With a myriad of camcorder models and brands it is not easy to decide on one best that suits your needs. Here’s a list of top 10 camcorders selected based on picture quality, functionality, ease of use and value for money. You can use this as a starting point in making your buying decision.
The top of the line Panasonic is the undisputed king of prosumer camcorders. It records in 4K UltraHD giving you more than 4 times the resolution of HD camcorders. The low light capability is the best we’ve seen. You are given the option of full manual control along with many professional features like precise Histogram Display, 4K Video Editing and Simultaneous Recording on 2 SD cards. Given its large and fast f1.8 Leica lens it has a rather larger form factor but something you will get used to after a while. It records in AVCHD, MOV and MP4 formats at maximum bit rate of 200 Mbps which make editing quick and easy. The picture quality on 4K displays is superb helped in part by the excellent image stabilization. A +48 V phantom power supply is also included to handle pro-spec, high-performance mics for recording high-quality sound.
The new Panasonic HC-WX970 is a good step forward from last year’s models.It’s a great 4K Ultra HD camcorder with a Second lens that lets you record yourself during shooting. It comes with a useful control dial for comprehensive manual settings. The Leica Dicomar Lens captures sharp Video images in both HD and 4K. Records Full-HD at 120 fps and the Intelligent Frame Creation of the Crystal Engine interpolates to an equivalent of 240 fps for smooth slow motion. Also features 20x optical zoom and Panasonic’s 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S.+ optical image stabilisation as well as other functions including HDR movie mode.
The Sony FDR-AX33 is a handy camcorder that combines 4K video recording and Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. It delivers sharp and clear HD videos that rivals the nbest we have seen. Comes with a high quality Zeiss Vario Sonnar lens with 10x optical zoom and features an Exmor R CMOS sensor with Bionz X image processor for Ultra HD resolution video at 24 or 30 fps. We found it easy to use in spite of having many features with the help of many automatic image and audio options for easy point-and-shoot operation.
The Sony FDR-AX100 is the latest 4K Ultra HD camcorder aimed at the prosumer market. It is not cheap but what the image quality and feature set more than justify its price. Image quality from the newly developed Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens delivers true cinematic depth thanks to the 1.0″ Exmor R CMOS sensor. The FDR-AX100 records HD movies in the XAVC-S format, which uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 for video compression. Also captures high resolution 20MP still images. Connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote has been simplified with Wi-Fi/NFC control.
Canon’s top of the line HF G30 comes with a host of upgrades over other high-end Vixia models. It is pricey but offers features close to professional camcorders. The Advanced HD CMOS Pro sensor is from Canon’s professional range. The large 1/2.84-inch sensor with gross 3.09 Mpixels delivers Video quality that is top notch. Optical zoom is a good 20x. A wide range of shooting modes are available, with both AVCHD and MP4 options. The AVCHD 2.0 options range from 5Mbits/sec at 1,440 x 1,080, to Full HD at 17 and 24Mbits/sec, and then a 28Mbits/sec 50p Full HD mode as well. You can record uncompressed LPCM audio with the top two quality modes too. The setback is there is no internal memory provided, unlike the G20.
Equipped with a slightly larger-than-average 1/2.33″ sensor, the Panasonic HC-V770 is a high-end consumer camcorder. It keeps the same solid optical zoom and image stabilization as the older V750 and still shoots in 1080p HD. It is the first consumer camcorder to offer high dynamic range (HDR) video to help in difficult lighting conditions. Also comes with Built-in WIFI and NFC allowing you to wirelessly upload your video. You can also control your camcorder from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The HC-V770 is an excellent mid-priced and feature packed camcorder for all occasions.
What makes the new Panasonic HC-W570 so interesting is that this camcorder gets the improvement while maintaining a highly competitive price. It also gets a few other fine improvements making this a great upgrade over any old midrange camcorder. The addition of the second camera is a pretty big deal because it used to be reserved for the high-end model. This lens has a F2.8 aperture with a focal length of 2.48mm. The main advantage of this smaller camera is its flexibility as you can rotate the camera and have the footage show up picture-in-picture style. This lets you record a scene in real-time at two different angles with the second angle appearing within a smaller box. Dubbed the “Twin Camera” system, this makes it great for “selfie videos” where you can record a subject and your facial reaction at the same time.
The Sony HDR-PJ670 is a Full HD Camcorder w/ built-in Projector. Like its predecessor it also gives you the luxury of touch controls making the interface a bit easier to learn. While the HDR-PJ670 doesn’t have 4K support like the other advanced cameras with XAVC S support, this camcorder can still capture 1080p/60p videos at an impressive 50 Mbps. The 26.8mm wide-angle lens is good for capturing wide landscapes and also gets you really close with 30x optical zoom and 60x digital zoom. You can enjoy your videos anywhere with the high-contrast 25 lumen projector built-in to the LCD panel.
The Canon HF-R62 is an entry level Dual Flash Memory HD Camcorder with 32GB of onboard memory. It captures video in full HD. The 32x Optical Zoom Lens delivers uncompromized image quality and has SuperRange optical image stabilization to keep video sharp in low light. comes with a 1/4.85 inch HD CMOS Image Sensor, 2 megapixel still images, and has a 24p, 30p and new 60p mode. You don’t get the manual control flexibility offered by higher-end models but those on a budget aren’t looking for those anyway. The 57x Advanced Zoom feature is pretty nice too as it allows you to exceed the 32x optical zoom and still get pretty clear results.
10) Sony HDR-PJ440
The Sony HDR-PJ440 HD Handycam with Built-In Projector and 8GB Internal Memory features an Exmor R CMOS sensor and a wide-angle Carl Zeiss zoom lens with 30x optical zoom. The PJ-440 captures Full HD 1920×1080 video at 60p and 9.2MP still images to its 8GB of internal memory or to optional media cards. The camera integrates a small projector in the LCD viewscreen door. All aspects of the HDR-PJ440 remain faithful to the original entry-level lineup including the zoom lever and photo button on the top and a record button on the back making it a very approachable camcorder for newbies.
Updated August 2015