Considering buying a camcorder? Want to know what the best HD camcorder choice is for you? Here’s our review of the top picks on the market, plus best features and tips to help you decide which to buy.
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Why buy an HD Camcorder?
At the risk of dating myself, whenever I go back and look at old videos from my childhood – everything from my own personal home videos to old sports games filmed on what was, at the time, the peak of modern technology – I’m amazed at how bad the quality is. Even huge sporting events like the 1996 Atlanta Olympics look like they were filmed on a potato.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then and nearly all of us have access to a video camera on our phones- most of them capable of high-quality footage. But sometimes your phone just won’t cut it. Some events are too unique or important and for those, you need high-quality video.
Whether you want to film a wedding, or create amazing travel videos to make your best friends jealous (don’t judge- we’ve all done it) sometimes it’s worth having a dedicated camcorder.
After all, these things are literally designed to give you the best quality video possible. They’re not trying to be a phone, or take notes, or play games- they have one job and they do it well. Admittedly, some are better than others.
We want to help you find the perfect camcorder for your video making requirements. We’ve spent HOURS testing, researching and filming anything and everything in the name of choosing the top camcorders. Only our favourites made the list- there’s no point muddying the waters with second best.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best HD Camcorders, followed by a recap breaking down makes each product on our list stand out.
What Should You Look For in an HD Camcorder?
Before you buy anything, you need to know what traits you’re looking for; what separates the good camcorders from the bad ones. Before we show you our top camcorder picks, we’re going to show you exactly how we evaluated them so you can understand our thought process. This will help you make the best decision in choosing which one is right for you.
Criteria #1: Video Quality – I don’t think I’ll need to explain to you why we only want camcorders with good video quality on this list. Of course, since we’re explicitly limiting ourselves to only HD camcorders, this criterion will be more of a point of entry than anything else. If it doesn’t have the best video quality available, what’s the point? That means that our list will feature only the best HD camcorders out there with at least 1080p video capabilities (some are even better than that!)
Criteria #2: Battery Life – Nobody wants that “battery low” notice in the middle of filming something important. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Whether you’re filming your kid’s first sports game, a college graduation, or a beautiful sunset, it’s likely you’ll run into a situation where you’re filming for a long time. We’re going to make sure you find an HD camcorder with a battery life that can handle that burden.
Criteria #3: Extra Features – The little things make a big difference. It’s hard to list every extra feature that some of our camcorders might boast, but we will definitely give priority to any product that features a little something extra beyond just good video quality and/or a strong battery. We want your camcorder to make the entire video recording process easier, so we’ll look for all of the best features that go above and beyond. We want our products to go the extra mile and be easy for complete beginners to use. Although we love apps which help you edit your videos, we also love the easy option, so if there’s a feature which helps, we’ve included it.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to encourage you to spend a ton of money for no reason. And for us, price doesn’t always mean ‘cheapest’, but best value for money. It might be worth spending a little bit extra to get more reliability, or increased battery life or better quality. We want to make sure you make the best decision for YOU when it comes to all travel photography equipment.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best HD Camcorders
To create our list of the top HD camcorders, we measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best HD camcorders” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised for a wide range of people, not just us. We also made an effort to include products from various price points and with different features so that everyone can find the camcorder that’s perfect for them.
So, without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best HD camcorders. (I feel like that should get a drum roll. Feel free to tap your desk…)
#1: Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera (Best Value – All-Purpose)
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Canon brand, and it should come as no surprise that the camera mega-company managed to be at the top of our list with their Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera. Our number one HD camcorder is one of the most popular products out there, and we are by no stretch of the imagination busting the lid on a big secret by making it our first pick.
To start things off, this camera boasts an HD CMOS image sensor that not only delivers a beautiful HD image but even does so regardless of the lighting situation. Day or night, the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera will give you the amazing HD video you asked for. And with the top-of-the-line image quality, you also get SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer which will make sure that you don’t have a shaky video, so your projects will look as professional as ever with our Canon HD camcorder.
Next, you have an incredible 57x optical zoom that will let you record your videos from all the way nosebleed section with this high-powered video camera. That’s all before mentioning the sleek 3-inch LCD touchscreen that managed to stay visible in super-bright areas. No more squinting and cupping your hands around the screen. Thanks to the folks at Canon, you can film comfortably no matter what the weather is like.
And to cap everything off, our first-choice HD camcorder has a fantastic feature that lets you connect it to your computer with an HDMI cable and use it as a webcam. You’ll be the only one at the Zoom meeting without a blurry or choppy picture. Finally, you can even lock certain files to make sure nothing happens to your most precious videos.
As we mentioned earlier, the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera is just about the most popular HD camcorder out there right now, and that’s just as much because of its incredible price as it is because of the amazing features it offers. Besides being featured on multiple lists of the best video cameras, this Canon product has been reviewed almost 2,000 times on Amazon, and the customers praised it for its solid battery life as well as its amazing zoom. Customers also loved the image stabilization.
The fact that this video camera is so cheap makes it just about the best value out there. So no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll need to start your search at the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera.
#2: Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder (Best Overall HD Camcorder)
If our favorite product didn’t line up with your tastes, there are still plenty of other incredible HD video cameras out there. If you’re looking for something a little more professional, then the industrial-grade Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder is an amazing choice for you. I’ll give you a fair warning right off the bat and let you know that this Sony product is very expensive, so be ready to shell out a little if this is the camera you’re looking at. Of course, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. There’s plenty to pay for with the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder, and here are some reasons our second-ranked Sony product might convince you to pass on the Canon Vixia that earned our number one spot.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Auto-Focus
If you’re recording anything that’s fast and unpredictable – maybe a sports game, or even just your cat or dog – then it pays to buy a camera that can give you a helping hand on staying focused. It’s hard to follow a moving target, and that’s why the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder gives you its amazing auto-focus feature that’s guaranteed to keep up with even the fastest targets out there.
This is thanks to its BIONZ X image processing engine and advanced new movie AF algorithm, so you can be sure you have the best of modern technology helping you out. Get Hollywood-grade sports footage of the local high school football game with the BIONZ X image processing engine and advanced new movie AF algorithm. The FDR-AX700 can hold focus on even the fastest moving targets, so you don’t need to worry about losing track of the star of the soccer team blazing down the field. With the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder, you’ll never miss a second of the action.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Dual Media Slot
If you needed any more evidence that this Sony HD camcorder is for really budding professionals, look no further than its incredible dual media SD card slot. This camera lets you plug in two SD cards at once, but this isn’t just a matter of convenience and not needing to store your extra card in a drawer somewhere. If your first memory card runs out of space, the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder will automatically switch right to the next one without stopping your recording. This is the absolute best camera for anyone who knows they’re really going to put the hours in and rack up gigabyte upon gigabyte of footage.
In addition to the auto-focuser and the extra memory card slot, the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder boasts a lot of the same amazing specs as our Canon product. It has an amazing Exmor RS CMOR sensor that gives you the best image quality imaginable and automatically lowers the exposure in darker rooms so you don’t have an awkward clash between the lighting and the audio.
This Sony camera also comes with a 3.5-inch LCD touch screen that will let you quickly control all of the important settings. The only real drawback of this camera is that its zoom only goes up to 12x optical zoom and 24x clear image zoom. And of course, there’s the expensive price. If either of those traits bother you, you’re much better off going with the previous Canon Vixia.
But if you don’t need insane zoom and you want to pay the big bucks to get a professional-grade video camera, then the Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder is calling your name. As a nice bonus, it’s one of the smallest cameras at this price point, so you won’t need to worry about bringing a dolly along with you.
#3: Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder (Best Zoom)
If even the 57x zoom of our number one HD camcorder didn’t do it for you, then you’ll need to check out the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder. Maybe you’re going to be recording a sports game or concert, or maybe you just want the best zoom possible. Whatever the reason is, if you want the best zoom out there, then you’re not going to want to pass up on the insane 50x optical zoom and 90x intelligent zoom of the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder.
You’ll be able to record anything and everything without getting up from your seat, so no more running around the scene for you if you have this Panasonic video camera. Plus, a two-channel zoom microphone automatically adjusts the recording to match the zoom, so you don’t need to worry about videos you’ve recorded from far away sounding awkward or unclear.
And on top of the unreal zoom, this HD camcorder offers a wide-angle 28-millimeter lens that’s great for capturing large groups in small spaces. You’re also getting a whole slew of effects and filters to put your own creative flair on your videos. Experiment with everything from the silent movie effect to the time-lapse effect to make your masterpiece.
Customers have praised this camera for having an amazing battery life, so you don’t need to worry about your camera dying on you in the middle of a recording. Plus, this camera provides you with 5-axis optical image stabilization, so no more shakes in your videos. And to cap things off, the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder comes in at a reasonable price that’s comparable to that of our Canon product. Record across multiple football fields with the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder.
#4: Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder (Best Low Cost)
Sometimes you just need something cheap. Even our more affordable video cameras aren’t exactly products you can buy with your pocket change, and we want to make sure that even those on a tight budget can still get the amazing HD camcorder they deserve.
This incredibly affordable camera offers you HD 1080P 24MP video quality, and it comes with a top-of-the-line microphone to provide the best audio quality possible, which makes the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder perfect for recording concerts or lectures. And just to add to the value, the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder comes with an extra battery, so as long as both are charged, you’ll be able to be out and about and recording all day long.
This YeeHao camera also comes with a remote that lets you control everything from up to 10 meters away, so you can sit back and relax and do everything from the comfort of your couch. You can even scout out the scene while your camera stays put and does the important work.
Finally, as you might have guessed from the name of this product, the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder can connect to any wifi connection to make sharing, uploading, streaming, and editing your videos easier than ever before. No more fiddling around with a bunch of wires with this camera. You’ll be able to upload all of your videos straight from the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder to your YouTube channel. And of course, it’s just about the cheapest camera out there. Stay within your budget while your YouTube career takes off with the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder.
Verdict: Your Best HD Camcorders
We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the camcorder that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our HD camcorders and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera.
With 57x optical zoom, a bright LCD touchscreen that stays visible in the sun, solid battery life, and webcam capabilities, this Canon camera has just about every feature you could possibly want. And of course, it manages to keep everything nice and affordable, showing that sometimes good things do come cheap. It’s a pretty good sign when there’s such wide consensus on what the best camera is, and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. This camera is the best value on the market, and the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder was an easy choice for our number one pick.
If you need the best zoom, pick the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder.
I don’t think I can properly express how much zoom 90x digital zoom really is. If you buy the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder, you’ll be filming everything from your couch. And of course, the audio automatically syncs up with the zoom, so all of your videos will still be perfectly mixed, and you’ll seem more professional than ever. If you want a courtside recording while standing all the way at the back of the bleachers, then the Panasonic HC-V180K Camcorder is the only camcorder for you.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder.
Don’t worry, you’re not just spending less money and walking away with a crummy camera when you buy the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder. This camera still gives you the amazing HD video quality you asked for, and it also has a high-quality microphone that will make your video blogs crisper and clear than ever. Couple that with the amazing wifi capability that lets you upload all of your videos without any extra wires, and this Yeehao HD camcorder doesn’t even have to be a budget purchase. Regardless of price, the Yeehao WiFi 1080p HD Camcorder might just be the best option for any YouTuber, musician, or concert videographer.
That wraps up our list, and we’re just about ready to send you on your way. If you aren’t interested in any of the highlighted products above, you might want to pay the big bucks and go for the industrial-grade Sony FDRAX700/B FDR-AX700 4K HDR Camcorder. Its dual media slots will let you film hours and hours and hours of video.
All of our video cameras have one or two features that really set them apart from the group, so remember to think about which trait is more important to you before you start splitting hairs. This way, you’ll be able to quickly skip any product that doesn’t have the characteristic you really need.
That’s all for now. We hope our list has helped, and we look forward to seeing your next big cinematic masterpiece.