There are many types of video cameras out there. DSLR cameras have been taking the market by storm, especially ever since they began allowing video. They are pretty much the industry standard when it comes to high quality videos, particuarly on YouTube or Vimeo. But sometimes these expensive video cameras can not only cost a fortune but can be very liable due to their size. Although I love my DSLR camera, I at times feel very concerned when i’m traveling or merely using it for an extended amount of time — I never feel that it is completely safe when it is strapped onto my neck (especially for how long I saved up for that thing!). Sometimes I prefer a small, compact camera for traveling purposes as well as overall convenience. Although it all depends on your budget and activity you will be using it for, we highlight the top 10 best small HD video cameras and choose our favorite.
Benefits of a small HD video camera
- Typically small enough to fit in your packet for easy portability
- Convenient for all traveling purposes
- Some are battery powered and do not require charging
- Typically on the cheaper side (most under $300 unless you go for a camcorder)
- Record in a better quality than your smart phone or device
- Provide higher audio quality than your smart phone or device
- Some are water, dust and shock proof for rugged use
The following are in my opinion the top 10 best small video cameras on the market. They are arranged by price from lowest to highest. Do some looking around if you’d like for whatever fits your budget range. We will then analyze and determine which one is best in terms of all-around features. I also provide the retail price and links to Amazon, as I’ve seen these cameras for a lot cheaper on there.
- Sony Bloggie Sport (MHSTS22) Waterproof Video Camera
- Zoom Q2HD Handy HD Video Recorder
- Kodak PlayFull HD Video Camera
- Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 Digital Camera
- Creative Labs Vado HD 4GB Pocket Video Camcorder
- Samsung HMX-W200 Waterproof HD Camera
- Flip MinoHD Video Camera
- GoPro Hero 3+ POV
- Garmin Virb Elite Action Camera
- Flip UltraHD Video Camera
Our top 10 best small HD video cameras
Below are rundowns of the top 10 best small video cameras we’ve chosen. The prices fluctuate here and there (typically lower than retail) so be sure to check for it’s current listing as you may be able to find a great deal. Provided are photos of the video camera, a little run down as well as a list of their main features. Some things to take into consideration before reading: How small does it need to be? Do you need a water, shock or dust proof camera? Is how big the LCD screen is important to you? Is 1080p HD quality a must? Do you need it to take photographs as well? What about sound quality?
Let us know which one you end up going with!
Sony Bloggie Sport (MHST22) Waterproof Video Camera
Here’s one of the cheapest small HD video cameras on the market and one worth looking at if you’re on a smaller budget. The Sony Bloggie Sport is a relatively simple camera that does just what you need without any extra pizzazz. What I particularly like about this is the LCD screen as well as ability to record in 1080p, not to mention it’s small enough to fit in your pocket — very good for adventurous activities or on-the-go since’s it is water, dust and shock proof.
One downfall may be the recording time — only about 2 hours on this thing (4GB); however, if you turn it off and on when you’re filming you can preserve the life and basically last you an entire day if you’re efficient with it’s usage. I can’t complain for only around $80. Although, it has a rechargeable battery (via USB) so if you have some type of external charging device you can take that with you and have two to three times the battery life.
- Weight: ~1 lb.
- Dimensions: 5.7 x 3 x 2.7 inches
- 4X digital zoom
- 2.7″ LCD touch-screen
- Still image capture ability
- 1080p HD resolution
- Shock, dust and water proof
- 4GB of internal memory (up to 2 hours of filming)
- Built-in image stabilization
- LED light for lower light filming
- HDMI output
Zoom Q2HD Handy HD Video Recorder
This is a huge hit in the small video camcorder department. The Zoom Q2HD is beautiful and has received some very positive reviews as it offers some premium sound quality with a condenser microphone built-in. Standard 1080p/30fps filming and also has a nice LCD screen at the back. For only around~$100 I’d say this is a steal, especially if you have a few extra dollars to spend. One of the biggest upsides of this video camera is the audio quality.
I’ve heard some complaints about their ‘Handyshare’ application that comes with the package for sharing purposes. However, I’d recommend skipping over it and just plugging it into your computer directly and going from there. You can also check the price of their newest model, the Zoom Q4, although it is around $380 retail and a bit bigger.
- Weight: 9 ounces
- Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 2.5 inches
- Built-in condenser microphone at top of camera
- Resolution options: 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps
- Compatible with 64GB SDXC cards
- Ports: USB 2.0, mini-HDMI and 1/8″ stereo jack
- Power: AA battery, AC adapter or USB
Kodak PlayFull HD Video Camera
Kodak is a familiar name in the photography department. In terms of smaller video cameras, the Kodak PlayFull HD is very solid because not only 1080p video resolution but can also take 5 megapixel HD still pictures. At only ~$100, this is very affordable not to mention it is merely the size of your phone. Also check out their waterproof version but it only records in 720p.
The LCD is a bit smaller than a few of it’s competitors, but this is a result of it’s overall compact size (so pick your poison!). There also isn’t a flash included for the stills and doesn’t have auto focus, but these features depend on your preference.
- Weight: 5 ounces
- Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.9 x 6.1 inches
- 1080p video resoltuion
- 5 megapixel HD stills
- Built-in USB arm
- Sharing software included
- Built-in microphone
- Image stabilization
- Comes with wrist strap
Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 Digital Camera
Don’t be fooled by the ‘digital camera’ label. The Canon Powershot ELPH 130 is very powerful in terms of shooting video and is quite small. I love the slim size similar to the traditional digital camera as it fits easily into a pocket or onto your wrist with the strap. The video resolution goes up to 720p but the pictures take a whopping 16 megapixels, let alone a CCD sensor (1/2.3″) for enhanced picture quality.
One downfall can be the ability to only go up to 720p resolution. However, if you can suffice with this, the PowerShot is great for portability and is very convenient, not to mention the high quality pictures it can take if that’s what you’ll be using it for as well. I personally love cameras that provide a quick and easy way to shoot both video and take pictures at the tap of a button, as you never know when you’ll need to snap a still during your filming adventures.
- Weight: 5 ounces
- Dimensions: 3.7 x 0.8 x 2.2 inches
- 3″ TFT color LCD on back for viewing
- 16 megapixel with 1/2.3″ CCD sensor
- DIGIC 4 image processor
- 8x optical zoom
- 28mm wide-angle lens
- 720p\25fps HD video capability
Creative Labs Vado HD 4GB Pocket Video Camcorder
Here is another very convenient small video camcorder. The Creative Labs Vado HD records in 720p and has around 4GB of video storage built into it. I especially like this because it has a wide-angle lens and it’s easy-to-use functionality. You can record up to one hour of HD video or four hours via VGA resolution. A decent amount — although not as much as some of the others listed — depending on how you budget your video camcorder usage time.
I’ve heard some complaints about the audio being relatively poor, however it is a lot better than iPhones or similar smart phones. Grab this if you need an easy-to-use and wide-angle camcorder that you need to travel around with. It comes in a few different colors as well.
- Weight: ~10 ounces
- Dimensions: 3.6 x 3.2 x 5.8 inches
- 720p video resolution
- 4GB of video storage on-camera
- One touch recording
- 2″ display
- Record up to one hour of footage with HD
- Record up to four hours of video with VGA resolution
- Connect via HDTV with HDMI cable
Samsung HMX-W200 Waterproof HD Camera
This is a great waterproof video camera that’s very small and easy to travel with. I used to have one of these and took it to the water park a few times in the summer and had a blast. The Samsung HMX-W200 is a great choice if you need something to protect you against liquids. It’s also shock and dust proof, provides 1080p full HD recording and has an LCD on the back. A great package in a small camcorder if you can afford it.
A huge plus a lot of people rave about it in this one is the ability to press the power button and shoot within ~3 seconds, great if you’re in that “I need to capture this moment ASAP!” mode (I usually get that way when my dog fails to catch the squirrels she chases randomly). It uses a Micro SD card for storage. It does take pictures (5 megapixels) as well, but isn’t anywhere near the quality of the PowerShot previously spoken about in terms of photograph quality.
- 5 megapixel image sensor (BSI CMOS)
- Waterproof up to 3 meters
- Shock and dust proof
- 2.3″ LCD screen on back
- Record in 1080p full HD quality
- Comes in black, red or orange
- Anti-fog glass
- Built-in USB port
- “Aqua mode” for especially under water filming
Flip MinoHD Video Camera
Here is Flip’s other popular model of small video cameras. The Flip MinoHD is a bit more expensive depending on which GB of on-board memory you choose, although it allows 720p HD at 30 fps, a very suitable quality of video nowadays. The buttons are touch-sensitive as opposed to traditional press buttons and the video quality is up there in terms of it’s price range. It’s been around for quite a few years and has a lot of positive reviews to back up it’s reliability. You can read our full review of the MinoHD video camera for more info.
Some would complain about the 1.5″ screen, but the camera itself is very thin and slides into the pocket of your jeans. The built-in memory also goes up to 8GB, so check that model out, albeit for a higher price.
- Weight: 3.3 ounces
- Dimensions: Unspecified
- HD-quality video (720p resolution at 30 fps)
- 16:9 widescreen videos
- 4GB of built-in memory
- Flip-out USB arm for computer play
- One-touch recording and digital zoom
- Internal rechargable battery via USB
- Instant pause, FF, rewind, zoom, delete, and overall playback
GoPro Hero 3+ Point-of-View
GoPro has been demolishing the competition when it comes to point-of-view, more action-oriented type of video filming. The GoPro Hero 3+ is their latest model and features some extremely impressive features. You’re able to buy it in three editions: white, silver and black, all increasing in price as you go up. All of these cameras shoot in full 1080p quality with 30 fps, come along with some impressive mounts and accessories, as well as support WiFi connectivity via your iPhone or smart phone/device to view what you’re filming.
The GoPro also made ranks in our best 1080p HD video camera article. If you’re looking for an alternative to pocket cameras and want to take it for a spin, we recommend buying a GoPro if you can afford it. It is wide-angled lens and you can also take stills. The 3+ has gotten some great reviews and will continue to be the victor in terms of point-of-view cameras, and well earned at that. A very powerful camcorder.
- Weight: 3 ounces (bare camera)
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 9.7 inches
- Ultra-wide angle glass lens
- Up to 1440p at 48 fps video resolution
- WiFi connectivity
- HDMI port
- Supports MicroSD cards up to 64gb
- Can become waterproof with specific housing
- Great low-light performance
Garmin Virb Elite Action Camera
This is one of the coolest looking cameras we have on the list and tops off our best small video cameras in terms of price. The Garmin Virb Elite is very impressive. It has a whopping 16 megapixel CMOS sensor for high-quality pictures as well as full HD videos (highest is 1080p with 30fps). The battery is rechargable and lasts up to 3 hours at 1080p, not to mention it is waterproof (no housing needed like the GoPro) and it has an internal microphone that’s OK quality (not amazing).
This is definitely a competitor to GoPro and a great alternative if you want built-in GPS and out-of-the-box waterproof functionality. It also comes in multiple colors, fits in your pocket, and one is the best out there. Give this a look if you have the cash!
- Weight: 6.1 ounces
- Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.8 x 1.1 inches
- Display size: 1.4″
- 16 megapixel CMOS sensor
- HD resoltuion up to 1080p\30fps
- Rechargeable battery
- Waterproof up to 1 meter\30 min
- Image stabilization
- Lens distortion correction
- Internal microphone built-in
- External USB jack
- ANT+ connectivity (remote control function)
- GPS, accelerometer and altimeter
Flip UltraHD Video Camera
This is Flip’s latest installment of pocket camcorders and a great quality one at that. The Flip UltraHD has gotten a lot of positive reviews because of it’s light weight and easy to use point-and-shoot ability. The software included is also decent if you’re looking for a program to edit or customize your films.
A bit low in terms of recording time, giving you about an hour of HD video (720p/30fps) resolution. No additional memory cards are required however the one we’ve linked you is the 4GB. You can also take a look at the UltraHD 8GB, which allows for 2 hours of HD recording (about $100 more retail).
- Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.2 x 4.2 inches
- Up to 1 hour of HD recording
- Shoot-and-play, convenient filming
- Built-in USB arm
- Mac and PC compatible
- FlipShare software for editing included
- Uses AA batteries or a sold separately battery pack
- HDMI compatible
- Record up to HD 720p/30fps
The verdict on best small video camera
There are quite a few options available when you’re shopping for your small HD video camera. We’ve listed our top 10 favorite and ultimately the choice of best depends on your needs. Sound quality, video resolution, waterproof capabilities, LCD screen size and more should be taken into consideration. In our opinion and when it comes to finding the best bang-for-your-buck small video camcorder, we love the Flip MinoHD in terms of all-around rating. If you’re more of a picture taker, the PowerShot ELPH 130 is amazing considering it’s only $130. However, if you’re doing point-of-view action videos the GoPro Hero 3+ should not be overlooked. We hope you found this article helpful and let us know if you have any further questions about shopping for your small video camera!