When you want to purchase a premium quality personal camcorder, you want it to be as future-proof as possible since you will be paying a good amount of money for it, meaning that it must last a few years at minimum without falling off in terms of recording quality or features. In the market these days, 4K HD recording is standard on any camera priced above $600, so you do need to focus on the other aspects such as image stabilization, low light recording quality, microphone quality, and connectivity.
Ease of use is also extremely important, since all of us are not experienced studio professionals, and we don’t want to spend our time figuring out how to make the camera work. Thus you must choose a camcorder that allows you to easily manipulate the settings such as recording mode, shutter speed, exposure, audio controls, etc. Most HD camcorders these days come with built-in wireless connectivity so you can hook them up with your Android or iOS smartphone, and then you can record and stream videos remotely in real time.
Best HD Camcorders under $1,000: What to Look For
But before you go out there and fork out a big chunk of cash on an expensive piece of technology, you need to ask yourself the most obvious question of all- what is it that you plan to do with the camcorder? Will you use it to record birthday parties at home, or will you be using the camera to capture high-quality natural footage for editing in a home studio?
Depending on the answer to that question, you will be buying the best camcorder that suits your needs. It doesn’t have to cost a lot since a lot of consumer grade models offer stunning video quality, and for less than $1000. Also remember that there are 24 hours in a day, and 12 out of those 24 hours are going to be low light or nighttime conditions. So you better buy a camera that can perform equally well in day and night conditions.
This feature is even more important if you plan on recording outdoor footage with your camera. That is where the image sensor of the camera jumps in. There are primarily two types of sensors used today- CCD AND CMOS.
In extremely cheap cameras you are sure to find an extremely small sensor chip that will produce decent looking footage during the day but come night time, and you will have a hard recognizing your own family and friends who are standing 20 feet away from you. In the professional and studio grade cameras, the sensors are much larger, and there
In the professional and studio grade cameras, the sensors are much larger, and there are more than one sensor in a single camera. In fact, most studio grade cameras that are used to shoot films and record live video contain as many as 3 huge CCD or CMOS sensors to provide crisp detail and true to life color.
Then you have your “prosumer” camcorders, the ones with single sensors which are quite big and designed to produce excellent day footage as well as good night time recordings. Those are the cameras that we shall focus upon in this article. After you are satisfied with the recording quality, you need to move on to the zoom, since you will often need to focus on a particular detail or get a close-up view of something really far away.
Camcorders include both digital and optical zoom, but the best camcorder is the one with a powerful optical zoom, preferably above 40 or 50X. Optical zoom is natural and does not distort image quality since it moves the lenses to change the focal length and deliver a bigger image to your eyes. Digital zoom uses the cameras image processor chip to digitally manipulate the pixels and enlarge them so as to provide an illusion of a bigger picture, but if you make the source image too large the pixels start to crack and you lose a lot of detail.
Finally, get a camcorder with good optical image stabilization.
Most good camcorders include 5-axis or higher image stabilization to reduce image shakiness and blur while recording. If you will be using your camera on a tripod most of the time, stabilization is not that big of an issue but is still a good feature to have since you never know when you might need it. As in the case of zoom, go for optical image stabilization over digital as it is much more reliable and natural. Optical zoom actually moves the camera lens to compensate for external motion while digital stabilization uses computer algorithms to rearrange the data received by the image sensor. Finally, get a camcorder with a good
Optical zoom actually moves the camera lens to compensate for external motion while digital stabilization uses computer algorithms to rearrange the data received by the image sensor. Finally, get a camcorder with a good built-in microphone, surround sound is definitely what you should prefer. High-quality video is useless without equally good audio. And, make sure the camcorder has an input for external microphones. Here are at the 4 best camcorders under $1000 that we found after extensive research and analysis of customer reviews.
Panasonic HC-VX870K 4K Camcorder
Pro: 4K recording at budget price, PIP camera mode
Con: Small image sensor
Panasonic has truly stepped up their game in the budget camcorder market, and the VX870K is proof of that. It is one of the cheapest 4K ultra HD camcorders and comes with a bunch of connectivity options that allow you to seamlessly link the device to your phone or laptop. One of the unique features of this camera that most users may find really fun to use, is the PIP or picture-in-picture mode.
What the PIP mode does is, it allows you to wirelessly link your smartphone to your camcorder and then you can snap a picture of the same object from two different viewpoints, on your camcorder and your smartphone. The app creates a simultaneous shot from two different angles and allows you to view the result in a single image that is a combination of the two different images. You can capture video as well as photos in ultra high definition 4K, and can transfer them to your laptop or external storage medium in a jiffy with the USB interface or the SD card.
However remember that you will only be able to record a few minutes of 4K video as it eats up memory space really fast. Just 4-5 minute recording may occupy 2 or 3 GB on the memory card. Despite being a budget HD camcorder, the VX870K includes an amazing 5-axis optical image stabilization system, along with a great built in microphone that suppresses wind noise, and captures clear, distortion free audio. And you don’t have to miss out on all the microscopic details either as the camera provides an excellent 20X optical zoom, along with wide angle Leica lenses, ensuring crisp detail and lively color.
HDR recording provides you with videos that seem highly professional and true to life, by balancing out the areas that are highly exposed as well as lighting up dimly lit parts of the image to provide a more consistent feel to the image, just like what you see with your own eyes. The optical sensor seems to be smaller than the sensors found on more expensive camcorders, which means that the 4K recording is not as good as you would expect, even though standard 1080p HD looks great. Besides, it is not recommended to capture low light videos with this tiny camcorder because the smaller sensor cannot capture enough light to deliver clear video.
Canon Vixia HF G20 HD Camcorder
Pro: Insanely good video quality, great depth-of-field
Con: No 4K, no wireless connectivity
Built to rival professional-level video cameras at a sub-$1000 price tag, the Canon Vixia G20 is equipped with a true 10x HD video lens and an 8-blade iris, that delivers crystal-clear and true to life videos with surprisingly pleasant depth of field.This camcorder is built for functionality and designed to capture excellent footage even in low light,
This camcorder is built for functionality and designed to capture excellent footage even in low light, in fact Canon optimized the 1/3″ CMOS sensor on this model to deliver 20% better in low light. While the actual brightness in low light is still lower than some costlier camcorders, the noise and distortion in night videos seems significantly reduced. It has a 10X optical zoom and Dynamic SuperRange optical image stabilization, allowing even the most shaky hands to capture steady, great looking footage.
Fortunately, the camera comes with 32 GB of built-in flash storage and has slots to add 2 additional SD cards, which allows for more storage than you can possibly use. A 2.7″ touch screen allows for easy access to all camera functions, and a tripod mount allows you to construct your very own professional video streaming set up in your bedroom. The built-in microphones deliver decent, if not great audio, but that can be fixed by purchasing an external microphone.
Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K Ultra HD Camcorder
Pro: Excellent video and audio quality, durable build
Con: Can only record stereo audio in mp4 mode, low battery life
While it is no doubt this is an excellent camcorder under $1000, Panasonic have added numerous gimmicky features that no one will ever use, and if you use them then you’re already poor battery life gets lowered even further. The secondary camera on the back of the touch display is designed to capture videos of a target from two different angles. While it may seem cool on paper, in reality there is a huge difference in quality between the two separate videos/images and the difference in angle is so minute, that it does not introduce any significant additional information.
You can also link the camera to your smartphone with wi-fi but beware that using wireless consumes battery really fast. The battery provided by default lasts a mere 45 minutes in real world scenarios and you must buy an extended battery to get 3 hours or more out of the camera. Despite all these gimmicks, there is no real issue with the core functions of the camera. It delivers exceptional video and pristine, 24.0 MP photos which are stunning to say the least. It can record in 4K, and in case you do not have a 4K display at home, the camera will automatically down-sample the footage so you can watch the recording in 1080p on your TV or PC monitor.
The camcorder is charged via a USB interface and it doesn’t take a lot of time to charge thanks to the super low capacity battery that Panasonic gave us by default. The 5-axis optical image stabilization works excellently and 20X optical zoom paired with Leica Decoma lenses gives you rich and detailed HD footage. External microphone input is provided, but you cannot record in surround sound with an external microphone, which might be an issue for some hardcore users.
Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Camcorder
Pro: Best-in-class image quality and optical stabilization
Con: Viewfinder is hard to use, limited battery life
This is undoubtedly one of the best HD camcorders under $1000, if you can afford it. It records jaw dropping 4K footage and amazing audio thanks to a 5 directional microphone that automatically scrubs out wind noise and enhances speech at close range. The 26.8mm Carl Zeiss lens allows you to capture wider, more detailed panoramic shots. An Exmor R sensor delivers best-in-class low light performance.
The camcorder is capable of recording 4K timelapse, 4K slow motion and 4K pictures, and includes an HDR recording mode that will balance the contrast throughout the image to create an extremely true to life video without any overly bright or dark areas. It can record in XAVC S3, MP4 AND AVCHD codecs with the AVCHD option taking up up the least space. You cannot record in 5.1-channel Dolby audio if you choose the MP4 codec so keep that in mind, however you can attach an external microphone to bypass that limitation.
You can instantly broadcast and share videos via the internet with wi-fi and NFC built into the camcorder. Connecting it to your personal computer or smartphone is super easy and you can even stream real-time footage to people around the world by simply using Ustream. We definitely recommend purchasing the FDRAX53 if you want a future proof, professional-level 4K camcorder for a surprisingly reasonable price.