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What Is the Difference Between a Video Camera and a Camcorder?

By Shelby Burr

As technology comes and goes over the years, we tend to forget the origin story of some of the tech that brought us to the digital world today. Growing up, one piece of technology that you may be familiar with is the video camera.

Most of you might say “the camcorder” while others may say, “they both mean the same thing.”


However, the fun fact in this article is that they are not the same thing. There is a difference between a video camera and a camcorder! Let’s dive into some history around the two and then break down the “why” behind the difference. 

History of the Video Camera

When we talk about the video camera back in the day, think of large, leavy, mounted cameras on special pedestals. Big, clunky, technology. Back in the day, video cameras really came to be in the 1910-1930s. Fun fact, it actually started as an experiment for broadcasting during these decades. The first video camera was based on the mechanical Nipkow disk. A Nipkow disk (or a scanning disk) is a mechanical, rotating, geometrically operating image scanning device, patented in 1885 by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow. The scanning device was a fundamental component in mechanical television, and thus the first televisions, through the 1920s and 1930s. 

Video cameras have been known historically for television, broadcasting and movies. The transition to digital television gave a boost to digital video cameras! Large, heavy duty tech on pedestals and wired to remote recorders in separate rooms. Video cameras were not used for personal use - it was used for broadcasting television. 

History of the Camcorder

Now that you know the history of the video camera and it’s large and clunky demeanor, let’s talk about the camcorder. As technology improved over the years, out-of-studio video recording was possible for anyone to do. More compact video cameras that were portable video recorders were made available to the public. Specialized video cassettes were introduced by JVS and Sony (VHS tapes) while U-matic and Betamax were also created for competition. This all came to fruition in 1983. One perk of a camcorder was the single camera-recorder unit. This eliminated a cable between the camera and recorder. AKA more freedom to film on the go! 

As time progressed, the camcorder became more and more technical which offered more freedom to purchasers. 

The Difference

So, what is the difference you may ask? To put it simply, “video cameras” are still used today for filming television and broadcasting. Large pieces of tech to capture and broadcast video straight to your television.

Camcorder is a smaller form of video technology that was sold for more personal use. Less clunky, no wires - simple to use and easy to bring it with you wherever you go! By the early 21st century, most video cameras were digital cameras. Once technology became more and more developed, the distinction between professional video cameras and movie cameras has disappeared as the intermittent mechanism has become the same. Mid-range cameras exclusively used for television and other work (except movies) are termed professional video cameras still to this day. 

Plan for the future…

Now that you know the history of the video camera / camcorder, let’s talk about your memories. Nowadays, you aren’t reaching for a camcorder to record special family moments, you are reaching for your phone. Your phone is now today’s camcorder! Sure, you’re able to save and share your memories, but what about any of the footage stuck on your VHS or Betamax tapes today? Those special moments are stuck and aren't easy to rewatch. It’s time to have your memories digitized so you can relive them again and again. Legacybox can help make this process so effortless for you! We will digitize your memories and send over your new digital memories (plus all your original memories on tapes). Easy peasy! Start relieving your memories today - you won’t regret it.

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