The best 10 camcorders in comparison

Camcorders (1 - 5)
Sony FDR-AX40Sony HDR-PJ810Sony FDR-AX33Sony HDR-PJ540Sony HDR-PJ650VSony HDR-PJ340Sony FDR-AX100Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30VSony Handycam HDR-PJ430VSony FX6
Image
Sony FDR-AX40
Sony HDR-PJ810
Sony FDR-AX33
Sony HDR-PJ540
Sony HDR-PJ650V
Sony HDR-PJ340
Sony FDR-AX100
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS30V
Sony Handycam HDR-PJ430V
Sony FX6
Best price
Best price
Design
Dust- and water-resistanceThe device is dustproof and water-resistant. Water-resistant devices can resist the penetration of water, such as powerful water jets, but not being submerged into water.
Dust- and water-resistanceThe device is dustproof and water-resistant. Water-resistant devices can resist the penetration of water, such as powerful water jets, but not being submerged into water.
Prime lensA prime lens has a fixed focal length. In general, these are sharper, with a wider aperture.
Prime lensA prime lens has a fixed focal length. In general, these are sharper, with a wider aperture.
Screen sizeThe bigger the screen size is, the better the user experience.
Screen sizeThe bigger the screen size is, the better the user experience.3"
3"
3"
3"
3"
2.7"
3.5"
N.A.3"
3.5"
Touch screenYou can operate the device easily, by pressing the screen with your fingers.
Touch screenYou can operate the device easily, by pressing the screen with your fingers.
Weather-sealed (splashproof)The device is protected with extra seals to prevent failures caused by dust, raindrops, and water splashes.
Weather-sealed (splashproof)The device is protected with extra seals to prevent failures caused by dust, raindrops, and water splashes.
Total score for "Design"
Total score for "Design"
Videography
24p cinema mode24p is a video format (24 frames per second) traditionally used in cinema. Nowadays, it is used to create film-like motion characteristics.
24p cinema mode24p is a video format (24 frames per second) traditionally used in cinema. Nowadays, it is used to create film-like motion characteristics.
AVCHD format supportedAVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) is a file-based format for the digital recording and playback of high-definition video. It's a standard popular among professional cameras and camcorders.
AVCHD format supportedAVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) is a file-based format for the digital recording and playback of high-definition video. It's a standard popular among professional cameras and camcorders.
Continuous autofocus for moviesWhen recording movies they stay focussed and sharp.
Continuous autofocus for moviesWhen recording movies they stay focussed and sharp.
Slow-motion video recordingSlow-motion is an artistic video effect that makes time seem to go slower. It is achieved by recording a video at a higher frame-rate than the standard playback rate of 24fps or 30fps. Depending on camera capabilities, frame rates for slow-motion videos vary between 60fps and 960fps.
Slow-motion video recordingSlow-motion is an artistic video effect that makes time seem to go slower. It is achieved by recording a video at a higher frame-rate than the standard playback rate of 24fps or 30fps. Depending on camera capabilities, frame rates for slow-motion videos vary between 60fps and 960fps.
Video recording (main camera)The maximum resolution available for videos shot with the main camera. Although it may be possible to choose among other frame rates, those recordings usually have lower resolutions.
Video recording (main camera)The maximum resolution available for videos shot with the main camera. Although it may be possible to choose among other frame rates, those recordings usually have lower resolutions.2160 x 25fps
1080 x 60fps
2160 x 30fps
1080 x 60fps
1080 x 60fps
1080 x 60fps
2160 x 30fps
1080 x 60fps
1080 x 60fps
2160 x 60fps
Total score for "Videography"
Total score for "Videography"
Optics
CMOS sensorCMOS image sensors are slowly replacing CCD sensors, due to reduced power consumption and better image quality. They can be very compact and cost relatively little to produce.
CMOS sensorCMOS image sensors are slowly replacing CCD sensors, due to reduced power consumption and better image quality. They can be very compact and cost relatively little to produce.
Manual ISOThis allows you to manually set the ISO level.
Manual ISOThis allows you to manually set the ISO level.
Manual white balanceWith manual white balance you can choose the most accurate setting and avoid the green, blue or red hue which can occur in auto mode. You can also change the setting for artistic effect.
Manual white balanceWith manual white balance you can choose the most accurate setting and avoid the green, blue or red hue which can occur in auto mode. You can also change the setting for artistic effect.
Megapixels (main camera)The number of megapixels determines the resolution of the images captured with the main camera. A higher megapixel count means that the camera is capable of capturing more details. However, the megapixel count is not the only important element determining the quality of an image.
Megapixels (main camera)The number of megapixels determines the resolution of the images captured with the main camera. A higher megapixel count means that the camera is capable of capturing more details. However, the megapixel count is not the only important element determining the quality of an image.8.29MP
24.5MP
20.6MP
9.2MP
20.4MP
9.2MP
20MP
N.A.20.4MP
10.2MP
Built-in optical image stabilizationOptical image stabilization uses gyroscopic sensors to detect the vibrations of the camera. The lens adjusts the optical path accordingly, ensuring that any type of motion blur is corrected before the sensor captures the image.
Built-in optical image stabilizationOptical image stabilization uses gyroscopic sensors to detect the vibrations of the camera. The lens adjusts the optical path accordingly, ensuring that any type of motion blur is corrected before the sensor captures the image.
Total score for "Optics"
Total score for "Optics"
Audio
3.5mm audio jackWith a standard mini jack socket, you can use the device with most headphones.
3.5mm audio jackWith a standard mini jack socket, you can use the device with most headphones.
Number of microphonesMore microphones result in better sound quality and enable the device to filter out background noise.
Number of microphonesMore microphones result in better sound quality and enable the device to filter out background noise.N.A.2
1
2
N.A.2
N.A.1
N.A.1
Microphone inputA microphone port allows connecting external high-end or specialized microphones.
Microphone inputA microphone port allows connecting external high-end or specialized microphones.
Zoom microphoneZoom microphones record high-quality audio and enable you to record sound from a distance. They can be useful for recording meetings, lectures, and presentations.
Zoom microphoneZoom microphones record high-quality audio and enable you to record sound from a distance. They can be useful for recording meetings, lectures, and presentations.
Stereo microphoneA stereo microphone allows to record audio files or movies in stereo without an external microphone.
Stereo microphoneA stereo microphone allows to record audio files or movies in stereo without an external microphone.
Total score for "Audio"
Total score for "Audio"
Battery
Battery level indicatorAn indicator shows you when the device has low battery.
Battery level indicatorAn indicator shows you when the device has low battery.
Battery powerBattery power, or battery capacity, represents the amount of electrical energy that a battery can store. More battery power can be an indication of longer battery life.
Battery powerBattery power, or battery capacity, represents the amount of electrical energy that a battery can store. More battery power can be an indication of longer battery life.1500mAh
1030mAh
1960mAh
1030mAh
980mAh
N.A.1960mAh
N.A.1030mAh
N.A.
External memory slotThe device has a standard memory slot (such as an SD or micro SD card slot) that enables you to extend the built-in internal storage with affordable memory modules, or easily retrieve data, such as photographs, from the memory card.
External memory slotThe device has a standard memory slot (such as an SD or micro SD card slot) that enables you to extend the built-in internal storage with affordable memory modules, or easily retrieve data, such as photographs, from the memory card.
Rechargeable batteryThe battery can be recharged and used over again.
Rechargeable batteryThe battery can be recharged and used over again.
Removable batteryThe battery is removable and can be replaced by the user if broken.
Removable batteryThe battery is removable and can be replaced by the user if broken.
Total score for "Battery"
Total score for "Battery"
Features
Compatible with AndroidIt is compatible with a range of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Compatible with AndroidIt is compatible with a range of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets.
GPSGPS enables global positioning, useful in map, geo-tagging or navigation apps.
GPSGPS enables global positioning, useful in map, geo-tagging or navigation apps.
HDMI outputDevices with a HDMI or mini HDMI port can transfer high definition video and audio to a display.
HDMI outputDevices with a HDMI or mini HDMI port can transfer high definition video and audio to a display.
Remote controlA remote control allows you to control the device remotely. The remote control can be included or optional.
Remote controlA remote control allows you to control the device remotely. The remote control can be included or optional.
Wi-Fi connectivityThe device can connect to Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi connectivityThe device can connect to Wi-Fi.
Total score for "Features"
Total score for "Features"

How to choose the best camcorder

Recording videos is now easier than ever before. Every smartphone has a camera capable of shooting video at 1080p or even more. You might ask yourself if it's even worth buying a standalone camcorder. The resolution is not the only specification that matters. Camcorders typically have larger sensors and lenses, capable of delivering optical zoom. A dedicated video camera enables you to have more control over the quality of the recording, even in low light conditions. And, if you enjoy recording your sports adventures, you'll need a waterproof action camera. To help you find the best camcorder, we compiled a list with the most important specs and features.

Design and build

Since a camcorder would always be in the list of items to take on vacation, a compact and lightweight device ideal for traveling. However, you would not want to sacrifice usability and quality. Smaller chassis are not able to house all components of professional video cameras. Adding an optical zooming capability, for example, would prove to be an impossible challenge since optical zoom relies on multiple sizable lenses that act as a sort of mini telescope. The same goes for Wi-Fi capability, which requires a WLAN module, a flash, which needs a lightbulb and other components, and pretty much any feature.

You should also take into consideration the fact that compact camcorders have smaller battery packs, which translates into shorter battery life. Therefore, a smaller sized camcorder has fewer features and less impressive specifications than larger sized alternatives.

That said, finding the right balance between size and specs depends on your preferences. We recommend that you compile a list of all the features and specs you would want to have, and look for a lightweight, compact camcorder that meets your criteria. You can use the filters on our category page to find the right camcorder for your needs.

Most camcorders are made of plastic or aluminum alloys. Plastic, mostly in the form of polycarbonates, is used in most portable devices these days because it is considerably cheaper to produce compared to other materials and still provides satisfactory heat and shock resistance. It's also very flexible, which might be an advantage when you pack your camcorder tightly in your suitcase or backpack. However, flexible housing is not generally recommended since internal connections may be severed.

Aluminum alloys are often used for the chassis, as they are much more durable than polycarbonates. Mixed with other materials, they can gain flexibility, but most aluminum alloys are generally less flexible than polycarbonates.

Image sensor

Since the image sensor is the most important part of a camcorder, it's crucial to be acquainted with its key specifications of the sensor. Here's what you should take into account:

Sensor size

A larger sensor can use more light information in the production of the images, thereby dramatically increasing image quality. A larger sensor also improves the focusing of the camcorder, especially when isolating a particular subject in the scene.

Megapixels

Megapixels represent the number of pixels in the sensor, with one megapixel being equal to one million pixels. A pixel is like a digital tile of color. An image is composed of thousands or millions of different colored tiles. Therefore, the more megapixels a camcorder has, the higher the video quality will be. To find out more about megapixels and why they matter for image and video quality, you can consult our glossary.

Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)

Compared to the more traditional CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) sensor, CMOS sensors are much more energy efficient. A CMOS sensor has a data throughput speed that's multiple times higher than that of a CCD since it has many more channels in data readouts, usually 3 to 8 times more. The high data throughput speed allows for a higher frame rate in burst mode. CMOS sensors are also superior when it comes to performance in low light conditions, and have multiple other advantages about which you can read more here.

Back-illuminated sensor (BSI)

BSI sensors use the same parts as front-illuminated sensors, but the components are arranged in such a way that the wires are behind the photocathode layer. This way, the amount of light captured is increased because the wirings are not blocking it anymore. For more insights into backside illumination, you can read our description of the term.

Optics

The optical lens is the part of the camcorder that helps the sensor create the image by redirecting the light that comes through the assembly, correcting optical aberrations in the process. It is also responsible for focusing tasks and controlling the amount of light that comes through the camcorder assembly - in other words, the exposure. The lense of the camcorder can be built-in or interchangeable in the case of system cameras. A camcorder with interchangeable lenses allows you to choose among various lens types.

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)

Optical image stabilization works by continuously adjusting the inner lenses in real-time to compensate for the camcorder's movement or vibrations. The detection of the movement is made possible by gyro sensors.

Optical Zoom

The lenses are adjusted to zoom in on the subject. This method does not sacrifice the image resolution as it doesn't digitally zoom in by merely enlarging the image, as it is often the case for smartphones. The higher the optical zoom rating, the closer you can zoom in on the subject.

Viewfinder

Some camcorders have a viewfinder in addition to the live view on the LCD. A viewfinder is particularly beneficial when capturing while zooming in. The viewfinder is placed on eye-level and allows you to place the camera against your body, therefore providing a much more stable platform compared to the situation when you hold it far from your eyes and look at the screen on the back.

There are two types of viewfinders: electronic (EVF) and optical (OVF). An Electronic viewfinder is basically a small LCD display. The advantage of an EVF over an OVF is that you can see exactly how the final image or video is going to look. Opting for an optical viewfinder, on the other hand, provides you with better clarity and dynamic range, and also eliminates the delay found in some EVF systems.

Video Capturing Capabilities

Video recording quality

Two things matter when determining the video recording quality: the maximum video resolution and maximum frames per second (fps). Higher video resolution translates into sharp and smooth video recordings. The bitrate is also valuable when estimating the quality of the video recording. The higher the bitrate, measured in Mbps, the higher the quality will be.

Autofocus tracking

A camcorder with autofocus tracking analyzes the image that the sensor captures and keeps track of the object in focus, even when it's moving. Some camcorders can also focus on multiple objects at the same time. You can read more about continuous autofocus tracking here.

Focus Motor

For video cameras with interchangeable lenses, the camera body may have a built-in focus motor. This way, no matter what type of lens you use, your camera will be able to keep objects in focus without problems. However, some lenses come with their own focus motor, so you don't necessarily need a camera body with a built-in focus motor. If such a focusing mechanism is missing from both the lens and the camera body, you'll have to focus manually. Nowadays, all professional lenses have built-in focus motors.

Connectivity

Most camcorders have USB ports to connect with other devices. Firewire is also often used on professional audio and video equipment. In addition to wired connections, a camcorder may also have Near Field Communication (NFC) for short-range communication, as well as Wi-Fi for long-range wireless communication with other devices.

By Xhander Franco
This page is currently only available in English.