HD Camcorder Review

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Why Buy a High Definition Camcorder

Although smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras have video-filming capabilities, the quality is usually disappointing. On top of that, people don't seem to understand how to film with these devices, and they end up creating vertical videos. HD camcorders still offer the best resolution, the most interesting features and the best design for preserving your memories.

Another way that HD camcorders trump smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras is the variety of settings available for your videos. Depending on where you will eventually post your video, you can set the camera to film in full 1080p at 60 fps or standard definition at 30 fps. These settings only take a few button clicks to adjust, and the footage always looks far cleaner and better than that of other all-in-one devices.

Whether you're a young parent who wants to capture your baby's first moments, a vacationer in foreign lands or an aspiring filmmaker, the best HD camcorders will fit your needs. The best HD video cameras we reviewed are the Canon Vixia HF R52, the Sony HDR-PJ275 and the Panasonic HC-W850. If you want more information and ideas, read our articles about HD camcorders.

HD Camcorders: What to Look For

Resolution is the most important aspect of HD camcorders. For our reviews, we excluded 720p camcorders, as that is not full HD, and we ignored 4K video cameras, as they are prohibitively expensive. Even though all of the cameras we reviewed are 1080p, each one has subtle differences. Below are the criteria we used to rate each HD video camera.

Video & Image Quality
One of the best ways to distinguish between several full HD camcorders is to look at the frame rate. The human eye processes just under 30 fps, but in this age of digital displays with high refresh rates, this standard frame rate occasionally results in horizontal lines across the display. Usually, 60 fps is the best choice if you plan on showing your video on HDTVs and monitors. However, some video platforms offer a maximum frame rate of 30 fps, so there is no point in using the best recording speed.

We also looked at the zoom capabilities, the low-light rating and the focal length. All of these factor into how crisp the video will be in various situations.

Design
Since you will likely be holding your HD camcorder as you film, you want something comfortable and lightweight. We also looked at the physical features, including the size of the LCD screen, the number of memory cards and whether or not a camera has a direct HDMI port. The integrated storage, maximum recording time (usually measured on the lowest video settings) and the battery life also factored into our ratings.

Advanced Features
Most HD camcorders offer an intelligent auto mode, image stabilization and face detection. You can turn these off if you need to, but these features are extremely helpful if you aren't a professional videographer. We also look for video and image filters, which give your footage a personal touch. The best HD camcorders include built-in Wi-Fi, so you can easily upload and share your footage or use your camcorder as a security camera or baby monitor.

Help & Support
In an ideal world, you'd never have an issue with your HD camcorder, but in case you do have a problem, it's important that the manufacturer provides help. We look for do-it-yourself options, like FAQs, downloadable manuals and user forums, as well as contact options that include phone, email and live chat.

Our HD camcorder reviews offer detailed analysis of the video cameras and their best uses. No matter what your video needs, there is an HD camcorder out there for you.

 
 
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 R52 Sony HDR-PJ275 Panasonic HC-W850 Panasonic HC-X920 Sony HDR-CX240 JVC GZ-R70B Canon Vixia HF G20 JVC Everio GZ-EX310 JVC GZ-VX815B Toshiba Camileo X416
Canon Vixia HF R52 Sony HDR-PJ275 Panasonic HC-W850 Panasonic HC-X920 Sony HDR-CX240 JVC GZ-R70B Canon Vixia HF G20 JVC Everio GZ-EX310 JVC GZ-VX815B Toshiba Camileo X416
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Ratings
9.60
9.40
8.73
8.23
8.13
7.38
7.33
7.28
6.83
6.18
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
9.38
9.38
9.38
9.38
8.75
10.00
10.00
9.38
8.75
7.50
9.38
7.50
8.75
8.13
9.38
9.38
5.00
9.38
10.00
7.50
10.00
5.00
5.00
6.25
8.75
6.25
9.38
6.25
8.13
8.13
6.25
6.25
7.50
7.50
5.00
5.00
7.50
5.00
9.38
 
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 30 60 60 30
Optical Zoom 32x 27x 20x 12x 27x 40x 10x 40x 10x 23x
Digital Zoom 1140x 320x 60x 40x 320x 200x 200x 60x 200x 120x
Extended Zoom 57x 54x 50x 25x 54x 60x 40x 0x 21x 0x
Still Camera Resolution (MP) 2.07 9.2 24 20.4 9.2 10 2.07 8.3 12 16
Low-Light Rating 0.4 lux 3 lux 2 lux 1.6 lux 3 lux 3 lux 0.1 lux 4 lux 4 lux Not Listed
Focal Length (mm) 2.8 - 89.6 29.8 - 804 4.08 - 81.6 2.84 - 34.1 29.8 - 804 2.9 - 116 4.25 - 42.5 2.9 - 116 3.33 - 33.3 3.9 - 472.4
Design
Integrated Storage (GB) 32 8 None None None 32 32 16 None 16
Number of Memory Card Slots 2 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1
Recording Time (hours) 17 1.9 Not Listed 27.5 1.1 57.8 12.3 10.5 57.8 0.2
Continuous Battery Life (hours) 1.5 1 1.8 Not Listed 1.1 2.5 2.5 2 1.5 1.7
Actual Battery Life (hours) 2.7 2.1 0.9 Not Listed 2.2 4.5 2.5 2 1.5 1.7
Camcorder Width (inches) 2.1 2.3 2.6 2.6 2.3 2.1 3 2 1.4 2.1
Camcorder Height (inches) 2.2 2.4 2.9 2.8 2.4 2.4 3.1 2.3 2.2 2.4
Camcorder Depth (inches) 4.6 4.8 5.5 5.9 5.1 4.6 6.3 4.6 4.5 4.7
Camcorder Weight (ounces) 10.1 7.4* 12.7* 14.7* 6.7* 10.1 22.4 8.5 8.3 10.5*
LCD Screen Size (inches) 3.0 2.7 3.0 3.5 2.7 3.0 3.5 3.0 3.0 3.0
HDMI Connection
Touchscreen
 
 
Camera Flash/Video Light   
 
  
Advanced Features
Image Stabilizer
Face Detection
Intelligent Auto Mode
 
Video/Image Filters
 
Integrated Wi-Fi
  
 
iPhone/Android App
 
  
 
Audio Settings
    
   
Near Field Communication  
 
     
Help & Support
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
Email
Downloadable Manual
 
Phone
 
  
FAQs
  
 
 
Live Chat  
    
*Weight without battery