Since camcorders were first released they’ve been the top selling device for video lovers. In our roundup of the ‘Best Camcorder for YouTube’ we cover essential features to look for in a camcorder.
We then compare the top current models to help your buying decision.
Essentials Features in a Camcorder for Shooting YouTube Videos
Optical Image Stabilization: Unlike Mirrorless and DSLR camera chassis all of our recommended camcorders include image stabilization. If you don’t plan to use a tripod, image stabilization is a must. Otherwise your video recording will appear shaky and difficult to watch.
Audio: For music videos and outdoor environments with a heavy audio requirement, high end audio recording is almost mandatory. 5.1 channel recording features are highly recommended. Classroom or whiteboard environments a 2.1 stereo setup will be just fine.
Weight: Depending on your where you plan to record, your camcorder’s weight can be very important. Try using Sony’s FDRAX33 with an external mic attached while you’re riding a mountain bike!
Video Quality: It’s important to note that some Camcorder models cannot take still images. If you need the ability to take stills, double check our specs list to confirm your preferred model can take images.
You will also need to decide the level of video quality that you want to record. We would highly recommend going for 1080p Full HD at a minimum. Whilst 720p looks okay on mobile devices, full HD videos are already a ranking factor with YouTube videos and we believe this will only become more important in a year or two.
If your budget is over $500, Ultra HD camcorders are available which can record in the latest video formats ((3840 x 2160p @ 30 fps (100 Mbps)). This ensures your camcorder will last for years without needing an upgrade.
Top 3 Camcorders for YouTube Vlogs
|Sony FDRAX33||Canon HF R700||Sony RCX405|
|Rating||(4.4 / 5)||(4.3 / 5)||(4.2 / 5)|
|Video Res||3840x2160p/30 fps (100 Mbps)||1920x1080p/60 fps (28 Mbps)||1920x1080p/60 fps (50 Mbps)|
|Format||XAVC S||AVCHD||XAVC S|
|Microphone||Built-in mic, Optional External||Built-in mic, Optional External||Built-in mic|
#1 – Canon VIXIA HF R700 Camcorder Review
Canon’s Vixia R700 tops our list of the best camcorder for YouTube. Released as successor to the highly popular HF R600, we just can’t go past the quality HD 1080p video @ 60fps for such a low price. When it comes to the market leaders for camcorders – Canon, Sony and Panasonic are simply above the competition.
Canon have all the necessary add-on accessories for their camcorders, from tripods to external mics which will help add that extra polish to your YouTube videos.
- 57x (32.5-1853mm) Advanced Zoom and SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer helps provide outstanding, steady video
- 3.28 Megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor
- DIGIC DV 4 Image Processor captures video at 1920 x 1080 resolution and helps provide outstanding imaging performance
- Record Full HD video directly to a removable SD memory card
- 1080/60p recording in MP4 (35 Mbps) and AVCHD Progressive (28 Mbps) helps ensure high-quality capture of moving subjects
- 3.0-inch capacitive touch panel LCD with increased brightness and new User Interface for easy menu navigation and simple viewing of videos
- Advanced Baby Mode selects the optimal camcorder settings to help capture your baby’s daily growth with ease
- Intelligent IS automatically chooses from four different modes to help optimize image stabilization for the shooting condition
Sample Video – 1080p @ 60fps
The R700 has a removable memory card slot for users with heavy storage requirements. Storage compatability is high-capacity SDHC cards and super-high capacity SDXC cards
Advanced Baby Mode
For bloggers looking to record the growth of their precious angel, Canon’s Advanced Baby Mode is perfect for capturing your child grow.
Canon included a baby mode which automatically adds your child’s age to video footage. Video settings are automatically adjusted, for aspects such as lighting and audio quality.
When shooting in Baby Mode, the camcorder’s Pre-Record (Pre REC) function is always on. This places the camcorder in a stand-by “pre-roll” mode, where it continuously records three seconds of video to memory before you even press the record button.
Touch Decoration in Baby Mode includes stamp on your videos to mark each recording with your child’s height and weight. And with a single registration of the baby’s birth date, the camcorder will automatically calculate the number of days old and stamp videos accordingly, creating an exact diary of developmental milestones for years to come.
The camcorder’s other Baby Mode Touch Decoration options allow you to add your own drawings, captions, animations and more. All options can be appended to previously shot video as well.
It’s important to note that without Wi-fi, the R700 isn’t able to be used as a baby monitor like some owners of the more expensive R72 and R70 models.
As we mentioned in the intro, an external mic slot is available for recording within difficult audio environments. We consider an external mic slot essential in order to future proof any camera bought for video blogging.
Includes a Tripod mount (size 1/4″ – 20)
Canon’s Optical & Digital Image Stabilizer is another ‘must have’ when shooting vlogs. Give your video’s an edge over amateurs with videos which won’t make your audience dizzy while watching.
Canon have included a battery upgrade in the R700 package compared to earlier camcorder models. During our testing the R700 was capable of recording for 190+ minutes from a single charge. A complete charge from 0% to 100% took approx 1 hour.
8.29 oz / 235 g without grip belt
10.76 oz / 305 g including BP-727 battery, memory card, grip belt
2.1 x 2.3 x 4.6″ / 53.0 x 58.0 x 116.0 mm without grip belt
Canon R700 vs R600
- R600 doesn’t have a stereo input jack slot (both have mic in slots)
- R700 doesn’t have the ability to take still images. If you want to want stills you’ll either need to buy the R600 or bigger brother to the R700, Canon R72 and R70.
- R700 can’t take still images
- R600 can take still images
- Slightly better battery life with the R700
- R600 Battery (BP-718)
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 3.6 VDC, 1840 mAh
- R700 Battery: (BP-727)
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack Batteries, 3.6 VDC, 1840 mAh
- R700 weighs a fraction less
- R700 Weight: 8.29 oz
- R600 Weight: 8.3 oz
We think the Canon R700 is reasonably priced, usually around the $300 mark at large online retailers. If this is above your budget, check out it’s predecessor the Canon R600.
#2 – Sony 4K HD FDRAX33 Handycam Camcorder Review
If you need a camcorder capable of recording YouTube videos at 4K ultra HD resolution, the best camcorder for the money in our opinion is Sony’s FDRAX33 handycam.
With the ‘base unit’ which we’ve link to below Sony haven’t included a battery pack. This means that you’ll need to recharge the battery whist still inserted in your camcorder. For the considerable price saving if your budget is limited we don’t think this is a big concern. If you would like the convenience of recharging the battery in an external ac adapter, the ‘with battery and travel pack’ package.
- Capture 4k/24p/30p video that far exceeds HD resolution
- ZEISS® lens w/ Balanced Optical SteadyShotTM image stabilization
- Direct Pixel Read Out for smooth edges and color gradation
- Manual Control ring (Iris/Shutter/Exposure/White Balance)
- Versatile shooting w/ XAVC STM3, AVCHD® and MP4 codecs
- 0.27″ EVF (201K) and touch screen 3″ Xtra Fine LCDTM (921K)
- 5.1ch surround sound mic w/ manual audio controls
- Automatically creates highlight7 video in MP4 from multiple clips
- Connect, control, backup and share wirelessly with NFC2/Wi-Fi®
- Broadcast LIVE from your camcorder using Ustream live-streaming
Sample Video – 4K @ 60fps
Sony’s FDRAX33 vs Canon R700
If you’re looking to compare the FDRAX33 vs R700, the major spec differences are:
- FDRAX33 has the ability to record video at Ultra HD resolutions 4k (3840 x 2160p / 30 fps (100 Mbps)
- Sony FDRAX33 has Wifi connectivity which enables you to connect, control, backup and share videos wirelessly with NFC2/Wi-Fi. Ustream live-streaming allows broadcasting directly from the handycam while recording.
- Both camcorder feature 3 inch touchscreen display. Sony’s pixels is better 921,600 vs 230,000
- Only the Sony has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) included with its second display.
- Memory Card: Sony: Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo (Mark 2), Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Canon R700: SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Sound: Canon R700 2.1 stereo
- Sony 5.1 channel
- Sony larger and heavier:
- Sony: 2.8 x 3.1 x 6.1″ / 7.1 x 7.9 x 15.5 cm with NP-FV50 battery
- 1.32 lb / 600 g body only
- 1.44 lb / 655 g with NP-FV50 battery
- 2.1 x 2.3 x 4.6″ / 53.0 x 58.0 x 116.0 mm without grip belt
- 8.29 oz / 235 g without grip belt
- 10.76 oz / 305 g including BP-727 battery, memory card, grip belt
Sample Video – 4K @ 100Mps
Important to note that you will need a UHS-I U3 or higher SDXC memory card for 100Mbps 4K recording. For shooting video at 60Mbps 4K recording a Class 10 or higher SDXC is required.
Sony’s FDRAX33 includes a hot shoe, great for adding accessories that you’ll need to shoot YouTube videos.
The optical steady shot works extremely well but most of my shooting used a tripod so I didn’t need it.
Sony included their Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization in the handycam design.
Battery life on the Sony was excellent, delivering 3.4 hours record time.
Overall this is a good camcorder for YouTube videos if you need to shoot crystal clear 4K video. Although its a few hundred dollars more than the R700, if your budget can afford it the Sony FDRAX33 has some useful features which justify the price.
So it can handle the 4K recording hardware, this is the largest and heaviest camcorder in our list.
1.32 lb / 600 g body only
1.44 lb / 655 g with NP-FV50 battery
2.8 x 3.1 x 6.1″ / 7.1 x 7.9 x 15.5 cm with NP-FV50 battery
#3 – Sony HD Camcorder HDRCX405 Review
Sony’s HDRC405 camcorder is our pick for best vlogging camera for beginners. With a recommended retail price under both of Canon’s R700 and R600 which we’ve reviewed, it’s ideal for starting a vlog on a budget. Unlike the Canon R700 you can take still images with the HDRC405, an important features for some buyers.
Which options do you miss on this bargain camcorder? Sony haven’t included features like Touchscreen menu, Microphone in and headphone slots in an effort to lower the price. HD video quality remains very good (like any Sony). The unit is also the smallest and lightest in our top list, so perfect for recording on the move.
Sony included a LCD 2.7inch display, with a menu control via a joystick style knob. LCD Pixel count is the same as Canon’s R700 model: 230,000.
- 50Mbps XAVC STM1 1920×1080 at 60P, AVCHD® and MP4 codecs. 30x Optical / 60x Clear Image Zoom to get closer to the action. 26.8mm wide angle ZEISS® Lens
- Automatically creates highlight video in MP4 from multiple clips. Optical SteadyShotTM image stabilization w/ Active mode. Built-in USB cable for easy file transfer/charge
- Face Detection with voice enhancement and noise reduction. Get creative w/ 7 picture effects for video and still photos
- View on 2.7″ Clear Photo PlusTM LCD display. Intelligent Auto (60 different scene combinations possible)
Sample Video – 1080p @ 60fps
Compatible Recording Media: Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sony have not include an external mic slot. There’s also no headphone jack, Tripod mount or accessory shoe
Sony included their Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization in the handycam design. This works really well for times when you don’t use a tripod.
AC Adapter included in the package and the handycam battery can also be charged via USB. A built-in USB 2.0 cable provides connectivity to your Mac or Computer for charging or file transfers. Perfect for times when you need a quick power boost but aren’t near home.
The smallest and lightest Camcorder in our list – perfect for recording on the go.
6.70 oz / 190 g Main unit only
7.58 oz / 215 g With NP-BX1
2.1 x 2.3 x 5.0″ / 54.0 x 59.5 x 128.0 mm