So you’re looking for the best video camera? That’s quite a large question you have there. The reason we would have a difficult time answering that immediately is because the best video cameras nowadays come in many different shapes, sizes, weights, and price-points. Since we’re a website, our readers will of course have some commonalities, but also some major differences that will eventually steer each person in a particular direction. That’s why today we provide you with the ultimate guide to buying the best video camera for you, and our top 10 favorite models to choose from.
Buying guide contents
To start off with our necessity check list before we even look at our best video camera models, we need to first decide which type(s) we’re going to be taking into consideration during our search. When it comes to choosing your camera type, there are a few different ways people decide. We know many who want what’s most popular to make sure they’re up to speed with the market norms — this ensures future support, help and overall confidence the purchase. Others however typically pair up both this factor as well as the next on the list (intended use) to make sure their camera build, quality, and size are optimal for what they foresee themselves using it for.
- DSLR cameras: Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are by far the most popular types of both digital cameras as well as video cameras in the market as of today. Most people you ask (including those salesmen at stores) would recommend grabbing a DSLR camera for not only photography but filming videos as well. The main reason for this is their overall quality, interchangeable lenses for customizing the look of what you capture, affordability (of some), and widespread of support you’ll be getting. They’re also very versatile and are best for pretty much any intended use (aside from a few when it comes to size or how you hold it), however the size may turn you off if you’re looking for something to travel or move around a lot with.
- Mirrorless cameras: An up and coming wave of mirrorless cameras are here, and these are also popular due to their amazing quality and interchangeable lenses. They’re also a bit smaller in size and their autofocus systems are better than DSLRs, however typically priced a bit higher. There are some amazing mirrorless cameras for video out there that we included below. They’re going to be continuing to get bigger and bigger as the years go by.
- Action cameras: Have you those popular point-of-view video clips where the individual is literally wearing a camera on their body? This is what an action camera is. Although most popular for “extreme sports” (snow, moto, atv, etc.), we’ve seen them used for quite a few different and broader applications depending on what type of shot the filmer wants (some have even hooked theirs up to their dogs during a hike!). We have a few models down below in case you were looking for this. We know many who have a spare action camera to accompany their other video cameras just because.
- Camcorders: These are the most traditional video cameras when it comes to overall look and capabilities. Up until a decade ago, these were basically the only video camera option for average consumers to buy. Since then, we’ve seen a huge diversification of camera types (as you can see from this list so far). Camcorders however are still a great option for those who want something a bit more versatile and easy-to-use (their interfaces are usually more user-friendly, they tend to have a strap to rest on your hand easily as opposed to having to hold the camera like with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, and they’re more compact to help with those who travel a lot).
- Point-and-Shoot: Coming in last, these are what many would identify as “digital cameras”. However, as technology advances, many of these models are beginning to have video capability (some even with 4K), which is we feel they have a place in here. Point-and-Shoot’s are amazing for those who want an extremely compact (at least nearly as compact as your phone is) and versatile option to shoot simple videos with. They’re a lot more affordable than other types of video cameras and are great for those who aren’t into the bells and whistles kind of thing.
As you read our write-ups and product pages on different shopping websites, you’ll begin to notice some unfamiliar (to some, at least) camera tech specs. So what do all of these numbers and terms mean? Megapixels? Aperture? Lens length? Optical zoom types? Auto-focus systems? ISO range? Woah, that’s a lot of different, and advanced, terminology.
Do camera specs matter (the discussion in the comments is informative, although more geared towards photographers)? We’ll highlight some of the major (and most important) tech specs below to help you decide for yourself.
- Video resolution: The technical definition for video resolution is “the number that represents the amount of horizontal lines the picture has from the top to bottom” — so a 720p video is made of 720 lines stack on one another, etc. Our biggest recommendation: do not go under 1080p HD. Especially in this day and age, this is the absolute norm as of now, with 4K video resolution making a name for itself as time goes on (not quite yet, so we wouldn’t worry about it yet. Video resolution, paired up with the following tech specs (the few below we explain) will truly determine the quality of your video clips.
- Megapixels: Megapixels measures the amount of pixels that are included in the video (a megapixel is equal to one million pixels). To summarize a rather complex specification, we listed this as second in the spec section because it’s one of the most common types of numbers people make a big deal out of (but not necessarily in order of importance). This specification is more relevant for those into photography, however with video cameras, just keep in mind that megapixels isn’t everything. What you should mostly be concerned about when it comes to measuring the “quality” of your video clips is the type of sensor, processor, and video resolution the camera has. Nothing less than 12 MP nowadays is quite fine for many amateur or even semi-pro videographers.
- Image sensors: This is essentially the built-in unit of your camera that detects and translates the information that creates an “image” or a “video”. It passes through this sensor into signals. The higher quality the sensor, the more clear and accurate the signals (information) of your video is (since the more advanced, quicker, and clearer the information can be). To be able to determine the “quality” of your sensor (since many have their own fancy names by different brands), you’ll have to do some more research on the exact type of sensor and what it’s made out of (and mini-specs that goes into what a sensor is made of). Simply put, the better the camera, the higher quality the sensor will be, and the clearer your videos will appear.
- Image processors: An image processor is what an engine is to a car. This actually process the information your sensor is gaining from the outside world. The higher quality your processor, the better the end result of that information your camera is being given. Pair this up with a high quality sensor, and your overall internal build will be more accurate and clear.
- ISO range: ISO sensitivity measures the cameras overall ability to capture light. The camera then converts the light into the image sensor using electrical signals. To put it simply, the bigger the range, the more spectrum of light and sensitivity to different conditions you’ll be getting.
Many hobbies, activities, experiences, and professional goals can be applied to the word “video camera”. This is why we bring in the intended use of your video camera right after deciding which type you’ll need. Or perhaps you’ll decide which type to buy after delving into your intended use?
Are you filming sports? It would really depend on your exact activity. An action camera or camcorder is best, especially if you’re filming on-the-move or need some versatility. Are you vlogging or creating skits for YouTube videos? DSLR or mirrorless cameras are great. How about getting ready to shoot your new music video? DSLRs, mirrorless, or even camcorders can work.
As you can see, there are some even more pin-pointed and ideal types and models of video cameras to check out depending on your use. It would be impossible to cover every single possible use of video cameras, so we tried to cover the more common areas. However, if you’re unsure, we hope this guide helps you in that area.
Some of our readers already have their price ranges figured out, while others want to see what’s out there before they decide on how much to drop or eventually save for. We’ll be honest — when it comes to video cameras, the range is huge. We’ve seen great budget-friendly options that won’t break the bank for those wanting simpler solutions without crazy features, while other models nearing the thousands for those want top-notch and high-end quality videos to stand out from the rest. It all depends on the person, so we tried to cover most of the common price-points in the video camera world to appeal to most of our readers.
We do have a pretty broad range in our top 10 best video cameras below; however, to pin-point some more precise budgets, we’ve made some separate guides you may be interested in. Otherwise, continue reading.
Video cameras give us a lot more than just a means to capture what’s in front of us. For some, these extra features are absolutely needed and is what they’re actually looking for as they sift through different models. For others, not so much. We recommend trying to find a balance between needed features that will justify the price increase for you and features you’re fine with sacrificing to save a few dollars. This will also be contingent on your intended use.
To give you a slight idea, here are some extra features we’ve seen common with the best video cameras nowadays to keep an eye out for: Different shooting modes, extra low-light sensitivity for those in the dark, image stabilization if you’re on-the-move, built-in WiFi to share, voice activation, slow motion, twin camera use, HDR, intuitive controls, LCD touch screens, advanced built-in microphones, etc. Will you be near water and need some waterproof protection? How about wanting some extra focus with a superzoom camera (these get expensive)? Shockproof, dust proof, and more? We’ll give you the highlights of each model.
We do know quite a few people who want their camera to film their video needs by merely holding what they have without any extra pieces to worry about (which will also depend on your intended use and application). However, we wanted to add this one last to make sure you’ve got it covered or at least thought about this factor when searching for your camera.
This is important not only to make sure you’re ready to use your camera efficiently as soon as it arrives, but also if you’re factoring your budget correctly. Some of these additional pieces of gear can get costly. For example, buying a DSLR camera but the body only will entail you also buy a lens. Although some lenses are quite cheap, others can cost nearly the price of the body itself!
Aside from that, there are a few other popular additives videographers need. How about a tripod, flash mount, or carrying case? Perhaps an external microphone? Do you have your video production software yet? Let us know if you need some recommendations.
Sony Alpha a6000
- Full HD 1080p quality at 24 or 60 fps (XAVC S video)
- BIONZ X Image Processor
- 3.0″ tilting LCD (921k-Dot Xtra Fine)
- Multi-interface shoe
- Built-in flash
- 24.3 megapixel (APS-C Exmor Sensor)
- 11 fps shooting
- ISO to 25600
- Built-in WiFi
- Weight: 12 ounces
To begin our list of the best video camera, we’ll start with one of our absolute favorite models in the market right now. For a camera that offers high quality at a great price, here’s the highly rated and reviewed Sony Alpha a6000. This one is a mirrorless camera type and it offers four different dimensions of auto focus (4D) to make sure that each image and movement is captured with efficient precision and focus, including a wide focus that accounts for height and width, a depth focus that zeros in on speed, and a tracking focus that predicts movements before they occur (talk about advanced — something mirrorless are known for). The high quality processing system and larger lens helps create sharper images and reduces any blurry images you may normally get with movement, assisting those amateur videographers in creating the perfect clip and shot worthy of their projects, whatever it may be. With also a relatively portable and compact size that makes it decent for travel as well, the Sony Alpha a6000 video camera offers great qualities for a reasonable price. We also love this one as first since it’s pretty versatile for a multitude of different applications to span across most of our readers.
Canon EOS Rebel T5
- Full HD 1080p video resolution (30 fps)
- 3.0″ touchscreen (1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle)
- 18 megapixels (APS-C CMOS Sensor)
- DIGIC 5 Image Processor
- 5 fps Continuous Shooting
- ISO 12800 (expandable up to 25600)
- 9-Point Cross-Type autofocus system
- Weight: 19 ounces
Up next, we have one of the most popular DSLR cameras of all time. Highly rated and well-reviewed, the Rebel T5 is the best video camera for the filmer for smaller-sized projects on YouTube and thelike as well as those looking to capture each moment to look back on for years. Able to move seamlessly from pictures to video, all it takes is a click of the Live View/Movie Recording button to move into full HD video mode. Plus, with Scene Intelligent Mode, this video camera adjusts your exposure, brightness, and lighting, and even takes into account the people and objects within the frame to capture the clearest image. The 18.0 Megapixel sensor ensures that each photo or video has a precise clarity, and with the ability to shoot up to three frames per second (fps) you can be guaranteed to capture each image you are looking to shoot. A lightweight design that does well in outdoor and rugged environments, the Canon EOS Rebel T5 is a reasonably priced video camera with up-to-date features and is one of our favorite (and many others) DSLR camera with video in the market today.
GoPro HERO 5 Black
- 4K video resolution
- 12 megapixel photos (Single, Burst, and Time Lapse modes)
- 2-Inch touch display (play back, setting changes, etc.)
- Waterproof (up to 33 ft. without housing)
- Advanced Video Stabilization
- 30+ GoPro mounts and accessories available
- Share and/or access from anywhere
- Weight: 4.2 ounces
The GoPro HERO5 Black is one of the best video cameras designed for those who want an action type with high-tech features such as voice activation and one button for all uses. For the daredevils out there, the GoPro is a camera that can be mounted in too many ways to count, or even held by hand during different activities. It has some great video stabilization (it gets better each version) that allows you to capture your exciting moments while they are happening. Plus, it is waterproof and can be used in up to 33 feet of water, letting you film videos or take pictures no matter what environment you’re in. The video camera is small in size, and has a two-inch touch screen that allows you to edit your photos directly on your camera before sending them off to your device via the WiFi capability. Also, as mentioned earlier, the video camera has the ability to be voice activated, allowing you to find the perfect angle for your selfie without having to contort your arm to reach the button. With simple use and a portable design, the GoPro HERO 5 is a high quality action video camera for a relatively high price that’s worth it if you have the cash. We love Pocket-Lint’s GoPro HERO 5 review for some more information if it’s peaking your interest.
- 4K HD Recording (29.97/23.98p up to 305 Mbps)
- 1″ CMOS Sensor
- DIGIC DV 5 Processor
- ISO Range: 100 to 20,000
- HDMI Output for 4K Monitoring
- Tilting Hand Grip (ergonomic)
- 10x Zoom
- Card Slots: SDHC/SDXC and CFast
- Aperture Range: f/2.8 to 5.6
- Weight: 2.4 lbs. (with battery\lens)
Proving to be leading experts in the camera industry, the next best video camera on our list is the Canon XC10. It is high-priced but one of the best cameras for both amateur and professional videographers who have a high budget and aren’t messing around when it comes to their video projects. Lightweight and portable for everyone on-the-go, this 12 Megapixel video camera has a 10x zoom lens that lets you capture recordings and stills both near and far, and stabilizes the images to make sure you have precise clarity in each of your shots. Slow motion and fast recording is also possible with the updated image processor, and it is equipped with multiple recording options to make sure you capture your footage in a way unique to each individual user. Higher on the budget scale than many of the other cameras featured on this list, the Canon XC10 is the best video camera for those with an eye for videography and a desire for quality upgrades and features.
- Full-HD (1920 x 1080) at 120 fps
- 20x Optical Zoom
- 4-Drive Lens System
- HDR (High Dynamic Range) Movie
- Wireless Twin Camera (use smart phone simultaenously)
- Back Side Illumination Sensor
- Wind Shield Zoom Microphone built-in
- Built-in WiFi
- Weight: 12.5 ounces
Built with the classic look of a portable video camcorder and with the ability to shoot two frames at once via Smartphone capability, the Panasonic HC-V770K is the best video camera for the multi-tasker in all of us. The camera is equipped with a 4-Drive Lens System that allows you to zoom up to 20x a normal lens, letting you capture images from far away with an up-close-and-personal look. Plus, with a click of the screen you can switch into slow-motion mode to capture those stills with a unique perspective. Lighting is also never a problem with the High Dynamic Range (HDR) movie capability, balancing high and low lights to create a clear image in viewing playback. This is further enhanced with the Back Side Illumination (BSI) sensor, making out those darkened images with precise clarity so every shot can be seen. Also, as stated earlier, with a WiFi capable smartphone, you can shoot with both the video camera and your phone to get two different frames at the exact same time, making this multitasking with the Panasonic HC-V770K desirable for any user. It’s one of the best camcorders in the market in our opinion.
Canon PowerShot G9 X
- 1080p Full HD video (60p/30p/24p)
- 20.2 Megapixel CMOS Sensor (high-sensitivity)
- Low-light performance (f/2.0–4.9)
- 3X Optical Zoom
- 3.0-inch touch panel
- ISO range of 125–12800
- Continuous shooting speeds (up to 6.0 fps)
- Weight: 7.4 ounces
Time for our point-and-shoot pick. As another Canon to add to the list, the PowerShot G9 X is that classic looking digital camera with all of the upgrades needed for high quality videos. Easily to transport and weighing in at only 7.37 ounces, this is one of the best lightweight video cameras and comes equipped with 20.2 Megapixels of resolution to deliver images with precise clarity. An intuitive User Interface lets you adjust, focus, and customize directly on the camera on the responsive touchscreen, and easy controls bring simplicity in all of your shots as you thumb through your settings to capture the perfect video. If you’re also planning on taking some photos, the ‘Control Ring’ lets you adjust how quickly the shutter speed is working to capture your images, while also giving you the unique details that add to the realism of your shot. A reasonable price with a user-friendly interface makes the Canon PowerShot G9 X one of the best video cameras on the market, especially if you wanted something compact and easy to hold in your traveling adventures.
Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera (EF Mount)
- 2.5K Image Sensor
- 2.5K (2432 x 1366) video resolution
- Multiple frame rates (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30p)
- Multiple video formats (12-bit RAW, DNxHD, ProRes)
- LCD Touchscreen (metadata built-in)
- Thunderbolt port
- SDI video output
- SSD drive removable (records to 2.5″)
- Mic/line audio inputs
- Canon EF Lens Mount (if you grab this version)
- Weight: 3.75 lb
With 13 stops of dynamic range and a 2.5K image processor, the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera is one of the best video cameras for the future film maker who plans on doing it right. The 12 bit Cinema DNG RAW captures images in a realistic and untouched way, allowing the user to go back and include clarity and precision in color with the DaVinci Resolve, an included color correcting software that gives customization and control to the user. The touchscreen displays lets you set up your shot, adjust, and customize before beginning to film, and with a quick double tap of the screen you can zoom in to focus on the object in the frame for a closer look. If you are looking to channel your inner filmmaker and are shooting frames out of sequence, the Metadata Entry allows you to have a time code and scene number added to each shot, so it is easier to locate in your editing and post production. A high budget video camera with a compact design, the Blackmagic Design Cinema is one of the best video cameras available for the aspiring videographer with features only those who know what they’re doing will care about.
- 1080p Full HD video
- Image Stabilization Lens (18-55mm VR)
- 24.2 Megapixels
- DX-format CMOS Image Sensor
- 5 fps continuous shooting
- ISO: 100-12800 (expandable to 25600)
- 6 common Scene Modes
- Optical viewfinder
- Active D-Lighting
- Weight: 23.4 oz
An old-school camera feel with the updates to fit the modern world, the D3300 is a reasonably priced DSLR video camera equipped with WiFi features to make all photos and videos accessible and instant. This is definitely one of our favorite budget-friendly DSLR camera picks. With 24.2 Megapixels and 1080p Full HD footage, this video camera has the ability to shoot five frames per second with high-resolution clarity in all shots. An image stabilization lens also offers the guarantee of focus on your subjects without the concern of residual blur. Multiple filters and effects, such as black and white photos or auto focus for simplicity, give you a unique feel to all of your images, and a ‘Panoramic Mode’ lets you pan across various scenes for wide-angle shots you wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture. Using a wireless adapter you can connect all of your photos and videos directly to your smart phone, where you can edit and add effects instantly after a shot is taken. The Nikon D3300 is by far the most popular DSLR camera for those within a lower to middle price-point budget-range.
- Full 4K HD Recording in XAVC S
- 12.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor (full-frame)
- BIONZ X image processor
- Gapless On-Chip Lens Design
- Tilting LCD Monitor
- ISO: 50-409600
- 25-Point Auto-Focus System
- Weight: 1.1 lb
Now we’re talking about a beastly video camera. Compact form, great in low light, intelligent auto focus, and wide sensitivity range area are just some of the capabilities included with this amazing mirrorless camera. If you have the high-end budget, this is one of the best video cameras designed with the precision of professional quality photos in mind since it is a technologically advanced camera that offers high-tech features. A full frame 35mm camera with 4K video, this video camera enhances the sensitivity of all light exposures to capture the minute details of all images, both still and in motion. The processing engine lowers outside noise that detracts from the subject and focuses in on the object in the frame, while the shutter produces next to no noise when taking multiple shots in a quiet atmosphere. Spatial object detection lets this video camera have enhanced auto focus, taking the guess work out for the user and giving more time to act quickly in each shot. The Sony a7S video camera offers you instant access and high precision images. Just check out that video demo to see what we’re talking about.
- 7 different video modes (full HD)
- 170° ultra-wide lens (ZEISS Tessar)
- BIONZ X processor
- Exmor R CMOS sensor
- SteadyShot technology (helps with autofocus)
- Wind noise reduction
- Live streaming capabilities
- White balance and AE shifting
- Live-View Remote for playback and other options
- Multi Camera Control
Last but not least, we have another action video camera to take into consideration. Designed for the adventurous spirit in mind, the final camera we are looking at is the Sony HDR-AS200V. This is one of the best decently priced action cameras meant to withstand all environments to help you capture each daredevil moment life has to offer. With a body able to withstand rugged terrains and a waterproof design, this camera can be taken almost anywhere to document every exciting moment. The ultra-wide lens gives a panoramic view of 170 degrees, while the BIONZ X processor gives you a ‘Steady Shot’ feature that stabilizes each image close to three times its normal shot so you never miss any of the action. Utilizing this feature are capabilities such as live streaming for viewers from afar. Wind noise reduction lets you capture the object in motion without worrying about environmental noise, and with the option to create a highlight reel of all your best shots, your movies become their own theatrical trailer when watching with friends when using the Sony HDR-AS200V. We recommend this action camera if the GoPro was too expensive — its making it’s ranks among popular video cameras of all time.