Updated February 2019
These cameras are some of the most user-friendly options for shooting video. Most of them have big zoom ranges and good image stabilisation, though image quality (especially in low light) won’t be as good as DSLRs/mirrorless cameras or prosumer camcorders. Avoid sub-$100 (£100) cheap camcorders with unfamiliar names. If that’s all you can afford, you’ll get better quality with a used or refurbished Canon or Panasonic.
Mid-range camcorders have better image quality, and some have features like microphone and headphone sockets.
These cameras have tilting eye-level electronic viewfinders, manual focusing rings, and microphone and headphone sockets.
The Canon HF G21 (US) / HF G26 (Europe) is a compact, well-specified consumer camcorder. It can only shoot HD, not 4K. It’s basically a cut-down version of the XA11 prosumer camera (which has a top handle and pro audio controls) for about $400 less.
Sony’s AX53 can shoot 4K UltraHD at 24/30 fps (24/25 in Europe). It has a true wide angle zoom (26.8-536mm equivalent) and very good image stabilisation. It can also do 4X slow motion in Full HD.
Panasonic’s top consumer camcorder, the WXF-1K, has a wide 25-600mm equivalent zoom lens. The European version is the VXF1.
Consumer camcorder pros
- Easier to film with than smartphones or DSLR/mirrorless
- Some are small and unobtrusive
- Easy to handhold
- Image stabilisation is usually better than DSLRs
Consumer camcorder cons
- Image quality won’t be as good as DSLR/mirrorless cameras, especially in low light
- School students