Digital technology has revolutionized the way we record video. Besides the fact that your camera and smartphone can now probably shoot in hi-def, even a budget camcorder can capture some very slick video and will offer a whole host of features to help turn you into the Spielberg of your neighbourhood.
To find the best one for you, you will need to look at the reviews and see what others have said. Since there literally thousands to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. So what’s the best video camera for the money? Here are a few to to get you started.
Best Video Camera to Buy
It’s a field largely dominated by Sony and Canon. Probably the most popular video camera on the market right now is the Sony HDR-CX260V. It’s a pretty basic model that does everything you’d expect and does it well.
This highly compact unit can shoot in 1080p full HD, and comes with Sony’s SteadyShot, reducing shake on your handheld images. It’s got a backlit Exmor CMOS sensor which adapts to variable light conditions and comes with a wide-angle lens.
Built in storage is 16mb, about enough for 5 hours of high-quality video and a suite of software for managing video from your PC. It’s not a professional quality camera by any means, but at under $300 it’s perfect for capturing those precious memories.
Best Prosumer Camcorder for the Money
Looking to go a bit more upmarket? The Canon XA10 is a beast of a machine, ready to produce professional-quality video at around the $1500 mark. That’s a lot of money, but you get a lot for it including an 8-blade iris that can really create that professional look to your video.
The 10x lens with manual focus allows you enormous say in how each shot is set up, with some excellent onboard autofocus software to help you out in trickier moments.
This is really deep into the prosumer market, and is a great entry-level camera for people who want to make films rather than videos, including business that might want to shoot some promotional footage.
Best Video Camera for the Money
Canon also have a camera aimed at the more modest amateur user, the Canon VIXIA HF M500. A smaller-sized camera, it has it’s bigger brother’s 10X HD video lens and a pro CMOS sensor to help you shoot.
There’s also a lot of flexibility in terms of focus and light adjustment, although one neat feature is the inclusion of 38 built-in macros to give you instant setup for variable conditions.
It’s perfect for the home user who wants to take sophisticated video but doesn’t have time to spend years studying the configuration options. This camera slightly outperforms its Sony rival in most areas but one: at $549 it’s a slightly greater pressure on your pocket.
Is budget your number one concern? If so, you could do a lot worse than the Panasonic V100K, available for around $150. Although cheap, there are some great features on this camera including a reliable anti-shake control and 42x zoom. One feature that really stands out is the ability to shoot in iFrame mode, making it much easier to cut clips together into a single movie Battery life is probably the main sacrificed, with 150 minutes on each charge making it slightly more likely to run out of juice at crucial moments than its more expensive rivals, but at this price you can’t complain.