HD Camcorder Review

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Why Buy a High Definition Camcorder

High definition content is becoming the standard in most households. We've come to expect HD quality from professional video, but what about home movies? Why not enjoy your memories in HD? An HD camcorder is a necessity for capturing high definition content to watch on your HDTV. If you use the best HD camcorder to capture your kid's soccer game, holidays with the families or even David after the dentist, you can enjoy these moments over and over in quality high definition playback on your TV, computer monitor, or even YouTube.

The best HD camcorders are the Canon VIXIA HF M52, Panasonic HC V720M and the Sony HDR PJ320. These three products offer high quality resolution as well as a multitude of other features, such as built-in Wi-Fi and touchscreen displays. For more information, take a look at our articles on HD camcorders. These will help make sure the home videos you shoot will look fantastic. 

HDV Camcorders: What to Look For

First, a word about resolution. You'll see cameras that capture video with resolutions of 720p and 1080p, and both are considered HD. Standard definition is approximately 480p, and video is considered high definition when it is more than 480p. The number refers to the number of horizontal lines in the image. The more lines your camera records, the more pixels you'll see, and the clearer the picture will be. Video shot in 1080p is referred to as full HD. Full HD camcorders offer maximum line resolution and give you slightly clearer pictures than camcorders that record in 720p.

Specs and features separate the best HD camcorders from ordinary standard definition camcorders and smartphone cameras. The HD video recorders we reviewed are feature-rich as well as easy to use.

In finding the best HD camcorder, you'll want to take into account the camcorder's video and image quality, including resolution, frame rate and zoom capabilities. In addition, extra features and overall design are worth considering. Below are the criteria we used in evaluating the best HD camcorders.

Video & Image Quality

HD video camcorders will, by definition, have great resolution, but there are other factors to consider in video quality. Most camcorders have two zoom features: an optical zoom, where the lens will physically move closer to the object, and a digital zoom, which crops the image digitally and zooms in on the image. Optical zoom generally does not affect the picture quality, but you'll want to be aware that if you employ an extreme digital zoom, you will likely experience pixelization and degraded image quality.

Another important factor to consider is the lux rating. The lower the rating, the better the camera does in limited light. If you plan to take still shots as well, look for an HD video recorder that can take high quality still images, as it will limit your need for a separate point-and-shoot digital camera.

Features

All the little extras separate the best HD camcorders of the class from the rest. Battery life can mean the difference between getting the footage you want and going home disappointed. While you'll want to look for a camera with a long battery life, be aware that the actual battery time will depend on many factors. Using the zoom and other camcorder functions, recording continuously or clipping and recording again all come in to play and affect battery life.

Other features you should take into consideration include a touchscreen display to help you navigate through menus or built-in Wi-Fi that makes it easy to share photos and videos with friends and family. A camera that offers GPS geo-tagging will help you file and find your videos by location and time.

Design

The look and feel of a camcorder is important as well. None of these camcorders are the old-school, over- your-shoulder camcorders, and most will fit comfortably in your palm. That said, if you're planning on taking a camcorder with you while you're out at Disneyland all day, a lightweight camcorder that doesn't take up much room might be better for you. However if you're planning to record every one of your daughter's soccer games, a more durable and stable HD video camera might be best. Choose the design that will meet your specific recording needs.

Help & Support

Using a new consumer electronic device can be hard. Having the backup of a manufacturer's customer service will not only get out of a bind if your HD camcorder is not working, but it will give you peace of mind when making your purchase. The company should provide plenty of ways to contact customer service, including phone, email or live chat, and representatives should be easily accessible and easy to work with. Some companies offer online manuals, a very convenient feature if you lose the hard copy manual that comes with your high definition camcorder.

With the right equipment, you can make good-looking home movies, and the best HD camcorders will help you make quality home videos of your family and friends that you can play on your HDTV. Plus, the extra features make movie making fun and easy.

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Electronics » Camcorders » HD Camcorder
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Canon Vixia HF R Panasonic HC-V720 Sony HDR PJ Canon Vixia HF M JVC Everio GZ-EX300 Panasonic HC-X900 Sony HDR-TD Canon Vixia HF G Sony HDR-CX Samsung QF
Canon Vixia HF R Panasonic HC-V720 Sony HDR PJ Canon Vixia HF M JVC Everio GZ-EX300 Panasonic HC-X900 Sony HDR-TD Canon Vixia HF G Sony HDR-CX Samsung QF
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Ratings
9.23
9.13
9.10
9.07
9.07
9.00
8.65
8.23
8.03
8.00
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
8.63
9.88
8.88
9.75
9.00
9.63
9.38
7.25
8.75
9.50
8.88
9.38
8.75
9.50
8.55
9.75
9.25
8.38
9.68
9.63
8.75
9.75
9.00
7.25
7.50
9.38
9.00
9.38
8.63
8.25
6.75
9.75
7.25
8.38
8.00
9.50
7.25
8.35
8.00
9.50
 
Video & Image Quality
Video Resolution 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Frames Per Second (FPS) 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60
Image Stabilizer
Optical Zoom 32 21 30 10 40 12 10 10 27 20
Max Optical Zoom 32 50 30 10 40 12 10 10 27 20
Digital Zoom 1060 1500 350 200 200 700 120 200 320 40
Max Digital Zoom 1060 1500 350 200 200 700 120 200 320 40
Extended Zoom 53 50 55 53 60 32 17 40 32 N/A
Max Extended Zoom 53 50 55 53 60 32 17 40 32 N/A
Still Camera Resolution (MP) 2.07 2.1 8.9 2.07 8.9 16 8.9 2.07 8.9 N/A
Low Lux Rating 0.4 1 3 0.1 1 1 3 .01 3 3
Focal Length (mm) 6.1-61 2.82-59.2 26.8 - 804.0 2.8-89.6 2.9-116 2.84-34.1 29.8-298 4.25-42.5 29.8-804.0 2.6-52
Features
Integrated Memory (GB) 32 16 16 32 16 32   32   
Max Integrated Memory (GB) 32 96 16 32 16 32   32   
Max Recording Time (HR) 4 2 2.5 4 2 4   4   
Continuous Battery Life (approx.) 120 85 120 120 120 75 70 115 95 125
Actual Battery Life (approx.) 75 50 85 75 60 45 35 70 45 105
SD Memory Card Slot
SDHC Memory Card Slot
SDXC Memory Card Slot
Intelligent Auto
Camera Flash/Video Light
Touchscreen
Tracking Focus
Integrated Wi-Fi
 
 
  
iPhone/Android App
 
    
3D Shooting           
Projector   
       
Near Field Communication  
        
Double Memory Card Slots        
  
Color Options   
     
 
Pro Duo Memory Card Slot   
   
 
 
Micro SD Card Slot           
Design
Camcorder Width (in) 2.2 2.37 2.75 2.7 2 2.6 2.5 3 2.13 1.69
Camcorder Height (in) 2.1 2.73 2.88 2.5 2.25 2.8 2.88 3.1 2.25 2.06
Camcorder Depth (in) 4.6 4.9 5.38 4.8 4.63 5.9 5.25 6.3 4.63 4.69
Camcorder Weight (oz) 10.1 12.6 15 12.3 8 15 17.5 22.4 7.8 6
LCD Screen Size (in) 3 3 3 3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 2.7 2.7
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FAQs
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Warranty (Years) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
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