The 7 Best Video Cameras to Buy in 2017

Just press record to capture every moment with these top video cameras

Sure, smartphones can shoot video, but it's not going to be anywhere near the same quality you'd get from a dedicated video camera. But, before you buy one, you have to know what you're looking for. Are you looking for something to document your whitewater rafting adventure or family vacation? A gift for your teen to support their budding film career? A video camera that can shoot in 4K? Or are you looking to stay under a certain budget? To help, we put together a list of the seven best video cameras, so whether you’re an amateur filmmaker or a hobbyist, these gadgets will deliver impressive performance.

The HC-V770, Panasonic managed to find the right balance of features, hardware, design, value and convenience. It features all the connectivity hardware you should expect from a modern camcorder, and all the features needed to capture beautiful footage. The HC-V770 has 20x optical zoom with a 4-drive lens system, HDR (high dynamic range) video capture, Back Side Illumination (BSI) sensor that suppresses noise, and Full-HD (1080p) slow motion video capture. With WiFi and NFC you can instantly connect to your phone, broadcast in real time and control the cam from your mobile device. It’s also got a bunch of creative filters and effects, and high-quality sound recording. It doesn’t stand out in any one department, but rather hits the mark across the board.

Besteker sells Chinese white-label HD camcorders at an unbeatable price, offering consumers the opportunity to get their own HD camcorder for less than the cost of dinner for two. The camera has high ratings and the title of No. 1 Best Seller in Amazon’s camcorder category. It is no surprise why this camera sells so many units when you look at the specs: a 24MP CMOS sensor and 1080p resolution make for incredible footage, while anti-shake, an internal microphone, and 270-degree rotating LCD screen make for a great user experience. This lightweight device feels comfortable in the hand and comes with a nice bag for easy transportation. Finally, the 1250mAh lithium ion battery will last for almost three hours of continuous footage.

The camcorder market has traditionally been dominated by Sony and Panasonic. In the age before the smartphone, they produced a good bulk of low- to high-end camcorders for all purposes. Now the market for budget versions of these devices has grown super tight, with only a few options available. Really, what’s the point of buying a cheap camcorder if your phone can accomplish the same thing? Among devices that offer actual value for a budget, the Sony HDRCX405 is the best camcorder around, and a great introductory camera for teenagers and first-timers. It shoots Full HD (1920x1080) video at 60p with a 30x optical and 60x clear image (digital) zoom. It’s got a 2.7-inch clear LCD display with face detection, a 9.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, SensorSteadyShot image stabilization, and an intelligent auto mode. The tech is pretty basic, but it’s certainly a contender for any budget/value camcorder.

The Bigaint digital camera has a high performance optical viewfinder for quick and accurate focus and framing, giving your videos a very professional look. The 8MP CMOS sensor with 2x optical zoom and 22x takes nice pictures and captures videos in 720p HD format. While that isn’t quite as crisp as the latest 4K camera, it is priced equivalent for the quality and is an excellent choice for filming vacation memories or sporting games.

Other features include a rotating screen that is perfect for selfies and an auto mode that helps you set up the camera and then record whatever you need. You can expand storage with an SD card and you are included two camera lenses to get different aperture and ISO.

UHD/4K video still hasn’t quite reached maturity, but it’s only a matter of time. As the hardware infrastructure continues to proliferate and support both wired and wireless platforms, the video capture devices become a bit more affordable. For now, though, they’re still pretty expensive, and the Panasonic HC-WXF991K is no different. At just under $900, this is firmly a high-end camcorder. But the 4K Ultra HD recording, LEICA Decoma Lens 20x optical zoom range and in-camera effects and editing modes really seal the deal. There isn’t a whole lot in the realm of features—it’s got in-camera dolly, zoom and cropping effects, as well as WiFi connectivity and a hybrid optical image stabilization—but the 4K shooting is the real selling point here. That alone ensures its compatibility for the next several years.

Amateur and professional filmmakers find the Canon XA30 to be the best handheld digital video camera to make their vision a reality. This compact and affordable device has a genuine Canon 20x High Definition Optical Zoom lens, as well as an upgraded HD CMOS Pro Image sensor that excels in low-light performance, featuring a low-luminance noise rating of +3 dB. The image sensor is 1/2.84-inch with 2.91 Megapixels to capture 2136 x 1362 pixels.

There are plenty of features to indulge your creative impulses, including Wide DR Gamma and Highlight Priority that seamlessly extends colors. You can even capture video at 1200x the original speed. Native 24p recording matches the frame rate of a film camera, a valuable tool for a high quality and professional look.

The design is optimized for compact flexibility. The removable handle is essential for stability while filming, but can be stored for easy transport. It also has an external microphone holder, manual audio control, zoom control, infrared light and a tally lamp. All your connectivity options are here, too, including WiFi and an optional Bluetooth Mic with two-way intercom-like capability. With all the features, you’re set to make the motion picture of your dreams.

If you frequently find yourself wishing that your digital camcorder could get a little closer to the action, then Canon’s VIXIA HF R82 is a great investment. Whether you are stuck in the rafter seats at a sporting match or a field away from an animal at a nature conservatory, the 57x optical zoom range will still capture the footage. The camera has 32.5-1853 telephoto range, which lets you capture a variety of footage and the Optical Image Stabilizer assures that the footage comes out clean. The DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor films in 1920 x 1080 HD resolution that shows on a bright LCD touchscreen. This lightweight camera records up to 12 hours of video to a 32GB internal flash drive, which can be complemented with more memory via an SD card. And you can easily share your long-range captures via built-in WiFi and NFC. 

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