Best pocket HD camcorder to buy??

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Klab, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Klab macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2014
    Hi there, I am in the market for an affordable pocket HD 1080 camcorder but have no idea what to look at. I ideally would like to spent $200 or less. I like to have it handy in my purse for capturing moments with friends and family so I can load it onto my ipad mini or MacBook and edit it in iMovie. I am not looking for anything too fancy but I would like to get the best quality possible for the price. Before you all tell me to just use my iPhone or get an iPod touch...

    A) I have a 16GB 4S that is already overloaded with data, I want something that I won't have to worry about for storage space.
    B) having a device that uses SD cards appeals to me for the above reason. I can change them out and not have to worry about forgetting to upload and then not having enough memory.
    C) having a designated device for filming sounds more appealing to me than having to set up the camera on my phone and having it get disrupted by everything else that my phone does.
    D) to buy an iPod touch brand new for just the camera function seems a bit pricey and absurd. AND again I prefer the ease of use with simple record button rather than app opening and finger swiping. BUT, if someone has a really strong case for this option please enlighten me.

    Alright, please let the recommendations flow...
  2. koban4max macrumors 68000

    Aug 23, 2011
  3. MikeyBananas macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2012
    Look at the Sony HDR-MV1. It's around $300 and I think the quality will be better than a GoPro, certainly the audio will be.
  4. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    I used to use a Flip Ultra HD. They don't make them anymore, but you can still buy them online for $200 or less. Unfortunately, they don't have expandable memory, so no swapping out SD cards. I found the quality to be very good for a pocket camcorder.

    Personally, I use my iPhone 5 for those spontaneous moments, and my Sony NEX 6 or Panasonic TM900 when it's something planned, like an event or a birthday or something.
  5. kelub macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    For a while I had a Kodak PlaySport - the model that allowed the battery and memory to be swapped - and liked it a lot. It was waterproof, did 5mp still images, and I believe 720p HD video. The battery didn't last very long, so I had multiple I'd swap out, and eventually it died (apparently being "waterproof" doesn't necessarily mean that the pressure of crashing ocean waves won't push water through the rubber weathering). So sadly it's no more.

    That's basically what I do. I have a Sony NEX-C3 that I use for photography and "planned" videography, and use my iPhone 5 for everything else spontaneous.

    Might be worthwhile to evaluate what all you're using your storage on and see if you can't offload that somewhere. My iOS suffered from a bug carried over from older versions that was causing it to not release old iMessage data, so I had nearly 5gb of storage being wasted (a complete wipe and re-setup was necessary.) Between resetting to clear that, along with using iTunes Match & Spotify for music so I don't store any on the phone, I've yet to run into a space issue.

    - Use photostream in conjunction with a Mac/PC so that your pictures are being backed up to a machine, then delete them from your camera roll regularly.
    - Use Shared Photostreams instead of albums so that pictures you want mobile access to are readily available in the cloud and are separated from your primary photostream (you don't have to share them with anyone, just use them like albums).
    - Go through apps and delete the ones you haven't used in a while - you can always re-download them later if you need to.
    - Use dropbox and/or google drive and/or skydrive and/or whatever else to store documents.

    There's all sorts of ways you can clear up your phone space so that you can use your phone as a go-to camcorder. The problem with a standalone device is simply convenience - are you really as likely to have it with you, charged, and ready to go, as often as you have your phone with you, available, charged and ready to go?
  6. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I would never buy it for my main camera but for what you want the Sony HDR-CX220 might be a good option. Accessory wise it's limited (no AC adapter to charge, uses USB and doesn't come with an SD card) but it's on sale for under $200 and will shoot full HD.

    There are better options, I won't lie to you, but you'll be paying more. Often times with film gear you really do get what you pay for. If you want under $200 you'll have to make sacrifices along the line. Here those sacrifices are accessories and audio quality although the latter is going to be the case with anything consumer level.
  7. Tsuchiya macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2008
    My vote would be a GoPro Hero 3 White Edition (though it might be worth looking around for discounted Silver editions which should be discounted after the Hero3+ release).

    It's versatile, small and easy to operate on the fly. Takes SD cards and comes with WiFi so you can control it from the iPhone app.
  8. helloshirosan, Feb 27, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014

    helloshirosan macrumors member


    Jan 12, 2014
    If you're vlogging which is what I do and I researched the most popular pocket camcorder for you tubers. A majority use the Canon ELPH 330HS. I just bought one from B& because it's on sale for a steal. MRSP was $230 when it came out then dropped to $179 and now it's $119. I bought this to use alongside my Canon Vixia Mini X. Keep in mind that these cameras are for on the go, but when I'm at home I like to just my more professional gear since I have time to set up. Here's a review of the Canon ELPH 330HS (Shoots FULL HD 1080p). Check it out:

  9. ChrisA, Mar 2, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    $229 will buy you a Canon "VIXIA HF M400" I got this one because of these features:

    1) OPTICAL image stabilizer. The optical ones work far better. They actually move a lens element. it works well and there are various setting

    2) microphone input jack. The built-in microphone of ALL low-end camcorders is total junk. the sound is horrible. For decent sound you need an external microphone. the jack gives you some options. That said mostly I use and external audio recorder. But many times I wire an XLR mic to the camera using an adaptor.

    3) it shoots up to 60 frames per second. I need this for shooting fast moving subjects. I don't always use it because of the size of the files it creates but when I need it I need it.

    4) it writes to SD cards and has zero internal memory. Buy a few 32MB or 64MB cards and you will have hours of storage. You can place the card in the computer and not have to deal with a cable. Buy the fastest cards you can get.

    5) the camera can record in MP4 format at 34KB/sec. The quality is good at that setting. but still decent at 1/2 that setting (at 17)

    Like all small camcorders this camera makes really good quality images if (1) you have tons of light and (2) the light is low contrast ratio, like on an overcast day or you use the correct fill light or reflector and (3) you keep the camera on a tripod or very carefully hand hold and do NOT pan. Keeping the came still prevents the background from moving and making compression artifacts. If you do ALL of the above it is nearly broadcast quality. But hand held in low light, it looks like a consumer level $229 camcorder, Just a few steps up from an Apple iPhone But locked down with loads and loads of light and fill light, it looks near perfect and with an external microphone it sounds good too.

    BTW Pelican makes a very small waterproof plastic box that exactly fits this camera. I added a thin piece of foam inside and the thing is bomb-proof. But without the box this kind of camcorder can't take a lot of abuse
  10. HotBladeHarry57 macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2014
    I would recommend the Kodak PlaySport Zx5, which is reviewed and compared on this site. This is a durable, waterproof camcorder that also shoots 1080p HD videos and 5 MP still shots. Another nice feature is that it is lightweight.
  11. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Correction, you mean 32GB and 64GB, and 34MB/sec right?
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes. And yes, you DO need to move up to at least this kind of camcorder to see an improvement over a iPhone and with use of proper technique you can get professional quality work.

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