The best camcorders in 2023: perfect all-in-one video cameras

The best camcorder
(Image credit: Sony)

The best camcorders can certainly compete with mirrorless cameras, but with the convenience of a built-in lens and in most cases, better audio options. 

With 4K cameras (opens in new tab) now being available at every price point, more people are realizing that having a device that is designed solely for shooting video often means that when choosing the best camera for video (opens in new tab), a camcorder is a much better choice than a multi-purpose camera phone (opens in new tab)

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There are several types of camcorders on the market. Normally you will think of smaller, inexpensive all-in-one camcorders for casual and amateur use however, there's a growing professional broadcast market too, as demonstrated by the recent Canon XF605 (opens in new tab).

There is plenty to consider if you're shopping for a camcorder, with the market ranging all the way from friendly consumer camcorders to professional camcorders used for TV broadcast journalism or documentary filmmaking. 

We've put together a list of what we think are be the best camcorders available on the market right now. From small and self-contained styles, designed for holidays and day-to-day casual shooting, to the latest and greatest 4K camcorders (opens in new tab) that produce stunning footage of superior quality, there should be something for everyone and all budgets!

The best camcorders in 2023

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best budget camcorders

Not everyone requires a 4K camcorder, and if Full HD resolution is all you need, then here are some great choices that will deliver great-looking video at a rock-bottom price.

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1. Canon Vixia HF R800

The best camcorder for families

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 1,920 x 1,080px
Image sensor: CMOS
Total pixels: 2.7MP
Dimensions: 53(w) x 58(h) x 116(d)mm
Weight: 305g

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for feature fanatics
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Limited still image resolution

This small palm-sized and go-anywhere Canon Vixia HF R800 is all about family fun. It records at 1080p to SD cards and boasts a huge 57x advanced zoom, DIGIC DV4 image processor along with an Intelligent Image Stabilizer with Framing assist. There’s even a decent parcel of filters, including assorted Cinema-Looks. This is inexpensive to buy and a lot of fun to use.

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2. Sony HDR-CX405

With a 30x optical zoom, this is a great option to capture all the action when it happens.

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 1,920 x 1,080px
Image sensor: Exmor R CMOS
Total pixels: 9.2MP
Dimensions: 54(w) x 59.5(h) x 128(d)mm
Weight: 190g

Reasons to buy

+
Irresistible price
+
Seriously compact

Reasons to avoid

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Expect some noise from the small sensor
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SDXC card required for 1080p

You don’t need to spend big to make great movies – Sony’s HDR-CX405 sells for well under $300 but also comes with a host of sophisticated tricks to help you make extremely polished films. 

The camcorder can record simultaneously in XAVC S, AVCHD, and friendly file-sharing MP4 format. You can edit in-camera using the onboard Highlight Movie Maker and can even apply various visual effects without having to faff around with separate editing programs, which is a real bonus for those that want a simple solution.

There’s a Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 30x optical zoom, with an impressive 26.8mm wide-angle setting. The camcorder even has 5.1 audio capture. Given the spec, you might be hard-pressed to justify spending more, making this one of the best camcorders for filmmakers on a budget.

Best 4K camcorders

4K video has become the new normal for serious filmmaking. It doesn't just give you the step up in resolution either, it gives you great scope for cropping, tracking, and panning, whilst editing your videos later. Here are some great 4K camcorders that let you step up the quality without compromising your budget.

(Image credit: Sony)
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3. Sony FDR-AX43

Portable and affordable, this is a fantastic 4K camcorder

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
Image sensor: Exmor R CMOS sensor
Total pixels: 8.29MP
Dimensions: 173 x 80.5 x 73mm
Weight: 625g

Reasons to buy

+
4K recording
+
Light and compact
+
5.1 channel microphone

Reasons to avoid

-
No HDR
-
Low-light performance can be noisy

The FDR-AX43 may be compact, but it doesn’t skimp on its features. Fronted by a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens, which includes a 20x optical zoom, 4K shooting (with super-down-sampling for 1080p displays), a low noise Exmor R CMOS sensor, and dual-video recording in XAVC S or AVCHD formats, plus easy to share MP4. 

For those who want as if you were there surround sound when viewing their footage on a home cinema or soundbar, there’s also a multichannel 5.1 microphone. However, expect limitations in low light, but if you’re in the market for an easy-to-manage camcorder, capable of 4K video, then this model is a fantastic choice, and that balance between functionality, portability, and the price is why it takes our #1 spot.

Although it looks like it has now been discontinued, it is still available to buy from several camera retailers. 

(Image credit: Canon)
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4. Canon XC15

Upgraded for professional use, a fantastic 4K camcorder with vast zoom range

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
Image sensor: 1" CMOS sensor
Total pixels: 13.36MP
Dimensions: 125 x 102 x 122mm
Weight: 1040g

Reasons to buy

+
4K recording
+
Pro audio solutions
+
5.1 channel microphone
+
Large ISO range (100-20,000)

Reasons to avoid

-
10x zoom only
-
CFast cards for 4K recording

An upgraded follow-up to the XC10, the Canon XC15 is enhanced for more professional use, providing for a more complete audio/video capture workflow in the same compact, ergonomic form factor. It features a 1" 12MP CMOS sensor capable of capturing up to UHD 4K resolution at up to 29.97 fps and 1080p at up to 59.94 fps. It has an integrated 8.9 to 89mm zoom lens with an f/2.8 to f/5.6 aperture. The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27.3 to 273mm in video mode. The lens offers separate focus and zoom rings and auto and manual focus controls.

The XC15 supports both CFast and SD cards. It records 4K video to CFast cards in an MXF wrapper at up to 305 Mb/s in an H.264-based, IntraFrame, 4:2:2, 8-bit codec. 1080p video is recorded on SD cards at up to 50 Mb/s in an H.264-based, Long-GOP, 4:2:2, 8-bit codec, also in an MXF wrapper. 

The XC15 comes with the MA-400 microphone adapter, which connects to an XLR audio input. The MA-400 was originally designed for the C300 Mk II and is geared toward single-user applications such as news gathering. It's shoe-mountable from two different positions and offers an external mic holder.

(Image credit: Sony)
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5. Sony FDR-AX700

High-spec but compact, the Sony AX700 is a capable 4K HDR camcorder

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3,840 x 2,160px
Image sensor: 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS sensor
Total pixels: 14.2MP
Dimensions: 169(w) x 89.5(h) x 196.5(d)mm
Weight: 600g

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
4K video quality
+
Built-in Wi-Fi

Reasons to avoid

-
Big for a palm-sized camcorder
-
Probably not for casual hobbyists

The Sony FDR-AX700 has a one-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor that shoots 4K video in both SDR and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR. Features include a 12x zoom, a big 3.5-inch viewfinder, dual SD card slots, and advanced phase detection AF. 

The FDR-AX700 uses XAVC S for both 4K and HD recording, with recording speeds of 100 Mbps for 4K, and 50 Mbps for 1080p. It will also shoot Full HD 1080p slow-motion at 120 fps. The brand’s BIONZ X image processor keeps images crisp and makes the FDR-AX700 one of the best camcorders for keen videographers and even aspiring filmmakers. A standard SMPTE timecode can be included in recordings.

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6. Canon Vixia HF G60

A more affordable Canon 4K camcorder option

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 4K
Image sensor: CMOS 21.1MP
Total pixels: 8.2MP
Dimensions: 114 x 84 x 231 mm
Weight: 953g

Reasons to buy

+
4K shooting
+
20x zoom
+
Dual memory card slot

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller sensor than Vixia HF G60
-
No Dual Pixel AF

The Vixia HF G60 is the latest 4K model from Canon for serious enthusiasts and semi-professionals. This model only shoots 4K, however, has a big 1-inch sensor and a nine-blade diaphragm that's going to give your footage a more cinematic look than smaller models. With its familiar layout, this is definitely a good step-up model for anyone who has used more basic camcorders. 

The Vixia HF G60 has a 15x zoom lens with five-axis image stabilization, a flip-out 3-inch touchscreen, as well as a tiltable eye-level viewfinder. Another useful feature is that there are two SD card slots.

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7. Canon XC10

Portable, professional -a fantastic 4K camcorder with vast a zoom range

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels
Image sensor: 1" CMOS sensor
Total pixels: 13.36MP
Dimensions: 125 x 102 x 122mm
Weight: 1040g

Reasons to buy

+
4K recording
+
Compact build
+
5.1 channel microphone
+
Large ISO range (100-20,000)

Reasons to avoid

-
10x zoom only
-
CFast cards for 4K recording

The XC10 4K is capable of recording professional Ultra HD 4K video and is presented in a package ergonomically designed for optimal handheld operation and portability. The camera incorporates a 10x f/2.8-5.6 SLR-style manual zoom lens with auto and manual focus capability, along with the camera's 1" CMOS sensor that is backed by a DIGIC DV 5 image processor. With a 4224 x 3164 total resolution, it can capture video at up to 3840 x 2160 and 4:3 photos in up to 12MP (4000 x 3000). 

The 8.9 to 89mm lens yields a 35mm equivalent focal length of a versatile 27.3 to 273mm in video mode or 24.1 to 241mm in the 4:3 photo mode. Video is recorded with H.264 compression and packed in the widely-supported MXF wrapper. Bit rates of 35 and 50 Mb/s are available for 1080i/p recording, along with 205 and 305 Mb/s modes (depending on frame rate) for UHD 4K.

Best professional camcorders

Mention 'camcorder' and most people think of affordable, consumer-friendly all-in-one video cameras, but there's also a growing market for professional camcorders that share the same broad design but are intended for professional news gathering and broadcasting, with underslung grips for a low-angle run and gun shooting or as shoulder-mounted camcorders fitted to chest harnesses or rigs.

(Image credit: Panasonic)
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8. Panasonic HC-X2000

A powerful 4K camcorder for truly professional results

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3840 x 2160px
Image sensor: 1/2.5-type MOS Sensor
Total pixels: 8.29MP
Dimensions: 129 x 159 x 257mm (5.08 x 6.26 x 10.1in)
Weight: 1.5kg / 3.31 lb (with battery and handle)

Reasons to buy

+
Prosumer form factor
+
Superb image quality
+
Incredibly versatile
+
Detachable handle with built-in light

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be unwieldy for the unwary

If you're wanting to shoot like a pro, then this Panasonic HC-X2000 is the best run-and-gun camcorder on our list. Capable of recording 2160p at 60fps, it’s designed for event videographers and enthusiasts. 

Weighing in at 1.5kg it isn’t a casual option, but it is much lighter than its predecessor the HC-X1000 and you can remove the handle with its built-in LED light and mic holder, if you need to travel light. It features a large 3.5-inch color touchscreen and has two XLR professional microphone inputs for professional audio options and dual SD card slots. Not only can it shoot 3,840x2,160 up to 60fps, but can also shoot slow motion at 120fps in Full HD 1080p. 

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9. Sony HXR-NX80

4K with HDR and super fast autofocus

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 4K
Image sensor: 1" CMOS
Total pixels: 21.MP
Dimensions: 260 x 245 x 151 mm
Weight: 2168g

Reasons to buy

+
4K shooting
+
Dual zoom lengths (18x/24x)
+
Telephoto zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Expensive

This is a 4k professional camcorder that you can take wherever you go and can capture stunning and highly detailed 4K HDR video. This compact, palm-style camera offers phase-detection Autofocus (AF) along with HDR capabilities in a relatively small body. 

Suitable for corporate events, broadcast news, and television production, the HXR-NX80 camcorder features a stacked 1" Exmor RS CMOS sensor with 14.2MP, an 18x Zeiss optical zoom in 4k or 24x in 1080p, an OLED viewfinder, and a 3.5" touchscreen LCD monitor. 

This camcorder records 4K in XAVC S 4K codec, and it includes S-Log3/S-Gamut3 functions for additional image control. Additional features include built-in 2.4 GHz for multiple streaming options via RTMP/RTMPS protocols, making this the best professional camcorder for a vast number of applications. 

(Image credit: Canon)
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10. Canon XA40

A 4K camcorder from one of the best in the business

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3,840 x 2,160px
Image sensor: 1/2.3" type CMOS Sensor
Total pixels: 8.29MP
Dimensions: 182.9 x 109.2 x 83.8 mm
Weight: 726g

Reasons to buy

+
Generous 20x lens
+
Professional-quality 4K video
+
1200x slow motion mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Price puts it in pro realm

The impressive XA40 from Canon is a pro-grade camcorder that not only produces stunning 4K footage but also uses oversampling to ensure its Full HD footage is peerless in quality. Its palm-sized build means it's easy to pack up and take with you wherever you want it to go, while the 20x zoom lens gives you real shooting versatility in a number of scenarios. 

Optical 5-axis image stabilization is also a bonus, making it easier to capture professional-looking shots while you're shooting handheld. This is a camera for all seasons and all situations.

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11. JVC GY-HM170UA 4KCAM

A powerful 4K camcorder at a great price

Specifications

Max recording resolution: 3840 x 2160px
Image sensor: 1/2.5-type CMOS Sensor
Total pixels: 9.03MP
Dimensions: 152 x 111 x 256mm
Weight: 2635g

Reasons to buy

+
Prosumer form factor
+
Superb image quality
+
Versatile zoom
+
Top handle with built-in audio inputs

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
poor scratch audio

With Ultra HD recording, this professional camcorder from JVC is designed to fulfill the requirement for professional functionality. It offers ND filters, custom-assign buttons, and professional audio inputs with manual gain control in a form factor closer to a consumer camcorder. 

The camera records up to 3840 x 2180 UHD 4K in 24 or 30p, with a bit rate of 150 Mb/s, encoding the file in an . MOV-wrapped H.264 codec. With two SDHC/SDXC card slots, the camera supports dual, backup, and continuous recording. It can also record 1080p at up to 60 fps in an 8-bit 4:2:2 50 Mb/s .MOV file, or in AVCHD for compatibility with consumer editing software.

What to look for in the best camcorders

If you're considering returning to the world of camcorders for the first time after adventures many years ago with 8mm or VHS-C tape, you might be wondering why you need one at all. 

The key advantage of owning a camcorder over a camera phone (opens in new tab) is that you get a vast optical zoom lens built-in, meaning you can get closer to your subjects without compromising the quality of your image. This is particularly useful when shooting sports and wildlife, and is also something that sets camcorders apart from the best action cameras (opens in new tab).

Of course, camcorders are not the only choice for videographers. The best 4K cameras for filmmaking (opens in new tab) have the advantage of not only providing a gorgeous picture but also offering the capacity for the user to swap lenses. The best cinema cameras (opens in new tab), meanwhile, are designed more for prosumers and professionals, but come with a price tag to match; whilst content creators working on their own will likely be more interested in the best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab).

See also: Best VHS to DVD converters (opens in new tab)

You might also like:
The best 4K camera for serious filmmaking (opens in new tab)
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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.