Looking for a new camcorder (Lower end)

James K

Mar 26, 2019
My current camcorder is Panasonic HC-V180 has been fine for daytime stuff(general use, not just weather/storms)...but in low-light/night its just not very good. That fact was a disappointment. I've been wanting to eventually get an upgrade - mainly for better night performance.

Recently I've noticed a little bit of flakeyness happen occasionally with the current camera, so I'm thinking the time has probably come to go ahead and get something new.
Maybe sometime around the 'Black-Friday' sales period.

A some 'must haves':
* Camcorder (not still-image camera that can also do video)
* Infinity focus (something the current Panasonic lacks)
* Stereo microphone (current camera has & its one of the reasons I went with it)
* 1080p resolution (30fps minimum, ideally 60).. I do not need 4k(& nothing I have computer or software wize for editing would work with it anyway)
* Decent low-light video quality (at night it would be used for lightning in the summer and Christmas Lights n Holiday season - both things that are notoriously hard to photo/video)
* Good zoom (current is 50x optical, I'm gonna say I want atleast half of that)
* something I can get at a local store (Walmart/Target/Best Buy/etc)

This is one of the bigger things(obstacles?) my ideal price-range is $200(around what the Panasonic cost), though I might have to go up to $300, but thats the top limit.
Note for that price range: new only.

I know I'd asked about camcorders on Discord at some point.. this spring? last year? I don't remember...and at this point I can't even get on Discord(it either comes up as a blank screen or gives an error - no matter what browser I've tried)
I know these were mentioned somewhere...I can't remember if it was here or the discord or some other site..
Canon Vixia HF-R70
Canon Vixia HF100
Panasonic V770
Panasonic VX981K
(I have zero interest in brands like Sony or Jvc because of the fact their home stereo equipment is such crap)

Looking online:
first one price-range still exceeds the $200, (but is less than $300) and I have yet to find if it has a stereo mic... plus not sure if its any better than what I have.
2nd one exceeds my high-price range (I'm not really sure what the difference between it and the R70 is)
both Panasonic's far exceed my high-price range.. the 2nd one looks like some sorta larger-size more professional unit (and is 4k anyway)

I guess one big question is: is there some website where I can fine meaningful camera reviews, particularly on things like low-light performance?
And on if it has little features like a stereo microphone?
Low light ability in most cases comes down to sensor size, the larger the sensor usually the better low light capability, but don't expect full frame low light capability.

I did pick up a used Sony PJ790 off E bay for around $500 AUS ($300 US). It has a useless gimmick projector, but ignoring that it does really good 1080 x 60p. I am more than happy with the footage quality. I know you say zero interest in Sony, but there are lots of storm chasers out their shooting with Sony Mirrorless and Camcorders.

The killer for 99% of video, either Mirrorless, DSLR or Camcorder is rolling shutter. If you can find one that does 1080 x120p you will reduce, but far from eliminate it.

Drew Terril

Staff member

I have the HF-R70 and it's done well for me. My main complaint is the form factor. The lack of mass means I REALLY have to weigh down my tripod if it's on it, and I have difficulty keeping something that light steady when shooting handheld. The only notable low light shooting I've done with it (I tend to focus on stills more than video) was 5/17/19 and it did fine despite it being dusk when the Minneola EF3 was on the ground.

Unfortunately, it's been out of production for a few years now, as is the somewhat newer HF-R80. But it does have infinity focus, and because of that I will use it as a dash cam when I replace it with something that I'm more comfortable putting on a tripod. I think it will be more than adequate in that role for me, and it's something that I can just fire and forget. I did pick mine up at Best Buy years ago, but a quick look on their website tells me that they've gone almost all in on the GoPro style camcorders now. I didn't see any camcorder offering that wasn't that style.