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10 Great Video Cameras for the Beginner

written by: Shawn S. Lealos•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 5/31/2011

When looking for a video camera for the beginning videographer, a lot of considerations need to be made. The camcorder should provide decent quality video but also not be difficult to use and have both easy to follow manual controls as well as simple to use automatic features.

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    Panasonic HDC-SD60K

    The Panasonic HDC-SD60K is the company’s entry level HD camcorder, one of the top ten video cameras for the beginner. The video camera features manual iris controls and shutter-speed. It also includes a smart autofocus and good battery life. On the poor side, the video is not the best at low light levels and the touch-screen has low resolution. The video camera is one of the best choices for the low price and the best HD choice from Panasonic.

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    Canon Vixia HF R10

    The Canon Vixia HF R10 offers HD video at a very low price. If you are someone who is experienced with video cameras, this is not a good choice but, for beginners, offers a lot of value for the price. The color accuracy and low-light levels are poor compared to other video cameras in its class but the camera delivers decent video and is a good introductory camera for the price.

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    Samsung HMX-R10 HD

    The Samsung HMX-R10 HD offers great options, making it one of the better top ten video cameras for the beginner. The video camera offers plenty of shooting features, including four different HD modes. The video camera also has a neat option where you can record video in slow motion within the camera. The touch screen is hard to navigate and the camera takes below average video in low-light conditions.

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    Images

    Canon FS200Canon Vixia HF R10Flip UltraHDKodak PlaysportSony Handycam HDR-CX150
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    Sony Handycam HDR-CX150

    The Sony Handycam HDR-CX150 is a very small, compact video camera and is attractive for beginners thanks to its extremely low price. The camera does not possess the bells and whistles of pricier options but delivers HD video at a fraction of the cost. The video camera features a very fast lens focus but only produces average video quality.

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    Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera

    At under $100 in price, the Kodak Zi8 is easily one of the top ten video cameras for the beginner. For individuals who edit on a MAC, this camera’s software is not compatible and the software is needed for smooth playback at 1080p. The low price also does not include a memory card. However, the Kodak Zi8 is better than the Flip in video quality and features. It captures up to 1080p HD, is strong in low light, has nice stabilization and a good macro focus mode.

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    Flip UltraHD

    The popular Flip UltraHD offers a solid HD camcorder that provides great video at a low price. The camcorder offers image stabilization and runs on AAA batteries to make it easier to deal with for beginners. The recording controls are simple and at your fingertips. The software included is straightforward and easy to use. The downfall is a lack of memory expansion, no strong focus controls and a resolution set at 720/60p.

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    Kodak Playsport

    The Kodak Playsport is made for the person who wants to shoot video on the run, in any condition. The video camera is waterproof up to ten feet and offers great video for the low price. However, there is no built in USB connector, no memory card and the supported software only works with Windows. For the price, the video camera is a solid choice if you want to shoot video in rough conditions.

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    Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5

    The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 handheld video camera is not as compact as Kodak and Flip’s versions but it delivers great video for the price. One positive the camera has compared to its contemporaries is a swiveling lens, so you can see what you are filming no matter where the camera is facing. It should be noted the camera comes with no memory, so you can’t use it until you buy a memory stick. The camera offers 1080p and 720p video and includes one-touch uploading of video to Facebook and YouTube.

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    Canon FS200

    This is one of the better top ten video cameras for the beginner who does not care about HD. As an SD video camera, the Canon FS200 offers good video and includes an impressive 37x optical zoom in the small body. On the downside, there is no optical stabilization. It records all video to CD or SDHC cards and contains no internal storage. For the beginner, the video camera is easy to operate with a five-way joystick sitting next to the LCD screen.

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    Images

    Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video CameraPanasonic HDC-SD60KPanasonic SDR-T50Samsung HMX-R10 HDSony Bloggie MHS-CM5
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    Panasonic SDR-T50

    Another standard definition camcorder, the Panasonic SDR-T50 is one of the top ten video cameras for the beginner. The camcorder features easy-to-use controls and great image stabilization. The LCD screen is low resolution and will not always give you a good indication of the quality of video you are shooting. The camera also offers poor low level lighting and no external mic or headphone jacks. It does possess a powerful zoom lens at 70x.

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    Resources

    All references from Panasonic HDC-SD60K

    • Panasonic’s Official Product Page: http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/Camcorders/1-MOS-High-Def-Camcorders/model.HDC-SD60K_11002_7000000000000005702
    • At Amazon for $449.99 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-HDC-SD60K-Hi-Def-Camcorder-Intelligent/dp/B0035LCZSG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798504&sr=8-1

    All references from Canon Vixia HF R10

    • Canon’s Official Product Page: http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/camcorders/consumer_camcorders/vixia_hf_r10
    • At Amazon for $299.00 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-HF-R10-Camcorder-Black/dp/B00322ON88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798524&sr=8-1

    All references from Samsung HMX-R10 HD

    • Samsung’s Official Product Page: http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/camera-camcorder/camcorders/high-definition/HMX-R10BN/XAC/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail
    • At Amazon for $363.28 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-HMX-R10-Memory-Camcorder-Optical/dp/B001P3OT1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798586&sr=8-1

    All references from Sony Handycam HDR-CX150

    • Sony’s Official Product Page: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10551&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666073187
    • At Amazon for $339.99 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-HDR-CX150-Definition-Handycam-Camcorder/dp/B0031RGL0C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798604&sr=8-1

    All references from Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera

    • Kodak’s Official Product Page: http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/Zi8_Pocket_Video_Camera/productID.156585800
    • At Amazon for $96.20 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Kodak-Pocket-Video-Camera-Black/dp/B002HOPUPC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798627&sr=8-1

    All references from Flip UltraHD

    • Flip’s Official Product Page: http://www.theflip.com/en-us/Products/ultra.aspx
    • At Amazon for $199.99 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Flip-UltraHD-Video-Camera-Generation/dp/B0040702HA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798645&sr=8-1

    All references from Kodak Playsport

    • Kodak’s Official Product Page: http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/PLAYSPORT_Video_Camera__Zx3/productID.169976100
    • At Amazon for $149.00 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Kodak-PlaySport-Waterproof-Pocket-Camera/dp/B0030MITDK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798664&sr=8-1

    All references from Canon FS200

    • Canon’s Official Product Page: http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_249407_-1
    • At Amazon for $ as of February 2011:

    All references from Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5

    • Sony’s Official Product Page: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10551&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666073267
    • At Amazon for $399.95 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Memory-Camcorder-Advanced-Silver/dp/B001OI2VXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798687&sr=8-1

    All references from Panasonic SDR-T50

    • Panasonic’s Official Product Page: http://panasonic.net/avc/camcorder/sd/h95_h85_t55_t50_s50/
    • At Amazon for $241.59 as of February 2011: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-SDR-T50K-Std-Def-Camcorder-Memory/dp/B0035LD5P8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298798703&sr=8-1