CamStudio Review

CamStudio Screen Recording Software


CamStudio is an open-source screen-capture video recording software which is great to create short tutorials, capture your gaming action, record your web-based activity, and much more. With the overwhelming popularity of video and video-based sharing sites like YouTube, video is definitely the way to go when it comes to sharing information online.

Camtasia Studio is one of the most popular screen-capture recording applications, however, it costs around $299. No doubt, Camtasia Studio a robust platform to record online video and includes a lot of functionality, but not everyone can afford it at that price. Therefore, CamStudio is a great alternative for creating online vids, especially for those who are just venturing out into the world of online video creation.

I've personally used CamStudio since late 2009 and have enjoyed using this free screen-capture software to capture on-screen video recording. On this web page, I will share my experience using CamStudio and show you how to effectively set it up to get the most out of this versatile video-making application. You will also see some examples of videos I've created using this free application.

Overview of CamStudio Features 


In this section, I’ll discuss some of the key features as well as limitations of CamStudio. As indicated earlier, this application can be used for on-screen video recording of PowerPoint presentations, web-based browser activity, capture recording of computer video games, and similar online video recordings.

CamStudio KEY FEATURES


With CamStudio you can record a particular region of your computer screen or the entire screen. I’ve tried both and they work well, however, you have to determine which ones suits best depending on the type of your video recording project.

With the Screen and Video annotations feature in this software, you can either do voice-over type vids or one with text annotations. I mainly do presentation type screen capture recording with my voice narrations in the background. You can record audio from the mic or speakers.

You can record 1280 x 720 HD quality video, however, the quality of the output will depend on the type of computer you use. The video output files are in AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) and SWF (Shockwave Flash) formats. I generally save the raw file in AVI format and then covert it to WMV format (using Windows Movie Make) to upload it to YouTube.

You can customize the Frame Rate (under \Options\Video Options), however ensure that “Capture Frame Every” times “Playback Rate” equals 1,000 (milliseconds) in order to maintain audio/video sync.

CamStudio comes with several Codecs (COmpressor/DECompressor) which helps to reduce the size of the video output file. If you’re going to use the application mainly to capture video game recordings, I would suggest using the Jawor’s Xvid which is great for high-motion video.

Other useful features that come with CamStudio are a variety of cursor options including various shapes, sizes, and cursor highlight. Also, the auto pan feature can be useful when using “Region” video recording. The auto pan feature allows the mouse to follow the area on the screen when using the “Region” option.

CamStudio LIMITATIONS


One of the main limitations that I found in this free video-making application is the lack of zooming ability. Especially, when recording web browser-based on-screen activity, sometimes specific areas are too small to be legible on the video recording. Being able to zoom into a particular area can be a huge benefit. However, there is a solution to counter this zoom feature limitation by using an add-on tool called “ZoomIt“. It’s not as robust as the one you find in Camtasia, but it works pretty well and does the job.

The other drawback of CamStudio is the AVI format 2 GB file size limit. If you haven’t customized the settings to optimize your type of video recording, you can end up with a huge file size even for a short video that is 5 minutes long. I try to keep my vids as short as possible, generally between 5 to 10 minutes. If you want to record longer vids, check the FAQs section below for some potential solutions.

There are some other minor quirks that I’ve encountered which I’ve discussed in my detailed CamStudio Review below. My advice is that you take the time to customize the video settings based on the type of on-screen video recording you use this application for. You’ll save yourself from some frustrations.

Based on my experience, I think CamStudio is a great alternative to Camtasia who can’t afford to pay $299. You are allowed to make commercial use as well. Take a quick virtual tour via the video below.

Video Overview of CamStudio Features



My Experience Using CamStudio On-Screen Recording Software


Before I delve into this CamStudio review, I have to admit that when I first started off using video-based applications and communication tools, I was not as comfortable as I am now. But since early 2010, I started exploring various online video communication platforms like Animoto, iWowWe, TalkFusion, Skype, and of course CamStudio.

The more I used these video communication platforms, my comfort level increased and I started enjoying using video. So if you’re in the same boat and feel uncomfortable using video-based communication tools, I’d say give it a shot and explore it by just having fun trying it out. since I started creating vids, I’ve learned a lot, and the good thing is that it’s a continuous learning process which I love.

One of the good things about using screen-capture video recording applications is that you don’t have to be on camera yourself, though if you’d like to, you can use the picture-in-picture feature. Basically, you run the application as you use PowerPoint, or record your activity when browsing the web, as a tutorial. If you’re into gaming, you can record the screen as you play the video game and upload it on YouTube. So is CamStudio safe to download? I decided to find out for myself.

Is CamStudio Safe to Download to Your Computer?



When I came across CamStudio, I was skeptical initially since it was an open-source free piece of software. So I read some reviews and watched a few videos on YouTube. Some of the reviews were positive, and others were negative. I decided to try it anyway based on the positive reviews that I read. I have two laptops, one of which I use specifically for trying stuff that I’m skeptical about. So I looked up it on Norton Safe Web to see if it was free from malware and spyware. After doing my due diligence, I decided to go ahead and download the application.

Update: On August 2, 2014, I tried to download the new version of CamStudio and found that my Norton 360 security software detected a Trojan (trojan.ADH.2). I’ve reported it in the CamStudio forum, so hopefully they will get this resolved soon. At this point, I would suggest sticking to CamStudio v2.0.

CamStudio Icon Hidden in System Tray



When first using CamStudio, have you asked yourself..."Where Does the CamStudio Icon Disappear After I Open it?" Well, initially, I came across a few kinks as I was trying CamStudio. One of things that bugged me most was when I opened the application and started my first video recording, the application icon disappeared. It wasn’t in my task bar, so I opened the application again. I got this weird blinking screen which wouldn’t go away and thought it was some sort of virus. I had to reboot my computer.

Then I realized that when I open the application it goes into the system tray (bottom-right) in Windows 7. Sometimes it’s hidden and you have to click the system tray, right-click on the CamStudio icon and then click Stop. The other setting I checked was “Hide Flashing Rectangle During Recording” (under \Options\Program Options).

Adjusting CamStudio Frame Rate



The next thing was the frame rate settings. I changed them so as to reduce the size of the output file, but realized that my audio and video were out of sync (audio was lagging). Upon reading up on frame rate settings, I learned that if you decide to change the frame rate ensure that “Capture Frame Every” times “Playback Rate” equals 1,000 (milliseconds). Depending on the type of video project you use CamStudio for, it is recommended that you customize the frame rate settings for best results.

The frame rate settings above work for me when recording PowerPoint tutorials and web-based tutorials. Also, note that I use the “Cinepak Codec by Radius” as my compressor. These Codecs help compress the output file size. You can check the CamStudio FAQs section for more on what Codecs may work best for you. In order to change the Frame Rate settings, uncheck the “Auto Adjust” box.

How to Save CamStudio AVI Output File?



And finally, when I stopped recording my test video, it wouldn’t give me an option to save the output file. I ended up clicking here and there, thereby, closing the application and lost the video recording. Anyway, it was a short test video, so it wasn’t a big deal. However, to avoid this mistake, make sure to you check the option “Ask for File Name” (under \Options\Program Options\Name of AVI File\). As you can see from the above, it’s important to take the time to understand the CamStudio application and set it up properly to get desired video recording results.

I prefer the older version CamStudio 2.0 compared to newer beta version CamStudio 2.7. The older version works better for me overall, so I stuck with it. However, the newer version does have a new feature to record “Window” option in addition to Region and Full Screen which I believe is better for recording video games. Given that I don’t record video games, the older version works fine for me.

Capturing Video Gaming Action on CamStudio



As indicated earlier, CamStudio is great for recording screen capture video when doing PowerPoint type tutorials which don’t involve a lot of movement and action on the screen. However, when it comes to capturing video gaming action, don’t expect to produce quality videos because it’s not build for that. You can still record your gaming action, as well as audio from speakers, by making necessary adjustments in video and audio settings. However, even after optimizing settings, it will slow down your game and you will probably get around 80% of the original speed.

Instead use Fraps, a real-time video capture and bench-marking software. I’ve personally not used it, but know a few people who have and they prefer it for this purpose. One issue with Fraps though, while it does produce quality video, it creates a very large output file even for a short recording. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use a compressor. One that I’ve seen recommended a lot is Jawor’s XviD Codec.

CamStudio Frequently Asked Questions


The website links provided below will help you with questions you may have with regards to using CamStudio. It includes information on frequently asked questions on various aspects of this screen capture application like video, audio, frame rate settings, issues with stability and performance, and much more. You can also join the online support forum.

General CamStudio FAQs: The website link above includes answers to many commonly asked questions about CamStudio. You will find information about video, audio, and performance using this application.

CamStudio Support Forum: The website link above will take you to the CamStudio Support Forum which is an active community of fellow users. If you can't find an answer to a specific question in the FAQs section, you can visit this support forum to get help with your questions.

CamStudio 2.0 Version Download: The website link above is the download link to the older version of CamStudio (version 2.0). I prefer the older version compared to new 2.7 version mainly because of overall performance.

Issues with CamStudio 2.7 Version: The website link above will direct you to the user forum. This specific thread deals with issues being faced with the latest version of CamStudio version 2.7.