The 5 Best Camcorders
To some, camcorders may seem like a dying breed. The latest smartphones and digital cameras have proven to be very capable of recording high quality video, arguably to the point where they've eclipsed the need to own a separate video recording device.
However, camcorders are far from obsolete — they still provide one of the best dedicated ways to record video and have a long list of advantages that put them above the competition. Wise Bread is here to help you find the best camcorder for your needs with our top five list.
What Is a Camcorder?
A camcorder is a self-contained, consumer-oriented, portable electronic device with the primary purpose of capturing and recording video. The name "camcorder" comes from the device's dual purpose as both a video camera and a video tape recorder, although most modern camcorders now record videos digitally onto SD cards and internal hard drives instead of onto the previously popular videocassette format.
Top 5 Camcorders
If you're interested in a camcorder that's fully stocked with all the bells and whistles you can ask for, then look no further than to the Sony HDR-PJ790V, which is a Consumer Reports recommended choice.
Its most exclusive feature is its built-in projector, which can project videos up to 100 feet, along with the added ability to connect other media devices and project their videos as well. The HDR-PJ790V packs a powerful 24 MP Exmor R CMOS sensor that produces crisp, detailed videos and even stills. Other notable hardware features on the HDR-PJ790V include an impressively high quality stereo on-board microphone, an electronic viewfinder, a vivid 3-inch touchscreen display, and a whopping 96 GB of internal flash memory, which can hold up to 38 hours of HD video.
Its only downsides are its short battery life, which clocks in at just under two hours, and its very expensive asking price. But if you're serious about video quality and features, then the Sony HDR-PJ790V definitely does not disappoint.
The Canon Vixia HF G20 is a Consumer Search and Consumer Reports top recommended pick that manages to fit a slew of professional-grade features into a very portable consumer-based package; it'll satisfy everyone from a family documentarian to a low-budget filmmaker.
To start off, the HF G20 packs a CMOS Pro image sensor and a solid image stabilizer along with a touchscreen LCD display and a full suite of manual video controls. The HF G20 is also one of the only consumer camcorders that comes with an electronic viewfinder and that can shoot at a true 24p frame rate that will give your videos an impressive cinematic quality. While its battery life isn't as superb as the rest of its features, its built-in 32 GB flash memory will allow you to record up to 3 hours of HD video and is even capable of recording more thanks to its two additional memory card slots.
Its high price tag may scare off some, but if you can afford it, the Canon Vixia HF G20 will provide you with an extremely portable video recording powerhouse.
Another Consumer Reports top pick, the Panasonic HC-V520 is a budget-friendly camcorder that doesn't sacrifice quality for a lower price — the HC-V520 is still a very feature-packed camera.
It comes with a fixed 28mm wide angle lens with an incredibly long 50x optical zoom as well as a built-in Wi-Fi and NFC chip that allows you to share videos and photos straight from your camera. The HC-V520's BSI MOS sensor guarantees superb video quality, and its built-in 5-Axis O.I.S.+ image stabilization system ensures smooth, blurry-free videos. It can also convert your 2D images into 3D simply by connecting the camcorder to a 3D-compatible television.
As is the case with most camcorders, its short battery life is a bit of a letdown, and it also lacks an electronic viewfinder, meaning you'll have to rely on the touchscreen LCD to shoot your video. But overall, the Panasonic HC-V520 is an impressive, value-filled camcorder that gives higher-end options a run for their money.
If portability is a major priority for you, then the Consumer Reports recommended Samsung HMX-W300 pocket camcorder will be your most ideal option. Despite its smaller form factor, the HMX-W300 is still a workhorse of a camcorder.
Its 5MP BSI CMOS sensor will allow you to capture high quality HD videos from virtually anywhere you want, thanks to its waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof composition. The HMX-W300 also comes with a great image stabilizer, which is a rare yet indispensable feature in pocket camcorders.
It isn't all perfect, however, as the audio quality isn't as great as its video quality; and its LCD screen, while nice and bright, is still quite tiny. But if those little things don't bother you, then the Samsung HMX-W300 will be your best traveling companion for documenting all of your life's adventures.
For the action and sports video enthusiasts out there, the GoPro HERO3 White Edition camera, which is another Consumer Reports top pick, was made just for you.
Like the Samsung HMX-W300, the HERO3 is a powerful HD camcorder that's packed within a tiny, yet almost indestructible casing that's also impressively waterproof. It can capture high quality video in a variety of different frame rates for ideal slow motion videos and for increased detail in action shots. It can record more than two hours of HD video depending on your frame rate settings, and it has a wonderfully long battery life to support it. The HERO3 is also has built-in Wi-Fi, which allows you to control the camera remotely with a companion GoPro app on a phone or tablet.
While there is a slight learning curve to using this device, and the audio quality and image stabilizer are a bit subpar compared to the rest of the camera, the GoPro HERO3 White Edition still presents an incredible value as well as an invaluable resource for capturing gorgeous action shots that other cameras can't match.
And those are our recommendations for the best camcorders. As always, be sure to check out the Wise Bread Shopping Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!