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Compare the best video cameras

Take your video-recording skills to the next level.

Updated

Most video cameras record higher quality video and audio than our smartphones, making them solid investments for the amateur or serious videographer. Find the best model for your needs by comparing overall features, price and video quality.

Top video cameras

NameAvg. price
(USD)
Optical zoomEffective pixelsWeight (oz)Purchase
GoPro Hero8
Canon VIXIA HF R800
$400N/A12MP0.8
Canon VIXIA HF R800
Canon VIXIA HF R800
$26032x2.07MP8.3
Sony HDR-CX405
Sony HDR-CX405
$27030x2.29MP6.7
Panasonic HC-V800
Panasonic HC-V800
$60024x6.17MP15.1
Sony FDR-AX33
Sony FDR-AX33
$72010x8.29MP22.9
JVC GZ-RY980H
JVC GZ-RY980H
80010x8MP21.9
Panasonic HC-VX1
Panasonic HC-VX1
$80024x8.29MP15.1
Canon Legria HF G40
Canon Legria HF G40
$1,12020x3.09MP31.7
Data obtained January 2020. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Why buy a video camera?

If you primarily use your smartphone or digital camera to record videos, consider upgrading if these features are important to you:

  • Video quality. Generally, the quality of video recordings is higher in camcorders than in digital cameras and smartphones. Some digital cameras offer HD recording, but they’re typically more expensive than HD camcorders and don’t usually record high-quality audio.
  • Microphone. Most camcorders have significantly better microphones than digital cameras or smartphones. Many camcorders allow you to zoom in on the sources of specific sounds and some offer surround-sound recording.
  • Zoom. Even ultra-zoom cameras don’t typically offer the zoom capacity of a camcorder, and many digital cameras don’t allow you to use a zoom lens while recording video. You can find camcorders with up to 60x zoom lenses and — unlike digital cameras — camcorder microphones won’t pick up the noise of the zoom lens.
  • Internal storage. Like digital cameras, camcorders allow you to record on memory cards. However, many cameras also feature high storage capacity internal hard drives.
  • Ease of use. Camcorders are easy to hold for long periods of time while filming. They’re usually better at reducing the shakiness of footage than still cameras.
  • Action cams. Action cams — GoPro’s Hero cameras, for example — can capture sports, outdoor activities and extreme adventures. They are durable and typically mountable so you can capture the action hands-free.

What are the drawbacks of video cameras?

Specialized video cameras aren’t for everyone. Springing for one might not be for you if:

  • Your smartphone does the trick. Many smartphones allow you to record HD and 4K video. If you’re happy with the video quality of your phone camera, it’s not worth buying a camcorder.
  • You wouldn’t get your money’s worth out of it. Video cameras typically range from $250 to $5,000. If you just want to record videos of all the cute positions your dog sleeps in, your smartphone already offers everything you need.

Which video camera is best for me?

The best video camera for you depends on your budget, what you plan to film and the conditions you’ll be filming in. Someone who wants a camcorder on-hand to capture every important moment of their toddler’s growth will have very different needs than a filmmaker who wants to shoot their latest masterpiece.

Check out the best and worst aspects of using these popular models below:

The goodThe bad
Sony FDR-AX700
  • Includes one of the largest sensors of any consumer 4K HD camera
  • Offers professional grade features for amateurs and hobbyists
  • If you aren’t interested in using some of the advanced features, it’s not worth the high price tag
  • Only offers a 12x optical zoom
Canon VIXIA HF R800
  • Affordable price tag
  • Features a huge 32x zoom lens
  • Does not shoot in 4K resolution
  • SD card not included
Panasonic HC-VX1
  • Offers 4K HD resolution
  • More affordable than similar models from competitors
  • Can’t output video while recording in 4K or using Wi-Fi
  • Some users report a lag when using the touchscreen
JVC GZ-RY980H
  • Records in 4K
  • Waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and freezeproof
  • Only offers a 10x optical zoom
  • Is not mountable
Canon Legria HF G40
  • Allows you to make dual recordings in AVCHD and MP4 formats simultaneously
  • Performs well in low-lit environments
  • Does not shoot in 4K resolution
  • SD card not included
GoPro Hero8
  • Offers three levels of video stabilization
  • Professional-grade accessories for vloggers and pro filmmakers
  • On the expensive side
  • No optical zoom
Sony HDR-CX405
  • Offers face detection, voice enhancement and noise reduction
  • Budget-friendly price point
  • No external microphone input
  • Some users report a short battery life per charge
Panasonic HC-V800
  • Full HD video recording
  • Offers wireless twin-camera captures when connected to a smartphone
  • No macro mode
  • On the expensive side

How to compare video cameras

When looking for a camera, consider the size, weight and how easy it is for you to use. If you can, try them out in the store to get a hands-on idea of how comfortable the camera is. Next, consider the following key features:

Bottom line

If you want to upgrade your videos from what your smartphone is capable of, a video camera could be a good fit. Compare your options based on price, video quality and overall features.

How did we choose these products?

To come up with our list of the best video cameras, we took into account price point, overall features, resolution and Wi-Fi capabilities. We also considered online reviews for each product.

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