Top 10 Camcorders

September 2017 Update

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.

1) Panasonic HC-X1

 

Panasonic HC-X1

Panasonic HC-X1

The HC-X1 is a 4K camcorder designed to supply nearly all the requirements of professional videographers. An example is its impressive Leica Dicomar zoom lens. At 20x to 24mm, it’s the widest angle in the industry and handles situations that send other camcorder owners scrambling for a wide conversion lens. It’s hard to describe the feeling that results when using the 480mm equivalent view video feature. This Panasonic product also eliminates the long hours spent on color correction because the camera’s programmed to handle that task. Genres such as reporting and independent film will be enhanced by the smooth video achieved with this system. The dual cards and recording capability are easier to achieve with the compact, light unit. Features may take a bit of practice, but the resulting professional product is well worth the time it takes to master them.

List Price: $3197.99

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2) Panasonic HC-WXF991

Panasonic HC-WXF991K

Panasonic HC-WXF991K

The HC-WXF991 is Panasonic’s new flagship consumer camcorder for 2016 and it offers some interesting weapons to combat other 4K camcorders in its class. It is the pinnacle of hand-held 4K video capture, featuring several in-camera cinema creative and editing solutions that enables you to capture amazingly sharp videos like a pro. For those without 4K display options, the WXF991 offers in-camera down sampling to 1080p Full HD displays. It also features multi-camera scene picture-in-picture recording via a second built-in camera, or add a Wi-Fi link to a mobile device camera to increase creative possibilities. It also offers one new upgrade that is lacking in the previous model, the addition of an electronic viewfinder.

List Price: $999.99

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3) Sony FDR-AX53

Sony FDR-AX53

Sony FDR-AX53

Sony unveiled the successor to the popular AX33 – the Sony FDR-AX53 but retaining the same price.  The Sony FDR-AX53 is slightly larger and combines 4K video recording and Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. It delivers sharp and clear HD videos that rivals the best we have seen. The biggest improvement that is the new ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens which now allows shooting video at 26.8mm wide-angle. The best thing about this improved lens is that the optical zoom for both 4K and HD has been doubled to a more acceptable 20x. . 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.

List Price: $999

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4) Sony FDR-AX100

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.

List Price: $1698

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5) Canon Vixia HF G40

Canon made the Canon HF G40 for wedding videographers, student reports and amateur filmmakers. Some of the features that make this camcorder stand out from the rest of the more affordable lineup are the impressive 3.5-inch OLED display and electronic viewfinder. It also comes equipped with dual SD card slots as there is no internal memory. All that extra bulk makes the camcorder weigh about 1.7 pounds but the grip belt still makes the camcorder feel comfortable to use.

List Price: $1599

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6) Panasonic HC-VX981

Panasonic HC-WX970

The HC-VX981 is the 2016 replacement of the VX870 and now serves as Panasonic’s most affordable 4K camcorder. It’s a great 4K Ultra HD camcorder with a Second lens that lets you record yourself during shooting. It does not really reinvent the wheel and retains a lot of the key specs including the 1/2.3-inch backlit sensor, LEICA Dicomar 20x optical zoom lens, wireless camera support, 3-inch touchscreen and overall look.  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.

List Price: $899.99

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7) Panasonic HC-W580

The HC-W580K is a direct successor to the HC-W570 and that really means that the older model had its fans and they really liked the idea of using another camera lens to do all sorts of creative stuff. That secondary camera makes a return to the Panasonic HC-W580K and remains as the selling point for this particular model. You won’t find any other Panasonic model in the 2016 series like this so owners can have a little bit of those bragging rights knowing that the prosumers have only one lens to work with.

List Price: $399.99

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8) Sony HDR-CX675

The HDR-CX675 is a Sony digital camcorder designed for people who need to record extra high-quality video while not needing some of the extra prosumer bulk that often makes these camcorders less portable. Not everybody needs a camcorder with manual controls so this is where the Sony HDR-CX675 looks more like a cost-effective alternative with the superior video quality to boot. Being part of the CX series, the HDR-CX675 doesn’t come with a projector which is something that a sizable audience sees as a solution looking for a problem. The key feature that makes the it really stand out from its lower priced siblings is its Sony G Lens. It may use the same BIONZ X image processor and Exmor R CMOS sensor as the $399 HDR-CX455 but this 46 mm makes all the difference when it comes to raw video quality.

List Price: $549.99

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9) Canon VIXIA HF R82

The Canon HF-R82 rounds out some of the best features introduced since Canon began the VIXIA line of camcorders. The company continually reviews and responds to customer suggestions and requests. The result is a yearly update that is either a huge change inspiring purchase of a new model or holding back in the event next year’s introduction has one or two items worth the wait. This is a year to consider adding the new camcorder to your family because of features like 32GB internal storage, a low price, and its comfortable, user-friendly operation.

List Price: $449.99

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10) Sony HDR-CX455

The Sony HDR-CX455 is the cheapest Sony camcorder to have the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system with 5-axis Intelligent Active mode. 5-axis basically means that it tries to keep the video stable by compensating for vibrations in 5 directions. As a result, videos look smoother even when walking while recording video. Easily connect to an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet with Wi-Fi and the PlayMemories Mobile app to control the camcorder or instantly transfer, share movies and photos via your mobile device. NFC (Near Filed Communication) technology makes it even easier to connect to NFC compatible mobile devices with one touch.

List Price: $399.99

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New Canon R-Series Camcorders For 2017

Canon’s 2017 lineup of R-series camcorders are here. All three camcorders namely the Canon Vixia HF R80, R82 and the R800 carry quite similar lists of specs other than size of internal storage – The R-82 offers 32 GB, the R-80 has 16 GB, and the R-800 only has an SD card slot. The budget R-800 also doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity which the more expensive siblings have.

Canon Vixia 2017 Camcorders

Although prices remain largely unchanged Canon has improved on recording times, better back light correction in Highlight Priority Mode with more natural colors. In addition you get fast-motion recording options. All the new camcorders were updated with Flexible Slow and Fast motion recording, something coined by Canon in earlier models. This feature is no available for the budget R-series allows you to create fast and slow-motion effects onboard the camera. A very cool feature if you are into sports and creative videos.

This new lineup comes with 3.28-megapixel CMOS sensors with a zoom assist feature, optical image stabilization and a 3-inch touchscreen. In terms of recording times The VIXIA HF R82 leads the pack with 12 hours of internal recording time which is 6 hours more than the outgoing HF R72. When you insert in a 64GB SD card you’ll get a whopping 36 hours of recording time, more than enough for a long trip. If your budget is below $400 and don’t need such long recording times, the VIXIA HF R80 offers almost the same built-in features and comes with 6 hours of internal memory. The entry level VIXIA HF R800 record to SD cards only. All of these models has exceptional video quality for its price and are probably one of best mid-range camcorders on the market.

Here are the full reviews:

Here is a sample movie captured using the Canon VIXIA HF R82:

Capture The Best of Fireworks With 4K Video

fireworks

No festive celebration is complete without fireworks! And possibly the best way to capture these awesome bursts of light would be 4K video. While we would automatically try our utmost to channel the inner award-winning photographer in us and hit the camera capture button profusely, it might be wiser if we capture video at the best resolution available to us now – 4K.

With 4K video, the videos we capture (even on our smartphones) is remarkably sharp and lifelike. Not only will video allow us to relive the beautiful sights, it allows us to capture the boom boom boom of fireworks which we all know too well too. The added bonus of capturing videos of fireworks – we are still able to pull high-res still frames from the videos!

So the next time you want to capture great fireworks, think again and use that 4K video function that you have. In fact, celebrate the occasion by chucking that heavy tripod and use the highest frame rate you can get or even play around with the slow motion functions!

GoPro Updated Their Action Camera Range With Hero5 Models

The GoPro Hero 4 models launched 2 years ago revolutionized the industry and spawned many copycat models. Imitation is the best compliment like they say. To keep ahead of the pack, GoPro recently launched the 3 new models to cater to different budgets – GoPro Hero5 Black ($399.99), GoPro Hero5 Session ($299.99), GoPro Hero Session ($199.99).

GoPro hero5

The Hero 5 Session and the Hero 5 Black have quite similar features and specifications so you may not need to upgrade to the top model. Both are capable of shooting 4K videos at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. They are water resistant up to 33 feet without a housing. Each camera also has voice control. You need not worry about backups as your recordings are automatically backed up as part of the new GoPro Plus cloud-based subscription service. Audio is not compromised as stereo microphones are built-in. Also new are “professional grade” electronic, or digital, image stabilization which definitely helps in making playback more watchable.

If you are into extreme sports the more rugged Hero 5 Black would suit your needs. It comes with a 2-inch LCD touchscreen, features built-in GPS, and can capture RAW photos and Wide Dynamic Range videos. There are dedicated buttons for photo and video recording.

The Hero 5 Session takes 10-megapixel photos, and does not come with a screen, no GPS, and no RAW or WDR modes. The Session will still have GoPro’s ProTune video mode which allows you to capture a flatter image that is easier to color-correct when editing.

Read the full reviews here:

  1. GoPro Hero 5 Black Review (MSRP: $399.99)
  2. GoPro Hero 5 Session Review (MSRP: $299.99)
  3. GoPro Hero Session Review (MSRP: $199.99)

Sony’s 2016 Camcorder Lineup

Sony FDR-AX53

Fancy a 4K camcorder? While 4K is the new fancy schmancy resolution to own, many consumers are comfortable with just High Definition and do not see the need to move up to 4K. If you are one of those who still need to have a 4K prosumer camcorder, The newly released Sony FDR-AX53 is only the 3rd 4K camcorder to be released by Sony in the last two years. It comes packed with an all new 26.8mm ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T wide-angle lens and even lets you take 4K time-lapses amongst other cool features. Read the full Sony FDR-AX53 review here.

For a great HD camcorder, consider the new Sony HDR-CX455 that comes with a 26.8mm wide-angle lens, 30x optical zoom and is the cheapest video camcorder by Sony to own the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system with 5-axis Intelligent Active mode. Other features include built-in Wi-Fi & NFC, 8GB of flash storage, a 5.1-channel microphone, Auto Wind Noise Reduction and My Voice Cancelling.

Folks with deeper pockets and a desire for a mid-range camcorder can consider the Sony HDR-CX675 which comes with 32GB flash storage and a class-leading 26.8mm G lens with 30x optical zoom. Read the full Sony HDR-CX675 review to find out more.

Canon Camcorders Lineup for 2016

Canon releases new camcorder models each year at the CES. This year, it announced three camcorders that are no strangers to us and are essentially a bump up from their predecessors – the Canon HF R70, Canon HF R72 and Canon HF R700.

Beginning with the cheapest of the trio, the Canon HF R700 is quite an upgrade from its predecessor, the HF R600. Despite its lack of Wi-Fi, NFC and internal storage, Canon decided to put in a battery with higher capacity for a better battery life, a new user interface and slightly better screen. New features include Zoom Framing Assist and Highlight Priority.

The Canon HF R70 is the mid-range model with 16GB internal flash drive and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC. And for about $50 more, you can buy yourself the Canon HF R72 which shares all the same features as the Canon HF R70 except that it comes with a bigger 32GB internal flash drive. Both these models bear the same Canon 3.28 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor, DIGIC DV 4 image processor as their predecessors and dual memory card slots. New features include a high capacity battery for better battery life and improved LCD display amongst a few others.

Eye-Catching Polaroid Cube Gets An Update : Polaroid Cube+

Out of the corner of an email ad, this tiny ultra lightweight cube caught my eye – the Polaroid Cube. Touted as the world’s funnest, cutest lifestyle action camera in a tiny cubic package, the Polaroid Cube stands at just 35mm and yet, packs a punch in features. This tiny action cam is weatherproof, shockproof, mountable and is built to handle everything you can imagine. It comes with a 124° wide angle lens, records HD 1080p/720p video and captures professional 6MP still photos.

If you’re willing to shell out a bit more, you’ll be able to get your hands on the Cube+. Released earlier this year, the Cube+ adds Wi-Fi connectivity and works with a companion app for both iOS and Android. With this companion app, you will be able to use your phone as a remote or viewfinder. The Cube+ records high quality video in up to 1440p HD with image stabilisation and captures 10MP still photos.

Stay tuned for the full reviews.

Polaroid Cube+ Lifestyle Action Cam

Polaroid Cube+ Lifestyle Action Cam

New Streamlined GoPro HERO4 Session

GoPro has been busy innovating. Having earlier introduced the much improved HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver version, they have just launched the Hero4 Session. What has set the action cam enthusiasts abuzz is the new form factor. GoPro apparently has placed more emphasis on the idea that “size matters”. Being lighter and smaller, it is more streamlined. It looks more like a cube than a rectangular box that everyone is familiar with.  It’s the most adventurous update in design, pun intended, we’ve seen from GoPro.

GoPro HERO4 Session

GoPro HERO4 Session

As you can see from the image above it has a smaller and lighter form factor which is most welcome among the community as it is more portable. This design opens up new mount locations previously not possible. There’s less drag or weight when mounting on bikes and helmets. The setback of being diminutive is that controls on the camera are extremely limited.

The feature set is interesting too.  The Hero4 Session shoots video up to 1080p at 60 frames per second (fps). Being 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter GoPro probably didn’t want to push the envelope at this point so it has omitted 4K, or even 2.7K modes that we see on the Silver and Black versions. As for photos, the HERO4 Session shoots in 8MP, or 5MP, with time lapse and burst modes.

Sony Shows Off New Camcorders at CES 2015

The theme for camcorders in 2015 is 4K. And price war for 4K camcorders are intensifying too. Panasonic unveiled new 4K camcorders at the CES. Not to be outdone Sony launched the new FDR-AX33 model. And prices are coming down too. It is a whopping $1000 off the FDR-AX100 launched at last year’s CES. It is smaller and lighter too.

In spite of its diminutive size. the Sony FDR-AX33 has a high-bitrate of 100Mbps used in 4K recording. It also incorporates Sony’s latest Balanced Optical SteadyShot (BOSS) image stabilization system. It is quirky to see the lens bobbing inside the frame to compensate for the shaking but it works. The Sony BOSS system stabilizes the entire lens unit, not just the sensor. Image stabilization. According to Sony this helps in getting a stable image in 4K video recording because of the huge amount of data that’s being processed. Advanced users will like the manual ring and buttons, which mimic pro-level camcorders.Watch how the lens literally “floats” in the body:

At $999 the FDR-AX33 shows that prices for 4K video cameras are beginning to come down. The AX33 is scheduled for February 2015 release. Watch out for our full review.

At the CES Sony also introduced four new Full HD camcorders. The Sony HDR-PJ670 (MSRP: $699) records 1080 at 60p, at 50Mbps in XAVC S. The HDR-PJ670 also uses BOSS stabilization. What it has is a built-in projector, a feature Sony has built into many of its Handycams. The HDR-PJ440 ($399) uses regular Optical SteadyShot. The HDR-CX440 ($299), is similar to the HDR-PJ440 but comes without the built-in projector. The entry level HDR-CX405 ($230) has a 30x optical Zeiss lens, but lacks the multi-camera control and Ustream support.

 

Panasonic Showcases 2015 Camcorders at CES

Top camera brands are showcasing their latest products at the recent CES at Las Vegas. Panasonic was indeed highly prominent in their displays and demos with a wide range of cameras and camcorders to retain their market share. Panasonic introduced 3 new 4K and Full-HD camcorders namely the:

  1. Panasonic HC-W570 (RRP $449)
  2. Panasonic HC-V270 (RRP $299)
  3. Panasonic HC-V160 (RRP $229)

All three models come with a improved 2.2MP back-lit sensor (BSI). The HC-W570 and HC-V270 models have a 28mm wide angle lens while the HC-V160 has a more restricted 32.3mm wide angle lens. The higher range models also have 50x optical zoom lenses, whereas the HC-V160 has a 38x optical zoom lens. Also, the W570 and V270 feature five-axis HYBRID OIS+.

Another innovation is what Panasonic calls it as the Twin Camera. It features a rotatable second camera on the side of the LCD screen. . This camera can shoot different angles capturing two scene simultaneously and layers the images onto one file with a Picture-In-Picture (PIP) effect.

New 4K High-End Camcorders

Panasonic 4K FHD camcorders

For higher end prosumers, Panasonic added the HC-WX970, HC-VX870, and HC-V770. These top models are equipped with 4K Video Recording and 4K Photo model. Featuring a 4-Drive Lens System, the HC-WX970 and HC-VX870 models enable 20x optical zoom in 4K resolution. Movie making can be even more creative with the addition of High Dynamic Range (HDR) Movie capability. We believe this is a first in the world of consumer camcorders.

Likewise the HC-WX970 has a Twin Camera. Price-wise the HC-WX970, HC-VX870, and HC-V770 retails for $999, $899 and $599 respectively.