Buying Guide: The best video cameras and camcorders of 2016


Best HD camcorder

Despite the onslaught of smartphones, all of which now come equipped with sensors and hardware that allow them to produce at least HD quality video, video cameras and camcorders are still very much worth investing in.

That’s assuming that you plan to record high quality footage that is likely to be edited or viewed on a high quality platform (capable of playing full HD or even better).

The age of full HD or even 4K video for everyone is very much upon us, with everything from our mobile phone, stills camera and even webcam able to capture these 2-megapixel videos with ease.

So what is the best camcorder to buy in this ultra-modern age? The good news is that you have a full range of features and specifications open to you – fully automated, hardware stabilised, broadcast quality video in the palm of your hand, and often for less than £500.

From novices keen to explore the joys of moving pictures to prosumers looking to get a more rounded, heightened filming experience, we’ve got almost everything covered (Blackview though). Enjoy our list and feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the section below.

If you’re looking for the best camera phones, digital cameras (compact, mirrorless, bridge or DSLR) or action cameras, head over to the right resource centre.

Note that the prices of the camcorders below do not include any promotions available at the time of publishing. Don’t forget to get your memory cards and appropriate battery packs (which can charge via the USB 2.0 port).

1. Panasonic HC-VX870EB-K

Panasonic HC-VX870EB-K

4K is here to stay and the technology, both to record and display the format, becomes cheaper. This model from Panasonic is one of the cheapest on market that allows users to record at 4K at 25fps with the added benefit of being able to extract individual frames at 8-megapixel. There’s a 20x optical zoom, a wide-angle Leica lens, HDR, a 5-axis optical image stabilizer solution and a nifty feature that allows you to combine footage from your smartphone or tablet as a picture in picture over Wi-Fi. Just make sure that you’ve got a spare battery pack as 4K recording does eat away batteries!

2. Sony Handycam HDR-CX240

Sony Handycam HDR-CX240

At the other end of the spectrum is this little gem, the cheapest full HD camcorder from a reputable, recognised manufacturer. It still shares the same technologies as its more expensive siblings like the Exmor R CMOS sensor and the BIONZ X image processor. Also onboard is a 29.8mm wide-angle Vario-Tessar lens by ZEISS, image stabilisation and a new feature that allows you to record in two formats at the same time with MP4 being used should you want to upload to Youtube directly. As expected, it lacks some features found on more expensive models like NFC, Wi-Fi or a secondary camera.

3. SONY Handycam HDR-PJ620

Sony Handycam HDR-PJ620

If you look for a camcorder that does more than just filming, then try the PJ620 which comes with a built-in projector. Don’t expect the projection to be of cinematic quality with a brightness of 25 lumen. It packs a new higher bitrate recording format (XAVC S), a better optical image stabilization solution (compared to cheaper Sony models), with Sony’s own lenses and 5.1-channel surround sound. The PJ620 also excels when it comes to connectivity thanks to multi camera control (via W-Fi), remote control (by using your smartphone or tablet) and even has a built-in cable for PC connection and quick charging.

4. Sony Handycam PXWS-X70

Sony Handycam PXWS-X70

If consumer-grade camcorders simply doesn’t cut it for you, check out that model. It sports a massive 1-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor – larger than a Super 16mm film frame – with a whopping 14.2 million effective pixels, far more than what 4K usually needs. Now this is not a 4K camera (although a paid-for update is available) but is a 4K-ready model. The spec sheet includes Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens, an XLR handle unit, lens hood, a large eye-cup plus professional interfaces like 3G-SDI and HDMI. Sony is also looking to support higher bit-rate recording mode beyond 60 Mbps for XAVC-L.

5. Panasonic HC-X1000E

Panasonic HC-X1000E

A rival to the above comes in the shape of this Panasonic model (if that wasn’t abundantly clear, it is that Japanese brands dominate the global traditional camcorder market, no Korean or Chinese). It was the first camera capable of recording 4K 60p/50p images onto an SD card and included some nice features like a Leica Dicomar lens, 4-drive lens system, a new BSI sensor and the Crystal Engine Pro. Professionals will also like a slide-retractable LCD, 0-lux night mode, a handle, dual SD slots (with auto-switching recording, background recording and simultaneous recording), 2-channel XLR audio input terminals, triple manual rings, ND filter and an eye-cup. What a list!

6. JVC Everio FZ-R315DEK

JVC Everio FZ-R315DEK

If you are not looking for an action camera but want a traditional camcorder that can survive a few knocks, the occasional freeze, a proper shower and a trip to the Atacama Desert, then check out this JVC camcorder. Other than the ability to withstand some serious mishandling, it sports a rather long battery life (a whopping five hours), the ability to extract 10-megapixel stills and, surprisingly, the K2 technology, which restores sound elements that are lost during digital compression. Another noteworthy feature is the Zoom Microphone which changes the focal point to match the picture so that you can always hear what you see.

7. Canon XA30

Canon XA30

One of the most eagerly awaited camcorders from Canon is the Canon XA30, which together with the XA35, was announced a few months ago. It is one of the smallest video cameras to sport a handle (one that is not only detachable but comes with XLR inputs and an IR lamp) and comes crammed with a plethora of features. Yes, it is full HD only but its large CMOS means improved SNR ratio which is particularly useful when shooting in low-light. It is one of the first to feature an OLED display as well which reproduces colours and contrast more faithfully. Dual-band Wi-Fi, Wide Dynamic Range and a new Highlight Priority also make it to the key features list.

8. Canon Legria HF R606

Canon Legria HF R606

Want a video camera capable of doing Wi-Fi, to stream high quality content, but without breaking the bank? Then check out the Legria from Canon. Yes, it has Wi-Fi but it also has NFC and a 32x optical zoom. Yes, it can record in two formats (AVCHD and MP4) should you want to upload directly to Youtube. It has a two-hour battery life and uses Canon’s proprietary DIGIC DV 4 image processor. Unlike most of its competition, it has some onboard storage (only 8GB) which should last you for up to three hours. As expected, there is a myriad of consumer-friendly features like slow and fast motion recording and “fun” effects.

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  1. Reply Walter Watsica January 15, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Just found this awesome camcorder for my sister at a deep discount on Amazon: – Couldn't believe my luck, check it out before they take the promotion down.

  2. Reply Allene Blick January 18, 2016 at 11:28 am

    For me, a good handheld full high definition camcorder should or must have a manual focus ring. And, have a hotshoe for an external shotgun microphone and/or video light with led lighting. Should or must have a front thread lens to attachement an wide or telephoto video lens adaptor to screw on it. Because the native wide angle of all of them are too shy, about 43mm or worsth. And if the camcorder is full HD the optical zoom is so poor, about 20x, the newest ones. Because the olders ones are worsth, about 10x. It must have an optical stabilizer and a removable card for recording, for instant, an sd card, micro or mini, whatever.

  3. Reply Mrs. Zula Barrows January 19, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Helpful tip! If you're looking for a good camcorder this year, Amazon is the place to go. Got this %55 discount: – I'm so excited that I just had to share with someone.

  4. Reply Janice Gorczany II January 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Wow, you are so obviously bought off by producers of hardware. Toshiba Camileo got on your top 10 in the world list?? I used to sell those and they are basically toys for kids. Read between the lines people, techradar's articles are ADS, nothing more.

  5. Reply Reuben Pfannerstill January 30, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I agree with Joee about the Toshiba Camileo. The picture is superb, but the sound is dreadful and mono. Pity Toshiba didn't pay a bit more attention to the sound – then they would have had a winner.

  6. Reply Lucinda Wunsch January 30, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I searched for filmmaking cameras like ARRI and I've got here. Nonsense, joke, bad joke!

  7. Reply Janae Wilkinson January 31, 2016 at 1:36 am

    Yes, superb if you come from a early DV or worn out Hi8. You maybe like the picture, but it just can't be superb. Term is reserved for the best, not the least out from camera world.

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