The age of HD video for everyone is very much upon us, with everything from our mobile phone, stills camera and even webcam able to capture full 1920 x 1080 HD video.
So what is the best camcorder to buy in this ultra-modern age?
The good news is that you have a full range of features and specifications open to you - fully automated, hardware stabilised, broadcast quality video in the palm of your hand, and often for less than £500
With such a glut of products on the market, some are bound to be better than others, and sifting through the jargon can often be difficult. What makes a £1000 camcorder better than a £200 one? Why are any of these better than the video camera on my phone or DSLR?
If abbreviations like dynamic IS, CMOS, MPEG4 and AVCHD scare you - never fear, we've debunked the myths to help you identify the best camcorder to buy in 2012.
Sony Bloggie PM5KW - £79.99
The Bloggie enables fast capture of everything around you
The Sony Bloggie range is fantastic for on-the-go shooting. The PM5KW is a slim-bodied camcorder which will fit nicely into most coat pockets and backpacks with ease. Featuring full HD capture at 30 frames per second, the Bloggie is perfect for recording the moments you want to remember with respectable clarity.
The Bloggie also has a rotating lens allows you to turn the focus on yourself and the supplied 360 lens lets you take panoramic video, meaning you capture all the action. This can be great for parties and festivals where there is lots going on at once.
For a penny under £80, you aren't going to get the best possible quality, but for ease of use, the Bloggie is a winner.
Read More: Sony Bloggie
Toshiba Camileo P100 - £93
Toshiba P100 offers a great gateway into the world of HD recording
Similarly to the Sony Bloggie, the Toshiba Camileo range uses a vertical form factor, but this time using a 'pistol-grip' style, rather than the Bloggie's candy bar shape. The real standout features here are the 8X optical zoom, 8 megapixel stills capture and HDMI connector - allowing for direct playback through an HD TV.
A three inch touch screen lets you control the most important functions of the camcorder and recording buttons are easily placed for quick access.
At only £13 more than the Bloggie, the Toshiba feels like a more well thought out product, and the video results are very good. Overall the P100 feels like a luxury product, considering its sub £100 price-tag.
Read More: Toshiba Camilio P100
Panasonic HX-DC1 - £128
This pistol-grip camcorder packs a serious punch and a small form factor
Keeping with the pistol-grip style, the Panasonic HX-DC1 offers a significant upgrade over our previously mentioned camcorders. Featuring an impressive 14 megapixel stills capture resolution, 12X zoom as well as the expected full HD recording, this camcorders spec list is impressive.
The design and build are very high quality and the camcorder has an almost futuristic look to it. Similarly to the Toshiba, the HX-DC1 allows you to connect to your TV through HDMI. Another bonus of this camcorder is that it records two-channel audio, meaning you get stereo sound on all your recordings.
Read More: Panasonic HX-DC1
Toshiba Camileo SX500 - £179
The SX500 is a very stylish and capable HD camcorder
Toshiba's Camileo SX500 sticks to the more traditional camcorder shape, but makes it stand out with stylish lines and high build quality.
Featuring full HD capture, 5X optical zoom, 10 megapixel still image capture and 2.7" LCD viewing screen, the SX500 ticks all the boxes, but its low light filming capacity is what makes it stand out from the camcorders above.
Cheaper camcorders often behave badly in less than perfect lighting, resulting in grainy footage and washed out colours. The SX500 helps to overcome this with its '4 Lux' technology.
If you plan to record from dusk 'til dawn, this could be the camcorder for you.
Read More: Toshiba Camileo SX500
Panasonic HX-WA10 - £201
The HX-WA10 offers high resolutions stills, HD video and, oh it goes under water too!
The Panasonic HX-WA10 is very similar to the Panasonic HX-DC1 mentioned earlier, but features a beefed up specification list and is waterproof too. Why might you need a waterproof camcorder you might ask? Imagine being on a Caribbean holiday and being able to record the wildlife under the surf, or less romantically - being out in a storm and capturing the violent weather.
Twin this 'go-anywhere' attitude with a 16 megapixel stills camera, 12X zoom and funky design and you are onto a winner.
Read More: Panasonic HX-WA10 review
GoPro HD Hero 2 - £274
For the hardened action-man, the HD Hero 2 is everything proof!
GoPro have long been the go-to name in sports videography, and with their latest camcorder the HD Hero 2, the brand is starting to get some serious consumer focus too.
If you are into skiing, surfing, sky jumping and more then this is most definitely the camcorder for you. Featuring a waterproof, shockproof full HD camcorder as well as all the possible accessories you could need, the HD Hero 2 is the full package.
The HD Hero 2 is used across TV for its ability to literally record anything, and with its latest pricing structure, it is an affordable and fun addition to anyone on the extreme side of life.
Read More: GoPro HD Hero 2
Canon LEGRIA HF R26 - £290
A great camcorder for those looking for a bit extra when on a budget
The Canon Legria HF R26 is similar to the previously mentioned Toshiba Camileo SX500 in many ways, but as it's made by Canon, includes their high quality lenses. This results in a decent quality video recording and the hardware (rather than software) based image stabilisation means you get smooth footage even when walking.
The Legria HF R26 adds a fun element to your video, straight from the camera - you can add image decorations, music and more, without having to connect to a PC.
If the Toshiba appeals to you, but you are looking for a better quality lens and a few more features, then this could be your camcorder of choice.
Read More: Canon Legria HF R26
Panasonic HDC-SD900 - £580
This brilliant camcorder offers everything you could want
The Panasonic HDC-SD900 begins our lineup of semiprofessional camcorders . At 66mm x 72mm x 146mm (W/H/D), the HDC-SD900 is not a pocket friendly camera, but it makes up for it with features.
As well as the expected specs, such as full HD, 14 megapixel image capture and hardware image stabilisation, the HDC-SD900 allows for fully automatic control - letting you fiddle with ISO, white balance and manual focus.
You can even get an adapter and make this thing fully 3D too! If you are a budding filmmaker or want something more from your home movies, then the HDC-SD900 is for you.
Read more: Panasonic HDC-SD900 review
Sony CX360VE Handycam - £610
A well built camera with impressive built in storage and a multitude of features
Where the Panasonic HDC-SD900 had more features then you could shake a stick at, the Sony Handycam does a smaller amount of things, but incredibly well.
This camcorder is all about the video, featuring full HD capture able to record a super-smooth 50 frames per second footage, Sony's high quality optics, 3-way image stabilisation, low light mode and a microphone capable of recording 5.1 channel surround sound.
The CX360VE also has 32GB flash memory built in, meaning you can record around 13 hours of full HD video.
Sony have really set the bar for semipro camcorders and the CX360VE is one of the best in their range.
Read More: Sony CX360VE
Canon Legria HF S30 - £850
Canon have put all their knowledge of lens technology into this feature packed, well built camcorder
The Canon Legria HF S30 builds on the plus points of the previous Sony Handycam by adding Canon's award winning lenses a slightly larger 3.5" display and DIGIC DVIII colour control - this results in deeper, more lifelike colour representation in your movies.
The HF S30 also has a 25 frames per second mode which matches the look of traditional film, and provides enhanced low-light shooting performance.
Whether the Canon is worth the extra £240 when compared to the Sony will be up to you to decide, but comparison aside, this is a fantastic camera that will let you create stunning videos for use at home and more.
Read More: Canon Legria HF S30
Liked this? Then check out Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
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