Camcorders buying guide

Choose your camera type

Action camera / Dash cam

Sports, high-octane hobbies, cycling, car dashboards

Lightweight, durable and compact cameras, designed to capture energetic pursuits and action-packed moments. Ideal for tracking your cycling commute, for car insurance purposes and for sports

Features you'll like:

  • Often waterproof or weather-resistance
  • Light and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Easily attached to helmets, bikes and vehicles
  • Most film in high definition

Things to consider:

  • Often they have no optical zoom
  • You need to use it with a smart device
  • Fewer manual settings

Drone cameras

Aerial footage, speedy and manoeuvrable filming

You can fly or drive drone cameras, allowing you to capture footage you never thought possible without a professional film crew and equipment – and on a fraction of the budget.

  • Impressive pro-style shots
  • Effortless aerial footage with flying drones
  • Many have high quality optical zoom
  • Highly manoeuvrable and versatile
  • Most film in high definition

Things to consider:

  • Regulations – there are rules about flying in congested areas
  • Privacy is also an issue when flying a drone
  • Not suited to many everyday filming scenarios
  • Fewer manual settings

HD cameras

Family movies, amateur films, hobbies

Great all-rounders. Full HD is the minimum standard on most cameras now, for full colour and vivid images. Higher end camcorders have impressive 4K HD functionality

Features you'll like:

  • The best possible sound and picture quality
  • 4K HD keeps up with developing TV technology
  • Many are handheld – light and portable
  • Flexible and versatile with plenty of settings

Things to consider:

  • High-end 4K HD sits at the top end of the price range
  • Not as rugged as action cams
Shop HD cameras

Virtual reality / 3D cameras

Filming 360-degree footage

Virtual reality (VR) has developed significantly in the last year. Use these cameras to create a 360-degree film, then put on your VR headset and experience memories all over again

  • Futuristic filming and immersive viewing
  • Can be attached to surfaces for on-the-go filming
  • Film in full HD

Things to consider:

  • High-end tech means higher prices
  • You’ll need a compatible VR headset
  • For 3D filming, you'll need a 3D-compatible viewing platform
  • Emerging technology means fewer products to choose from

Choose your accessories

 

What's in the box?

A manual, AC adaptor and cables for PC or Mac connection.

A hand strap is often supplied, along with a manufacturer's own brand editing software


Carry cases

These are not usually supplied, but a durable carry case is a good idea to protect your camcorder and keep all your equipment in one place

 

Memory cards

Most camcorders have a memory card slot, so it's worth investing in a memory card so you always have enough room to capture special moments

 

Guarantee

We offer a 2 year guarantee on all camcorders, extendable to 3 years if you purchase an extended warranty (also covers repairs in the event of damage)

Learn more about features

Audio Dubbing
Add your own commentary or soundtrack to the footage

AE (Auto Exposure) modes
AE modes are tailor-made for different conditions such as Sports, Sunset, Landscape and Portrait with shutter speed, exposure and focus adjusted automatically. Some camcorders also have manual overrides for extra creative control

Night vision
Many camcorders allow you to film even in total darkness by using infrared light to produce footage taken at night

JPEG files
The file format used to store compressed still images

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen
This is a large screen for viewing images and choosing settings

 


CCD

CCD stands for Charged Couple Device. It's the light-sensitive chip in a digital camcorder used to store images. It uses an optical sensor to convert light into electronic signals for high-quality still pictures

Compression
This is the process that shrinks file size: this means more data can be stored on the memory card. Compression makes for speedier saving and downloading of footage, and also means it is easier to email them. Because compression results in a small amount of data loss, it is best to buy a camcorder which takes uncompressed data if you want only the sharpest possible results

Digital zoom
This essentially zooms by cropping in-camera: if you'll be zooming a lot, consider a camcorder with a powerful optical zoom (see below)

DV Terminal
Directly connect your camcorder to your PC for picture editing and processing

FireWire 800
A fast method of file transfer. Both your camcorder and PC must have FireWire ports in order to transfer footage

GPS
With GPS you can 'geotag' clips and stills during your adventures, making it easy to remember where every moment happened

H.264
A type of compression used to store high definition video

 

Hot shoe
A device that allows you to attach an external flash unit

Image stabilisation
Compensates for hand movements causing camera shake or processes the image to help keep the picture steady. A digital image stabiliser provides an adequate amount of stabilisation, while top-of-the-range camcorders use a more sophisticated optical stabilising lens

Manual focus
Essential for situations when auto focus can't cope, such as shooting through a window, when an image lacks detail or when you want to concentrate on something closer to the lens than the main subject


Long play

Three times longer than standard, e.g. 4 hours of footage on an 80 minute tape

Macro
Using macro settings you can get close up shots in complete clarity

Megapixels (MP)
The greater the number of pixels, the better quality imagery you’ll get – more megapixels also means the file size will be larger

Memory card
Memory sticks, MMC (Multimedia cards), SD (Secure Digital) and SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards are all types of memory card. SDHC cards have a greater storage capacity over regular SD cards. Memory cards offer extra space for footage, and make it easy to transfer images and videos from your camcorder to your computer for editing and sharing

Memory card slot
A slot on the camera where you put the memory card

 

MPEG files
MPEG stands for Moving Pictures Experts Group, and is the file format used to store compressed video

Optical zoom
Digital zoom works by enlarging the central 50% of the image, while optical zoom actually moves the camera lens to magnify the image, for high-quality zooming

Special effects
These can enhance footage to really capture the moment, and can include mirrorball, strobe light, black and white, sepia, slim and stretch modes. They can be seen on the LCD monitor or through the viewfinder as you record, although some effects can be added into the playback or while editing

Wireless capabilities

Many camcorders can now connect with your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to adjust exposure, take snaps and frame shots remotely on their screens

Zoom
There are 2 types of zoom: optical and digital. See details in this glossary for more details on each