Consumer camcorders

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.

Under $250/£200

Small camcorders like the Panasonic V180 are easier to film with than iPads or still cameras. They’re good for schools and families. They have reasonable built-in microphones.

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Under $300/£250

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).

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Under $600/£400

The Panasonic V770 has a microphone and headphone socket, an accessory shoe, and 120fps slow motion.

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Under $1000/£900

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.

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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.

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Camcorder pros

  • Some are small and unobtrusive
  • Easier to film with than smartphones or SLRs
  • Easy to handhold
  • Image stabilisation is usually better than DSLRs

Camcorder cons

  • Image and sound quality won’t be as good as prosumer or pro cameras, especially in low light.

Good for

  • Families
  • School students