Samsung H200 Full HD CamcorderThough it's the least expensive model on our list, the Samsung H200 is nevertheless one of the most rugged and reliable digital camcorders you'll find anywhere. It has a 37mm wide-angle 20x optical zoom lens and a 1/4.5" CMOS imaging sensor that's capable of 4.7 MP resolution for stills and 1080p high-definition video. It also features a slick 2.7” LCD touchscreen display for a hassle-free menu navigation experience. When it comes to software features and functions, you can't really expect the Samsung H200 to have the same flexibility of a $1500 digital camcorder. But for a camera in its incredibly low price range, it's still packed with tons of functionality. It's surprisingly steady, built-in Optical Image Stabilization allows you to shoot action video with startling clarity. The included IntelliStudio software rounds out the H200 nicely.
Sony HDRCX130 Handycam CamcorderOn the lower end of the price totem pole, the Sony HDRCX130 is a solid hand-held digital camcorder that's more than meets the eye. Despite its humble exterior, the HDRCX130 manages to put together quite the impressive hardware profile. It boasts a 42x Extended Zoom wide-angle G lens, an "Exmor R" CMOS sensor, and a 3.0” touchscreen LCD display for easy menu navigation and configuration. This particular Sony unit shoots crystal clear, full HD 1920 x 1080p video with support for HDMI playback to an external monitor. One area where the Sony HDRCX130 really shines is in low light shooting scenarios. Its built-in LED light assists users in making the most out of challenging situations. With over 90 scene shooting modes preconfigured to deliver the best picture possible, the HDRCX130 is one of the best budget camcorders you can find.
Canon VIXIA HF G10 Full HD CamcorderAs far as camcorder hardware is concerned, the Canon VIXIA lineup provides quite a bit of variety in terms of price and features. The VIXIA HF G10 is at the upper end of the range for both, but you definitely get what you pay for with this camera. It sports a 10x HD lens with an 8-blade Iris and manual focus, the legendary DIGIC DV III image processor, and an internal 32 GB storage drive by default. Aside from the VIXIA's superb components, it features the ability to shoot 12 straight hours of high-definition video and storage space expansion that scales up to 2 TB of on-board memory. It shoots 1920 x 1080 pixel video in a number of different modes, including high-end MXP and FXP. On top of that, Canon's famed Tele Macro function allows you to set minimum distances to subjects for perfect long-range shots. Retailing at less than $1300, it may just be the best overall value in the digital camcorder market when you consider its stellar quality and capabilities.
Panasonic Professional AG-HMC40 AVCHD CamcorderThe Panasonic Pro AG-HMC40 is one versatile piece of digital equipment, packing a slew of features and hardware into a single, compact package. Contained within its rugged exterior are three 1/4.1” Progressive 3MOS Imagers, a 12x Leica Dicomar lens, and a 2.7” touchscreen LCD display. At just 2.16 pounds, the AG-HMC40 is fairly lightweight for a camera of its size. While the default battery is good for three hours, continuous shooting time can be bumped up to seven hours by using the optional 5,800 mAh battery. While the AG-HMC40 is no doubt impressive when it comes to hardware, the included software and features are the real selling points. It's capable of shooting 1920 x 1080 pixel AVCHD video as well as 10.6 MP still photos. In addition, it sports a number of additional shooting features. Specifically, the AG-HMC40 boasts four AVCCAM modes, ranging from PH mode which averages 21 Mbps to HE mode which clocks in at around 6 Mbps. As an added bonus, it also supports PictBridge connectivity for convenient direct printing to compatible machines.
Final ThoughtsYour own unique preferences and tastes will weigh heavily on your choice of digital camcorder, but any of the above models will do just fine for most purposes. Whatever your price range, there's a full-featured and high-quality model of digital video camera that's right for you. The aforementioned models prove that shooting professional, studio-quality video doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg at the end of the day.
Author Bio: Emily Jamison is a technology expert and a freelance writer. She enjoys staying on top of the newest technological trends.