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.

Video Recording with Modern Cameras


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.

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 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.

Video Recording on Compact Video Cameras


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.

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.


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 and DSLRs in our online store.


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