High-definition (HD) camcorders are now the standard in video recording quality for both video professionals and average consumers. High-definition camcorders are now available and affordable to the general public and are priced from under $200 to more than $2,000, depending on your budget and what you’d like to do with the equipment. This list will give you the ten best consumer HD camcorders and why.
Pure Digital Flip UltraHD
This tiny flip camera can fit into your pocket, but its image quality is better than what you’ll find in similar models. This camera certainly doesn’t record equally good high-def as others in the list and it only has a 2x zoom capability, but it ranks at the top of the heap for people on a budget, as the Pure Digital Flip UltraHD can be bought for around $169.
Canon Vixia HF s10 and HF s100
The Canon Vixia HF s10, priced at just over $1,000, delivers some of the best-looking high-definition video available in consumer camcorders, according to Consumersearch.com. The camera can store up to three hours of top-quality HD video on its 32 gigabyte internal memory. The HF s100 is an identical model that lacks the internal memory and relies solely on memory cards. IT can be purchased for around $900.
Canon XH A1
Canon’s XH A1 is a 3CCD HD camcorder that is classified as prosumer quality. In other words, this camera will do work that is satisfactory to video professionals and independent filmmakers as well as amateur videographers. Priced around $3,000, this high-end HD camcorder has lots of manual controls, a 20x zoom lens, an image stabilizer and a fast focus, according to CNET.com. The Canon XL and GL series also fall in this same category of quality, but the XH A1 seems to top the list when dealing with a consumer purchasing decision.
Canon Vixia HV 30
The Vixia HV 30 produces excellent video quality and still relies on the use of tape to record instead of flash memory. Priced at around $800, this model will capture video about as good as its higher priced sister models in the HF series, but it may be worth paying more to not deal with tape.
Equipped with a 12x zoom lens, a range of manual controls and a touch screen control panel, this top-of-the-prosumer-line HD camera can be purchased for about $1,200 and certainly deserves a place among the best HD cameras on the market.
Sony Handycam HDR-XR520v
For about $1,200 some people may choose to stay with Sony because of some unique features of their best Handycam. While Sony appears to be chasing Canon in the image quality category in many cases, the difference is minor on comparable models and this model virtually eliminates low light noise, according to Consumersearch.com. Also, the HDR-XR520v has the largest hard drive of any consumer HD camera at 240 gigabytes, meaning you can record almost 30 hours of footage using internal memory. This model also has a GPS feature for tagging videos by location.
Other Honorable Mentions
Other HD camcorders rounding out the 10 best include the Kodak Zi6, Sony Handycam HDR-CX12 and the Panasonic HDC-HS300
The Kodak Zi6 is similar in size and function to the Pure Digital Flip UltraHD, but it doesn’t have quite the video quality of the Pure model. However, it has a larger LCD viewfinder screen and it has still photo capability.
The Sony Handycam HDR-CX12 records great video and is sometimes thought to capture the best image quality in the under-$1,000 range (about $800). However, the camcorder’s tiny size at just over five inches and a small viewfinder and touchscreen, along with the lack of microphone jack or light put this one near the bottom of the top ten as opposed to more expensive Sony models.
The Panasonic HDC-HS300 is a little pricey for its function at nearly $1,400, keeping it at the bottom of the top ten, but it is a very good camera. However, it doesn’t have the same image quality as the Canon and Sony models in the same range.