Film & TV

The Best Prosumer Camcorders

Camcorder technology has developed significantly over the past few years and it’s now possible to create professional quality videos without having to spend a fortune.

Prosumer camcorders are essentially aimed at the professional and semi-professional market but can also be used by enthusiasts and amateurs as well.

Lightweight and bursting with additional features, this style of camera is the next generation of camcorders and provides the user with incredible results.

Top 5 Prosumer Camcorders

Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD Camcorder

Good for: best all-rounder

Canon’s mid-priced prosumer camcorder has been created as a cost-effective alternative to some of the higher priced, professional models.

Bursting with great features such as extended dynamic range, 9 built-in cinema quality filters and an HD CMOS pro image sensor, this is a fantastic all-round camera that will suit enthusiastic amateurs and professionals on a budget.

Using an 8 bladed iris and 10X HD lens allows the user to capture breathtaking, clear video while also providing flexibility with features such as background blur and enhanced gradation.

Though other cameras on the market may offer a few more extras, for the price, this is a well made, user-friendly and effective prosumer camcorder.

  • 9 built-in cinema style filters for professional quality video
  • HD CMOS pro image sensor for improved performance in low light conditions
  • 10 x HD Video lens with 8 blade iris for pin sharp images

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Here’e why this is our pick for the best all round prosumer camcorder

The Canon Vixia is a great all-round prosumer camcorder that will suit both novices and budding professionals. Though it doesn’t feature some of the more advanced options on Sony’s more expensive model, for the price, it is one of the best of it’s kind on the market today.

Shooting high quality, high definition video in a range of environments and conditions is simple and easy, plus the image processing genuinely rivals some professional cameras of more than twice the price. Bursting with easy to use and highly effective features, of the five prosumer camcorders on our list, this is the clear favorite.

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Panasonic HC V770

Good for: most features

Panasonic’s HC V770 gives you total creative control and boasts an impressive array of filters, effects and settings that provide exceptional results in almost any conditions.

A high-speed crystal engine, separate lens drivers and a 6.03 m BSI sensor make it easy for even inexperienced users to capture professional quality, pin sharp images and video. This feature-filled prosumer camcorder can even be used as a baby monitor as it includes a state of the art sensor and outstanding smartphone compatibility.

Offering full HD slow-motion video, high-quality sound capture and a range of practical features such as shot leveling, this is an impressive mid-priced prosumer camcorder that would suit beginners, amateurs and professionals.

  • High dynamic range and “bright spots”
  • Wireless smartphone connectivity
  • Powerful lens drivers for extreme close-ups and zoom

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Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera

Good for: best 4K prosumer camcorder

Although a little more expensive than some of the models on our list, the Sony FDR AX100 provides exceptional 4k quality video that genuinely rivals some of the industry standard, professional models used by television and film studios.

The Bionz X image processor allows users to record 30p videos with no resolution loss, even when tracking fast moving subjects. Inexperienced users will benefit greatly from the built-in Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization and the simple, user-friendly smartphone interface means linking your prosumer camcorder to your phone can be done with a single touch.

The extra fine 3.5 inch LCD screen allows you to keep track of the action while you are filming and offers extremely well defined and vivid images, even in outdoor settings or lower lighting conditions.

For those who want to take their filming to the next level, the multi-interface accessory shoe allows simple, hassle-free attachment of additional extras such as high powered external flashes or microphones.

  • Exceptional 4k 30p quality (better than HD)
  • Bionz X image processing
  • Multi-interface accessory shoe for additional extras

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Canon XH A11 Professional Camcorder

Good for: professionals

At the top end of the scale, Canon’s XH A11 is one the higher priced models on the market but the build quality, performance and incredible range of features mean this prosumer camcorder is one of the most impressive cameras currently available.

Featuring a 20x optical zoom that offers an incredible range, users can capture breathtaking images and video in all weather and light conditions. Aimed at professionals or seriously enthusiastic amateurs, this model is frequently used for film and television production as well as live event recording.

Reduced noise means that images and videos will be crystal clear and perfectly defined. The minimum object distance is just 23.6 inches, meaning that users can capture incredible detail that just isn’t possible with other, lower-priced models.

Dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity makes it simple and easy to connect any tablet device or smartphone and you can also upload your content to cloud-based storage via FTP file transfer. Though this is not one of the cheapest models available, it is one of the best prosumer camcorders you can find.

  • HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor
  • 20x High Def Optical Zoom Lens
  • LCD Capacitive Touchscreen

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Canon XA10 Professional Camcorder

Good for: filmmakers

With a huge 24 hours of HD recording time, the Canon XA10 is a fantastic choice for users who want to progress beyond amateur level filming and move into professional standard video production.

Featuring two SDXC memory slots and a huge 64 gig internal flash drive, the camcorder automatically switches between the devices to provide a seamless, automatic backup. This means users don’t need to worry about losing footage halfway through a session.

Enhanced autofocus makes it easy to shoot professional quality HD video in all conditions and settings, even if you are an inexperienced or beginner filmmaker. You can choose between a range of settings that are optimized for capturing faces, distant objects or landscapes, depending on what you are filming.

The intuitive touch and track feature allows you to focus on any moving subject with a single tap, no matter how much it moves around within the frame. There are also a range of filters and effects that can be applied in the easy to use and extremely effective cinema mode. From sepia tones to “cinema standard,” your video will look professional and sharp every time.

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What kind of Prosumer Camcorders are there?

The key differences are in performance and quality, which is generally reflected in the price of the product. Something that can shoot HD video continuously for up to 24 hours will generally cost more than a camera that needs to be charged after a few hours of use.

Lens

The lens type is also important as this makes all the difference in terms of how sharp and clear your videos will appear. A lens that has x10 zoom function will be more than adequate for home movies, whereas x20 will give you the kind of quality that is used for broadcasting.

The material from which the lens is crafted is also critical. Many budget camcorders use plastic lenses whereas mid and top-level prosumer camcorders will use high-quality glass. Lens size also matters as this essentially determines how much light can be detected. For users who intend to shoot in darker conditions or perhaps outdoor locations where inclement weather may be an issue, a large, good quality lens is essential.

Sensor

The type of sensor included in a prosumer camcorder is also critical. At the lower end of the spectrum, you can expect single sensors, whereas higher level models will feature multiple sensor chips. Now that technology has moved on, most prosumer camcorders will feature high-quality sensors that can detect, sound, movement, lighting conditions and other things that are critical to producing good quality video.

Again, how you intend to use the camera will determine what kind of sensor you need. If you plan to film family birthdays and weddings, a relatively simple sensor will do but if you want to capture film quality scenes, you will need something more advanced.

Sound

Sound recording capability will also vary between budget models and higher specification camcorders. Most professionals will use external microphones, shields and other equipment to ensure clear, accurate sound reproduction.

Higher level models will feature sensitive microphones that can be used in a range of environments and also provide the user with the option to add additional equipment. Budget models now feature improved recording capabilities that will suit practically any typical setting though they can struggle in high-pressure sound environments such as live concerts, nightclubs or loud sporting events.

Brands

At this level, the three main brands to look out for are Panasonic, Sony and Canon. Other manufacturers also produce prosumer camcorders but these three are generally regarded as the best option for users who want quality and reliability.

  • Panasonic – As one of the best known international electronics manufacturers, Panasonic makes everything from music centers to digital cameras. Established back in 1918, the electronics giant is known for producing affordable but advanced technology that is used in all aspects of modern life. In terms of prosumer camcorders, their products are generally reliable, packed with great features and very easy to use.
  • Canon – Now synonymous with good quality cameras, Canon are widely regarded as one of the best producers of prosumer camcorders, digital cameras and recording equipment. Founded in 1937, the company established itself as a major player during the 1970s and 1980s with its exceptional range of still cameras. Today, Canon produce professional quality products for use in the film and television industry as well as novice-friendly, entry-level models and everything in between.
  • Sony – Sony are probably the world’s best-known manufacturer of electronics and established themselves with the game-changing “walkman” range of personal cassette players during the 1980s. Their prosumer camcorders are frequently used by large-scale film and television companies and though some of their products can be quite expensive, they are also widely regarded as some of the best available.

Choosing the right kind of Prosumer camcorder for you

The right kind of prosumer camcorder for you will depend on your experience level, budget and how you plan to use it.

For amateurs and those who plan on shooting home videos of family, friends or social functions, budget models will be more than adequate as many of them now include a range of features that make it simple and easy to record high-quality video. Features such as autofocus and stabilization mean that even novice users can expect great results without having to mess around with complicated settings or confusing menus.

For aspiring filmmakers, professionals and enthusiasts, prosumer camcorders from the higher end of the spectrum are now so advanced that some film and television production companies regularly use them on set or on location.

Though sometimes as much as twice the price of the budget models, this type of video camera will almost always be equipped with a galaxy of advanced features that allow you to capture, upload and even stream HD video that looks as good as anything you see in the cinema or on television.

The key to choosing the right prosumer camcorder is to be honest with yourself in terms of how you will be using it. Though everybody likes to save money, a budget model designed for home use will struggle to perform in difficult lighting or weather conditions and may also have a slightly lower resolution, so filmmakers and professionals will want to consider investing in higher priced options.

Similarly, if you are a casual or amateur user, there is no need to spend a lot of money on a camera full of features that you will never use. Though it can be tempting to opt for the best of the best, unless you plan to film 4K, professional productions, it’s unlikely you will need advanced levels of image processing.

Richard Hammond

I am the founder of 9Mousai and am deeply interested in creativity and what inspires it. My main passions are writing, film and music but I have a great respect for all the arts. I'm also an animal lover and have a little cat called Winston and occasionally dabble in the odd whisky.

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