Disclosure: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Please help support Studiopsis and buy from B&H and Amazon. It won’t cost you anything extra.
Compact Pocket Camcorders/Video Cameras buying guide: Compact video cameras are popular because they are small in size, portable, and can easily be setup for shooting videos. Here we take a look at the top brands, review the top super compact models and also highlight the factors to consider when buying a compact one that meets your requirements.
Cell phones are becoming smaller, smartphones are decreasing in size, old televisions are giving way to Flat screen televisions; everything in the electronics world is becoming compact, but at the same time more powerful.
So how can video cameras be left far behind?
Realizing this trend, manufacturers have now started to offer ultra compact digital camcorders. These are miniature gadgets; easy to carry but powerful enough to take good quality photos and videos.
Pocket camcorders (or mini camcorders) are designed to be compact in size and are suitable for capturing quick videos on the go (or some cinematography or fly on the wall documentaries), without requiring any elaborate set up. These have a simple user interface which helps to record quick videos, and the ability for fast uploads to various sites without the fuss of going through your computer.
Even a webcam nowadays can be used to quickly record videos and upload on the internet, but if you are looking for something traditional, then there are several brands of digital camcorders available on the market. You get from the budget ones to the more expensive professional ones. But then, what are the things to look for and that affects the pricing of the video camera?
If you are new to this, here’s a quick overview so that you can shop for the best Compact Digital Camcorder for video recording.
- 1 Small Makes Sense
- 2 Understand the Basic Features
- 3 Various Options to Choose From
- 4 High Definition (HD) Pocket Video Camcorders
- 5 Choose Something that Suits Your Requirements
- 6 Recommended Compact Video Cameras / Camcorders
- 7 Sony HDRAS100V/W Video Camera
- 8 GOPRO HERO 4 compact Video Camera
- 9 Canon VIXIA Mini Compact Personal Camcorder
- 10 Blusmart HD 1080P Waterproof Sports Action Video Camera
- 11 Kodak PlaySport (Zx5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera
- 12 Drift HD Full 1080p High Definition Helmet Action Camera
- 13 Flip MinoHD Video Camera
- 14 Flip UltraHD Video Camera
- 15 You Might Also Like:
Small Makes Sense
Pocket size camcorders come in a variety of different colors and are economically priced, but their biggest advantage is that they’re compact and easily fits into your pocket. They have LCD screen, have zoom magnification, and you even get HD pocket camcorders.
- They are great for travel
- Good for recording small events, parties, kid’s athletic event & performances and get-togethers
- They are great gifts for kids and teens.
- They are good for capturing good videos, and also take good still pictures.’
- These are great for capturing non-professional (and sharing those videos on the internet).
- No need to lug a camera bag around.
- They are not great for low light video situations.
- Image stabilization on pocket camcorders works okay.
Pocket camcorder is about the size and shape of a mobile phone. camcorders are usually water-proof and also shock proof, as these are made for action. Pocket camcorders have flip-out USB ports (allows the camcorder to be directly connected to a computer). Some models require USB cable.
Some of these products come with several exciting features such as full motion digital video camera, a powerful still camera and some even boasts of having a MP3 player.
Understand the Basic Features
Looks, color and design are personal choices and will vary from person to person; choose what you like. Some of the more innovative features worth mentioning are the direct print capability, connectivity to television, built-in flash, and some even come with a Macro mode. The more creative ones use their video camera as a voice recorder as well, and there is nothing that stops you from using a mini camcorder as a webcam.
In simple terms:
So if you are looking for really life-like images and want crisp colors, especially when shooting in low light conditions, look for the above.
Want Easy Playback?
If you want easy playback then a DVD format camcorder is probably the way to go. You can easily play the videos you have shot on your DVD player.
It also has other advantages such as:
What About the Audio?
This is the other important aspect of your video, the captured audio quality needs to be good, and in some cases it has to be excellent.
It is best to look for a compact camcorder that will record sound in digital audio CD quality so that you can add stereo tracks during the editing process, important for adding background music or voice-overs.
In general, a microphone that is top mounted is likely to pick up background noises. If that is a matter of concern, choose one that comes with front mounted microphones. For better sound quality, it is best to use a good external microphone.
The memory capacity of your pocket camcorder will depend on the ability to expand the memory (or not in some cases), usually using a flash card (available in sizes from 4GB to 32GB in most cases). With flash memory, you can use a card that can record hours of film, and that can be recorded over repeatedly without losing the quality of the film recorded.
When buying a camcorder, it will be really nice to have the following: Case or Clip to Carry, Lens Cap, Extra Batteries or Recharge Accessories (wall chargers or the like), Extra Flash Memory Cards, and even a Tripod.
Various Options to Choose From
This is a hot segment for gadgets and you will find various brands and several products fighting with each other to get your attention. And that is why it can get confusing, especially if you are not sure of what features to look for.
There are several brands out there such as Panasonic, Sony, and Canon that make excellent mini camcorders.
- Blusmart HD 1080P Waterproof Sports Action Video Camera
- Kodak PlaySport (Zx5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera
- Drift HD Full 1080p High Definition Helmet Action Camera
- GOPRO HERO 4
When it comes to shooting videos, you have lots of options, starting from your mobile phone to professional video cameras, and many more models in between. Obviously, all of these have their own pros and cons and if you are looking for compactness, then here are some options that you may consider.
What you choose will depend on your preferences (features and look wise) and what you intend to use the camcorder for. They all have their pros and cons, and you need to decide what is best for your needs Here are some thought however, to help you choose better.
Each of those products on display boast of special features and you’ll face a challenge picking the best compact video camera for your need. That is unless you clearly know why you need the gadget and know how to evaluate the various features so that you can ignore the ones with less appeal and features.
High Definition (HD) Pocket Video Camcorders
HD pocket video cameras can capture video in 1080p modes (will only increase over time). Factors to consider when buying a HD pocket camcorder includes – HD Recording time, Memory Storage, Lens Zoom, Frames Per Second, Viewing Screen Size. Popular pocket HD video cameras include Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 and the Flip Video.
For a few extra dollars, high definition can be a worthwhile buy. However, if you don’t have a TV or computer monitor that is capable of displaying HD video, you will not be able to appreciate the video clarity of the HD video so do consider that while buying an HD pocket video camera.
Flip HD camcorders are perhaps the easiest operate; just push the record button and the recording starts. Zoom in and out (it you want). Push the same red button to stop action. Push another button to see the video you just recorded.
Choose Something that Suits Your Requirements
Do you have answers to the following?
If you are clear about these, you can easily pick the right one for your requirements, and hopefully it will fit in your budget too.
It is very important to factor in the amount of usage, otherwise you can even use a normal digital-camera as even those come with video recording features nowadays.
Size and Cost
If size is a consideration then there is no beating a mini compact digital camcorder. You can easily pack away a mini compact digital camcorder and it is lighter than other types of camcorders. The cassettes in mini compact digital camcorders are smaller but they can be expensive; something that you need to keep in mind especially if you’re going to shoot tons of video material. The upside is that you have several options from various brands to choose from.
Upgrading to Another Model?
Have you always been a video camera freak? In that case, a mini compact digital camcorder may not be the best choice for you (it could be your backup camera though).
However, the downside to the more feature-laden & top quality camcorders is that they can be bulkier compared to the average mini compact digital camcorder; something you should keep in mind if space is at a premium in your luggage.
Recommended Compact Video Cameras / Camcorders
Here are some popular pocket/compact video cameras that you may wish to consider. These are easy to use, captures decent images/videos and sounds, and are reasonably priced.
Sony HDRAS100V/W Video Camera
You can use this Sony HDRAS100V/W compact action camera to make your own action movies (in HD). Comes with pro-features like Advanced Steady Shot, built-in Wi-Fi, remote viewing & control from your mobile device. Its splash-proof and allows XAVC S HD recording and high frame rates in 120/240p.
GOPRO HERO 4 compact Video Camera
The GOPRO HERO-4 is among the best action cameras out there in the market, with several useful features and gives excellent video (and photo) quality. Its perfectly suited for amateur athletes, adventurers and those who love water sports.
Canon VIXIA Mini Compact Personal Camcorder
The Canon 8455B005 VIXIA High Definition Mini Camcorder features 2.7″ capacitive touch-panel LCD monitor. Canon f/2.8 fisheye lens, 12.8MP High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor. It features built-in Wi-Fi for sharing videos and photos on sites like YouTube and Facebook. Comes with built-in adjustable stand and a tripod socket for hands-free video and photos.
Blusmart HD 1080P Waterproof Sports Action Video Camera
The Blusmart action video camera comes with built-in WIFI connection and allows you to preview in real time through your mobile phone. Download the photos and videos to the cellphone and share it online. Its perfect for outdoor sports, Extreme Sports , Bicycle, vehicle data recording, deep-water probing, etc.
Kodak PlaySport (Zx5) HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera
The KODAK Zx5 PlaySport Pocket Video Camera can plunge up to 10 ft. under water and capture the entire experience in full 1080p HD and 5 MP HD stills, with auto focus. With built-in image stabilization, the Zx5 will stay steady as a rock. Lets you capture HD video in 1080p or 720p, shoot 5-megapixel still images, and easily share your creations on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. However, what’s interesting about the PlaySport is that you can take this thing underwater (up to 10 feet). While we’ve seen other pocket camcorders that do this, the Zx5 is arguably the first mainstream model to offer this feature. Available in different colors.
Drift HD Full 1080p High Definition Helmet Action Camera
Drift HD Full 1080p Action Camera is very compact (5.2 x 1.3 x 2 inches), provides video resolution of 1920×1080, lets you plug in a microphone too. and has a battery life of 4 hours. Perfect for sports enthusiasts, offers a variety of mounting features.
Flip MinoHD Video Camera
The new Flip MinoHD combines signature Flip Video quality with improved technology to offer HD video that is better than ever. MinoHD features incredible 720p resolution, now with 60 frames per second, and built-in image stabilization to produce incredibly clear and steady HD video. The new MinoHD has a simple user interface and a super-slim, pocket-sized design. Its now even easier to capture incredible HD video and share it with the world. A super-slim, pocket-sized design means you can take your MinoHD with you everywhere you go. And a large, 2-Inch anti-glare display lets you enjoy your videos directly on your camcorder. Easy-to-use pre-loaded FlipShare software lets you organize, edit and share your videos to your own private Flip Channels or directly to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Available in different colors.
Flip UltraHD Video Camera
The all-new Flip UltraHD video camera, now with image stabilization and a new slimmer design, combines Flip Video’s signature shoot-and-share simplicity with better-than-ever HD. Simply power on and press record to start capturing up to 2 hours of incredible HD video. When you’re done recording, just connect the flip-out USB arm to a PC or Mac and use pre-loaded FlipShare software to organize, edit and share your videos. The new UltraHD also works with Designed for Flip products, a new expanded accessory line from Flip Video and partner companies.