Updated: May 9, 2015

Professional Camcorder Reviews and Buying Guide:

professional camcorders Professional Results with the Best Professional Camcorders - The first consumer camcorder was released in 1983. This Sony beast was so big that it couldn't be held with one hand and had to rest on a shoulder. The Betamovie BMC-100P may seem prehistoric by today's standards, but it did start a home video revolution. From betas to VHS to digital and HD, camcorders have undergone quite a makeover. Besides benefiting the home user, professional camcorders are used by news teams, independent filmmakers (and big Hollywood filmmakers, for that matter), schools, and more. The crisp, high definition quality that is achievable with today's best camcorders offers filmmakers and others the versatility and features they need in a much smaller package. How can you get professional results from a camcorder? This guide will take a look at the best professional camcorders for pros and beginners alike.


What is a Professional Camcorder? - What is the difference between a regular home camcorder and a professional quality camcorder? It is like the difference between picking up a point-and-shoot automatic camera or using a camera with manual focus, various lens options, and other upgraded features. It is the difference between picking up a camera and pushing a button, or picking up a camera and adjusting your settings and then taking the picture. A professional camcorder offers more freedom and versatility because you can control the settings. This also makes them more complicated for novices to use, but they will deliver gorgeous results. So what are these features you should be looking for? How do you know if you're getting professional quality?

*Manual iris. Like the iris in your eye, the iris in a camera determines how much light is let in. When you open the iris, more light is allowed in to increase exposure or brightness. Likewise, when you close the iris, you darken the image. Having the ability to control this lets you adjust your images for the best effect.
*Manual focus. Automatic focus tends to focus on different aspects of a scene; you can control the focus with a manual focus, so you can add emphasis to the objects, people, or places you want. You can also do more complex shots, like rack focusing, in which the focus is changed while shooting.
*3 CCDs. This is where the magic happens. Chips inside the camcorder translate the real world into digital. Cameras with three chips offer better quality, detail, and color saturation.
*White balance. Light is not all the same. Indoor light tends toward the yellow end of the spectrum, while outdoor sun is bluer. White balance keeps everything looking natural, despite the lighting. When you are in a place with both natural and artificial light, manual white balance allows you to adjust the lighting so it looks natural.
*Sound control. We've all seen videos where voices are drowned out by background noises. Sound control allows you to adjust sound manually to suit your needs.
*Headphone jack. Video isn't just about the image! Headphone jacks ensure you can hear the quality of the sound you are getting.
*Audio inputs. You can plug in a mic to an audio input, which is crucial if you are interviewing people or need to capture sound more effectively.
*Filter ring. Can you add filters to your camcorder? A UV filter, for instance, will protect from scratches, and specialty filters help you add professional effects.
*Option for auto mode. You never know when you're going to be unable to manually control everything. This option frees you up in those instances.

Professional Camcorder Reviews - Whether are you searching for consumer or expert reviews, we found plenty of data to look at. CNET and Videomaker.com offer up expertise on picking the right camcorder. They provide in depth reviews on models like the Canon XF300, Sony HXR-NX5U, Panasonic Professional AG-HMC40, and the Sony HDR-FX1000. Get pros and cons to each model and learn about features that a beginner can take advantage of. Want actual owner/consumer reviews? We say Amazon.com is your best resource. They literally have 100's of postings from owners with excellent feedback and opinions on all the top brands. You can browse the best selling professional camcorders here.


Best Professional Camcorders:

Canon professional camcorders are considered some of the best in the industry. And the best of the best is the Canon Vixia HF G10. A stunner at the 2011 CES, the Vixia features a 32GB internal flash drive or two SDXC-compatible memory card slots, 12 hours of hi-def video, Relay Recording, quick response time and access to footage, low power consumption, shock-resistance, 1/3 inch native 1920x1080 image sensor for optimized video, excellent low light performance, wide dynamic range, and 10x HD video lens with 8-blade iris and manual focus ring. What is most remarkable about the Vixia HF G10, though, is that it offers professional features at consumer pricing. Tecca.com calls the Vixia the "new top of the line." It is available for $1500. Consumer site, Smart Review, chose the Panasonic Professional AG-HMC40 as their top pick. The 2.16 pound Panasonic features high-resolution still photo capture, easy-to-use SD card workflow, professional audio capabilities, full resolution 3 megapixel, 1/4 inch 3MOS imager, 1920x1080 in AVCHD, 10.6mp resolution, 12x optical zoon, wide angle setting, optical imaging stabilizer, time/date stamp, 3 second pre-record function, shooting assist functions, auto functions, and much more. This fully loaded camera is $1589. The Sony HDR-AX2000 Handycam is another top pick of Smart Review and consumers alike. While more expensive than the Panasonic and Canon camcorders, the Sony offers a full range of professional features, including 24p Progressive Scan Mode, CinemaTone Gamma and CinemaTone Color, three 1/3-inch Exmore CMOS image sensors with Exmore technology, 29.5mm wide angle to 590mm telephoto G lens, 20x optical, three built-in neutral density filters, three manual rings, Flash memory, two XLR audio inputs, assignable buttons, HDMI output, dual slot for SDHC, and much more. The heftier price of $3500 may just be worth it for those professional quality videos. If you need professional quality but $1500 is too expensive, you can try the Vixia's lower end models, such as the Vixia HF S21 or the Vixia HF S200. These retail for under $1000 and offer a host of great features but lack some of the more advanced functions. The Vixia camcorders, though, are excellent for tighter budgets or for people who want a quality camcorder on which to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking. You still get exceptional picture and sound quality but at a lower price. You don't have the same freedom to create subtle effects, but again, for a beginner, the starter model Vixia camcorders are wonderful. More and more camcorders are offering highly sophisticated features, such as HD or even 3D filming, at lower prices. We may have traveled a long way from 1983's Sony Betamovie, but the freedom and versatility remain as exciting as ever. Whether you want to shoot a film or capture family moments, you can find the camcorder you need and the professional results you want on Amazon.com.