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Cameras vs Camcorders: Which is Best for Video?

The ability to capture video on cameras and camcorders has advanced a lot in recent times. Nowadays, cameras can take breathtaking video and camcorders can capture some great stills.

With these advances, it can be difficult to figure out which option is best for you. Whether you’re planning to be the next Scorsese or the next YouTube sensation, this article will help you choose between a camera and a camcorder in terms of video functions and performance.

Digital Camera vs Camcorder For Video

Depending on your needs, a camera may be satisfactory but for some situations, a camcorder would be the best option. Modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras have 4k video capability and is excellent for video, but if your prime focus is video, a camcorder will be more comfortable to hold and includes superior audio capability.

Read further to understand the features and benefits of choosing a digital camera, camcorder, action camera or professional video camera for your video needs!

Video Recording with Modern Digital Cameras

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A camera is a great all-rounder option. If you want a device that can take amazing photos and impressive video, a camera is a great choice. The constant improvements being made to video recording capabilities and camera technology makes this especially true.

For example, while a DSLR is designed primarily for photography, many DSLR cameras have full HD video recording (720p or 1080p) that leave lower range camcorders in the dust. Additionally, the most advanced camera models now have 4k video capability which results in ultra stunning video footage suitable for professional applications. 

Mirrorless cameras are also a good option since they are lighter and more compact than DSLR cameras while still offering many of the same benefits as DSLRs.

In low light, a DSLR or mirrorless camera will often produce a better quality video than a camcorder simply because they tend to have a larger sensor. A large sensor is essential for capturing low light video and stills.

Another aspect to consider with high video quality cameras is the storage. Most cameras record data onto memory cards while many camcorders record onto built-in hard drives so if you take a lot of HD videos, the lack of storage can be an issue. However, you can always carry around spare memory cards or, these days, buy one with enough storage to last.

Finally, it’s worth checking if the lenses on your desired camera are suitable for video recording. Some (mostly older) DSLR lenses are inappropriate for video.

Sound isn’t something that cameras always specialise in and you may find that your camera’s built-in microphone isn’t quite cutting it. Luckily, if this is the case, you can easily fix this by investing in an external microphone. Just be wary that this will add bulk to your camera bag.

For vlogging and data to day video, a digital camera is an excellent choice for portability and versatility. See our recommendations below for the best digital cameras for video.

Best Digital Cameras For Video

The best digital cameras for video we recommend:

  • Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III: popular compact camera choice for vlogging on the go. featuring a host of unique features, the camera is still super sleek and compact.
  • Fujifilm X-S10: excellent mirrorless camera for anyone who needs a lightweight camera with professional features for both photos and videos. 
  • Panasonic FZ300 Black Digital Compact Camera: Take this ruggedly designed camera outdoors. Its 600mm F2.8 high-speed lens an 4K video/photo recording capability will definitely satisfy you and make sure you catch those fleeting photo opportunities.

Video Recording on Compact Video Cameras

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If the ability to shoot video is your main requirement, a compact video camera / camcorder is probably your best bet. After all, they are specifically designed for video recording.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of a modern camcorder is how it sits in your hand comfortably. Not only do they usually come with a strap, camcorders often feature hand-shake detection or stabilisation software for steady video, even if you have notoriously shaky hands.

Most also come with a tilt and swivel screen, that allows you to compose the perfect shot. In many regards, these features make the handheld ergonomics of a camcorder superior to a camera.

Camcorders can produce an exceptional video quality too, ranging from high to ultra-high definition. They can also zoom well, with built-in, specially calibrated zoom lenses, and focus better than cameras with more defined AF (autofocus) systems.

Sound wise, camcorders are usually fitted with built-in microphones that can be omnidirectional and even record surround sound. Often, they’ll have strong audio inputs that aren’t commonly seen in cameras.

Recording low light video can be difficult on a camcorder because the majority of them have smaller sensors than their camera counterparts. However, you can keep an eye out for higher-end camcorders that offer larger sensors.

And while certainly not their forte, camcorders also have the option to capture stills, although these won’t measure up to a professional DSLR.

Best Compact Video Cameras and Camcorders

The top recommendations for camcorders:

  • Panasonic HC-V800 FHD Leica 24X Zoom Digital Video Camera: Experience next-level performance in your video production. Using Triple Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) Systems, the Panasonic HC-V800 offers great stability in various shooting situations. 
  • Sony FDR-AX43 Digital Video Camera: The Sony FDR-AX43 Digital Video Camera is perfect for those who love to vlog. It supports accessories for your shots, and it also has a unique image stabiliser, so your footage remains steady, even if you are on the go.
  • Sony HDR-CX405 Full HD Flash Digital Video Camera: Capture the tiniest of details with lifelike clarity thanks to the XAVC S recording format, which enables high-bitrate recording of up to 50Mbps. This heightens the precision and clarity of Full HD images while suppressing compression noise, so you can always count on top video quality.

A Word on Action Cameras

This article has focused primarily on the strengths and weaknesses of consumer cameras and camcorders for video recording. But there’s another type of camera you may wish to consider as well: action cameras.

Action cameras, such as the ubiquitous GoPro, are incredibly compact and can have some amazing specs packed within…4k video recording, waterproof design and motion stabilisation to name a few.

For more about action cameras, read our article about the pros and cons of action cameras.

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Professional Video Cameras To Consider

If you are looking to do professional video projects, then a dedicated video camera will be your best bet. Professional video cameras come with a professional price tag, so if you’re serious about film and video production, then these are the choice for you. Professional video cameras are great for industry professionals such as wedding videos, documentary production and business videos.

Best Professional Video Cameras:

  • Sony PXWZ150 Professional 4K Hand Held Camcorder: If you are looking for something that would provide you high-quality footages, yet is in a compact body, this Sony PXWZ150 Professional 4K Handheld Camcorder provides outstanding features, including a powerful zooming capability. Moreover, this might be packed with a lot of features, yet it is in a portable, compact, and lightweight body.
  • Canon XF705 4K Camcorder: Canon XF705 is great for your independent films, documentaries, or live events. Very useful camcorder and loads of amazing features.
  • Panasonic HC-PV100 Semi-Pro HD Digital Video Camera: The Panasonic HC-PV100 Semi-Pro HD Digital Video Camera is ideal for anyone who records videos for a living. The maximum f/1.8 aperture lens helps you shoot industry level videos for creative and commercial purposes. The LED Video light makes the camera an excellent tool for weddings, parties, or other events.

Choose the Best Video Camera For Your Needs

Ultimately, your decision comes down to your personal preference. We advise you head to your nearest Camera House store to get a feel for camcorders, cameras and action cameras; we’ll have experts on hand to answer all your questions.

Or if you’ve already decided which way to go, shop our range of camcorders, professional video cameras and DSLRs in our online store. Find out more about video cameras and helpful articles on the Camera House blog:

4k vs 8k Video Cameras: Is 8k really worth it?

Is 4k Really Better than 1080p?

The Essential Equipment You Need for Live Video Streaming

Our 5 Favourite Sony Cameras for Video

The 5 Best Nikon Cameras for Video

The Essential Accessories You Need for Your Video Camera

The Best Video Cameras for Every Scenario

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