Even though smartphones have made video capture exceedingly easy, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. Whether you are an amateur film-making enthusiast or independent studio, a high quality HD camcorder can offer much more versatility and better video output than smartphones.
There are many things to look for in an HD camcorder. First and foremost is resolution. For true HD quality, 1080p is required and some very high-end models even go up to 4K resolution. Video and image quality are also very important, especially with regards to focal length, zoom settings, the cripness of the contrast, and how vibrant the colors are. The design of the camcorder is essential. This includes how comfortable it is to hold, how large its LCD screen is, and how much storage it can hold. Other built-in advanced features and support functionality will also be important.
Here are the top 10 best HD camcorders at a variety of price ranges, from budget, midrange, high-end and professional quality.
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10. Canon VIXIA HF G30
The Canon VIXIA HF G30 has a great design and performance to price ratio for a high-end model. Its HD video lens has a 20x optical zoom, and its eight blade circular aperture gives great image quality and precise control. It can record up to 1080/60p video in MP4 format, as well as options for both slow and fast motion recording. Along with the video recording capability, it has a 2.91 megapixel HD CMOS image sensor for high quality images. For sharing, it comes equipped with built-in wi-fi technology, so you can wirelessly share images/videos to your PC.
9. Samsung F90
If you’re looking for a budget camcorder, the Samsung F90 will work just fine. Although it only records up to 720p resolution video at 30 frames per second, it is a fraction of the price of most other camcorders. It comes stocked with a 52x optical zoom, and can take 5MP still images. With its holding strap, it is comfortable to use, and it is also very lightweight at under half a pound. Sharing video is easy too. With its one-touch sharing button, you can connect to your computer’s USB port, and upload your videos to YouTube. For extra versatility, you can add your own custom background music to your video footage.
8. Sony HDR-PJ790V
Using its patented Exmor CMOS sensor, Sony’s HDR-PJ790V is a great choice for high resolution recordings. It can capture 1080p full HD videos at either 24/60 fps. For storage, it has 96 GB of embedded flash memory, which is equivalent to 37 hours and 50 minutes of recording. Another cool feature it has is its 35lm built-in projector. It can project up to 100″ videos, which is perfect for presentations, weddings, or just entertaining guests. It has a 3 inch LCD screen with touch capabilities.
7. Sony HDRPJ275/B
The HDRPJ275/B by Sony is a solid pickup if you’re seeking something closer to a midrange option. It can record 1920×1080 full HD resolution at 60 frames per second with its 9.2 megapixel Exmor CMOS Sensor. It has a 27x optical zoom capable lens plus 54x clear image digital zoom. Using the HDMI input, you can even project video up to 100″ with its built-in 13lm projector. It has wireless controls with its built-in NFC/Wi-fi for data transfer and backup.
6. Panasonic HC-W850K
This midrange model by Panasonic delivers premium picture quality at a fair price. It has a patented 4-drive lens system that allows it achieve great quality in a more compact size. Using its Crystal Engine Pro+, it processes images about 1.5 times faster than conventional speeds. It has up to 50x intelligent digital zoom and an optical 20x zoom on its lens. Its most unique feature though, is its twin camera ability. It has a movie in movie effect that lets you capture video with its sub camera.
5. Sony FDR-AX100/B
The FDR-AX100/B is a high-end camcorder by Sony that delivers video capture, even up to 4K resolution. It can max out at 4K/30p, which exceeds HD resolution by a considerable margin. Its Exmor R CMOS sensor has a direct pixel read out and back-illuminated technology. This gives you much less noise in the picture quality, even in dimly lit environments. Using its BIONZ X processor, it can even record high speed at up to 120 fps. If you’re looking for 4K quality recording at a much cheaper price tag, then take a look at this camcorder.
4. Canon VIXIA HF R500
If you’re interested in another budget camcorder, but still want 1080p video capabilities, then the VIXIA HF R500 is a solid choice. With its 3.28 megapixel 1080p CMOS sensor and DIGIC DV 4 image processor, it can capture precise, high-quality footage. It has a 57x advanced zoom ability and optical image stabilizer for long range capture. Its LCD capacitive touch panel is 3 inches in size, and delivers controls in an intuitive package.
3. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 KBODY
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 is a high-end camcorder that is capable of capturing cinematic 4K shots. Its biggest feature is unlimited 4K video recording at both Cinema 4K, and QFHD 4K at 24 fps and 30 fps respectively. Its shutter can capture blazing fast action with clarity, and its magnesium alloy body is tough enough to handle rugged field action. It also has splash and dust protection on every component. For more flexible composition, there are 49 focus points instead of the usual 23. This is a great camcorder for capturing outdoor action.
2. Panasonic 4K HC-X1000E
The Panasonic 4K HC-X1000E is another professional level model that is capable of recording up to 4K/UHD resolutions. It is touted as the world’s first camcorder that can recording 4K 60p/50p onto an SD card. Its LEICA Dicomar Lens have 20x optical zoom, triple manual ring settings and an ND filter. Its viewfinder is tiltable and comes with an eyecup to block out light. It supports dual SD card slots, and has an illuminating LED ring for working in low-light situations. For audio, it has microphone jacks for external input.
1. Sony FDRAX1
The FDRAX1 by Sony is a professional level model that offers very high-level quality. It can record up to 4K resolution at 60 fps using its real-time image processor. It uses a XAVC-S video codec that allows for extended 4K and HD recordings. The Sony G-Lens has a smooth 20x optical zoom and has an excellent range. For improved audio, it comes with a built-in mic with 2 additional XLR jacks for external inputs. You can even mix audio from both the internal and external connected mics. If you’re looking for a major step-up towards the 4K future, then this will be an excellent pickup.