Consumer camcorders

Updated February 2019

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. 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.

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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 – it’s not sold in Europe).
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Under $500/£400

The Panasonic V770 has a microphone and headphone socket, an accessory shoe, and 120fps slow motion.

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Under $1000/£900

These cameras have tilting eye-level electronic viewfinders, manual focusing rings, and microphone and headphone sockets.

Canon CF G21 camcorder

The Canon HF G21 (US) / HF G26 (Europe) is a compact, well-specified consumer camcorder. It can only shoot HD, not 4K. It’s basically a cut-down version of the XA11 prosumer camera (which has a top handle and pro audio controls) for about $400 less.

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Sony AX53 camcorder

Sony’s AX53 can shoot 4K UltraHD at 24/30 fps (24/25 in Europe). It has a true wide angle zoom (26.8-536mm equivalent) and very good image stabilisation. It can also do 4X slow motion in Full HD.

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Panasonic’s top consumer camcorder, the WXF-1K, has a wide 25-600mm equivalent zoom lens. The European version is the VXF1.

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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

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