You’d think that with smartphones and high-end digital cameras both able to shoot video, the market for high-quality, dedicated camcorders would have disappeared by now. Instead, demand is high – and camcorder makers have responded with a great lineup of models that are reasonably priced yet packed with pro features.
These mid-range, or prosumer, camcorders cost between $500 and $1,500. They’re slightly bigger than pocket camcorders, which I think are obsolete now, but they’re lightweight and can fit into a large coat pocket or a small camera bag. Plus, they shoot silky-smooth, beautiful high-definition footage.
The main reason to buy a camcorder is its high-quality, powered zoom lens. You’d never be able to match the smoothness of a camcorder’s power zoom with the manual zoom lens of a digital SLR – at least not without very expensive accessories.
Built-in image stabilization also ensures steady footage. Most camcorders zoom from 30mm to 300mm, which may also be described as a 10x optical zoom.
Another key feature that sets camcorders apart is the ability to adjust frame rates. Normally, you want to shoot video at 30 frames per second for seamless motion. Having the option to record at 24 fps, however, is fun because it mimics the traditional motion-picture theater experience. If you’re going to shoot a lot of sports or wildlife, you’ll want a camcorder that can shoot at 60 fps.