorders on the market don't have optical image stabilization, the footage they record can be blurry from hand-shake (many pocket models offer digital stabilization, but it's not as effective). That means you'll need to pay special attention to holding the camcorder steady. Use two hands when possible (even if it seems a bit awkward) and don't hold the unit too far from your face.
#2 Keep the Lights On: Pocket models take crisp video in well lit conditions, but some can really suffer when the lights go down, producing footage with lots of splotchy "digital noise." Whenever possible, keep your scene as brightly lit as possible, especially with natural sun light.
#3 Skip the Digital Zoom, But Stay Close: Most pocket camcorders do not have optical zoom lenses but instead use digital zooms, which actually result in poor looking video. For best results, don't use the digital zoom and try to stay as close as possible to your subjects. (Disclaimer: this does not apply when filming wild animals. Or wild people for that matter.)
#4 Skip the Stills: While pocket camcorders do boast the ability to take still photos, few take really solid stills. Fortunately, these video cameras are light enough that you won't mind bringing your digital camera along too.
#5 Handle With Care: One recurring problem you might find on a pocket model is lens smudge. Since there's no lens cap, and the lens tends to be flush with the body of the camcorder, it's very easy to get greasy fingerprints onto your lens. If you do accidentally paw the lens, you can clean it with a micro-fiber cloth (avoid tissues and paper-towels or tough fibers that can scratch).