Camcorders: How They Work

Without film your camcorder can take video of your favorite family members on a holiday, a scenic vacation site or a gripping event, where you just happen to be present. But how does this marvelous machine work?

Diagram Detailing How Camcorders Work

Believe it or not, it is all based on work done by Einstein nearly a century ago. He won the Nobel prize for discovering the photoelectric effect. The idea is that light waves at certain frequencies will disturb the electrons in a sheet of metal. When it does this, it creates a current.

In our diagram, you can see how the image being recorded comes through the lens and is focused on a prism. The prism divides the light beam into its component colors of red, green and blue. Each divided beam is projected against a charge coupled device. This is a kind of metal panel that is divided up into tiny squares, each one records the segregated light as it hits the panel. A record of these charges is sent to the recording medium (tape, disc, etc) in the form of binary numbers.

Now to play back the image one need only recall the recording, translate it back into colors, recombine the colors and project them on a screen. Done in a rapid sequence this presents the image as if it were moving.

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