There are plenty of cheap HD camcorders under $200. With most you get exactly what you pay for. Let’s get real, you won’t get $2K worth of quality for $200. But if you shop wisely, there are a select few camcorders where you can get *more* than what you pay for. In the end, the best camcorder for the money is the one that gives you all the options you need for the lowest cost.
Below are the top 5 best camcorders under 200 bucks. They are all 1080p HD cams. 720p HD models (1280 x 720) weren’t included (it is a lower quality, outmoded format).
(in $ order)
- Aiptek A-HD Pro 1080P High Definition Camcorder – Best choice for BUDGET users MSRP approx $100
The A-HD Pro sports a 3x optical zoom (unusual for the price point), LED lights for illumination, removable SD card memory and a handy 2.4″ swivel LCD screen. It shoots at 1080p but offers the lowest resolution of the cameras reviewed here (1440 x 1080p instead of 1920 x 1080p). Purchase this camera if $ is your main factor. The video quality and feature set are quite decent for the low price but the camera body is flimsy. Be gentle with this one.
- Kodak PlaySport Zx3 Waterproof Pocket Video Camera Best choice for ACTIVE users MSRP approx $130
The PlaySport is a pocketcam style camcorder that features a 4x digital zoom , 1080p (1920 x 1080) video and is extremely light weight. The camcorder is waterproof to ten feet, has good image stabilization and unlike the Aiptek, has a solid build. Purchase this camera if you are an active user who will be shooting outdoors or in unpredictable situations. A great camcorder if you have kids who like to share your toys!
- Sony MHS-PM5 bloggie HD Best choice for VIDEO BLOGGERS
MSRP approx $130 depending on color –
The MHS-PM5 is Sony’s version of the pocketcam with a twist. The camcorder lens swivels 270 degrees and an add-on is available that lets you capture panararamic 360 degree video. The camcorder is 1080p (1920 x 1080) and includes a nice face detection function, Sony’s SteadyShot, a built-in USB arm and a 2.4″ LCD. Purchase this camera if you plan on doing a lot of video blogging and will speak directly to your camcorder. (Note: the camcorders in this list are excellent models for everyday use. If your primary focus is video blogging, read this review instead.)
- Sanyo VPC-CG20 HD Camcorder & 10 MP Camera Best choice for VIDEO/PHOTO users MRSP approx $155
This is a pistol grip style camcorder with a generous 2.7″ flip screen LCD. The camcorder shoots 1080i (1920×1080) and features a 5x optical zoom with a wider angle lens (38mm) than most in its class. It also has a digital image stabilizer for video and still photography. For photography enthusiasts, the VPC-CG20 shoots 10mp still photos including high sensitivity photos at ISO 1600 for very low light conditions. This is the best camcorder under 200 if you want lens versatility and the ability to take gorgeous high rez still photos.
- JVC GZ-HM300 HD Camcorder Best choice for VIDEO BUFFS MSRP approx $199
You get a lot of lens for your money with the HM300. The camcorder features a Minolta lens with super low-light sensitivity and a built-in 20X optical zoom (200x digital). The camcorder records full 1080p HD (1920×1080) with a bit rate of 24Mbps. It also includes some handy features not often included in its price range such as time-lapse recording, auto record motion detection and manual controls for focus and white balance.
Note: The Flip cameras remain popular and people sometimes ask why they weren’t included. They are mid range cameras (1280 x 720p) that had cool designs but were somewhat overhyped. They were discontinued by Cisco in spring 2011.