Whether you love to keep videos of special events and occasions or you are just into video recording and photography, then a good camera is a must-have. As technology evolves, it is no surprise to see smartphones with 4k video recording capacity and other professional settings that are typically found in a camera such as professional or manual shooting mode and DSLR capabilities. However, our smartphones are still limited in terms of features when compared to the camcorder or other digital cameras. This is the key advantage of a professional camera over a smartphone camera while aiming for a sleek design, manufacturers of smartphones often have to compromise on several key features all of which are available on the digital camera.
Originally most camcorders were tape-based and the recording was stored on the now outdated videotape. One disadvantage of this was the limitation posed by the videotapes, recordings of several hours could require many tapes. This was later ditched when digital recording came into existence around 2006. With the advent of digital camcorders capable of storing up data in different storage media such as a micro SD card, the unit became more portable and advanced.
The Top 4 Best Camcoders for Filmmaking College Students
In this article, I will list out four best Camcorders that can be used for filmmaking. The aim is to help you make the best choice possible when shopping for your camcorder. The basis for our comparison and selection are the reviews provided by users, my personal review and also the manufacturers’ specifications of the product.
Some key points of interest will be the price tag, specifications, users experience and how the product price matches up with the specs offered. I will also highlight some features that make one product different from the other. There is no bias in terms of preference for a particular product or its manufacturer, our decision is based solely on the information obtained through research and user reviews. This article is intended as a guide and links will be provided for each product mentioned in the article.
So, our top Four Best Camcorders for filmmaking are:
Canon XA11 Professional Camcorder
The Canon XA11 is one of our best camcorders and selling at affordable price, it offers some great features all packed in a compact body that weighs about 1.6 pounds.
Description and Specs
The Canon XA11 features a 20x optical zoom lens with 8 apertures for a perfect background blur. The image processor is also top of the class with an aperture of 1/2.84 inch, the 2.91 MP HD CMOS Pro image sensor captures stunning images with 2136×1362 pixels.
The +3db low-luminance noise rating guarantees clear image quality in low light conditions. This camcorder also has a full HD recording capability in both AVCHD and MP4 formats. For media storage, the Canon XA11 has dual card slots with compatibility for both SDHC and SDXC universal media cards, it also supports simultaneous recording on both cards as well as Relay recording (switching between media cards while recording).
The 3.0-inch LCD display mounted on the camcorder has a wide-angle field of view and provides vibrant colors. An electronic viewfinder incorporated within gives a 100% field of view at 1.56 million res, this can be tilted as desired with a joystick to control the settings without touching the display.
To further reduce the noise while shooting, the XA11 has an intelligent Optical image stabilization system with different IS options that can be selected either manually or automatically.
Reviews and Rating
The XA11 has an excellent rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Most reviews were positive one user experienced rapid shutdown likely due to a defective product and another complained about the low light color saturation. Since both of these complaints weren’t widespread, it is safe to assume that overall, the XA11 is a good value for the money.
Specific features which the users really loved and found useful are:
• Great video and photo quality even in low light conditions
• Ability to stream live media
• Size and weight
• Great Optical image stabilization system and;
• XLR compatibility
Sony PXW-X70 Professional Camcorder (Handheld, Compact & Suitable for Low-Light conditions)
The Sony PXW-X70 Camcorder is a top contender and also a step up from the Canon XA11 or is it? Considering its price tag one may be led to believe that it has more to offer, although this may be the case, the PXW-X70 weighs 5.05 pounds, about 3.45 pounds more than the Canon XA11. However, it should be noted that the increase in weight could mean additional features. Let us take a look at its specs and user reviews.
Description and Specification
Out of the box, this handheld camcorder spots a 20mp Exmor R Cmos Sensor which is capable of shooting 4k videos with minimal noise suitable for low light conditions. Fitted with a 29mm wide-angle Carl Zeiss Vario Stunner T lens, the image quality is stunning and the lens offers the ability to shoot in various pro levels with features such as 12x optical zooming, 24x clear image zoom and 48x magnification using a digital extender which utilizes the full potential of the lens.
The Sony PXW-X70 has integrated WIFI and wireless functions that support remote access/control as well as streaming and file transfer. The 3.5-inch LCD is not only bigger but also better than the Canon XA11 as it has a higher resolution, the OLED viewfinder, on the other hand, has a resolution a little below that of the Canon XA11. However, both devices offer the best in class video and image quality.
Other features of interest are HDMI and 3D-SDI outlet which supports signal transfer at HD1080 60P, picture profile function for manipulating the image characteristics such as color level, gamma level, etc., an XRL handle unit which extends functionality like attaching external microphones, dual media slots for simultaneous and relay recording and Sony slow and quick motion integrated into the camera.
Reviews and Rating
The Sony PXW-X70 has a rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars from 22 reviews on Amazon. Some users complained of bricking their cameras during a software update and the additional price for unlocking the 4k functionality which they believe was unfair claiming that there are other cameras that will offer similar functionality for free.
A few users made mention of bad ergonomics, especially where the controls are placed below the LCD. Overall, they all agreed that the camera has a solid build capable of delivering excellent video quality. In my opinion, the firmware upgrade can be carried out by verified Sony dealers and or if you aren’t interested in the 4k functionality, then you can stick to the software version out of the box and enjoy a seamless experience.
The camera offered incredible specs with a high caliber lens, accessories to enhance performance, a beautiful LCD panel, and several functions that help in shooting at a professional level.
Canon XC15 4K UHD Professional Filming Camera (4K UHD Wide-Angle 10x Zoom Lens with Image Stabilizer)
This is a professional camera capable of shooting both videos and photos at 4k UHD and FHD with still captures up to 12.0mp making it a strong contender. Weighing 3.98 pounds, the XC15 comes with a good price tag. Looking at the specs and reviews, we will know if users consider this to be a fair bargain or not.
Description and Specification
As mentioned above, the Canon XC15 is equipped with a 10x wide-angle optical zoom lens with the 4K capability and a 12mp CMOS image sensor that can be used for both video recording and shooting stills. This makes the Canon XC15 the first on our list to feature a hybrid design.
The LCD panel is also updated from that of the Canon XA11 reviewed earlier to give a crisp view and provides easy access to camera controls and settings via the capacitive touch integration. The MA-400 Pro Audio module extends its functionality by adding a microphone holder and two XLR ports for connecting to audio equipment’s.
The optical image stabilization system makes it possible to shoot in three modes as in the XA11. It also features a fast recording technology (Cfast)to keep up with the 4K UHD recording needs. Another less obvious feature is the ability to frame grab a still image from the 4K video files, this makes it possible to extract a frame from any video and convert it into a still photo with about 8.3 megapixels.
It also supports wireless operations, a removable viewing hood and a cold shoe mount for extra stability.
Reviews and Rating
The XC15 scored a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon. Judging from the reviews this camera is well received and scored several praises for; beautiful design, professional quality video and photo, perfect weight and size, and a good value for the money. What I like most about this camera is the compact nature. Despite packing some great features, it still maintained a reasonable weight.
Panasonic AG-AF100 Professional Micro 4/3 HD Camcorder (with Wireless Remote Control with Battery)
Topping all the other cameras in terms of weight and price tag, the AG-AF100 is no small contender as it equally amassed a 5-star rating on Amazon. Weighing 9.25 pounds with a price tag, this camera is obviously a beast. To understand the reason for its incredible success, we must look into its specs and reviews from satisfied customers.
Description and Specifications
The Panasonic AG-AF100 spots a Full HD resolution at 1080/720, a 4/3 image sensor capable of shallow depth of field and further equipped with an interchangeable lens micro 4/3-inch mount. This will afford users the flexibility to play with several different lenses while shooting. Other interesting specs include:
• Support for recording at variable frame rates
• Professional audio capabilities
• Support for SDHC and SDXC media
• Wireless functions
• Complete set of controls for a cinematographer
• 2x XLR inputs for professional sound
Reviews and Ratings
Users who reviewed the product gave a general admiration with most of it centered on its ease of use especially for those making a jump to the digital world of cinematography, low light performance, small size (which explains the weight), and flexibility of operation.
In selecting the best camcorder, you should have an idea of some key features you will be using. The reason for this is because although all 4 Cameras mentioned in the article are top professional cameras, they have their strengths and weaknesses.
The term “weakness” here doesn’t mean a fault but rather a feature that isn’t a key selling point of that particular camera. For instance, some users found the 3.0 LCD too small while several others wouldn’t consider it a problem. Some of the things to consider while shopping for one of these cameras are:
• Key Functions that affect performance (like the availability of remote access, simultaneous recording, and relay recording), and;
• Available accessories
Depending on the application, all the Cameras listed in this article outperform their rivals in many key areas of functionality and they also share certain similarities such as:
• Advanced image sensor
• Advanced Optical Image Stabilization system
• Advanced zooming capability
• Ability to shoot high-resolution videos (FHD, UHD, and 4K) and still photos
• Wireless features for remote access
• Additional accessories (such as the cold shoe mount and MA-400 professional audio module which give extra functionalities,)
• Ability to shoot in different codecs;
• Interchangeable lens
It is important to note that not all codecs are widely supported and some technologies such as the Cfast, may require special media for storage. The later can be solved by purchasing a good video converter while the former will need high-end SD cards.
Some users also mentioned that the files produced required a computer with strong processing power. This is not surprising since the cameras mentioned above produce high res videos that will usually have large file sizes.
To purchase any of these products, kindly click on the name listed in the article and you will be directed to an Amazon page where you can make your purchase.