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Compare the 10 Best CamcordersSeptember 2017

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Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every camcorder on the market in the US to determine our top 10 list. In total we compared over 723 camcorders, 24,800 reviews and 5,200 prices. Last updated 19 September 2017.

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$89.95

#1 Transcend DrivePro 100

DrivePro 100
megaobzor.com/ - Recommendedua.gecid.com - Quality Award
A stunningly light weight and spectacularly cheap 1x optical zoom 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution camcorder, with great features and two industry awards
97
Reviews
2 Awards
98
Value for Money
Excellent
85
Features
Fully-Featured
90
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
3MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
72.6g
Jul 2013
Weight
Release Date
eBay $89.95
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$139.95

#2 GoPro HERO Session

HERO Session
mashable.com - Mashable Choice01net.com - 5 StarM3.idg.se - Recommended
The highest scoring camcorder under $500, with very good features and an astonishingly fair price
96
Reviews
3 Awards
98
Value for Money
Excellent
85
Features
Fully-Featured
89
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
8MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
74g
Apr 2016
Weight
Release Date
eBay $139.95
Pictureline $149.99
Target $149.99
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$229.00

#2 Panasonic HC‑V160

HC-V160
The top rated camcorder under $500
97
Value for Money
Excellent
84
Features
Fully-Featured
89
Overall Score
Excellent
38x
1920 X 1080 pixels
2.51MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
181g
Jan 2015
Weight
Release Date
B&H Photo $229.00
Factory Outlet Store $269.95
Overstock $295.49
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33% Off
$198.00
Save $99.34 (33%)

#3 Sony HDR‑CX405

HDR-CX405
An impressive value for money and best selling 30x optical zoom 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution video camera, with great features and excellent user reviews
95
Reviews
923 Reviews
98
Value for Money
Excellent
84
Features
Fully-Featured
88
Overall Score
Excellent
30x
1920 X 1080 pixels
9.2MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
190g
Sep 2015
Weight
Release Date
BrandsMart USA $198.00
Adorama $198.00
B&H Photo $199.00
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$69.99

#4 Polaroid POLC3

POLC3
The highest rated video camera under $100, with great features
95
Reviews
63 Reviews
99
Value for Money
Excellent
85
Features
Fully-Featured
89
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
6MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
113g
Dec 2012
Weight
Release Date
eBay $69.99
Amazon US $75.00
Best Buy $75.99
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$269.00

#5 DJI Osmo+

Osmo+
prohardver.hu - Like itstuff.tv/my/ - Reader's Choice Awardslydogbillede.dk - Best in Test 6 Starljudochbild.se - Best in Test
A low cost and very popular 1x optical zoom 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution video camera, with multiple awards and great features
95
Reviews
12 Awards
97
Value for Money
Excellent
83
Features
Fully-Featured
87
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
3840 X 2160 pixels
12MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
268g
Nov 2016
Weight
Release Date
Gear Best $269.00
Pictureline $299.00
Amazon US $299.00
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47% Off
$99.00
Save $88.99 (47%)

#6 Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam

8MP Trophy Cam
An affordable and classic 1x optical zoom 1280 x 720 pixels resolution video camera, with great features and one of the lightest weights available
93
Reviews
125 Reviews
98
Value for Money
Excellent
82
Features
Fully-Featured
87
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1280 X 720 pixels
8MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
50g
Nov 2012
Weight
Release Date
eBay $99.00
Factory Outlet Store $187.99
Amazon US $190.00
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$160.00

#7 GoPro Hero

Hero
CNET.com.au - Editor's Choicewired.com - FetishTechradar - Best in Classfotovideo.nu - Bronze
A remarkably good value for money and very popular 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution 5MP camcorder, with great features and multiple awards
95
Reviews
4 Awards
98
Value for Money
Excellent
84
Features
Fully-Featured
89
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
5MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
110g
Dec 2012
Weight
Release Date
eBay $160.00
Overstock $170.99
Focus Camera $299.99
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$242.97

#8 Sony HDR‑AS200

HDR-AS200
A bargain price and classic 1x optical zoom 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution camcorder, with great features and one of the lightest weights around
93
Reviews
852 Reviews
96
Value for Money
Excellent
81
Features
Fully-Featured
86
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
8.8MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
68g
Jul 2013
Weight
Release Date
Tech For Less $242.97
Best Buy $299.99
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$54.93

#9 HTC RE

RE
99mac.se - Recommended
A breathtakingly cheap and award winning 1x optical zoom 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution video camera, with very good features and an extremely light 66.5g weight
91
Reviews
1 Award
98
Value for Money
Excellent
81
Features
Fully-Featured
85
Overall Score
Excellent
1x
1920 X 1080 pixels
16MP
Optical Zoom
Max Video Resolution
Total Megapixels
66.5g
Aug 2015
Weight
Release Date
eBay $54.93
Compare
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Camcorder Brands

Find out how camcorder brands compare. The average rating for each brand is based on the rating of all of their camcorders. Click on a link to compare all camcorders made by your favourite brand.

Logo Brand Number of Camcorders Price Range Average Rating
Sony logo Sony Camcorders 49 $39 - $14,475 79%
Panasonic logo Panasonic Camcorders 29 $228 - $10,835 82%
Canon logo Canon Camcorders 20 $200 - $3,026 76%
Other brands Other Camcorder Brands 72 $28 - $7,500

Finding the Right Camcorder for You

Although VHS players are long gone, everybody still wants to preserve their best memories. Pictures are great ways to do that, but for many occasions you really need a video to put yourself in the moment again. Or perhaps you are a film maker looking for a professional camera that is not too bulky? Do you post video diaries on YouTube during your trips? Whatever you like to do, there's a camcorder for that.

Of course, this isn't 1997 anymore, and your choices are not limited to Super 8 and VCR. Before buying a camcorder, you need to look at what kind of video camera and quality do you need, how often you will use it and how you plan to watch the videos.

By knowing your needs and matching them to the options available, you will be able to shoot your family videos, that great football match, the concert ever of your favourite band and your YouTube blog too!

Sony HDR CX900

Key Camcorder Features

Resolution

The image resolution determines the number of pixels the image you shoot contains. In most cases, this is the most important factor to look at when choosing a camcorder. Today, a good camera will have a resolution between 1080p and 4K. These are also known as Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) and Ultra High Definition (3840 x 2160 pixels). Although a 4K camera sounds attractive, it is only worth the higher cost if you have the ability to view the result on a 4K screen. TVs and monitors that work at 4K UHD are becoming more widely available and 4K recording will become more widespread in the future too.

Sensor Size

The larger the resolution on a camera, the larger the sensor needs to be in order to capture the video in good quality. While most cameras with the same output resolution will have a similar sensor size, sometimes there are differences. Some 4K cameras for example use 1” sensors but others used 1/2.3” sensors. While a smaller sensor will work for average recording conditions, a larger sensor will show its worth in low-light scenes as it allows it to capture more light.

Bit Rate

In terms of image quality, the bit rate is usually the third item to look at when comparing two cameras that have the same resolution and sensor size. The bit rate describes the amount of data that is generated by the camera when it records. The more data it produces per second of film, the better the image quality will be. A difference between a 24 MBPS (megabytes per second) camera and a 28 MBPS one will be very subtle, but still noticeable. The bit rate is also important for another reason: file storage. At 25 MBPS it takes about one hour to fill up a 16GB card. Recording at a higher bit rate means your memory card will fill up more quickly. When recording at a higher bit rate it is usually a good idea to invest in a memory card with higher capacity or download the content onto a computer at regular intervals.

Image Stabilisation

Unless you are filming from a tripod or have very steady hands, having a camera with good image stabilisation is essential to prevent your recordings turning blurry, particularly when using zoom. There are two main types: optical and digital image stabilisation. Optical Image Stabilisation is the most effective type to keep your videos sharp. Small gyro-sensors inside the lens shift moveable glass elements to offset the motion of the camcorder. Digital Image Stabilisation uses software to calculate the best way to avoid shaky images. It might mean that only certain pixels of the camcorder’s sensor are used for the final image. Digital stabilisation is not as effective as optical stabilisations and it is worth checking the type used before buying a camcorder that id not specific about the stabilisation type it uses.

Zoom

A good optical zoom can make a big difference when you are recording. If you are shooting sports, wildlife, airplanes, concerts and anything else, which is a considerable distance away, a minimum of 25x optical zoom is recommended. Filming people only a few metres away can be done with 10x or even 5x zoom. Optical zoom is always preferred to digital zoom because it captures the full frame at the highest quality. Digital zoom simply crops and enlarges a portion of the image reducing the resolution of the result.

Aperture

This is especially important if you are going to shoot in low-light environments like concert halls, caves and at night. The aperture of a camera defines how big the opening in the camera lens is which allows light in. The larger the opening, the more light is allowed in and the higher the quality of a low-light image will be. Aperture is measured in f-stops, with a smaller number representing a larger opening. For example, f1.8 is great for low-light settings whereas f5.6 and higher might result in an image that is too dark.

Audio Quality

Good quality audio is essential to capture the atmosphere of a football match or the music of a concert. It is important to check the quality of the built in microphone when buying a camcorder. Most budget options will have a mono microphone, which records only one channel. This can make the audio feel lifeless and flat and a high quality stereo microphone will be a much better option. If you are after the highest sound quality, using an external microphone will give the best results.

Memory

Most cameras will offer a certain amount of internal memory. Some camcorders used to have and internal hard disk drive (HDD) but this is now becoming less common as flash memory has become cheaper and takes up less space. The internal memory can be extended by inserting an SD card. If you use your camera for short scenes or are downloading files to your computer frequently, a relatively small SD card will be sufficient. To shoot hours of video at a time will require a large SD card or even multiple cards that can be exchanged when full.

WiFi

Being able to connect to your camcorder wirelessly opens up a lot of possibilities which you may or may not find useful. WiFi can allow some cameras to connect to a smartphone, which can then be used as a remote control.

Battery Life

If you plan to record for a long time, or be outside and away from a plug, a long battery life is essential. Battery life can vary between camcorders so it is worth checking the manufacturer’s specifications before making your decision. Batteries can be replaced on some camcorder models allowing to extend recording times. You can replace the camcorder battery with a spare one when it runs out and continue recording straight away.

Camcorder Types Explained

After checking the specifications, you probably have an idea of what you need in a camera. This brings us to the next step: finding the type of camera that has all the features you need. Most camcorders fall into one of four categories:

Canon HF R38

Mainstream Camcorders

These are the workhorses of the family. Here you will find the camcorders that pack all the basic features, can record footage at good quality and will serve the regular home user very well. Examples here include the low-ends of the Canon VIXIA, Sony CX and Panasonic V ranges. Despite being relatively simple, most mainstream camcorders will work for sport events, concerts, family videos and much more while having a lower price tag than other options. These are the best choice unless you have more specific requirements.

Sony HXR NX3-VG1

Advanced & Professional Camcorders

At some point the good old family camera may not make the grade, and then comes the time to look for models that pack in some high-end features. You will only be in this situation if you have specific requirements for which the good old mainstream camcorder wasn't made for. This includes very low light capture, 4K capability, image stabilisation, HD audio and other specific features. Each advanced camcorder has a different range of features, but most will give you high end results that can benefit both professional and demanding amateur users.

JVC Full HD pocket camcorder

Pocket Camcorders

These small camcorders allow you to take them with you wherever you go without having to take a bag, and they are usually very affordable too. One of the downsides are a usually a compromise in image quality. While you can still find good options in this range, there are physical limitations to the size of sensor that can be built into a small camera. For the usual blogger who just needs a basic camera with low-end HD options, this will do. If you need more options or features (including handles), look at mainstream camcorders instead.

GoPro Hero 4

Wearable/Action Camcorders

If you are planning to attach your camera to something that will move, shake, turn or swim, you definitely need an action camera. The most popular and recognised camera in this niche is the GoPro series, but there are alternatives from Sony and other brands too. Most action cams are waterproof making them ideal for surfing, swimming, snowboading and diving.

Finding the Right Camcorder for Every Situation

Home Videos

Taking home videos of your children and family can be done in reasonable quality with a less expensive camcorder but you might still prefer Full HD resolution to less detailed alternatives.

Sports

If you like filming sports, particularly ones played in arenas and other settings where lighting may not be ideal, a camcorder with a good low-light performance is crucial. Look for a long zoom lens and optical image stabilsation to make sure you can capture the action without losing focus.

Video Blogging

If you tend to record mostly at home, a pocket camcorder might be all you need. This is an inexpensive way to get started. You could even consider using a good quality webcam. If you plan to film outside you might require more features like a good optical zoom and image stabilisation.

Film & Documentaries

With YouTube, Vimeo and other online streaming services allowing Ultra High Definition Uploads, a 4K camcorder might be worth considering to make sure you achieve the highest possible quality and prepare for the future. For the best results, look for good image stabilisation, a big aperture and a large sensor that can handle low-light shots. A powerful zoom wouldn't go amiss either if the action is happening further out. Alternatively, if you are working on a set where you have the ability to adjust the lighting and prevent unexpected camera movement, a high-end 1080p camera on a stable mount might be adequate.

Camcorder Retailers, Prices and Features

Video Camera Prices

In total we found 183 camcorders ranging from $27 to $14,475. On average, a new camcorder costs $1,272 and 80% of camcorders are priced between $75 and $3,473. The Sony PXW-FS7K is the most expensive camcorder that we found at $14,475, and the Vivitar DVR508 is the cheapest at only $28.

Camcorder Brands - Price Range

Blackmagic Design camcorders range in price from $995 to $3,473, and the highest average camcorder price out of all brands is Blackmagic Design camcorders with an average price of $2,186.

The average price of Sony video cameras is $2,110 which is the second highest average price of all camcorder brands. Sony video cameras range in price from $39 to $14,475.

The third highest average video camera price out of all brands is Panasonic video cameras with an average price of $1,755. Panasonic video cameras range in price from $198 to $10,835.

Camcorder Brands - Average Ratings

We have evaluated 909 expert reviews and 17,074 user reviews for video cameras available online and used this data to evaluate the average rating for each brand of camcorder. The top rated camcorder brand is Benq with an average rating of 95%. The second best brand is GoPro with 89% and the third best brand is Transcend with 89%.

Biggest Video Camera Retailers

The biggest camcorder retailer by number of products currently for sale is Walmart. We found 150 current camcorder offers from Walmart. The second biggest camcorder retailer is Amazon US with 149 offers. That means Walmart is very close in size to Amazon US when it comes to camcorders. eBay is the third biggest retailer with 108 current offers.

When Are Most New Camcorders Released?

The most common period for new camcorders to be released in is between January and February. For the latest video camera features you may be best waiting until January 2018. Alternatively you might be able to buy one of the current camcorders cheaper in January once the latest models have been released. Last year most new camcorders were released in February, with 27 new camcorders released that month. 29 new video cameras were released in September 2015 making it the biggest month that year for new camcorder releases. In January 2014 32 new camcorders were released making it the biggest month that year for new video camera releases.

How Fast Do Video Camera Prices Drop After Release?

On average, in the first 6 months after release, video cameras drop in price by 5%. That means a saving of $58 on a typical $1,272 new camcorder if you wait 6 months before buying.

Optical Zooms

An optical zoom lets you enlarge the subject without having to move closer to it.

Comparing all camcorders, the optical zooms range from 1x to 70x. The optical zooms of the majority of video cameras range from 8.7x to 16x. The PanasonicSDR-S70 has the biggest optical zoom. This camcorder is a 70x optical zoom video camera and currently retails for $249.99. The camcorder with the smallest optical zoom is the PanasonicSDR-S70, which is a 1x optical zoom video camera and is available at $209.95.

An optical zoom lets you zoom without loosing image quality. Digital zooms will simply enlarge the pixels and make the image look blurry.

Max Video Resolutions

Video resolution is the amount of pixels that make up each frame of the recorded video.

1920 x 1080 pixels is the most common max video resolution amongst new camcorders. We found 774 camcorders that are video cameras that have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. We found 774 video cameras that are video cameras that have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) pixels, making this the second most common max video resolution amongst new video cameras.

A higher video resolution means that each frame will be more detailed and sharper, with less blurring or smudging. This leads to a far higher quality video.

Total Megapixels

A megapixel (MP or Mpx) is one million pixels, and is a term used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays. For example, a camera that makes a 2048 1536 pixel image typically uses a few extra rows and columns of sensor elements and is commonly said to have "3.2 megapixels" or "3.4 megapixels", depending on whether the number reported is the "effective" or the "total" pixel count (as opposed to the 2048 1536 = 3,145,728 finished image pixels).

The total megapixels of camcorders range from 0.3MP to 50MP. The total megapixels of the majority of video cameras range from 2.7MP to 5.1MP. The SonyPXW-X160 has the biggest total megapixels. This video camera is a 50MP video camera and can be purchased for $3,789.97. The video camera with the smallest total megapixels is the SonyPXW-X160, which is a 0.48MP video camera and is priced at $239.99.

A larger number of megapixels increases the sharpness of images and video.

Optical Sensor Sizes

Optical sensor size is one of the most important factors affecting the image quality produced by a camcorder. The sensor is what processes the light from the lens and transfers it into a digital image.

Comparing all video cameras, the optical sensor sizes range from 1" to 4/3". The optical sensor sizes of most video cameras range from 0.13" to 0.28". The SonyPXW-FS7K has the largest optical sensor size. This video camera is a 4/3" optical sensor size camcorder and is available at $14,474.99. The camcorder with the smallest optical sensor size is the SonyPXW-FS7K, which is a 1" optical sensor size video camera and is priced at $2,059.00.

A larger optical sensor produces better quality results, because more light can be brought into the lens at once, This leads to larger, more highly-detailed videos and photos.

Weights

This denotes the weight of the camcorder, including battery.

The weights of video cameras range from 50g to 7.4kg. The weights of the majority of camcorders range from 50g to 300g. The SonyBRC-H800 has the heaviest weight. This camcorder is a 4.3kg video camera and currently retails for $7,000.00. The SonyBRC-H800 has the lightest weight. This camcorder is a 50g video camera and is priced at $434.00.

A lighter camcorder is easier to handle when recording and to carry when travelling.

Biggest Camcorder Retailers

We found 150 current offers for camcorders from Walmart making it the biggest video camera retailer. That is very close in size to the second biggest retailer, Amazon US for whom we found 149 current offers for camcorders. The third biggest retailer is eBay with 108 current video camera offers.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Video Cameras?

With the cheapest price on 88 video cameras, eBay is most frequently the cheapest camcorder retailer.

Proportion of Video Cameras for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?

With the cheapest price on 81.5% of its video cameras, eBay is most frequently the cheapest video camera retailer.

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