What people loved most about the smartphone explosion was that they had their own little camcorder on them at all times. Like never before, we could record hilarious happenings with our buddies, sudden, unexpected wonders of the world, and even publicly shame people not adhering to the rules of society (although this has had varying levels of success). While our smartphone cameras are useful, they’re still not entirely as good as the real thing, and anyone serious about home video or something even more ambitious needs the best camcorder to achieve their DIY production dreams.
While at first you may feel a little too much like your dad when he whipped out the camera on Christmas Day, you’ll soon revel in the wonders of crystal clear images, fantastic features, and a level of control you just can’t achieve with even the best smartphone around. They’re perfect for streaming games, for content creators, and those who love to record everything and anything, regardless of how embarrassing it might be for their friends and family.
If you’re a budding creator, there’s only so far you can go with your smartphone camera, and with a camcorder, you can take that next step towards greatness. Hey, even Kubrick needed to start somewhere, so let’s get rolling.
The Best Camcorder
With a massive 57x advanced zoom just one of the excellent features you’ll find here, the Canon VIXIA HF R800 is our number one selection for the best camcorder around. It’s an excellent entry-level option for beginners but those with more filmmaking experience will also find a lot to love.
This includes the optical image stabilization and the DIGIC DV 4 image processor, which captures footage in crisp, clear 1920 x 1080. The LCD touchpad makes it easy to operate and navigate through menus and settings, while the lightweight body makes it super portable and comfortable if you’re filming all day.
57x advanced zoom
Optical image stabilization
Full HD CMOS sensor
DIGIC DV 4 image processor
MP4 1080/60p recording
Touch panel LCD
- Weight8.5 ounces
High capacity battery
Slow and fast motion recording
Compatible with Canon Connect Station
Minor image issues under bad lighting
The Panasonic HC-V770K Full HD Camcorder will blow away all your expectations of what should be possible with a mid-budget camcorder. It boasts a clear HDR movie feature to make it ideal for weddings and similar crowded events.
The zoom is good, but where this camcorder really earns its praise is the stabilization and the quality, with no noticeable differences with the closer you get under the 20x optical zoom function. There are also multiple features to explore on the camera, and it provides excellent results in low-light environments.
20x optical zoom
Wireless twin camera
HDR movie feature
- Weight12.5 ounces
Select video effects
Automatic tilting fix
Good low-light recording capabilities
Auto-focus face detect can confuse with others in the crowd
The Panasonic HC-V180K Full HD Camcorder boasts dual zooming features for long shots that draw the scene towards you to find the perfect shot and clear footage as far as 200 feet away. It has a focal length of 2.06 to 103mm, and the wide-angle lens measures at an impressive 28mm.
For long days shooting, the battery life is fantastic and something people rarely consider when shopping for camcorders considering they’re so used to the excellent battery life of their smartphone. As for operation, it is easy to use, with a responsive 2.7” touchscreen, while the creative control functions open new possibilities to your filmmaking.
50x and 90x optical zoom
Sharp 1080p recording
Responsive 2.7” touchscreen
Creative control functions
- Weight7.5 ounces
Easy to use
5-axis image stabilizer
No microphone jack
If you’re looking for a camcorder that delivers spectacular value that seems almost too good to be true, pinch yourself and check out the Sony HDR-CX405 Full HD Camcorder Bundle. With a 60x clear image zoom and 30x optical zoom, you can capture superb images worthy of the big screen, while the SteadyShot image stabilizer ensures high quality shots for fantastic results.
It comes with everything you need to get started, including a battery charger, camera bag, rechargeable LED light, lens cleaner, and mini tripod, among an array of other tools to help you get started. As for the software, it comes with face detection technology, noise reduction, and voice enhancement features, and it also allows you to transfer footage and images easily via USB.
60x clear image zoom
30x optical zoom
SteadyShot image stabilization
Noise reduction and voice enhancement
- Weight3.85 pounds
Includes everything you need to get started
Easy file transfer via USB
Multiple picture and video effects
Not ideal for more demanding professional applications
For the cheapest standalone camcorder on our list, the Hausbell Camcorder is still a useful piece of tech that’s ideal for casual filming environments, but may not be suitable for occasions that demand greater sound quality.
Other than this, though, you’ll still get a solidly performing product considering the price, and if you’re looking to wade into a filmmaking hobby rather than take an immediate plunge, this could be the best place to start. It has full HD video and infrared night vision, while the mid-video pause function keeps footage together in one place.
1080p resolution video
Infrared night vision
- Weight1.45 pounds
Screen rotates 270 degrees for self-filmed videos
Simple to use for beginners
LCD touch screen
Poor sound quality
The Sony HDR-CX440 Full HD Camcorder Bundle is another collection of accessories perfect for getting started on your quest to become the next big director if not in Hollywood, then at least in your neighborhood.
Included is an HDMI cable, mini tripod, lens cleaning kit, and an 32GB microSD card so you can film your family devouring their dinner and then asking you to stop straight away. The camcorder also provides excellent low-light sensitivity and a 2.7” video and photo screen for easy viewing as you film or take a picture.
Includes camera accessories
Excellent low-light sensitivity
2.7” video and photo screen
Clear image zoom
- Weight2.8 pounds
Optical SteadyShot stabilization
Easy to use
Great value for beginners
No external microphone port
The Veho Mini Handsfree Action Cam is a tiny, easy to use, easy to set up camcorder for professional situations, but don’t expect to pull off too many award-winning shots with it. The design means it’s not totally ideal for filmmaking and instead would serve you better if you’re working as a security guard or something similar to that.
Still, there’s a lot to enjoy about it, with a 5MP camera filming 1920 x 1080 at 30fps, and you can get 4 hours of recording from a single charge, but this will vary depending on usage. There are universal mounting options to attach it to your jacket or collar, while the 170 degree wide-angle lens captures a vast expanse of the surrounding area.
5MP HD video
170 degree wide-angle lens
4 hours recording on single charge
Universal mounting options
- Weight8 ounces
Universal file system
Easy to use and configure
1.5” color LCD screen
Better suited for outdoor use compared to indoors
For some of the most impressive and high-quality footage you can find, the Kicteck 4K Video Camera is a highly affordable and satisfying piece of equipment to transform your filming adventures into something more than a mere hobby.
The 3” touch screen is intuitive and responsive, while the WiFi transmission gives you a camcorder that stands boldly in the 21st century. It comes with a 16x digital zoom, which isn’t as good as other options, but with the 4K filming, this is a fair tradeoff.
3” touch screen
16x digital zoom
Night vision capability
- Weight2.25 pounds
Ideal for home videos and casual events
Design is a little too bulky despite lightweight design
Complete with 1080p video and an external microphone, the Linnse Digital Camcorder provides high quality performance and at a low, low cost. It comes with a remote control for hands-free filming, while the WiFi transmission ensures easy footage transfer.
The 16x digital zoom is suitable for less intense demands, while infrared night vision gives you the opportunity to experiment with different light environments. You can pause during filming, and you can also take pictures for a useful, multifunctional product.
Full HD 1080p with microphone
16x digital zoom
Infrared night vision
- Weight1.35 pounds
Versatile application options
Pause function during videos
Accepts up to 64GB SD card
Battery life is not as impressive as other options
Saving our premium choice for last, the Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder is the best camcorder for those looking for something with a little more than your standard entry-level budget camera. This comes with 4K resolution in stunning, dynamic HD, and a large CMOS sensor to enhance image quality in low light.
The hybrid auto focus is also speedy so you never miss out on those shots that seem to fall into your lap, while the large Xtra Fine LCD screen is the biggest we’ve selected for clear visibility when filming. There are also one touch features, making it easy to use.
4K resolution with full HD
Large 1” illuminated CMOS Sensor
Hybrid Auto Focus
Relay and simultaneous recording modes
3.5” Xtra Fine LCD screen
- Weight2.06 pounds
Perfect for professionals and experts
Built-in one-touch features
Zoom is sometimes a little shaky with moving targets
Camcoder Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of The Best Camcorders
As with every selection we make, we thought about what we consider being the most important factors in determining a high-quality product so we can be confident we’re not suggesting anything you’ll end up hating and throwing away, at least we hope not, anyway.
Price - You may expect camcorders to cost a lot, but you’ll be surprised, and there are many great quality options affordable for beginners hoping to dip their toes in and explore. We looked for a wide range of prices to appeal to both beginners, inbetweeners, and experienced pros.
Brand - Most of us know the best brands and with these brands we expect the highest quality. However, we wanted to showcase some lesser-known brands that still provide decent to fantastic products all at a cost that won’t set you back too much.
Reviews - Reviews are useful for giving us the lowdown on the good and the bad about these camcorders. They tell us everything the product description won’t which helps us make a more informed decision.
Features To Look For In Camcorders
Before making your final decision about which of these marvelous camcorders is the right one for you, check out these key essential features crucial for finding the perfect camcorder to suit your needs and provide you with the results you expect.
Technical Specifications - Zoom levels, build in or attachable microphones, low-light capability, infrared filming, WiFi transmission, and more are all features to look for in the camcorder’s technical specifications. The more plentiful, the more expensive it might be, but it may also be more worth the money you spend, offering greater creative freedom.
Resolution - There are cameras with standard or high definition, but considering we’re in 2019, HD is what you need. This will be 1920 x 1080 or 4K, anything less means your footage will suffer.
Storage - Built in storage is useful but not always possible. Camcorders will use SD card storage options and most will accept a range of 32GB to 128GB. Higher resolution demands more storage space, so consider the length of your videos.
Extras - For convenience, look for a video camera that comes in a bundle with everything you need to get started such as tripods, SD cards, microphones, and a carry case. This will save you the money buying accessories later on.
Q: How much do HD camcorders cost?
A: The HD camcorder comes in a range of prices from the affordable for all to the affordable only to those who have been saving up ready to make a big purchase, and with the accessibility of top-quality technology, it’s easy to get a camcorder that costs less than $100 and still get great results from it.
However, while the HD aspect might be fine, you may miss out on great features you’ll only find with more expensive models. This can include everything from built-in microphones, voice enhancements, and noise reduction, so if you want the highest quality footage possible, you can expect to pay more.
If you’re looking for a casual home video camera or one to use for games streaming on Twitch or YouTube, the more expensive options aren’t always necessary, and you can easily find a suitable option on the lower end of the cost scale.
High definition video is the present and future of image recording, though, so if you want your videos to hold up over the years, it’s best to invest in one now instead of trying to save yourself money on something that doesn’t provide the HD features you need.
Q: What camcorder should I buy for filmmaking?
A: We’re not here to tell you which camera we think you should buy for filmmaking, as we understand everybody has different needs, different budgets, different levels of experience, and different ambitions.
If you’re looking for throw together a quick short film on your own or with a few buddies, top-of-the-range camcorders aren’t essential, whereas if you’re looking to make it big in Tinseltown or just make a name for yourself with the next independent classic, it might be worth the investment to go all out on the most expensive model available.
Simply put, we don’t want to put you out-of-pocket by suggesting the priciest, most advanced camera available, so consider your budget, your situation, and the likelihood you will get to use it as you intend, because it’s fine planning and storyboarding an epic battle in your street between the neighborhood kids, but let’s face it, how probable is it the parents (or the council) will let you do it?
All we can say is that as long as you use it properly, you can make the most of any camcorder for filmmaking, so trust in yourself because you might just create something magical.