Compact camcorders

by Tom Barrance | Updated March 2022

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These cameras are some of the most user-friendly options for shooting video. Most of them have big zoom ranges and good image stabilisation, though image quality (especially in low light) won’t be as good as DSLRs/mirrorless cameras or prosumer camcorders.

Avoid sub-$100 (£100) cheap camcorders with unfamiliar names. They have very small sensors, no image stabilisation, and crude digital-only zooms. If that’s all you can afford, you’ll get better quality with a used or refurbished Canon or Panasonic.

Under $200/£150

Small camcorders like the Panasonic V180 are easier to film with than iPads or still cameras. They’re good for schools and families. They have reasonable built-in microphones.

Buy Adorama | | Amazon UK

Under $300/£250

Mid-range camcorders have better image quality, and some have features like microphone and headphone sockets.

The Canon HF-R800 is the most affordable camcorder with a microphone socket (if you’re in the US – there’s no PAL version). They’re now discontinued, but you can pick them up used or refurbished.

Find used HF-R800 on eBay

Consumer camcorder pros

  • Easier to film with than smartphones or DSLR/mirrorless
  • Some are small and unobtrusive
  • Easy to handhold
  • Image stabilisation is usually better than DSLRs

Consumer camcorder cons

  • Image quality won’t be as good as DSLR/mirrorless cameras, especially in low light

Good for

  • Families
  • School students