Hi-tech or classic retro? Michael Oliveira-Salac and Martin Skegg focus on home-movie cameras
V ideo cameras have come a long way from the days when they needed a separate recording pack. Today's camcorders can fit everything into the palm of your hand and provide near-professional picture quality. Digital Video (DV), which uses tiny cassettes, is becoming the industry standard. DV cameras come packed with features: all have zoom lenses, a range of automatic functions, and LCD screens for easy viewing during shooting.

Clockwise from top left:

Panasonic NV-DX110B Digital Camcorder

Very compact and lightweight, this fits into the palm of your hand. It utilises the 3CCD camera system, used on professional video cameras, providing high-resolution pictures. Designed for simple operation, there are manual functions which allow you to make precision adjustments. It can easily be connected to other audio visual equipment or a PC, and direct digital editing means there is hardly any picture or sound deterioration. Around pounds 2,000. For further information, contact Panasonic on 0990 357357.

Quartz Super 8 camera No matter how good the technology gets, it seems film will never go out of fashion. Super- 8 cameras are still being made for those who love the look of celluloid and like to be hands-on during editing. The Widescreen Centre alone processes 2,000 rolls a month, indicating there are still some who prefer it the old-school way. This clockwork-drive Super-8 camera is imported from the Ukraine by the Widescreen Centre (which tests every one). There is a zoom lens, five shutter speeds, manual exposure override and a built-in meter. It comes with a great-looking carrying case and lots of accessories, including filters and cable release. pounds 179. Available from the Widescreen Centre, contact 0171-935 2580 (London) or 0115 945 5459 (Nottingham) or visit the virtual shop at www.widescreen-centre.co.uk

Sharp VL-PD1H Digital Touch Screen Viewcam

The stand-out feature is the LCD touch-sensitive screen, which allows for easy operation and adjustments to the camera. Extra features include Digital Image Stabilization, wide-screen format (16:9) - to give the picture the feel of a real movie, and still image recorder, which holds a frame for up to six seconds. Around pounds 1,000. For further information, contact Sharp on 0800 262958.

JVC GR-DVF10 Digital Video Camera

This camera includes 11 digital effects (such as monochrome and sepia) and 18 scene transitions (such as "mosaic fader" and "dissolves"). These can be applied without special editing equipment, and the Snapshot mode allows you to use different borders. There is also a Picture Stabiliser, which JVC claims recognises the user's unique "camera shake" characteristics. The optional battery kit can extend camera life for seven hours. Available shortly for around pounds 800. For further information, contact JVC on 0181- 208 7654