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Professional Camcorder Buyer’s Guide 2018

Whether you’re web streaming live events, creating YouTube videos, shooting indie films, or doing a little bit of everything, there’s a professional camcorder out there to suit your needs.
Whether you’re web streaming live events, creating YouTube videos, shooting indie films, or doing a little bit of everything, there’s a professional camcorder out there to suit your needs.Whether or not you’re net streaming reside occasions, creating YouTube movies, capturing indie movies, or doing a bit little bit of every part, there’s knowledgeable camcorder on the market to fit your wants.

Professional camcorders are sometimes smaller, lighter, inexpensive, and have extra controls than different digital camera choices. With so many decisions available on the market, from reasonably priced cinema cameras to DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, some great benefits of a fixed-lens camcorder is probably not as straightforward to see as they as soon as have been, however they’re undoubtedly nonetheless there.

Lose The Bulk

At first look, a small cinema digital camera or mirrorless digital camera might seem like probably the most compact choice. Nevertheless, whereas the digital camera our bodies are small, it’s a must to add to it to create a usable rig; your little digital camera can turn into giant and heavy somewhat shortly. With knowledgeable fastened lens camcorder, your digital camera’s lens and equipment are already included in a compact, light-weight package deal. You don’t have the majority of an interchangeable lens mount, and also you don’t have to hold additional lenses. Options like viewfinders, LCD screens, zoom controllers and XLR audio ports are often built-in. All of this results in a digital camera rig that’s smaller and lighter than its mirrorless counterparts.

Save Some Money

In the event you add up the price of an interchangeable lens digital camera physique, zoom lens and equipment, you possibly can very simply spend two or 3 times greater than what a comparable fixed-lens camcorder would value. Even with that additional funding, there’s a great probability you continue to gained’t have all the options of knowledgeable camcorder.

Extra Management

Not many zoom lenses have powered zoom controls built-in. Any such management could make your lens so much simpler and quicker to regulate. Moreover, many new digital camera lenses lack guide iris management, which may make sure working conditions very difficult. These options are commonplace on most fixed-lens skilled camcorders.

Lenses: A WYSIWYG Strategy to Picture Creation

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) is an acronym made fashionable by computing. You won’t assume this might apply to picture creation, however with regards to lenses it may be spot on. For years, cinematographers have used sure lenses to breed colour and distinction, and to create the precise look of a TV present, business or movie. Lens makers have caught on. They attempt to supply and have the look of their lenses stay constant over their complete line, from cinema lenses to nonetheless digital camera lenses to camcorder lenses. For instance, Zeiss lenses are recognized for producing excessive distinction pictures with cool colours; Canon is understood for lenses that produce heat colours with much less distinction whereas Leica lenses produce pictures which have extra balanced colour and distinction. For those who just like the look or try to match the look of footage shot with lenses by makers like Canon, Zeiss or Leica, then discovering a camcorder with their glass is an effective begin.

Once you’re in manufacturing and capturing with a camcorder, you possibly can create footage with the look you’re striving for, and all you’ll need to do is shade right the pictures in publish for a very WYSIWYG strategy. Simply needless to say a lens shouldn’t be a magic wand, it’s only a software. That device mixed with others together with your digital camera, lighting design, and manufacturing design mix to create the look of the pictures you’re producing.

Why Settle For One Zoom Lens When You Might Have So Many Choices?

There are a variety of lens choices available on the market, so why would you select a digital camera with a hard and fast zoom lens? Many ENG digital camera operators select to shoot with the identical zoom lens on their digital camera, regardless that the B4 lens mount presents many different lens choices. Maybe, it’s because the focal vary (the vary between the widest angle of the lens to the tightest, expressed in millimeters similar to Eight-164mm) is enough to get the photographs that they want and the aperture vary (vary of the iris expressed in f-stops) can also be satisfactory–in order that they actually don’t want some other lenses. This strategy holds true for a lot of different kinds of capturing. It’s not unusual to see all of the steadicam photographs on a function movie captured utilizing a single zoom lens. You may discover that the identical is true in your manufacturing workflows.

It’s not unusual to see all of the steadicam photographs on a function movie captured utilizing a single zoom lens

On a hard and fast lens camcorder, the lens is custom-designed for that digital camera. Whereas this will likely not drastically have an effect on picture high quality, it does sometimes enhance issues like autofocus and picture stabilization. These options could make a camcorder a lot simpler to shoot with.

How Camcorder Lenses Examine

Typically, it’s best to match the focal vary of camcorder lenses (and the way that impacts the pictures captured) by referring to their equal zoom vary in 35mm Full Body. Most of the fashions obtainable have a 10X optical zoom which frequently interprets to overlaying a 35mm FF equal of roughly 30mm to 300mm.

Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom

When an optical zoom is used to push from a large angle shot to a telephoto shot zooming in, the digital camera nonetheless captures the complete lively space of the picture sensor. When a digital zoom is used, the digital camera is definitely cropping the lively space of the picture sensor. Because of this, a digital zoom can typically degrade picture high quality as a result of the digital camera is definitely taking a look at a smaller variety of pixels than the output decision. For instance, a digital camera with a UHD 4K picture sensor might have an lively sensor decision of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Nevertheless, for those who use a 4X Digital Zoom, your lively picture space will then solely be 1920 x 1080 which can then be scaled again as much as 3840 x 2160 inflicting a big lack of element within the picture. Relying on the scaling capabilities of the digital camera, you may even see a shift in shade and distinction as nicely.

Getting Higher Wanting Video Than Your Telephone

Cell phones are persevering with so as to add options like bigger picture sensors, optical picture stability, and optical zoom lenses to permit customers to create greater high quality HD and 4K video. So how do you make sure that your digital camera can persistently document higher wanting movies than a smartphone? Through the use of knowledgeable camcorder, you’ll have higher high quality optics then a sensible telephone though the impact of that higher lens in your picture could also be delicate. Due to this, you’ll need to think about growing your picture high quality through the use of a camcorder with bigger picture sensors and better high quality recording capabilities.

Picture Sensors

Smaller picture sensors are likely to have extra noise within the photographs they produce. A 1-inch or a Micro 4 Thirds sensor will sometimes produce a picture with much less noise than the a lot smaller 1/Three inch sensor sometimes seen in telephones. Nevertheless, picture processing comes into play right here as nicely. Smartphone cameras have picture processors that always scale back picture noise, however this could additionally adversely have an effect on the colour, distinction and element of the picture. The extra highly effective picture processors of higher-end cameras present extra correct and constant picture high quality. Different elements of picture sensor measurement are depth of subject and area of view. These are each essential when making a digital camera selection.

The looks of the depth of area of a picture (the space from the closest object to the digital camera in focus to the furthest object from the digital camera in focus) is affected by the dimensions of the picture sensor in addition to the aperture and focal size of the lens. The broader the aperture, the smaller the depth of subject. The bigger the picture sensor and bigger the focal size of the lens is–so, the smaller the depth of area will seem. A small depth of subject is fascinating whenever you need your topic to face out from a background that’s in mushy focus. A bigger depth of subject is extra fascinating for capturing speedy motion the place sustaining concentrate on a topic is difficult.

Subject of view (the view angle measured in levels that the digital camera sees) is affected by the dimensions of the picture sensor and the focal size of the lens. The bigger the picture sensor, the bigger the sector of view; the smaller the focal size of a lens, the bigger the sector of view might be. In case you’re capturing staged occasions or sports activities the place the digital camera can be distant from the topic, a smaller picture sensor offers you a smaller subject of view and a tighter shot than a bigger picture sensor utilizing the identical size of lens. In the event you’re capturing interiors in small areas, a digital camera with a bigger picture sensor will can help you seize a wider view of the situation.

Professional fastened lens camcorders sometimes have sensors that vary in measurement from 1/Three inch as much as Micro 4 Thirds so there isn’t a scarcity of choices in sensor measurement. Right here’s an inventory of widespread picture sensors and movie sizes from largest to smallest:

  • 35mm Full Body: 36 x 24mm
  • Tremendous 35 Movement Image Movie: 24.89 x 18.66mm
  • APS-C: 23.6 x 15.6mm
  • Micro 4 Thirds (M4/Three): 17.Three x 13mm
  • One inch: 13.2 x Eight.8mm
  • Tremendous 16 Movement Image Movie: 12.52 x 7.41mm
  • 2/Three inch: Eight.Eight x 6.6mm
  • half inch: 6.Four X Four.8mm
  • half.5 inch: 5.76 x Four.29mm
  • 1/Three inch: Four.Eight x Three.6mm

The Key to Greater High quality Pictures is Extra Knowledge

To save lots of on space for storing, many codecs use compression that tosses out knowledge out of your video information. This course of typically degrades picture high quality. Usually, the upper the bitrate a codec makes use of, the much less of a degrading have an effect on it’ll have in your photographs. Some smartphones can document 4K at bitrates of roughly 50 megabits per second (Mbps); this will likely end in ok picture high quality for some purposes however not for all. Excessive distinction photographs and photographs with a considerable amount of element typically must be recorded in larger bitrates to take care of picture high quality. Low bitrate footage can be troublesome to work with in submit. Smartphones don’t are likely to permit you to modify bitrate. In distinction, skilled camcorders offer you a number of choices for bitrates and sometimes file codecs as properly.

As decision will increase, codecs additionally turn out to be extra environment friendly. It’s not unusual to see fewer compression points in a UHD (4K) video recorded at 150Mbps than an HD video recorded at 50Mbps; despite the fact that 3840 x 2160 has 4 occasions as many pixels as 1920 x 1080. As a result of the codec works higher with larger decision footage, picture high quality will increase although the bitrate has not elevated in proportion to the decision.

Why Chroma Issues

Decision and bitrate will not be the one elements that have an effect on picture high quality in recording. How chroma is captured additionally makes a distinction. Chroma is the colour info in a video file. Chroma subsampling is utilized by many codecs to lower file measurement by eliminating colour knowledge. In codecs that use Four:Four:Four shade, all the colour of a picture is retained. With Four:2:2 chroma subsampling (Four:2:2 shade), half of your video’s colour info is discarded. Typically, viewers can’t see the distinction between Four:2:2 and Four:Four:Four colour. In distinction to that, Four:2:zero colour solely retains round an eighth of the unique shade info of a picture. The lack of shade knowledge from Four:2:zero chroma subsampling virtually all the time leads to a noticeable loss in picture high quality when in comparison with Four:2:2 or Four:Four:Four colour.

It’s not simply general picture high quality that’s affected by chroma subsampling. If you want to do visible results work like chroma keys or a whole lot of heavy colour correction, you’ll need to persist with capturing in Four:Four:Four or Four:2:2 shade. The information could also be bigger, however it may well prevent plenty of time in publish. In the event you’re capturing tasks like an organization’s product the place colour accuracy is important, you’ll additionally need to keep away from Four:2:zero shade because it averages colour values between pixels; this typically causes the reproduced colour to deviate from the precise shade you needed to seize. For these causes, Four:2:2 chroma subsampling is turning into the baseline for skilled video workflows.

Media Playing cards Are Low cost. Use Them!

At the hours of darkness ages, footage might solely be recorded to movie or, later, to tape. It was a pricey endeavor. Now SD playing cards are low cost and costlier media like CFast playing cards have gotten extra economical. This media may be overwritten lots of or hundreds of occasions earlier than sporting out, permitting for plenty of training and check capturing together with your digital camera. In the long run, the easiest way to make sure picture high quality with a digital camera system is with a talented and skilled hand working it.

What would you like your viewers to see?

Your stylistic decisions and your sensible wants will dictate the gear you’ll need to shoot with. If you would like your viewers to see vivid pictures on an enormous movie pageant display, you’ll need a cinema-style camcorder or one with nice shade. If you’ll want to stream your video reside, there are cameras constructed for simply that. If you would like a camcorder that may give you a cinematic look however continues to be good for run-and-gun capturing, then a flexible mannequin is perhaps the best choice.

Cameras On The Market

This choice under is a mixture of present skilled camcorders at present obtainable with notation of their greatest purposes.


Four:2:2 4K On A Finances: JVC GY-HM180, $1,495

Sensor measurement: 1/2.33 inch

Lens: JVC 12X Zoom, 29.5 to 354mm (35mm FF equal), f1.2 – Three.5

Weight: 2.Four lb

There will not be a less expensive choice for capturing Four:2:2 4K video than this JVC. The HM180 permits you to document UHD in Four:2:2 colour at 150Mbps or 70Mbps. HD in Four:2:2 shade could be recorded at 50Mbps. The digital camera’s twin SD card slots permit for a number of recording choices. As an example, you’ll be able to report to each playing cards in the identical format, so you have got a back-up. For reside occasions or different conditions the place you want most document time, you’ll be able to set the digital camera to report to at least one card till it’s full, after which change to the opposite with out lacking any of the motion. The digital camera is full of XLR ins, HDMI out, SDI out and two levels of ND filters. General, the HM180 has lots of versatility at an reasonably priced worth.

Canon XC15Canon XC15

The Bitrate Beast: Canon XC15, $1,999

Sensor measurement: 1 inch

Lens: Canon 10X Zoom, 27.Three to 270mm (35mm FF equal), f2.Eight – f5.6

Weight: 2 lb

Most professional camcorders’ recording bitrates max out at 150Mbps with solely Four:2:zero shade sampling for 4K. Nevertheless, with the Canon XC15, you possibly can document UHD at 305Mbps with Four:2:2 colour. The digital camera can even report HD in Four:2:2 colour at 50Mbps. HD video and 12 MegaPixel nonetheless photographs are recorded to SD playing cards within the digital camera, however 4K video requires the velocity of CFast playing cards. The XC15 seems extra like a DSLR than a camcorder with its guide zoom and focus rings, though it packs many professional camcorder options like XLR inputs with phantom energy, an inner ND filter, adjustable achieve (zero – 42 dB), and a waveform monitor.

Most of the options of Canon’s C300 Mark II have been introduced over to the XC15 making it simpler to match footage between the 2 cameras. They each share the identical film appears for adjusting colour in addition to the identical 305Mbps, Four:2:2 colour seize at 24p in 4K. The XC15 additionally allows you to modify shutter in 24th of a second increments which makes it simpler to match shutter speeds when capturing in 24p. The XC15 makes use of a 1 inch sensor and the identical DIGIC DV 5 picture processor used on lots of Canon’s different cameras. The digital camera has a wider angle lens than most professional camcorders with the 35mm equal of 27.3mm (Eight.9mm precise) when absolutely broad.

Sony HXR-NX80Sony HXR-NX80

Palm Sized HDR: Sony HXR-NX80, $2,298

Sensor measurement: 1 inch

Lens: Zeiss 12X Zoom, 29 to 348mm (35mm FF equal), f2.Eight – f4.5

Weight: 2.9 lb

Not too many camcorders supply a 1 inch sensor and HDR (Excessive Dynamic Vary) in such a small package deal. The NX80 helps body charges from 1 to 960 frames per second. The digital camera’s 12X Zeiss zoom lens has a minimal focal distance of 10mm when absolutely large so you possibly can even get macro photographs. The NX80 can document UHD as much as 100Mbps and HD as much as 60Mbps in Four:2:zero shade. The digital camera additionally has XLR ins, HDMI out, Wi-Fi and Lanc management for wired distant management.

Canon XF400Canon XF400

The Documentarian’s Companion: Canon XF400, $2,699

Sensor measurement: 1 inch

Lens: Canon 15X Zoom, 25.5 to 382.5mm (35mm FF equal), f2.Eight – Four.5

Weight: 2 lb

The Canon XF400 4K UHD camcorder is a versatile choice for these capturing interviews, occasions and documentaries. It has a 15X optical zoom lens with the equal to a 25.5mm-382.5 zoom vary and a compact physique design. Due to this, the XF400 is able to enterprise out into unpredictable capturing environments. A 1 inch CMOS sensor paired with a Twin DIGIC DV 6 picture processor produces high-quality 4K video at as much as 60 frames per second; the Twin Pixel CMOS AF system offers dependable autofocus with monitoring.

Panasonic DVX200Panasonic DVX200

The Cinema Camcorder: Panasonic DVX200, $Three,495

Sensor measurement: Four/Three inch

Lens: Leica 13X Zoom, 29.5 to 384.9mm (35mm FF equal), f2.Eight – Four.5

Weight: 5.95 lb

The power to seize DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) mixed with the Leica zoom lens makes the DVX200 stand out as a cinema digital camera. The most important benefit, nevertheless, is that the digital camera additionally enables you to document in V-Log colour, identical to Panasonic’s Varicam cameras, and GH4 and GH5. This provides you photographs with larger dynamic vary (12 stops) and a extra cinematic colour tone. The Panasonic DVX200 also can shoot in body charges from 2 to 120 frames per second. For instance, if you wish to shoot motion just like the automotive stunt scenes in The Street Warrior, the DVX200 can obtain this: Shoot at 22fps after which play it again at a better body price of 24fps to hurry up the motion. The DVX200 Four/Three-image sensor is bigger than 16mm movie; this makes getting photographs for a cinematic really feel with a shallow depth of subject a lot simpler than with different cameras which have smaller picture sensors.

Along with capturing in DCI 4K, this Panasonic additionally helps UHD and HD resolutions. It has each HDMI and SDI outs in addition to timecode out and in, permitting the digital camera to work nicely with many equipment and in lots of manufacturing setups. The DVX200 additionally has stereo XLR inputs with phantom energy for connecting to skilled microphones.

Sony Z280Sony Z280

The Energy Home: Sony Z280, $6,950

Sensor measurement: Three x half inch

Lens: Sony 17X Zoom, 30.Three to 515mm (35mm FF equal), f1.9

Weight: 6.6 lb

The Z280 has a 3 chip CMOS sensor, just like Sony’s 4K broadcast cameras. The sensor design separates purple, inexperienced and blue shade seize to discrete chips enhancing accuracy and low mild capabilities. The digital camera helps HDR and lets you report 4K Four:2:2 60fps with bitrates as much as 600Mbps. The Z280 has wired and wi-fi LAN. It helps NFC and even has a built-in cellular mobile chip set that works with Sony’s community so you possibly can add footage immediately from the digital camera from virtually anyplace. Its 17X zoom is nearly remarkable for knowledgeable camcorder. The Z280 has Four-channel audio with twin XLR ins, time code out and in, in addition to USB Three, SDI, and HDMI ports. When you’re in search of a broadcast high quality digital camera in a small type issue, this can be the digital camera for you.


The Streaming Demon: JVC GY-HM200SP, $1,595

Sensor measurement: 1/2.33 inch

Lens: JVC 12X Zoom, 29.5 to 354mm (35mm FF equal), f1.2 – Three.5

Weight: Three.Four lb

There are a whole lot of skilled camcorders that provide net streaming instantly from the digital camera, however the JVC GY-HM200SP additionally permits you to overlay custom graphics over your reside video stream. It can save you the graphics in JPEG format or as a PNG to protect opacity values, then load the graphics from an SD card. The digital camera has a USB port devoted to connecting to community adapters that helps wired LAN, Wi-Fi and cellular adapters.

The HM200SP is constructed for sports activities manufacturing and has decrease thirds choices for recreation scores. JVC additionally presents the HM200HW, which has graphics designed to be used by Homes of Worship. On each fashions, the management of the graphic overlay is achieved with a JVC app from a cellular system.


With a hard and fast lens camcorder, you’ll save the expense of shopping for a number of digital camera lenses, and also you’ll by no means have to fret about leaving the one you want most at house. Whether or not you’re net streaming stay occasions, creating YouTube movies, capturing indie movies, or doing slightly little bit of the whole lot, there’s knowledgeable camcorder on the market to fit your wants.

Odin Lindblom is an award-winning filmmaker who creates and produces commercials, company movies, and documentaries.