Camcorders are digital video recording devices that are very popular all over the world. Different types of camcorders might support different types of video formats, like PAL, NTSC, SECAM, etc. PAL stands for Phase Alternating Lines. It is a technical format used for televisions and video recorders. This is common in European countries, India, Singapore, Australia, etc. NTSC stands for National Television System Committee, and it is used in countries like United States of America and Japan. Meanwhile, SECAM is a standard video television system format used in France.
Before you purchase a video recording device like a simple camcorder, it is important to find out about what its recording format is—especially if you travel overseas very often. It’s always better to buy the format that your country supports more commonly since PAL devices do not play in NTSC and vice versa.
The basic difference between PAL and NTSC is usually the frame rate and image resolution. NTSC records at the rate of 29.97 fps and PAL records videos at the rate of 25 fps. The standard image resolution in case of NTSC format is 720 * 480 whereas the PAL format offers a resolution of 720 * 576. No camcorder can record in both these formats because of the above mentioned differences.
So when you decide on buying a PAL camcorder, you have to ensure that you have a PAL television set (if you are planning to see the video directly on TV by connecting your camcorder to the TV). If you are planning to burn the video into a disc, know that PAL DVD players play NTSC videos—but that the vice versa does not hold true. PAL DVDs are not compatible with NTSC players. However, if you are planning to play the video in a computer, then there is no need to worry since computers do not distinguish between NTSC and PAL. The computer software is not limited to any video standard format.
Also keep in mind that technically, PAL contains many more scan lines when compared to the NTSC format. So if your video is converted from PAL to NTSC, you might lose some important details in the conversion process. Also, the quality of the video might suffer due to conversion.