Unfortunately these days there is a little confusion about what “HD” actually refers to. When the format was initially introduced, 1080 pixels of vertical resolution was HD and 720 pixels was called enhanced-definition or “ED”(I know, if you watch those Viagra commercials you probably think ED refers to something else). Now that TVs with 720 pixels can process HD signals, manufacturers have taken to calling them HD and 1080p TVs “full” HD. For the purpose of this article, all the camcorders I will be reviewing are 1080p.
Now that you have a little idea of the difference between 1080p and 720p, I would like to consider the best HD Camcorders on the market today. Camcorders have come a long way since videocassettes were released. They used to be big, heavy, battery-draining devices that had poor picture quality and tinny sound.
Now camcorders are small, stylish, portable, and light. They record at a much higher definition and with much greater precision than the original camcorders. Here is a look at what I believe are the top five 1080p HD camcorders on the market:
5) Canon Vixia HF 200: A snapshot mode, 15x optical zoom, and a vivid 2.7 inch LCD screen are all available in this high quality camcorder from Canon(1). The video it shoots is sharp, and the stills are reasonable. It records using SD memory cards. It is the video image processing components that make this camcorder worth its relatively hefty price($677.71 at Buy.com).
Expect perfect video every time in this portable, lightweight, full-featured camcorder. It is a more dedicated camcorder than some of the others on this list, so if you are looking for a camcorder that you can also use as a still camera, you might consider something else. If you want a dedicated camcorder, this is great for the price.
4) Sony HDR-CX110/L: This member of Sony’s Handycam lineup has an impressive 25x optical zoom, 300 x digital zoom, USB and HDMI ports, and a slew of camera scene and white balance modes. It records using SD cards or Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick Pro Duo(2).
With the powerful zoom options on this camcorder, nothing is going to be out of range. Got crappy seats at the game? Don’t worry about it. You’ll still get great shots on the field or the court with this camcorder. With all the specific scene and white balance modes, the image quality is impressive even under that most dreaded of situations, low light. I found this camcorder for $441.19 at Provantage.com. For the price, it is a great buy.
3) JVC Picsio GF-FM1: There are a lot of min-camcorders out there(I call them “Flip” style camcorders, since Flip popularized the design), but I feel this is the best of the lot. It has image stabilization, can shoot 8 megapixel still photos, and uses SD cards(3).
For the price(I found it for $98 at 6ave.com), it does most of what you will need a camcorder to do. It will perform well for birthdays, videos for Youtube, and other simple tasks. You probably don’t want to tape your wedding with it, but for the price it has true HD and acceptable picture quality.
2) Sanyo VPC-HD2000A Xacti 8 MP: Shaped a little like some kind of high-tech laser pistol, the Xacti is a small wonder. Despite its compact size, it manages to pack in a 2.7 inch LCD screen, stereo microphone, and 10x optical zoom lens. It can also shoot 8 megapixel still photos(4). It uses SD cards for storage.
Special features of this camcorder include iFrame compatibility and a super slo-mo mode, which surprised me. Some camcorder slo-mo modes have substantially degraded picture quality, but the Xacti looked flawless. It should be for the price, which will be over $500. I found it for $527.77 at powermax.com. Of note, you can’t directly plug this camcorder into a computer with a USB or HDMI cord. You have to have it on the base to do that. It’s not a big deal, but still something to consider.
1) Toshiba Camileo X100: Shoot video in 1080p or take 10 megapixel stills with this super light, super simple camcorder. A 3 inch LCD touch screen, 10x optical zoom(and 10x digital zoom), image stabilization, YouTube button(which allows you to send your videos directly to YouTube from your camcorder without using a card reader), and HDMI support(5) make this camcorder tops in features. This camera has 4 GB of storage but can use SD cards for more storage.
In my opinion, what makes this camcorder stand out is the simple menu options on the touch screen. The camcorder itself has few buttons to work, incorporating most of the its features and options on to the touch screen menu. This is a great camcorder for those who are in search of a camera with easy to choose options at a decent price. Several sites sell this model for $299, but I found it at Amazon.com for $289.
Have fun with your video camera. Enjoy the HD picture that these camcorders provide. They’re all well built and reasonably priced for the features they have.