Best Camcorders for your New Baby – 2019 Recommendations

Best Camcorders for your New Baby - 2019 Recommendations - PamperMyBaby.com
As new parents, my husband and I are so glad we got a camcorder to record our baby Joshua’s precious moments. Nothing beats the ease of use a camcorder provides. Grab it, flip open the LCD and hit the record button – off you go! That’s why I thought I would start my blog with probably the best advice I can give you if you are looking for a camcorder – which is the best camcorder for a new baby?

We were tempted to just use our smartphones and we somehow managed for a month. After all, its so easy to upload videos straight to YouTube or share with family through Whatsapp.

But the main issues we found were poor low light performance and running out of space. Smartphone cameras are good when light levels are great but if you want to take videos in anything less than brightly lit conditions, the video quality is probably going to be terrible. The other problem is storage space – most mobiles have up to 16GB space and if you are anything like us, you will have a few GB free after all your music, other videos and system files. That is probably good for just 10 minutes of High Definition video! No, we wanted to record as much of Joshua as we wanted without worrying about light levels, battery life, or storage space available.

Together we spent over 30 hours researching over 20 different camcorders from the major brands such as Sony, Canon and Panasonic. We looked at everything from FullHD camcorders to cutting edge 4K UltraHD models to help you decide what camcorder is best for your baby. We have split the recommendations based on:

  • Resolution – 1080p FullHD or 4K UltraHD
  • Budget, Great Value, Feature-packed and High-end

Best Camcorder 2019 Recommendations: Summary

  1. 1080p Full HD:
    1. Budget: Panasonic HC-V180K
    2. Best value for money: Canon VIXIA HF R700
    3. Full-featured: Canon VIXIA HF R72
    4. High-end: Canon VIXIA HF G20
  2. 4K Ultra HD:
    1. Best value for money: Panasonic HC-VX870K 4K
    2. High-end: Sony FDRAX33 4K
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Choosing the best camcorder for your needs

We have a Canon EOS digital SLR and have been taking beautiful photos for years now. So we were all set on the photography side. We wanted to get videos of similar quality that we could enjoy on our big TV at home. However that’s easier said than done given the options in the market.

At a minimum, here are the things I suggest you look for in a camcorder for baby:

  • 1080p Full HD resolution (2MP) – The older 720p HD camcorders are now obsolete.
  • Good low light performance – Ideal to record those cute things baby does in the middle of the night or at dawn without turning on all the lights.
  • Optical image stabilisation – We all know and hate jerky footage don’t we? Thankfully all the major brands make camcorders with good image stabilisation built-in. Sony tends to be better than Canon from what I have seen, especially at the tele end (that is, when zoomed in).
  • Recording should start quickly from the camcorder’s fully off state – The whole reason for using a camcorder instead of a smartphone is so that you have a dedicated device that responds immediately to the record button.
  • Tripod screw mount – This is more useful than I initially thought, especially when combined with mini-tripods like these Joby GorillaPod SLR Zoom Tripod with Ball Head Bundle for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras.

There are some nice-to-haves:

  • Image capture capability while recording a video
  • Auto lens cover open/close
  • Wide angle lens so that you don’t have to walk backwards to get everybody in the frame
  • Recording is possible with LCD screen closed
  • Dual-recording feature so that you have a smaller file size clip ready to share with friends and family
  • Microphone input if you want to get creative
  • Night vision using IR LEDs can be handy for recording baby in the nursery at night
  • 4K resolution for future-proofing your investment
  • Pre-recording feature so that important moments are not missed
  • WiFi and smartphone connectivity to make it easier to share video clips
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Technical terms

Here’s a quick overview of the technical terms you need to choose the right camcorder:

  • Resolution – Defined in megapixels (MP), this defines how much detail is captured by the camcorder. Higher the resolution, higher the detail.
    • 720p / HD / HD Ready- This means the video captured will have a resolution of 1280×720 pixels.
    • 1080p / Full HD – This means the video captured will have a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels.
    • 4K / Ultra HD / 2160p / 4x HD- This means the video captured will have a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which is twice the resolution of Full HD and four times that of standard HD.
  • Sensor Size – This is expressed as a fraction of an inch. The larger the sensor, the better the low light performance.
  • Interpolation – This is a software-based enhancement that tries to add detail where there is none. Often used tot inflate the number of megapixels in an image (eg. creating a 10MP image from a 2MP sensor). As you can guess, the image quality is poorer.

Best Camcorders for your New Baby - 2019 Recommendations - PamperMyBaby.com

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How to choose a camcorder

The first decision you need to make is regarding the resolution you need from your camcorder. You shouldn’t go for anything less than 1080p and all the camcorders we discuss in this article meet this requirement. For most families, we suggest 1080p is sufficient. However 4k is becoming popular and if you have a 4K TV already, it makes sense to consider a 4K camcorder. However these are still much more expensive than 1080p camcorders. So we have split our recommendations into 1080p and 4K as well.

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Best camcorder recommendation list

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1080p Camcorders

1. Budget: Panasonic HC-V180K


PROS:

  • Good video quality
  • 50x optical zoom, zoom microphone
  • 28mm wide angle
  • 2.7″ touch screen LCD panel

CONS:

  • Low light performance

View on Amazon

If you are on a budget and just want a no-frills basic but solid camcorder, the Panasonic HC-V180K is ideal. If you are coming from analog camcorders, you will be shocked at how cheap these Full HD camcorders have become. Its all down to the fact that there are very few mechanical parts on these cameras.

Even as a basic model, the Panasonic HC-V180K has a very good 50x optical zoom. The intelligent zoom feature is just interpolation and personally I wouldn’t recommend it as the image quality decreases. The BSI image sensor is very good and image stabilisation is present via Panasonic’s O.I.S system which is well regarded. The 28mm wide lens lets you get wider shots closer to baby, without introducing a fish-eye effect. There are some creative filters such as 8mm movie, silent movie, and time lapse recording but dont expect any major on-board editing taking place.

You can also take still images at upto 2.2 MP – the 10MP mode is just interpolated and is there purely for marketing purposes. I wouldn’t use it myself. You can take photos while shooting video. Storage is provided by a SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card slot. The included rechargeable battery has a capacity of 1,940mAh which is good for up to an hour of video recording.

2. Best value for money: Canon VIXIA HF R700


PROS:

  • Very good video quality, with Smart Auto scene mode
  • 57x optical zoom, Intelligent image stabilisation
  • Baby growth tracker, Pre-recording, Dual recording feature
  • Microphone & headphone input
  • 3″ touch screen LCD panel

CONS:

  • No zoom microphone
  • Some chromatic aberration when zoomed in fully

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For a step up from the Panasonic V180K, you can get the excellent Canon VIXIA HF R700 which is our pick for best value for money. At this level, you get some much needed features such as Auto scene selection, a higher capacity battery and a Baby mode.

Let’s look at the baby mode – this is a feature found in handycams aimed at us new parents. Essentially it lets you capture, track, organise and share the precious moments of upto 3 children on your camera. The idea is this – imagine your baby is learning how to smile. He has just started and you grab your camera and hit the dedicated Baby mode button. Did you get the smile? Well with baby mode, the Pre-recording feature is always on, a sort of ‘pre-roll’ mode. This means everything that happened for 3 seconds before you hit the baby button an record has been recorded anyway. So you have a better chance of capturing that first smile or first word. Baby mode also chooses the scene mode automatically. Recorded videos can the be edited using the Touch Decoration feature – drawings, animations and captions are available for applying to existing clips as well.

We have a routine for Joshua as his sleep time approaches – we dim the lights, we lower our voices and give him a bath. So if the camcorder doesn’t do well in low light, its pretty much useless in the evening. The R700’s DIGIC processor is renowned for its low light performance and makes it possible to capture baby’s sleeptime activities. Although this camera doesn’t have an HDR mode, it mimics its effect by using Highlight Priority Mode. This tries to preserve detail in high contrast scenes just like HDR does.

Dual recording is a feature we love – it records high quality/large file size video clips and lower quality/small file size clips for sharing simultaneously. This makes it a breeze to share clips on Youtube.

The main gripe about this camera among users is the screen being difficult to see in bright sunlight, but this issue is not unique to just Canons. All in all, this is a great camera and represents the best value for money 1080p Full HD camcorder.

Also consider:

  • Sony HDRCX405 – Has fewer features than the Canon R700, but you may prefer the warmer tone of the Canon’s video vs. Sony’s more neutral and accurate tones.
  • Sony HDRCX440 – Basically the CX405 with WiFi.

3. Feature-packed: Canon VIXIA HF R72


PROS:

  • Very good video quality, with Smart Auto scene mode
  • 57x optical zoom, Intelligent image stabilisation
  • Baby growth tracker, Pre-recording, Dual recording feature
  • 3″ touch screen LCD panel
  • Wi-Fi, built in 16 GB flash memory
  • Microphone & headphone input

CONS:

  • Some chromatic aberration when zoomed in fully

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The Canon VIXIA HF R72 is from the same family as the R700 above and so shares all its features. It however adds three interesting features to make life easier – WiFi, NFC and internal storage. The R72 has 16GB internal flash memory while the last member in the family, the R70, has 32GB memory.

What can you do with the WiFi and NFC? Firstly the camera can connect to your WiFi network and you can access video files on it from a laptop or smartphone wirelessly. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a feature that smartphones have and lets you do the same things as WiFi does but directly without the need of a WiFi network – ideal when out and about. Secondly using the Canon laptop apps, you can share your video clips directly on social networks. Thirdly, the optional Canon Connect Station CS100 device can be used to store videos and photos if you do not have access to a computer.

The only issue reported by users is difficulty getting it to work with Mac computers.

Also consider:

  • Panasonic HC-V380K – This camcorder has a useful feature – you can use it as a baby monitor that can be accesses from your smartphone.
  • Sony HDR-PJ440 – A neat idea that never really took off, this camcorder has a built-in pico projector.
  • Panasonic HC-V770K – This camcorder is one of the most affordable camcorders with a large sensor (1/2.3″), which gives it much better low light performance than the other camcorders discussed so far. So if you are willing to give up WiFi and dual recording, you can get a low light performance star.

4. High-end: Canon HF-G20


PROS:

  • Excellent video quality
  • Electronic View Finder
  • Built-in 32 GB storage

CONS:

  • No baby specific features
  • No dual recording

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If you want to invest in a camcorder you can rely on for a good few years, it is worth looking at the higher end of the market. Be warned though, technology moves so fast that today’s cutting edge will be obsolete in a few years’ time!

Aimed at ‘advanced amateurs’, the Canon HF-G20 should be your choice if you absolutely need a viewfinder. For those of us who grew up with camcorders, the viewfinder was often the only way to see what you were recording, especially outdoors. What we have found with most current camcorders is that the LCD screen easily becomes un-viewable in bright sunlight and you simply cant see what you are shooting. What you need to be aware of is that camcorders that do have viewfinders have an electronic version, called the Electronic View Finder(EVF). Some people hate these as it feels like you are looking down a tunnel at a tiny screen – which is essentially what it is. So do try it out yourself in-store before you buy one.

So what are you paying for when you buy the Canon HF-G20? Its the EVF, but more than that its the much higher build quality, the higher quality optics, the excellent low light performance and advanced manual exposure controls (if you are into that kind of stuff).

This is a semi-professional camcorder and has a price to match, but the build quality, low light performance, and depth of field that can be achieved are unparalleled. The only issue reported by users is again, issues with getting Macs to recognise the camera.

Also consider the Sony HDRCX900/B which loses the pre-recording feature but gains dual recording. You can’t have everything, it seems!

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4K Ultra HD Camcorders

Don’t get me wrong when I refer to a 4K camera as value for money when the prices seems anything but! Fact is 4K is the latest in camcorder technology and so early adopters will pay a premium. We don’t have a 4K TV yet so we restricted ourselves to shopping for 1080p camcorders when we needed one. But given what we learnt during our research, I can easily see hubby wanting a 4K camcorder and TV to go with it soon!

1. Best value for money: Panasonic HC-VX870K 4K


PROS:

  • Great video quality, HDR mode, built-in LED lamp
  • 30mm wide angle in 4K mode
  • Baby calendar, Baby growth tracker
  • True night vision with IR LEDs

CONS:

  • No viewfinder
  • No wide angle in 1080p mode
  • No pre-recording or dual recording

View on Amazon

The HC-VX870K is one of the most affordable 4K camcorders on the market. It has a 18.9 megapixel sensor, so it is pretty good for taking still images as well. Some of the more interesting features are:

  • True HDR mode
  • Record from two angles by using your smartphone as the second camera
  • Built-in LED lamp
  • Additional InfraRed(IR) LED allows recording in total darkness
  • Wireless TV playback
  • 3.5mm microphone input jack

2. High-end: Sony FDRAX33 4K


PROS:

  • Great video quality
  • Electronic View Finder

CONS:

  • No wide angle in 1080p mode
  • No pre-recording
  • No baby features

View on Amazon

You may have noticed this is the first Sony on my list so far. Its not that the Sony camcorders are bad, its just that they are a bit light on features compared to the Canon, especially at the lower end of the market. But moving to the 4K side of things, it is different.

The Sony FDRAX33 may not have baby specific features but that’s because it is targeted firmly at the enthusiast market where the user will know how to harness the power afforded by these advanced cameras. Just like the Panasonic above, the FDRAX33 also has a 1/2.3″ sensor for strong low light performance. The larger sensor means that more light is captured than a smaller sensor in the same amount of time.

Dual recording is present and if this feature is important to you, the Sony is the natural choice.

Also consider:

  • Panasonic HC-WXF991K 4K – This camcorder is similar to the Sony in features except for the missing dual recording feature. But if you prefer the image of the Panasonic, this is a good choice.
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Wrap-up

I hope you found this round-up helpful in choosing the best camcorder to capture your baby’s ‘firsts’. I absolutely recommend getting one before baby’s birth especially if you are keen on capturing his first moments outside the womb. Its a moment you will cherish forever and getting a good camcorder is the sensible thing to do.

We wanted to wet our toes before committing to a significant investment, so we went with the cheap and cheerful Sony Handycam HDR-CX240 which is basically the UK equivalent of the Sony HDR-CX405. We nearly went for the Canon VIXIA HF R700 due to its pre-record feature but got a great deal on the Sony. The dual recording feature is a bonus but I don’t miss the touchscreen as much as I feared!

So which one did you go for and why? Or do you have questions? Leave a comment and I promise to reply!

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4 Comments
  1. Reply
    Neha June 22, 2019 at 6:44 am

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for posting your review. It’s been so helpful. I am in a similar stage as you were for shooting all precious moments of my baby to arrive.

    I wanted your valuable advice on the Canon LEGRIA HF R806 Camcorder, HD 1080p, 3.28MP, 57x Advanced Zoom, Optical Image Stabiliser, 3″ Vari-angle Touch Screen LCD Display, Black, according to you is it good enough for baby recording and shooting?

    Thank you

    • Reply
      Sigita July 16, 2019 at 11:43 am

      You’re welcome! Yes the HF R806 is a good camcorder for baby recording.

  2. Reply
    jamie November 16, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Any change of mind regard the choice you made for the sony?

    • Reply
      Sigita February 23, 2019 at 2:02 am

      Not at all! I have been using it for 2 years now and its been great. It turns on quickly so I don’t miss the moment, it can take photos also, the optical zoom is crazy good, and battery life is good with the standard battery. Its a great starter camera.

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