Video cameras are used primarily in two modes. The first, characteristic of much early broadcasting, is live television, where the camera feeds real time images directly to a screen for immediate observation. A few cameras still serve live television production, but most live connections are for security, military/tactical, and industrial operations where surreptitious or remote viewing is required. In the second mode the images are recorded to a storage device for archiving or further processing; for many years, videotape was the primary format used for this purpose, but was gradually supplanted by optical disc, hard disk, and then flash memory. Recorded video is used in television production, and more often surveillance and monitoring tasks in which unattended recording of a situation is required for later analysis.
Types and uses
Modern video cameras have numerous designs and use:
Camcorders combine a camera and a VCR or other recording device in one unit; these are mobile, and were widely used for television production, home movies, electronic news gathering (ENG) (including citizen journalism), and similar applications. Since the transition to digital video cameras, most cameras have in-built recording media and as such are also camcorders. Action cameras often have 360° recording capabilities.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) generally uses pan-tilt-zoom cameras (PTZ), for security, surveillance, and/or monitoring purposes. Such cameras are designed to be small, easily hidden, and able to operate unattended; those used in industrial or scientific settings are often meant for use in environments that are normally inaccessible or uncomfortable for humans, and are therefore hardened for such hostile environments (e.g. radiation, high heat, or toxic chemical exposure).
Webcams are video cameras that stream a live video feed to a computer.
With the advent of digital video capture, the distinction between professional video cameras and movie cameras has disappeared as the intermittent mechanism has become the same. Nowadays, mid-range cameras exclusively used for television and other work (except movies) are termed professional video cameras.