The 8 Best Professional Camcorders
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in July of 2018. Whether you're a filmmaker, a news reporter, or a wedding videographer, having a professional camcorder at your disposal can dramatically improve your work. Compared to lesser models, these boast better lenses, bigger sensors, and more controls to let you hone an image to your satisfaction. We've ranked them here by their picture quality, handling, rigging options, and special features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 16, 2020:
We saw a lot of exciting upgrades in this sector recently, most notably from Sony, who have upgraded to both the Sony ILME-FX6 Cinema and the Sony PXW-FX9 XDCAM from their older FX5 and FX7 models. These new offerings house full-frame sensors where the previous models worked with Super 35. Now, there's the argument to be made that Super 35 will work better with classic cinema lenses that were designed to shoot with celluloid, but the advantages of modern lenes simply outweigh that consideration. The reason the slightly less feature-rich, and slightly lower-resolution FX6 beat out the FX9 was that the 9 is prohibitively expensive and still doesn't provide an option for internal RAW recording. Neither does the FX6, to be fair, but at least it's nearly half the cost.
We also saw the arrival of the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro 12K, which edged out the FX9 due to its ability to capture 12K or downsample to 4K or even 8K, all while recording RAW footage to CFast cards internally. It still couldn't beat out the FX6, however, due to its use of the Super 35 sensor, as well as its 14 stops of dynamic range to the FX series' 15 plus. And we also added the Panasonic AJ-CX4000GJ for use in extremely low light situations like nighttime sports.
September 26, 2019:
While all the companies on our list produce a number of new cameras every year, their products that can truly be considered professional grade come out somewhat more rarely. As a result, the only newcomer to our list is the Sony PXW-Z280, which offers users much of the same features as their FS5 and FS7 cameras, but with a different sensor and a fixed zoom lens. It's a nice option, but it couldn't climb toward the top of our list as it's hard to justify that kind of cost with a fixed lens, especially when the company's top cameras aren't terribly pricier.
Beyond that, we found it prudent to move the Canon XC15 to the number two spot as a DSLR form factor has become such a mainstay in pro videography that it finds itself uniquely suited to a number of rigs that might accommodate a more traditional camcorder design. It also doesn't hurt that it shoots in 4K and from a 1-inch sensor when nearly everything else in its price range shoots with much smaller chips, limiting everything from their low-light performance to possible bokeh.
Panasonic AJ-CX4000GJ While this is a model undoubtedly designed for the broadcast industry, it also has the ability to save its footage to the company's fast expressP2 memory cards, making it a viable option for anyone who wants a camera capable of the highest levels of streaming quality and internal recording. It can shoot in 4K, and can send 10-bit 4:2:2 video out of its 12G SDI output. panasonic.net