Overwhelmed With What Type Of Video Camera To Buy

by Amy
(United States)

Question: I was hoping I could bother you for some advice. I work for a small company that's interested in making training videos to put online. I'm completely overwhelmed with what type of video camera to buy. We want to record someone talking and later edit it with some examples and graphics next to it.

Can you recommend a camera for this? I'm just not sure if we should go with something more expensive as we want it to look professional, or if a cheaper model would work just as well.


Answer: Hi Amy, thanks for your question. I can totally understand where you're coming from - selecting a video camera can be very tough, especially if you have no clue about the models available. Many of my readers are also overwhelmed by what video camera to buy!

One of the first things you should do is to understand the factors to consider when buying a digital camcorder. For example, are you a novice user, intermediate or professional level videographer? Would you need features like interchangeble lenses, optical stabilization and the ability to take still digital photos? And of course, what is your budget?

I've written a good guide on how to buy your first digital camcorder which you should check out.

Having said that, some of the digital video cameras I can recommend at the moment are:

Entry level camcorders: Canon VIXIA HF M300, Panasonic HDC-SD60K or Sony HDR-CX110.

In my opinion, the Panasonic HDC-SD60K is especially good for the beginner in digital video - it has top-notch image stabilization, and impressive video picture quality. The battery about 100 minutes (which is more than prescribed in the manual). The software that comes with it is certainly great and allows you to burn video to a standard DVD in HD or to a Blu-Ray disc.

Mid-range camcorders: Canon VIXIA HF S21, JVC GZ-HM550 and Panasonic HDC-HS700K.

I've read a lot of good reviews for the Panasonic HDC-HS700K. Some folks say this video-camera is close to or even better than some of the low-end professional camcorders.

The quality of the video image is awesome. You can record in 1080p and works well even in low light. You can get great control with WB (white-balance) and IRIS (amount of light entering). The amount of manual controls provided with this prosumer camera is truly awesome - another reason why I believe it can give some of the low-end professional video cameras a run for their money.

Professional level camcorders: Canon XH-A1S, Panasonic AG-HMC40 and Sony HVR-V1U.

The Canon XH-A1S is a lovely professional level camcorder. At first it may look a bit intimidating - but if you want to shoot extremely high quality videos at broadcast quality, this model is the way to go.

I'd suggest you go through a professional digital video book or course to teach you simple things like putting the shoulder strap on, and on to very technical settings on the camcorder.

This is definitely not a device for "home video" but it is great if you want to shoot training films, web videos or independent films.

Amy, for your situation, I'd recommend that you get the Panasonic HDC-HS700K. It is no doubt a tad expensive but it allows you room to "grow into digital video. From the sound of it, you need to tape video that is professional looking (e.g. interviews) so don't go for an entry-level camcorder. But then again, don't go over budget getting a heavy duty professional level camcorder.

The Panasonic HDC-HS700K is a good compromise between the two extremes - I'd say go for it.

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