Even though most digital cameras and smartphones these days can capture high-quality video, they simply can't match the zoom functionality and ergonomics that camcorders deliver. Here are the best on the market for all skill levels and budgets.
The Panasonic HC-VX1 4K is another high-end camcorder that's capable of capturing 4K video, as well as large 26 MP still images. It has a large sensor and a Leica lens with an f/1.8 aperture and 24-magnification optical zoom.
The HC-VX1 4K has a dedicated HDR movie mode, optical image stabilization, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The latter allows the user to connect the camcorder to their smartphone and use it as a secondary camera for picture-in-picture footage. You can even edit your footage directly from the camera. If you don't need 4K footage, consider getting the less expensive Full HD model instead.
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Best Budget Buy
The Canon VIXIA HF R800 is an attractively priced camcorder that can capture 1080p video at a robust 60fps. It has a 3.28 MP 1/4.85-inch CMOS sensor with optical image stabilization sitting behind a lens with 32-magnification optical zoom.
The VIXIA HF R800 can capture both slow and fast motion footage. Other notable features of the camcorder include a rechargeable battery, an SD card slot, and a 3-inch touchscreen display. This camcorder comes in white or black.
One thing to note is that Canon has released this camcorder's successor, the VIXIA HF R82. However, the only difference between the two is the newer model has 32GB of internal storage and a Wi-Fi remote control. We don't think these minor features are worth splurging for, so the HF R800 is our pick between the two.
The Sony FDR-AX700 is the most capable entry in this list. Its large 1-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor allows it to capture stunning 4K video even in low-light conditions or with super slow motion. It takes 14.2MP still images with incredible quality, too.
The camcorder is equipped with a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens with optical image stabilization and 12-magnification optical zoom. The rest of the camcorder's highlights include a 3.5-inch touch screen, hot-swappable SD cards (so you never run out of memory while recording), a high contrast electronic viewfinder, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and a rechargeable battery.
The Everio by JVC is a waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and freezeproof camcorder whose back-illuminated 2.5 MP 1/5.8-inch CMOS sensor allows it to capture 1080p video at up to 24 Mbps. It features optical image stabilization, 4 GB of internal memory with an SD card slot for memory expansion, and a built-in battery that can last up to five hours on a single charge.
This outdoorsy camera's 40-magnification optical zoom is impressive and easy to use one-handed. Additionally, the GZ-R440DUS sports a frameless 3-inch touchscreen, and if orange isn't your thing, it also comes in black.
The Sony HDRCX405 is a great value and a good camcorder pick for those on a budget. It has a 1/5.8-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor that captures 1080p video at 60 fps. Its 30-magnification advanced zoom is perfect for recording your son or daughter's play or sports tournament.
The camera's optical image stabilization keeps footage steady, and its intelligent active mode helps prevent blurry videos. The camera is also capable of capturing 9.2MP stills. Although other cameras provide you with better video quality, the price for the HDRCX405 is hard to beat.
The Panasonic HC-V180K is a budget-friendly camcorder that's easy to operate and comfortable to hold. Its 1/5.8-inch BSI MOS sensor with optical image stabilization can capture 1080p video at 60 fps, as well as snap 10MP still images with up to 50-magnification optical zoom. It has a 2.7-inch LCD display, an SD card slot, and a rechargeable battery.
Don't let its hefty price deter you; the Sony Handycam FDR-AX53 is one of the best consumer camcorders available. It can capture 4K video via a 1/2.5-inch CMOS sensor with a Zeiss lens and optical image stabilization. It also boasts a 20-magnification optical zoom, a user-replaceable battery, and 5.1 surround sound recording capability. The rest of the camera's features include a 3-inch touch screen, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and intelligent autofocus. On top of all this, the FDR-AX53 also packs an electronic viewfinder.