The best camcorders have never been more affordable, with 4K cameras now available at every price point. More and more people are recognizing that having a device that is devoted and developed for filming movies – and has a large zoom built-in – frequently means that a camcorder is a much better choice when choosing the best camera for video than a multi-purpose camera or smartphone.
However, there are several types of camcorders. You might think of smaller, less expensive all-in-one camcorders for casual and amateur use, but there’s also a booming professional broadcast market, as proven by the recently launched Canon XF605.
There’s a lot to think about when looking for a camcorder, with options ranging from low-cost consumer camcorders to professional camcorders for TV broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking.
We’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the top camcorders on the market right now. From compact, self-contained shooters built for vacations and day-to-day casual shooting to the best and most recent 4K camcorders that generate superior quality footage, there should be something for all users – and all budgets!
Why should you buy a camcorder?
If you’re considering returning to the world of camcorders for the first time after adventures with 8mm and VHS-C tape many years ago, you might be wondering why you need one at all, when you have a perfectly capable camera integrated into a gadget that you always have with you. The main advantage of a camcorder over a camera phone is that it usually comes with a large optical zoom lens built-in, allowing you to get closer to your subjects without sacrificing image quality. This is very handy for capturing sports and animals, and it distinguishes camcorders from the best action cameras.
Camcorders are not, of course, the only option for videographers. The best 4K cameras for filmmaking have the advantage of not only producing a stunning image but also allowing the operator to swap lenses. The best cinema cameras, on the other hand, are built for professionals and come at a premium; content creators working on their own will likely be more interested in the best cameras for vlogging.
Not everyone desires or requires a 4K camcorder. If full HD resolution is all you need, here are some options that will give high-quality video at a low cost.
10 Best Camcorders in 2021
CAMCORDERS ON A BUDGET
1. Canon Vixia HF R80
- Ideal Video camcorders for formal ceremonies, animals in the while, candid family videos and more
- Advanced Zoom takes the camcorder's telephoto power from 32.5mm all the way to 1853mm (35mm equivalent) for amazing flexibility in shooting
- High-resolution HD CMOS Image Sensor features extra sensitivity that delivers beautifully lifelike Full HD video with natural color
- The DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor captures more light, for brighter, virtually noise-free images even in dark scenes
The Canon Vixia HF R80, a palm-sized go-anywhere camera, is all about family fun. It records in 1,080p to a 16GB internal memory that may be expanded with an SD card. It has a powerful 57x digital zoom, DIGIC DV4 image processing, and an Intelligent Image Stabilizer with Zoom Framing assistance. There’s also a good selection of filters, such as several Cinema-Looks and a sophisticated Baby Mode, which allows you to create albums for up to three children, automatically recording video footage to a selected album. It’s cheap to acquire and enjoyable to use.
2. Sony HDR-CX405
- 50Mbps XAVC S1 1920x1080 at 60P, AVCHD and MP4 codecs. 30x Optical / 60x Clear Image Zoom to get closer to the action. 26.8mm wide angle ZEISS Lens
- Automatically creates highlight video in MP4 from multiple clips. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization w/ Active mode. Built-in USB cable for easy file transfer/charge
- Face Detection with voice enhancement and noise reduction. Get creative w/ 7 picture effects for video and still photos.For windows computers, details vary according to OS (Windows7/VISTA/XP)
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make good movies. Sony’s HDR-CX405 costs less than $200 but comes with a slew of clever features to help you create incredibly polished videos. The camcorder records in XAVC S or AVCHD format as well as file-sharing friendly MP4 format, and you may edit in-camera using the onboard Highlight Movie Maker. You may even apply numerous graphic effects without needing to use separate editing software. Handshake is mitigated in certain ways by Optical SteadyShot’s excellent Intelligent Active mode technology. A Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 30x optical zoom lens with an outstanding 26.8mm wide-angle setting is included. The camcorder can even record 5.1 audio. The usability is excellent. We particularly like the tethered USB cable, which makes charging the camcorder and copying footage to a PC a breeze. Given the specifications, you may find it difficult to justify spending more, making this one of the best camcorders for filmmakers on a budget.
CAMCORDERS FOR 4K
For serious filmmaking, 4K video has become the new standard. It doesn’t simply give you a resolution boost; it also gives you some room for cropping and panning later on while you’re editing your films. Here are some excellent 4K camcorders that will allow you to improve the quality without breaking the bank.
3. Sony FDR-AX43
3 used from $720.00
- 4K1 16: 9 video optimized 1/2. 5” Exmor R low-light CMOS Sensor
- Built-in gimbal - Balanced Optical SteadyShot image stabilizer
- 20x optical zoom and Clear Image Zoom of 30x for 4K1 / 40x for HD2
- Fast Intelligent AF tracks focus to captures decisive moments
- 26. 8mm2 wide-angle ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T zoom lens
- Digital Zoom: 250
The FDR-AX43 may be little, but it is not lacking in features. The FDR-AX43 features a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens, a 20x optical zoom, 4K shooting (with super-downsampling for 1080p displays), a low noise Exmor R CMOS sensor, dual-video recording in XAVC S or AVCHD, and easy-to-share MP4. There is also a multichannel 5.1 microphone for people who desire genuine surround sound when playing back their footage into a home theatre or speaker. Expect limits in low light, but if you want an easy-to-use yet powerful 4K shooter, this model is a terrific choice, and that blend of capability, mobility, and pricing is why it gets our top slot.
8 used from $1,444.07
- 1” (1.0-Type) stacked Exmor RS back Illuminated CMOS sensor
- Incredibly fast, Hybrid AF with 273 points and wide coverage
- 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) in addition to full HD. Filter Diameter: 62mm. Minimum Focus Distance- Approx.13/32inch(Wide), Approx.39 3/8inch(Tele), Approx.1cm(Wide), Approx.100cm(Tele). Viewfinder Type-1.0cm(0.39type) OLED/ Color 2,359,296dots equivalent
- Instant HDR workflow with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) encoding
The FDR-AX700 is a superbly specified 4K camcorder with a one-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor that shoots 4K video in both SDR and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR. A 12x zoom, a large 3.5-inch viewfinder, twin SD card slots, and sophisticated phase-detection AF are among the features. The FDR-AX700 records in 4K and HD using XAVC S, providing 100 Mbps for 4K and 50 Mbps for 1080p. It will also film in 1080p at 120 frames per second. The brand’s BIONZ X image processor maintains image sharpness. The FDR-AX700 is one of the greatest camcorders for aspiring videographers and filmmakers. On recordings, a normal SMPTE timecode can be supplied. Super Slow Motion is included in the trick replay.
5. Canon Vixia HF G60
4 used from $1,559.95
- 1.0-Inch 4K UHD CMOS image sensor
- 15x optical 4K UHD zoom lens with 5-axis Optical image stabilization
- Digic DV 6 Image processor
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Turn your VIXIA camcorder into a high-quality webcam using its clean HDMI output
- Max focal length: 382.5
The Vixia HF G60 is the most recent 4K model designed for serious hobbyists and semi-pros. It not only shoots in 4K, but it also includes a large 1in sensor and a nine-blade diaphragm, giving your movie a more dramatic look than smaller models. However, because of its familiar layout, this is a decent step-up model for someone who has previously used more basic camcorders. There’s a 15x zoom lens with five-axis picture stabilization, as well as a 3in flip-out touchscreen and a tiltable eye-level finder. Another convenient feature is the presence of two SD card slots.
6. Canon Vixia HF G50
4 used from $950.00
- 4K UHD 30p Recording
- Genuine Canon 4K-compatible 20x Optical Zoom Lens and Wide 29.3mm Angle of View
- Advanced Full HD
- Intelligent 5-axis Image Stabilization
- Turn your VIXIA camcorder into a high-quality webcam using its clean HDMI output
- Max focal length: 73.4
From the aesthetics and model name, it’s easy to believe this is only a step down from the Canon Vixia HF G50. But, at its core, this less-priced model has a more fundamental distinction. This camcorder has a slightly smaller 1/2.3 inch sensor, making it not only more inexpensive but also a more acceptable model for everyday usage – as it has a greater depth of field, making it easier to focus. Because of the smaller sensor, you get a broader 20x zoom lens. However, there are still plenty of serious features on offer here, such as twin memory card slots, which are popular among video makers.
BEST PROFESSIONAL CAMCORDERS
Most people associate the term “camcorder” with low-cost, all-in-one video cameras, but there is a growing market for professional camcorders that share the same broad design but are intended for professional newsgathering and broadcasting, with underslung grips for low angle run and gun shooting or as shoulder-mounted camcorders fitted to chest harnesses or rigs.
7. Canon XA40
8 used from $1,483.47
- 4K UHD 30p recording
- 20X optical zoom lens
- 3 inch LCD Touchscreen
- Dual SD card slots
- 5 axis image stabilization
Canon’s amazing XA40 is a professional-grade camcorder that not only produces great 4K film but also employs oversampling to ensure that its Full HD footage is unparalleled in clarity. Its palm-sized design makes it easy to pack and transport, while the 20x zoom lens provides plenty of shooting options. It also has optical 5-axis picture stabilization, which makes it easier to produce professional-looking shots while shooting handheld. A camera for every season and occasion.
8. Panasonic HC-X2000
2 used from $2,177.98
- [PRO FEATURES] WiFi live streaming, manual rings, ND filters, built-in LED video light, and 24-bit high resolution linear PCM audio recording, 4: 2: 2 10-bit internal recording, double SD card slots
- [VW-HU1 HANDLE] Includes a detachable handle equipped with a 2-channel XLR Audio Input, audio control, and LED light. Also operates zoom.
- [4K RECORDING] 4K 60p recording in a small and light body with a heat-dispersing design
Panasonic’s HC-X2000 is the greatest run-and-gun camcorder on our list if you want to shoot like a pro. It is intended for event videographers and enthusiasts, as it can record 2160p at 60fps. It isn’t a casual option at 1.5kg, but it is substantially lighter than its predecessor, the HC-X1000 – and if you need to travel light, you can remove the handle with its built-in LED light and mic holder. It boasts a 3.5-inch color touchscreen, two XLR professional microphone inputs, and two SD card slots. It can not only shoot at 3,840×2,160 at 60fps but also at 120fps at 1080p if slo-mo is required. The HC-X2000E features a 1/2.5 MOS sensor with 18.9 megapixels and a Leica Dicomar lens. A 24x optical zoom and 5-axis hybrid optical picture stabilization provide several compositional options. The image quality is outstanding in both HD and 4K resolution. The level of detail is outstanding, and the color rendering is excellent. It’s a fantastic semi-pro shooter, but it’s understandably difficult to use.
9. Sony PXW-Z90V
- Fast Hybrid Auto Focus with advanced features
- Instant HDR workflow w/ HLG
- Super Slow/ S&Q Motion in Full HD XAVC 10-bit 4:2:2
- 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi networking with support for XDCAM Air production system
- Simple Live Solution when combined with MCX500 Live Producer and RM30BP Remote.Filter Diameter:M62 mm
- Max focal length: 32.8
The Sony PXW-Z90V 4K HDR XDCAM camcorder features phase-detection autofocus (AF) and HDR in a small, palm-sized body. The PXW-Z90V camcorder is ideal for corporate events, broadcast news, and television production. It has a stacked 1″ Exmor RS CMOS sensor with UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) quality, a 12x Zeiss optical zoom, an OLED viewfinder, and a 3.5″ touchscreen LCD monitor. It can record 4K in 4:2:0 XAVC Long, HD in 4:2:2 10-bit XAVC Long, and MPEG HD in 4:2:2 MPEG HD (requires optional license key). The S-Log3/S-Gamut3 features provide users with more image control. Built-in 2.4/5 GHz for multiple streams via RTMP/RTMPS protocols and FTP options are also included.
Fast Hybrid AF on the PXW-Z90V employs high-density autofocus point placement and a newly designed AF algorithm to provide exceptionally accurate focusing and tracking—a bonus when shooting UHD 4K, particularly for single operators. In movie recording mode, use the appearance of phase-detection AF frames to check the focus of your subject. The 3.5″ touchscreen of the PXW-Z90V is utilized to easily switch between subjects. AF Drive Speed, Tracking Depth Range, and Subject Switching Sensitivity can all be adjusted to fit a variety of subjects and content styles.
10. Canon XA50 UHD
5 used from $1,914.95
- Optical Sensor Resolution: 13.4
- Max Focal Length: 382.5
- Viewfinder Type: Lcd
- Lens Type: Fixed
The Canon XA50 Professional UHD 4K Camcorder is a small, lightweight camera with UHD 4K capture and a 1″ sensor “With a CMOS sensor, two XLR audio inputs, and one mini-HDMI output, this camera is ideal for documentary or journalism-style productions.
The XA50’s optics include an integrated 15x HD optical zoom, a nine-bladed circular iris, and wide DR gamma support for low-light recording. The camera’s pro-style features include Dual Pixel and Contrast autofocus, fast- and slow-motion recording, full manual control, optical and electronic image stabilization, and a 3 inch LCD screen “Touchscreen LCD, user-assignable buttons, infrared mode, and a high-sensitivity, low-noise DIGIC DV 6 image processor The XA50 also includes display monitoring features like zebra, color bars, and test tone, as well as a built-in neutral density filter mechanism with ND4, ND16, and ND64 options.
The camera records in UHD 4K30 and Full HD 1080p60 and outputs to a mini-HDMI port. The twin SD card slots enable automatic switching between cards as well as simultaneous recording to both. The camera’s mini-HDMI output can deliver up to 1920 x 1080p 10-bit 4:2:2 video at 59.94 frames per second. The XA50 has four channels of LPCM audio with manual/automatic recording levels, two XLR inputs with phantom power, and a 3.5mm stereo mini input. It has a built-in stereo microphone and a headphone jack. The camera’s functionalities can also be operated via the RC-V100 remote control, which is sold separately.