Sales of digital video camcorders have been on the downward trend for many years. On one end, they’ve to deal with smartphones with their increasingly better optics and processing power. On the other end, their cause isn’t helped by the onslaught of video-recording-capable digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras. Thankfully, despite all the excitement surrounding the latter, video camcorders aren’t going the way of the dodo just yet. For the most part, they’re still easier to use and have more video-oriented features (such as power zoom, peaking, frame rate options).
Here’s our verdict after testing five of the most interesting video camcorders released in 2011. These are all flash-based camcorders capable of doing 1920 x 1080 full HD recording.
And the Winner Is...
The 3MOS-based Panasonic HDC-TM900 features a large-aperture F1.5-F2.8, 12x optical zoom lens. While it doesn’t record in 3D or convert 2D to 3D natively (like the JVC Everio GZ-HM970 does), it’s the only camcorder here that accepts a 3D lens converter that enables real 3D recording. Among the five camcorders being compared, it has the most number of frame rate options: 50p, 50i, and 25p. While its low light sensitivity isn’t as good as the Canon Legria HF M41, noise performance is quite on par. Due to the availability of a 50p mode, it's also capable of producing sharper images. In fact, if you're looking for the best-looking 1080p footage, nothing comes close to the HDC-TM900. No doubt the HDC-TM900 is the costliest of the lot, but we feel that this is justifiable as the price is matched by a very comprehensive feature-set. For one, advanced users will like that the lens ring is able to control settings such as zoom, focus, white balance, shutter speed and aperture. Furthermore, it’s one of two camcorders here to have a built-in microphone that supports 5.1-channel surround sound. Other features include a hybrid optical image stabilization system, 32GB internal memory (the Samsung HMX-H304 and Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10E each has 16GB), a 3.5-inch touch LCD, AF/AE tracking, on-screen assist (including a 'zebra' pattern), relay recording, and a Digital Cinema mode that lets you record in 1080/25p, among others.
|Canon Legria HF M41||JVC Everio GZ-HM970||Panasonic HDC-TM900||Samsung HMX-H304||Sony Handycam HDR-PJ10E|
For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.