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What's behind our camcorder Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 63 models in camcorders to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This score mainly reflects picture quality and ease of use. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Picture quality
    Picture quality is based on the judgments of trained panelists who viewed recorded video images shot in good light at the highest quality setting available.
  • Low-light picture quality
    Low light Picture quality is based on the judgments of trained panelists who viewed recorded video images shot in dim light at the highest quality setting available.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use takes into account ergonomics of the controls and displays, and user manual readability.
  • Audio quality
    Audio quality represents accuracy using the built-in microphone, plus freedom from noise.
  • Image stabilizer
    This reflects how well the model reduces the shakes in a scene. Most stabilizers are electronic, and some of those are digital (digital stabilization is used on both analog and digital camcorders). Some camcorders have optical stabilization. All three types can be effective, though using a tripod is the surest way to get a steady image. "NA" indicates the model lacks this feature.
  • Auto focus
    Overall assessment of the autofocus system, which takes into account speed and accuracy.
  • Display quality
    Display quality reflects image clarity, color accuracy, and contrast of the LCD as judged by panelists who viewed recordings of various scenes made in our lab. It also includes our judgment of the onscreen informational displays, the video playback under bright sunlight, and (if applicable) touchscreen usability.
  • Versatility
    Versatility indicates features that increase a camcorder's utility or capabilities. These might include the presence of a built-in lamp, optical zoom, image stability, tripod mount, wide angle view, external microphone input, headphone output, and so on.
  • Still camera
    Overall quality of the photo functions of the camcorder, which includes picture quality and handling.
  • Battery life
    Battery life is how long the camcorder can continuously record images with the LCD viewer in constant use and occasional use of other features such as the zoom lens.



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Recommended camcorders

Recommended camcorders are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
For those who remember the early, shoulder-crushing video cameras, today's small, sleek, digital camcorders are a welcome advance. The number of analog camcorder models has dwindled and digital camcorders account for the vast majority of new models and purchases. If you're looking for information about camcorders, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ camcorder reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our camcorder buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and camcorder reviews to help you choose the best camcorder for your needs.

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Camcorder buying guide

Buying a camcorder can be complicated. Models not only vary in size and capabilities, but also in price. You can spend as little as $150 or as much as $1600, or more. This camcorder guide organizes the process of buying a camcorder into clear steps that will let you make the right decision.

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