Lately, I’ve been very intrigued by multi-media. Typically, I take photos on my phone directly for Instagram, and then post. But due to the increased downtime that the pandemic has afforded us, I want to make sure I’m not spending eternity on social media.
Therefore, I have actually opened the camera app on my phone (crazy, I know), and only put photos on Instagram once the day is over. And not only photos, but I’ve also been taking a lot more video of friends, locations, landscapes, and funny memories.
If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s how much I love quality time and want to preserve happy memories. I think video is a great way to do that, and to up my video quality, I want to record on an actual camcorder. However, being new to the game, I am realizing that buying a camcorder can be quite complicated. Not only are there many brands, but there are different sizes and functions as well. You can spend as little as $150, or upwards of $2K.
So naturally, as a journalist, I’ve been reading up on everything you need to know before purchasing a camcorder. I now know the functions needed, sizes, resolution, and brands. And, if you are interested in capturing all your memories through video, allow the below information to guide you in the right decision.
What types of camcorders exist?
Great first question. Deciding on the type of camcorder you want to buy will help guide your decision.
For better quality, you might want to consider a full-sized model. For a more portable option, get an action camera, which is about half the size of a regular pocket camcorder. Both models are lightweight and fit easily into your hands, but still have at least a 10x optical lens with ultra high definition, 3D features, GPS for geotagging, and built-in projectors.
Traditionally, camcorders could only be played back on a TV. But now, with technology and more digital models, you can edit and embellish videos with music using a computer, and play it on your laptop, DVD or Blu-ray player. Or, you can email the recordings or upload video clips to YouTube. Some software even lets you combine video with graphics, text, and digital stills. Most full-sized camcorders also have an HDMI output to easily connect to an HDTV.
If you’re looking for more of a compact option, consider an action cam, like a GoPro. They are lightweight, easy to hold, and easily packable. Also, if you are super athletic, they are great for biking, snowboarding, and surfing, as they give you the ease of going hands-free.
What features should I look out for?
Depending on what you will be primarily using the camcorder for, you can opt for any of the below features:
- Flip-out LCD viewer: This feature essentially allows you a wider ratio to shoot and edit in. Most full-size cams come with this, and some action cams do, as well.
- Image stabilizer: When you zoom fully in, the video might be a bit shaky, so most cameras now have an image stabilizer to compensate.
- Autofocus and full-auto switch: Full-auto switch is the point-and-shoot option, which allows you to adjust the color balance, shutter speed, focus, and aperture. Whereas autofocus adjusts for maximum sharpness.
- Zoom: Like old cameras, you press one way to zoom in, and the other to widen the view.
- 3D Capability: Some camcorders can capture 3D photos, video, or both.
- Built-in projectors: Some versions have a tiny projector embedded on the back of the flip-out LCD.
- Viewfinder: Some high priced models have an electronic viewfinder that lets you shoot without needing to use the display. This conserves battery life.
- Wi-Fi: Wirelessly transfer photos and videos to your computer.
- 4K resolution: Yes, four times the resolution of a full HD camcorder (1920 x 1080 pixels).
What other things should I look for?
Now that you know all the features that are possible, here are a couple more shopping tips.
- Make sure the camcorder fits your hand comfortably. There is nothing worse than purchasing a high-priced item and not having it fit your hand. Make sure you can easily remove the battery, zoom without issues, and change recording features.
- Make sure the LCD display is big enough for you. Most are 3 inches.
- If audio quality is important to you, test the built-in microphone in store to see that it is free from noise or hiss.
Awesome, what camcorders do you suggest?
If we have peaked your interest in camcorders, please find the three that we have our eye on below.
Canon VIXIA R800 Full HD Camcorder
This compact full HD camcorder is lightweight and has a face-detection feature that picks the perfect setting for the user. In addition, it has a 3-inch touchscreen LCD display and can shoot in 1080p HD videos. It has Wi-Fi options, and works with a smartphone app. The only con we found is the 1.5 hour battery life.
Sony HDR CX675 32GB Camcorder
The Sony HDRC 675 is known as the best HD camcorder from Sony. This is a great starting camera for people who want to make movies.
Sony HDR CX405 HD Camcorder
The HDRCX 405 from Sony is the lowest priced entry HD camcorder from Sony. Con: There is no wireless connectivity.
Which camera option is attracting your eye the most? What type of videos are you most excited to shoot with your new camcorder? Whatever you choose, we know the content will be dope. Good luck!
And for those we need a digital detox, here’s some analog gifts to consider for yourself or that special person in your life.
Photos via Canon, B&H