Saturday, June 6, 2009

Working with files on your camcorder...

If you've got a recent version of Windows, you can work with the videos you've shot as files (sorry Mac users, I'm a Windows guy). Take a look at this post to see how to attach your camcorder to your PC. Once you've followed those instructions, follow these steps to get the video files from your camcorder onto your computer.

I've created a simple video showing these steps here.

Open Windows Explorer
  1. Locate the drive representing your camcorder. On my PC, it appears as drive I (I've got a bunch of drives)
  2. Drill down to this path: I:\AVCHD\BDMV\STREAM (the first drive letter will probably be different on your PC - see step 2)
  3. Copy the files to the clip board if you want to leave them on your camcorder or cut them if you want to move them
  4. Navigate to whereever you want to store videos on you computer and paste them.

Attaching your camcorder to your PC (to copy clips you've filmed)

I was a bit frustrated by the information included in the Canon instruction manual relative to getting the clips you've shot onto your PC. Canon recommends you use the Pixela software that comes with the camcorder for this, but if you've got a reasonably recent PC with an up-to-date version of Windows,there's a much easier way. Follow these steps to connect you camcorder to your PC:
  • Plug the power adapter into the camcorder. It took me a bit to figure out that this is required! There’s a picture at the end of this post showing you where to plug the power adapter into the camera.
  • Power on the camcorder
  • Make sure the camcorder is in the movie playback mode.
  • Attach the camcorder to a USB port on your computer using the cable provided.
    With any luck, your PC will recognize your camera as just another hard drive. See pictures of the USB cable at the end of this post.
  • Open the LCD and look at it. You may have to indicate that you want to copy to a computer. Use the joy stick for this.
  • Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder containing the videos. Take a look at this post for more guidance.
  • Copy and paste or cut and paste the clips onto your computer.

Find more general information on copying and pasting in Windows here.

Plugging in the Power Adapter

See below where to plug your camcorder into the power adapter.

USB Cable

A USB cable comes with your camcorder and looks like this:

usb cable ends usb cable ends side

Plugging the USB Cable into the Camcorder

usb cable in camcorder (2)

Viewing the clips you've filmed...

Follow these steps to view the stuff you've just filmed.
  • Change the mode dial to "playing back movies" (blue movie camera)
  • Open the LCD screen if it's closed.
  • If you've only filmed one clip, it shold be highlighted in the index
  • Press the play button below the LCD screen.
For information on viewing the clip on a TV see this post .

To see how to transfer clips to your computer so you can view them there, see this post .

Filming stuff...

Once the battery is charged, you'll probably want to film something and look at the results. Follow these super simple steps.

(pictures forthcoming)
Unplug the charger if necessary.

Power the camcorder on.

Make sure it's in the right "mode"

Pop out the LCD screen so you can see what you're filming.

Press the record button to start recording.

Press the record button again to stop recording.

Getting started...

The camcorder comes with a getting started guide, so I'll be brief here. When I got my camcorder from Amazon, the battery had no charge whatsoever. I therefore had to plug it into the charger for a couple of hours for it to charge up. Soon, I'll post a video of adding the battery to the camera.

Where to buy the camera?

In an effort to keep it simple, I would suggest buying your camera from They have competitive prices, it arrives at your door, and you can trust them to support you in the unlikely event you have a problem with your camcorder.

Most folks have their own preferences when it comes to shopping, so I'll limit my advice to the above.

Differences between the HG20 and HG21

There's a single instruction manual for the HG20 and HG21. In a few places, it calls out differences between them. I'll list the ones I find here.

Hard Drive
The HG21 has a hard drive that's twice as large as the HG20. As I mentioned in another post, you can record up to five and a half hours of high definition video on the HG20's hard drive. You can store twice that, or about eleven hours, on the HG21.

The HG21 has a viewfinder you can look through rather than relying on the LCD screen. Since I always use the LCD screen, the lack of a viewfinder on the HG20 didn't bother me. The viewfinder could be useful in very bright conditions that make the LCD hard to see.