My Wish List for the Best Camcorder

We currently have a digital camera which has video capabilities, although the quality isn’t great. Whenever the kids do something super cute I normally just record them using my phone because that way I can share it with friends and family. Our 4 year old has taken dancing and I would really like to have a good quality camcorder that would work well for recording her dance revues and our son’s milestones. So I sought out to look for the best camcorder for my needs.

What I’m Looking For in a Camcorder

My needs may be different from others so here are the requirements and specifications I’m looking for in a good camcorder:

Quality Picture – I need something that can put out great quality picture in different types of lighting. While I do plan on getting a lot of use out of it recording the kids at home, I need one that would work well outdoors for birthday parties as well as indoors and low lighting.
Easy to Use/Upload – I’m a pretty simple gal. I leave the high-tech stuff to my husband, however I would like a decent camcorder that I can easily figure out how to operate and upload to make videos.
High Definition – Though more expensive than basic camcorders, HD models are sweeping the market. I plan on sharing videos with friends and family via computer, but we do have an HD TV so it makes sense that a camera which records in HD would be ideal.
Affordable – I’m willing to spend a little extra for a good quality camcorder that I won’t be disappointed with like our digital camera. With that being said, I still have a budget in mind which I would like to keep under $300 if possible with the special features I’m looking for.

So with those specifications in mind I narrowed down my choices to these top 3 best camcorders.

Canon VIXIA HF R400
CanonFeatures: 53X Advanced zoom and image stabilizer, 3.28 megapixel Full HD CMOS, 1080/60p recording. touch LCD screen, Baby mode, rechargeable lithium ion battery, Advanced Quick Start.
What I love about it: Where do I begin? I’m not really technical so when it comes to numbers and megapixels I get lost. I do know that a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and capturing 60 frames per second should put out a pretty clear image. It also features an image stabilizer that reduces blurriness when zooming in or while walking which can be really ideal for someone who is recording those first steps or their dancer performing while in the 15th row. Operation seems easy and simple to use with a removable SD card that it records to and you can upload to your computer much like I do now with my digital camera. It even has a baby mode which I really like for alt viewrecording milestones. This feature captures video in the highest quality and saves it to its own baby album.
What’s not to love: There is one feature I’m a little torn about which is the Quick Start. It turns the camera on as soon as you open the LCD screen and automatically shuts it off when closed. I can see the convenience of this feature, however this could be a negative aspect if it’s accidentally opened it which would then die out the battery. Unfortunately, most HD camcorders have this feature.
What others have said: As always, I like to do some research and check out reviews by others on a product before I buy:

The videos are nice, bright and sharp and I get about 1 hour and 20 minutes of use when the battery is fully charged.

Sony HDR-CX220/B High-Definition HandyCam
SonyFeatures: Steady Shot image stabilizer, 32x Extended Zoom, built-in USB cable, 1920/1080 Full HD, 29.8mm Carl Zeiss Lens, MP4 or AVCHD recording.
What I love about it: I really like the many features this camera has similar to the Canon mentioned above. One factor I noticed upon comparing camcorders is that this one offers 8.9 megapixel ExmorR CMOS sensor which produces higher quality images in low lighting. It also features a combination of different scenes that it automatically sets the right setting for various modes including baby, portrait, twilight, and low-light. It comes with a USB cable which you can hook up directly to the computer to charge it. There’s no internal memory on the camera so you record to a removable SD card. It also lets you shoot in MP4 format for sharing on the computer or in AVCHD mode to watch videos on an HDTV. It also comes in color options of black, blue, red, or silver.
What’s not to love: I’m not too sure about this camera in terms of ease-of-use. If I understand correctly, you have to download a software program called Sony Memories for uploading videos. It’s not as simple as inserting the SD card to your PC and viewing them.
What others have said: You can see the full reviews here.

Great camcorder for an amateur. It is lightweight, compact, sturdy, and very user-friendly.

Panasonic V100M 42x Intelligent Zoom HD Camcorder
PanasonicFeatures: 34x optical zoom, 32.5 mm Wide angle lens, 16GB memory or SD memory card, Power O.I.S for image stabilization, 2.7″ wide LCD screen.
What I love about itUnlike the two previously mentioned camcorders, this one allows you the option of recording onto an SD memory card or use the built-in memory on the camera. You can connect the camera directly to your TV, considering it is HDMI-compatible, with an additional HDMI mini cable (purchased separately). I really like the 32.5mm wide angle lens as it allows you to capture more people in the frame even when you’re zoomed in. I could record my daughter dancing on stage with her whole class and still get a clear image rather than zooming in just on her. You can also take still images from recordings when you playback the movies.
What’s not to love: It says it features a high-sensitivity sensor, but compared to some of the other brands I’ve looked at I’m wondering about the quality of videos taken in low-lighting. For these I turn to reviews which reveal that it’s just ok but may appear grainy.
What others have said: You can see the full reviews here.

I love all of the features and menu options and it has a great battery life. Playing back the video on a higher resolution monitor revealed the camera doesn’t shoot high quality video.”

And the Winner Is . . .

Well, I had a hard time choosing which camcorder I liked best because each of these had their own special features that I liked, which is why they made my top 3 picks. All in all, it came down to some specifics that led me to my decision. The best camcorder I found out of these was the Canon VIXIA HF R400.

In terms of what I need this camcorder seemed to be the best fit. It is capable of recording in AVCHD or MP4 mode so I can choose which format for viewing on my TV or for uploading on my PC to share with friends and family. It is also the most compact design of these three cameras making it easy to take along on trips in my purse or diaper bag. It also features the widest angle of 38mm so I can really capture everyone in a shot even while zoomed in. I really like the touch screen LCD display too. I did a great deal of comparisons and relied on consumer reviews for quality to base my decision. Here are some of the most helpful reviews that I’ve paraphrased for your convenience to provide more perspective based on others’ experiences:

I really do like the camera and it produces good images for home, business web and similar applications.
This camera is nice and light, but heavy enough to feel steady in your hand. The only thing I don’t like is that the lens cover isn’t automatic.
A very decent starter camcorder. If you’re a professional you might find bad qualities like no internal storage.
For the price, the camcorder takes wonderful video. However, it hates communicating with mac.

Coming in at just at my budget I found this camera to be a pretty decent value for the price with the many features. Be sure to check our Buying Guides for more products that are highly rated for moms.

Speak Your Mind


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.