best Sony camcorder
In the age of smartphones with excellent cameras you might be asking why bother with a camcorder or video camera? Well the answer is quite simple. Camcorders record higher quality videos by using larger and better sensors and lenses. They can record for longer periods of time because they have dedicated SD cards and aren’t restricted by the memory limits of your phone. Unlike DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras, camcorders don’t have to stop recording for the sensors to cool down. They are very ergonomic and much easier to hold for longer periods of time than your phone and other camera types. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the web to find the best deals on the best camcorders for you at three different price points. You can jump straight to each segment:

Best of the Best

Best Value

Best on a Budget

Camcorders also use better compression settings than your phone. They generally have better low light capability and much better zoom/telephoto capability. Some of these camcorders have up to 100 x digital zoom so you can capture subjects that are very very far away. To get that kind of telephoto on mirrorless or DSLR’s you’d need a very expensive and heavy long lens like a 150-600 mm Sigma. In fact, even that lens wouldn’t compete with some of the digital zooms. On the downside at the maximum zoom (digital as opposed to optical) the subject won’t always be super sharp on a camcorder. But, its really neat to be able to see that far away.

Camcorders usually also offer better microphones for stereo and zoom recording. Some DSLRs don’t even offer that. Many DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras require an external microphone and only give a mediocre microphone for syncing the video and externally recorded audio (from an external audio recorder). Camcorders come with very good stereo mic so you can properly capture beautiful family moments. Some camcorders come with zoom microphones to match the zoom/focal length that you are using. You’ll immediately notice the improved video and audio quality. When it comes to these moments its better not to rely on a smart phones camera though smart phones are making huge strides in the video department.

When it comes to focusing these camcorders make the job super easy. You Don’t have to fiddle with manual focus. With DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras as well as your phone focusing can be hard to do. Sometimes the camera loses focus and tries to recapture it. Camcorders have very efficient automatic focusing that can track your subject. You can also just select the point to focus on and since you’re holding the camera properly it won’t move while you do that. Focusing on smart phone can be a challenge.

Another major plus to camcorders is there is no recording time limit. Most mirrorless and DSLR cameras have time limits like 20 minutes after which they need to stop recording so the sensor can cool down. The only limit on your camcorder is based on the size of the SD card you are using.

If you want complete creative control of your videos, Camcorders may not be the best choice. This is mainly because they have fixed lenses. I wouldn’t recommend most camcorders for an aspiring filmmaker. There are exceptions to this. There are scenarios where certain camcorders can be a good B or C camera on a independent film set. The camcorders I’m writing about here are entry level, enthusiast, and prosumer level camcorders. With the exception of the Canon XC 15, which technically is a professional camcorder. An entry level professional camcorder. I say that with hesitation because its still a fixed lens camera. It can work well as a B or C camera on a set where you are already using the Canon Cinema line like the C100 or C300.

So, overall camcorders give you more cinematic footage and better audio than your smart phone.  If you want to be able to take high resolution still photos and shoot high quality video as well you may be better off with a Mirrorless Camera or DSLR Camera.

BEST OF THE BEST



BEST OF THE BEST

Sensor

Lens

Video

Audio

Photo

#1 WINNER

Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

14.2 Megapixel Stacked 1 inch Exmor RS CMOS

Carbon Fiber, 26.4 lbs (12 Kg)

Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 120 fps

Built-in Stereo Microphone

14.2 Megapixel (16:9)

#2 WINNER

Canon XC15 4K UHD Camcorder

13.36 Megapixel 1 inch CMOS

F/2.8-5.6, 10 x Optical Zoom

Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 60 fps

XLR audio input. Built-in Stereo Microphone

13.36 Megapixel

 

#1 WINNER
Sony FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

Sensor: 14.2 Megapixel Stacked 1 inch Exmor RS CMOS

Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar, F/2.8-4.5, 12 x Optical Zoom, 192 x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 120 fps

Audio: Built-in Stereo Microphone

Photo: 14.2 Megapixel (16:9)

Pros: Beautiful 4K video even in low light. Custom picture profiles. A lot of megapixels for a camcorder. Lightweight.

Cons: Pricey. Not a lot of manual controls.

The Sony FDR-AX700 is a powerhouse feature packed camcorder. Its more of an enthusiast level camera and as a result its quite expensive. Its definitely worth the expense if you’re interested in capturing more than just a few videos here and there. It boasts near professional level quality thats normally only found in DSLR’s, Mirrorless, or professional video cameras. The Zeiss lens and 4K capture makes for extremely sharp beautiful video. This camera also features HDR (High Dynamic Range) video capture which grabs more of the details in the shadows and highlights and more dynamic colours. The 12 x optical zoom lets you get up close to your subject from far away. This camera also has incredible auto focus with over 273 focus points.  You can also manually focus. This is my #1 pick mainly because of the 4K HDR capture which is normally only available on professional cameras. If you want to capture more cinematic 4K footage this is the camera for you.


#2 WINNER
Canon XC15 4K UHD Camcorder

Sensor: 13.36 Megapixel 1 inch CMOS

Lens: F/2.8-5.6, 10 x Optical Zoom

Video: Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 60 fps

Audio: XLR audio input. Built-in Stereo Microphone

Photo: 13.36 Megapixel

Pros: Lightweight. XLR Audion Input. Ergonomic. Highlight priority gamma (similar to HDR). Manual controls. C-log.

Cons: Expensive. Controls can be confusing.

The Canon XC 15 is a fantastic camera that’s geared more towards filmmakers. It can be used as a B camera that can closely match the looks of Canon A cameras like the C300 professional video camera. It includes Highlight Priority Gamma which achieves similar results to HDR. It also has C-log so you can capture the most information and properly grade your footage in post production. It takes great 12 megapixel still shots and allows you to use an external audio recorder through an XLR input. The XC15 features Night Scene mode to reduce noise in low light recordings. It takes my #2 Spot simply because its a professional level camcorder and isn’t for everyone. Its also expensive. If you don’t need the Highlight Priority Gamma or XLR input, you’ll be better off with the Canon XC10 which is almost the exact same camera but will save you a few hundred dollars. It makes my Best of the Best because its shoots gorgeous 4K video.

 


BEST VALUE



BEST VALUE

Sensor

Lens

Video

Audio

Photo

#1 WINNER

Sony FDR-AX53/B 4K Camcorder

8.2 Megapixel 1/2.5 inch back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS

 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar, F/2.0-3.8, 20 x Optical Zoom, 250 x Digital Zoom

Up to 4K 25 fps, up to 1080 p 50 fps

Built-in Zoom 5.1 and Stereo Microphone

16.6 Megapixel (interpolated)

#2 WINNER

Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Dual Camera Camcorder

18.9 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch BSI MOS

Leica Dicomar F/1.8-3.6, 20 x Optical Zoom, 60x Digital Zoom

Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 120 fps 1080 p

Built-in Stereo and 5.1 Microphone

25.9 Megapixel (Interpolated)

#2 WINNER

Panasonic HC-VX981K 4K Camcorder

18.9 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch MOS

Leica Dicomar, F/1.8-3.6, 20 x Optical Zoom, 60 x Digital Zoom

Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 60 fps

Built-in Stereo and 5.1 Microphone

25.9 Megapixel (interpolated)

 

#1 WINNER
Sony FDR-AX53/B 4K Camcorder

Sensor: 8.2 Megapixel 1/2.5 inch back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS

Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar, F/2.0-3.8, 20 x Optical Zoom, 250 x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 4K 25 fps, up to 1080 p 50 fps

Audio: Built-in Zoom 5.1 and Stereo Microphone

Photo: 16.6 Megapixel (interpolated)

Pros: Great optical zoom. Excellent stabilization. Very portable. Live streaming.

Cons: Auto focus could be better. Battery doesn’t last that long. Limited manual controls.

The Sony FDR-AX53 takes my #1 Winner for Best Value because it delivers near professional video but at a reasonable price. Its a great value! With live s streaming you can share your video directly to the web while you’re shooting. The 4K videos are very sharp thanks to the Carl Zeiss lens and excellent sensor. The back-illuminated sensor is great for low light videos. It has SteadyShot built in to stabilize your video which is great when you are running and gunning without a tripod or gimbal. I really like that this camera has a 5.1 channel zoom microphone that is linked to your lens focal length. In other words when you zoom in so does the microphone. On the downside, the battery doesn’t last as long as other camcorders and auto focus could be a bit faster. This camera is capable of producing a 4K time-lapse videos from still images as well. What a great buy!


#2 WINNER
Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Dual Camera Camcorder

Sensor: 18.9 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch BSI MOS

Sensor for sub camera: 1/4 inch MOS Sensor, 5.27 Megapixel

Lens: Leica Dicomar F/1.8-3.6, 20 x Optical Zoom, 60x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 120 fps 1080 p

Audio: Built-in Stereo and 5.1 Microphone

Photo: 25.9Megapixel (Interpolated)

Pros: In-Camera editing. 5- axis image stabilization. HDR mode. Manual controls. Picture in picture recording (dual cameras)

Cons: Battery life could be better. Problems with Moire

The Panasonic WXF991K features a dual camera set-up. This can be useful in a number of ways. If you want to capture a different viewpoint of the same scene you are shooting eg. a wide shot and closeup simultaneously. If you are a vlogger who wants to show your face at the same time as shooting a different subject. I’m sure you can think of other great ways of using the dual cameras.  The Leica Dicomar lens and 1/2.3 inch sensor produce a fantastic sharp 4k video capture. It also features other cool cinematic effects like dolly zoom and slow motion. This is a great camera overall. It takes my #2 Winner for Best Value because I’m just not sure you really need the second camera (its a bit gimmicky). Also, the camera has significant problem with moire. The WXF991K has HDR mode and a lot of manual controls. A great buy overall.

#3 WINNER
Panasonic HC-VX981K 4K Camcorder

Sensor: 18.9 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch MOS

Lens: Leica Dicomar, F/1.8-3.6, 20 x Optical Zoom, 60 x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 4K 30 fps, up to 1080 p 60 fps

Audio: Built-in Stereo and 5.1 Microphone

Photo: 25.9 Megapixel (interpolated)

Pros: Feature rich. Can pair with smartphones for picture-in-picture videos. Lightweight.

Cons: Battery life could be improved especially when shooting 4K. Noise while zooming from motor. Not great in low light.

What I really like about this camera is its simplicity. Its easy to get amazingly sharp 4K video from it. It also features an HDR mode which reclaims more highlights and shadows that are normally lost in other camcorders that don’t have HDR. You can create a number of picture-in-picture shots in the video by pairing the camera with smartphones. The 20 x zoom from the Leica Dicomar lens is excellent. It takes my #3 Spot because the noise from the motor can be heard if you are recording audio from the built-in microphone (when zooming). That can be a problem if you haven’t recorded audio from an external recorder simultaneously. Also, when recording 4K footage the battery only lasts for about 45 minutes. Still image quality isn’t the best either. The HC-VX981 doesn’t perform that well in low light situations. So, its not a perfect camcorder. But for the price it does good job overall.

 

BEST ON A BUDGET



BEST ON

A BUDGET

Sensor

Lens

Video

Audio

Photo

#1 WINNER

Canon Vixia HF R800 HD Camcorder

3.28 Megapixel 1/4.85 inch CMOS

F/1.8-4.5, 32 x Optical Zoom, 57 x Advanced Optical, 1140 x Digital Zoom

Up to 1080 p 60 fps

Built-in Stereo Microphone

2.07 Megapixel

#2 WINNER

Panasonic HC-V180K HD Camcorder

18.9 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch BSI MOS

F/1.8-4.2, 50 x Optical Zoom, 90 x Intelligent Zoom, 150 x Digital Zoom

Up to 1080p 60 fps

Built-in Zoom Stereo Microphone

10 Megapixel (interpolated)

 

#1 WINNER
Canon Vixia HF R800 HD Camcorder

Sensor: 3.28 Megapixel 1/4.85 inch CMOS

Lens: F/1.8-4.5, 32 x Optical Zoom, 57 x Advanced Optical, 1140 x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 1080 p 60 fps

Audio: Built-in Stereo Microphone

Photo: 2.07 Megapixel

Pros: Very affordable. Easy to use. Image stabilization. Manual exposure mode.

Cons: No 4K video. Not the best in low light. No Wi-Fi.

If you want a simple low cost camcorder to take better quality video than your smartphone without breaking the bank this is the camcorder for you. Its not able to capture large images but its full HD video quality is very sharp. It can automatically colour correct for you and stabilize the image making it super easy to use. On the downside, it doesn’t record 4K and doesn’t have Wi-Fi. It boasts an impressive 57 x optical zoom which is super useful if you want to shoot subjects that are far away. If you don’t need to record in 4K this could be the camcorder for you. It takes my #1 spot for Best on Budget because its super sharp and very affordable.


#2 WINNER
Panasonic HC-V180K HD Camcorder

Sensor: 2.51 Megapixel 1/5.8″ inch Backside Illuminated MOS

Lens: F/1.8-4.2, 50 x Optical Zoom, 90 x Intelligent Zoom, 150 x Digital Zoom

Video: Up to 1080p 60 fps

Audio: Built-in Zoom Stereo Microphone

Photo: 10 Megapixel (interpolated)

Pros: Zoom microphone. Excellent optical zoom. Great price.

Cons: No 4K video. Touch screen isn’t very responsive.

This is another fantastic camera if you want to save money and don’t need 4K video recording. The optical zoom is phenomenal giving you an up close view of far away subjects. For the price it moderately well in low-light conditions thanks to the BSI sensor. The HC-V180K has good image stabilization. Its easy to use and compact. It takes the #2 spot for Best on a Budget because the touch screen could be more responsive. Also, there have been reports that the footage isn’t as bright and sharp as the similarly priced Canon camcorders.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Camcorders make it super easy to capture amazing video footage. They are ergonomic and easy to use especially when shooting long videos. They offer better compression and higher quality video than a smart phone camera. They also offer amazing zoom capabilities and some of them come with zoom microphones as well.  Compared to DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras they don’t have a video recording time limit. This means they don’t stop recording after a certain amount of time to allow the sensor to cool down. On the downside, they can’t be used with different lenses and aren’t really the best option for still images.

 

Want to know more about Camcorders?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camcorder

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