These zoom cameras are some of the most affordable and user-friendly options for shooting video. Their small sensors allow for big zoom ranges in a small camera, but image quality (especially in low light) isn’t as good as prosumer camcorders and SLRs. They’re useful for school and education projects, and for families, but I prefer to use an iPhone for my own filmmaking.
Mid-range camcorders will have better image quality, and some add features like microphone and headphone sockets.
The Canon HF-R800 is the most affordable camcorder with a microphone socket (if you’re in the US – it’s not sold in Europe).
Panasonic’s HC-WXF991 can shoot 4K and features an accessory shoe, microphone and headphone sockets. It has an eye-level viewfinder and a ‘twin camera’ feature. It doesn’t seem to be available in Europe.
In the UK, the top-end Panasonic consumer camcorder is the HC-VXF990, which has similar features but lacks the twin camera.
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The Canon G40 (HD, not 4K) is virtually the same as the Canon XA20 prosumer camera without the top handle and pro audio controls, for about $600/£500 less.
- Some are small and unobtrusive
- Easier to film with than smartphones or SLRs
- Easy to handhold
- Image stabilisation is usually better than DSLRs
- Image and sound quality won’t be as good as prosumer or pro cameras, especially in low light.
- School students