The 9 Best Camcorders
9. Seree HDV-301
- basic night-vision support
- long-lasting battery life
- low frame rate makes choppy videos
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
8. Sony HDRCX405
- noise reduction microphone
- face detection feature
- wide-angle lens
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
7. Panasonic HC-V380K
- includes hdmi cable
- very small for easy portability
- difficult playback controls
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
6. Canon Vixia HF R72
- powerful digic dv4 processor
- automatic noise reduction
- mp4 and avhcd format support
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
5. Sony FDRAX33
- hd touchscreen viewfinder
- automatic wireless backups
- high quality image stabilization
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
4. Canon VIXIA HF R700
- impressive 57x optical zoom
- intuitive 3-inch lcd panel
- large expandable memory capacity
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
3. Panasonic HC-V770
- full hd slow-motion recording
- wind shield for clear outdoor audio
- automatic blur supression
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
2. Canon Vixia HF G40
- hd cmos pro image sensor
- advanced oled viewing screen
- dual sd cards for dual recording
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
1. Sony FDRAX53/B
- automatic wind noise removal
- beautiful still image capability
- syncs with ios and android devices
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
From VHS Tapes To Memory Cards
To understand how camcorders work on the inside, we need to go back about 150 years to the work of an English photographer named Eadweard Muybridge. Born in 1830, started working as a still photographer in 1861. In 1867, he became internationally famous for his shots of Yosemite Valley and a decade later developed a keen interest in animal locomotion.
Decades before the first cartoon and the use of celluloid in the filming of motion pictures, Muybridge proposed that a collection of still photographs could be show in rapid succession to illustrate the natural movement of animals, people, and even machines.
It was Muybridge's discovery that eventually led to the invention of the chronophotographic gun by Étienne-Jules Marey in 1882. Capable of taking 12 consecutive frames per second, Marey's gun was the second major step toward a science of cinematography.
And to think that we are now able to film grand epics such as The Hobbit in 48 frames per second and play video games at 60 frames per second. But that is all made possible by digital technology, which is quite different from the analog technology behind Marey's gun and those old, bulky VHS cameras from the 1980's.
In fact, the only thing analog and digital camcorders have in common anymore are the lenses. What once housed cassette tapes and compact VCRs, now houses microchips and memory cards.
Using Firewire, you can now plug your camcorder directly into your computer, upload all of the data to your hard drive, and begin the editing process immediately. You don't need scissors and glue to cut and paste. And projectionists at the local theater can spend more time browsing the internet on their smartphones without having to worry about keeping an eye out for "cigarette burns" in the corner of the screen. Indeed, they can even use their smartphones to make movies of themselves at the movies.
We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Before purchasing a new camcorder, there's a few things you're definitely going to want to consider.
What are you filming?
Are you making YouTube videos mainly featuring your face?
Or filming a friend's wedding reception so you can laugh later at how drunk everyone was?
Then you probably don't need that HD camera you've been drooling over. Especially if you're going to be filming all day, that HD footage will chew through your memory card in less than an hour, as you can see by this nice little chart SanDisk put together showing how quickly your memory card will fill up if you film in HD.
Also, how much editing will you be doing?
If you insist on film in HD, you definitely want to think about whether or not you will want to edit your footage. If you're looking to make a movie with some friends, you're going to need a lot more than just a camcorder.
To edit HD footage, you're going to need a desktop computer with at least a dual-core processor and 8GB of RAM. Otherwise, you'll end up spending all of your editing time just waiting for the file to load, assuming of course you actually managed to install your editing software to begin with.
There's no sense in recording all that footage if you can't do anything with it after the fact.
After all, you can't hunt Jaws with a fishing boat.
The Evolution Of The Modern Camcorder
It's astonishing how today's camcorders seem so technological advanced than their predecessors. And they are, in so many ways.
Today, you can record your cat jumping on the neighbor's trampoline, upload it to your computer, slap on a Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack, and share it with the world in as little as twenty minutes.
Remember when you used to go over to Grandma's house, so Uncle Bill could prop up the projector, load in his 8MM film, and show the family his grainy Niagara Falls footage? Of course you don't remember. Unless you're in the Generation X family.
If you're a Millennial, pre-1990s mind you, maybe your family had an RCA Camcorder that weighed as much as your six year old self. Lest I forget they recorded onto VHS. Good luck editing that on your Windows 98.
Even prior to all of the that, home users started recording on to 8MM film, which entailed loading the film in the small camera by threading it through without exposing the film. Once the film was used, you had to rewind it, and send it off to be developed.
If you wanted to edit your footage, then hopefully you had some scissors and tape on hand. Mind you there was no sound recorded either. We're talking mid-1930s here. I'm still confused when people refer to this era as "simpler times".
In the 1970s, VHS (Video Home System) made a splash on to the scene, which popularized drastically well into the 80s and 90s.
At the turn of the millennium Mini DVs came around, which required a VHS converter.
Then at last, arrived the good ole memory card in the early 2000s. Actually, they appeared as early as 1995, but only offered 128MB of storage, which is utterly laughable now.
But even with all this history, we've barely scratched the surface. In between each of these inventions lies another camcorder that never popularized, or was secluded to the big filmmakers.
You may look at it and just see a camera, but maybe now that its years of evolution has been presented to you, you'll get a better understanding of them, and a greater appreciation. That being said, dear reader, happy shopping.