Best Camcorder 2017
Video cameras range from tiny devices that can be mounted anywhere to high-end, high-resolution options -- but with so many options on the market, which ones will shoot the best YouTube-worthy videos, and which ones won't get you anything more than a smartphone can?
4K is quickly becoming easier to find in anything from action cameras to prosumer camcorders. Wi-Fi offers easier uploads by wirelessly transferring files to a smartphone or even enabling live broadcasts. While fewer companies are making consumer options with the convenience of smartphone video, there are still a number of camcorders that will zoom farther, record longer and capture higher resolutions than what can fit in your pocket -- or waterproof video cameras that you can take on adventures that would sink your smartphone.
Here are the best camcorders hitting the shelves in 2017.
While 2017 has brought a number of budget cameras and high-end cameras, announcements for high-end but still consumer level cameras have been few and far between. Our 2016 pick still stands here for 4K quality and a wider range of features. Here's what we had to say about the VX981 last year:
The Panasonic VX981 is a consumer camera that puts 4K quality in a fairly accessible price. The VX981 boasts 4K at 30 fps, though only in the MP4 format, as well as full HD video at 60 fps. The backlit sensor and wide lens should make this model just as solid at shooting in low light conditions, but the update also gives the VX981 in-camera editing capabilities. That allows users to stabilize 4K footage and save it as 1080p, while Wi-fi will allow users to wireless transfer those edited files to a smartphone. While originally listing at nearly $1,000, a price drop makes the 4K quality more readily accessible to consumers, making it one of the top consumer-level cameras of 2016.
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The Canon VIXIA HF R800 offers a good mix of features for $300, including an incredible 37x zoom that makes it an excellent option for recording kids sporting events and getting up close to the action. The 2017 version includes a backlight compensation mode that essentially helps you get better shots in crappy lighting without knowing much about video. The update also includes a new slow motion mode. Unlike the R80 and R82, the R800 doesn't have built-in memory, so compare the cost with the R800 and a large memory card to just picking up the R80 instead.
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The Hero5 brought a number of important upgrades to the GoPro line, but the company is taking that even further in 2017 with the GoPro Hero6 Black. The most important upgrade is that 4K is now at the high 60 fps frame rate for butter-smooth action, thanks to the company developing their own processor able to handle such large files. That's not the only thing new to the Hero6, however -- GoPro has also added their best image stabilization yet, an important feature whenever you're mounting a camera for POV action shots. The housing-free design and voice control introduced with the Hero5 still stand here as well. GoPro is also putting some major effort into their QuikStories app -- and GoPro Hero6 users can automatically transfer videos for the program to create a highlight video automatically -- so say goodbye to long edits to create a shareable video.
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- Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
360 is still in it's infancy, which means you shouldn't expect the same level of quality and usability of a regular camera when you pick up a 360 option. Each model usually still has a few quirks since the tech is so new, but if you want to be an early adopter of 360, take a look at the Garmin Virb 360. This option is pricier than most, but certainly justifies that price with several features not yet available on other 360 cameras. The camera includes an image stabilization system and, since it's a Garmin, a long list of built-in trackers. Using those trackers, users can create video-game-like overlays to add to their videos. Since 360 is so young, the Garmin isn't perfect but hits more of the points than any other 360 camera we've seen.
Competition could be pretty close between this Garmin and the slightly cheaper Fusion, the first 360 camera from GoPro. Since the Fusion hasn't started shipping quite yet, we're keeping the Garmin at the top of this list until we can at least see some samples shot from the new Fusion.
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- GoPro Fusion