Camcorder (common buttons and their functions)

Camcorders are portable electronic devices with video capture and recording functions. Camcorders are well known for their numerous buttons. This can easily send intimidating frights to owners of new camcorders. Once properly mastered, Camcorders are a delight to use. The following tips may quickly get newbie Camcorder owners on their feet.

Camcorder Power Button

This button powers on/off the Camcorder. Often, it comes with a neutral, save, or standby position. When the camera is not in use, it goes into power save mode. It does this to save battery life.  If the camcorder goes into save mode, you can easily push the power button to power back up the camera.

Record Button

This button is often red in colour. Camcorders can have a record button on top, in front or where your thumb sits when the camera is held with your right hand. When in Camera mode (playback mode), the record button starts, stops or pauses recording.


The zoom button controls how far or near objects appear. The zoom feature is a great one that adds creativity to video pieces; however, zooming during a recording process makes the final work unappealing. It is better to set the zoom feature before the recording process. Zoom features can be added comfortably during the editing process.

Iris (Aperture)

The Iris control is used to regulate the amount of light that infiltrates into the camera. This feature is not present in all camcorders. Iris controls can be manually manipulated to suit dark or bright video environments.


Camcorder Shutter Speed

Faster shutter speed regulates the amount of light that comes into the camera by letting in less light. It also reduces the blur level for fast motion objects. This feature enables slowed down pictures to appear clear and less blurry.

White Balance Button

This button is essential for a camcorder. It allows the camcorder to identify colours. Point your camcorder facing a white paper or white cloth so as to check for white balance. Then Press the white balance button. An icon will appear in the viewfinder. The icon blinks if the white balance is not properly set.

Focus Button

This button controls the lens and the picture of the camera. It is usually found near or on the lens. It is not uncommon to find it on the side of some cameras. The focus sends out an infrared beam which calculates distance, and sets the lens. Any movement across the lens causes it to change focus irrespective of the fact that the main object remains unmoved. The picture changes in and out when there is a constant check and rechecking. This also has a toll on your battery life. It is advisable for newbies to switch this button to automatic; thereby allowing the camera to do an automatic focusing.

Playback Buttons

The playback buttons includes: play, rewind, fast forward, pause and stop.  It  sometimes contains a ‘playback review’ button. The playback review button replays a recorded clip.

Some Camcorders may have extra buttons not included in this article. Always read through your manual for extra buttons and their functions.

Camcorder Tips

  • camcorders are packed with special effects. Avoid the use of special effects during the recording process. Reserve special effects for the editing stage of your video.
  • Camcorders make video shot in dim area appear dark. Shoot your videos in well lit environments.
  • Do white balancing anytime you change rooms. Also do a white balance when you change lighting conditions.
  • Use a tripod to shoot your videos. Hand held video loose quality once the person handling the camera starts getting tired. Your breathing creates an up and down movement. This in turn creates a up and down jumping movement.
  • Restrict the number of time you zoom in and out. Viewer can develop nausea watching video shot in this manner. Use the zoom feature only when necessary. It is nicer to watch a good slow steady zoom on a subject than a quick zoom.
  • A lot of camcorders have both optical and digital zoom. Digital zoom does not get closer to the subject. Instead it enlarges individual pixels. This makes the video look distorted. It is wise to disable the digital zoom or use it as less as possible. This simple tip can greatly increase the quality of your videos.

See also: How to combine colours in outfits.

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