As technology continues to improve, so does the standard of overall video quality — any camcorder or video camera that doesn’t record in 1080p HD resolution is considered archaic now. As we saw in our best small HD video camera article, a majority of pocket camcorders are even recording up to 1080p in HD with 30fps or more. YouTube’s most popular video resolution is 1080p HD, so if you’re looking for a video camera that has this capability look no further. In this article I highlight the best 1080p HD video camera for your filming needs, whatever your preferred activity or video type may be.
If your camera doesn’t film in 1080p, you’re behind…
As the years continue, it becomes more of a standard to have a 1080p HD quality camera. Typically a 720p will suffice, but if you’re investing in a video camera that will last you quite a few years, it’s best to look ahead while you’re at it. Think of it in terms of a societal desensitization process — the more the human eye becomes accustomed to a particular quality, the more your videos will ultimately suffer by looking outdated (similar to when you see a video clip from the early 2000’s right before HD came into play — it just looks dated!).
You are smart for shopping around for video cameras that go up to 1080p (some even higher in a quality called 4K cinema, although some websites\programs aren’t even compatible with that just yet so it isn’t time for that to be a standard for quite a while). There can be a lot of brands and models out there, so we’ve slimmed down your choices to the top 10 best. We provide a few DSLR’s, camcorders, compact, as well as action-type of video cameras to give you options.
Your budget and which type of camera you need
The following is our updated list of best video cameras and camcorders that allow you to film in full 1080p HD resolution. I’ve provided some links to Amazon to help you find some good deals as I see them under retail quite often. Use your budget as a guide.
- GE DVX
- Veho VCC-005-MUVI-NPNG
- GoPro Hero 3+
- JVC GZ-E200
- Sony HDRCX330/B
- Nikon D3100
- Canon EOS Rebel T3i
- Canon EOS 60D
- Sony HDR-CX430V
- Canon VIXIA HF G20
Our top 10 best 1080p HD video cameras
Here’s some main features and summaries of our 1080p camera choices. Sorted by price (lowest to highest), let’s check them out and see what they have to offer. Remember to take these questions into account: What’s your budget? Is camera size important? What activities will you be shooting your videos during? What light and\or weather conditions? Let us know which one you grab!
This starts off our list at just over $100. Here’s a pocket camera that films in 1080p. What we especially like about the GE DVX is the water (up to 5 meters) and shock proof capabilities. Also attached to the back is a 2.5″ LCD screen (a lot bigger than some smaller video cameras out there) — it has the relatively standard features with built-in USB, SD card slot and rechargeable Li-on battery. Just an overall easy-to-use pocket camera that allows you to film in full 1080p HD video resolution. With numerous colors available, it’s also cool for a custom look.
Another smaller-sized camera, this Veho model has a lot of positive reviews on the net. Films in the exceptional 1080p\30fps HD quality videos with a 5 megapixel lens. What’s special about the Veho Muvi is the ability to mount on numerous surfaces (you’ll have to buy some accessories for that). It’s also waterproof (with a case) and has 8GB of memory. I personally love the 3 hours of recording time with this one, especially because it’s in full HD. It has a few other additional features included, such as time lapse continuous photos, exposure control, etc.
GoPro Hero 3+
We mention the GoPro a lot, but for good reasons. It made our best small HD video camera list and makes an appearance here due to the video quality it can give you. All GoPro Hero 3+ cameras allow you to film in 1080p, with higher ones even going up to 4k cinema (albeit eating up your battery). These are ultra-wide angled lenses that have gotten great feedback in lower light performance. The biggest feature in our opinion is the hundreds of accessories and mounts you’re able to buy along with it, giving you some different angles as well as waterproof capabilities. The audio quality is so-so, one thing the GoPro’s have always lacked, but it’s an overall action camera worth buying you’ll be filming activities you think will go well with it.
JVC has always made reliable video cameras. The JVC GZ-E200 is a solid camcorder for a very low price (seen under $200 on Amazon), films in 1920 x 1080p resolution, includes an advanced image stabilizer and is exceptional in lower light conditions. The charging time takes about 2 hours and the only real downfall we see with this is the recording time being ~45 minutes, but if you know how to budget your time and film only when you need to you can make it last. It’s compatible with SDHC card (which you need for memory storage — no internal hard drive).
Here’s a step up in terms of camcorders that film in 1080p. The Sony HDRCX330/B features our beloved 1920×1080 full HD resolution with a very nice 9.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. Also includes an image stabilization mehacnic built-in, a wireless control, transfer and data backup via Wi-Fi, a 2.7″ LCD display, built-in USB, and can take photographs as well. If you want to spend a few more dollars for a camcorder we would go with this one.
Now we’re starting to get into the bad boys: DSLR cameras. If you’re okay with a larger video camera that shoots in some of the best quality out there right now, it’s worth it to spend the extra few bucks. The Nikon D3100 is very powerful and is one of the better, cheaper DSLR’s out there. It features a whopping 14.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor, films in HD resolution and has full-time autofocus and sound. You also get the obvious ability to snap photographs as well, so if you think you may need that function while you’re filming be sure to take that into consideration. You can also use SD/SDC/SDXC memory cards for storage. Comes with attachable lenses as well (cost a decent chunk of money). Grab this one if you need a cheaper DSLR alternative. Over 800 reviews on Amazon about it (4.5 star average). We like this review of the Nikon D3100 by CameraLabs.
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
When it comes to DSLR cameras, Canon is pretty synonymous with the whole thing. I personally use the Canon EOS Rebel T3i at work for our product review videos, and this thing is amazing. If you’re debating on what type of DSLR to buy, this is the overall best in terms of price and standard qualities a video camera needs. It offers you full HD resolution and has a megapixel CMOS sensor of 18, more than enough. Also included is a 3.0″ clear LCD, 1920 x 1080 resolution, full HD video, and not to mention the great quality photographs you can take with this thing. The ISO 100 – 6400 options give you a range of bright to dim light conditions so you don’t need to really worry about lighting, ever. This is our favorite video camera if you have the money.
Canon EOS 60D
This is a step up in terms of DSLR cameras and if you have the extra money and want some more features that go a bit beyond the T3i, we recommend trying it out. The Canon EOS 60D is one of the most popular cameras out there, featuring your beloved HD resolution, an 18 megapixel CMOS sensor (lenses are sold separately), ISO options for lighting conditions, the continuous shooting in 5.3 fps option, as well as a 3″ LCD monitor. Works with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. Get this if you want continuous shooting.
This is a very high-end camcorder. The Sony HDR-CX430V is loaded with high-end features, such as Full HD 1080p with a 8.9 megapixel CMOS sensor, some image stabilization built-in, a higher quality microphone than DSLR’s, and a 3″ LCD screen. What’s mind boggling about this one is the recording time: although you need a 32GB flash memory, it can record almost up to 12 hours. If you’ll be out and about without a way to replace or recharge a battery, this one is great for you. Very high-end camcorder, and one of the best we’ve seen.
Canon VIXIA HF G20
Here’s the big bertha of them all. The Canon VIXIA HF G20 has very great reviews. The sensor is a Pro Image CMOS, the lens is 10x HD (35mm) with an 8-blade iris (one of the best lenses at this price), as well as a 3.5″ inch touch LCD screen on the side. You can record up to 12 hours with this one (32GB intermal memory) but you can also add two additional memory cards. What’s nifty with this is the 9 built-in filters and some built-in image stabilization to boot. If you’re semi-pro or just want to stick out from all the rest of the standard film-makers or even regular YouTubers, this thing is used by a lot of college news channels and the like.
The verdict on best 1080p HD video camera or camcorder
Now that you’ve been able to read about the top 10 best cameras we’ve chosen for HD resolution, keep in mind the questions we’ve included. What kind of video camera or camcorder do you need? What type of films will you be making? Action-type? Perhaps a point-of-view camera is best, go with the GoPro Hero 3+. If you’re looking for a more portable option that’s relatively cheaper and can fit in your pocket, try out the Veho Muvi.
If you aren’t quite sure and just need an overall camera, we recommend a DSLR camera if you can afford it. Our overall choice for a video camera worth investing in that provides you the desired (and arguably the industry standard) 1080p HD video resolution would have to be a DSLR, in particular the Canon EOS Rebel T3i. You just can’t beat the features, specs and overall quality of the T3i, let alone for only $500 retail.
Let us know which camera you’ve chosen!