Handycam Recommendation?

480196925_295x166A member asks…

I’m just getting ready to start doing some video for my business and saw that you’ve got a ton of videos already online. Do you have any recommendation for an entry-level video camera for a small business to get? Thanks!

Congratulations! I think that integrating video to your small business marketing plan is a great idea! Here are a few thoughts on this subject, if you want, please use the comments to give me a better idea of your needs and wants and ideas, and I can maybe provide more targeted advice.

The major brands seem to put out new models as often as possible, the ‘new model year’ concept seems to have been replaced by the ‘new model month’ or quarter. So it’s difficult to keep a recommendation that will last longer than a few months these days. That said, right now there are excellent handycams available from Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, and GoPro.

canonxf100We use a Canon XF100 as our primary video camera and we certainly consider that an ‘entry-level’ for business/professional video work. You can find them for about $2,500. We also use a Nikon D5300 both for still and video work, and still have our old Sony HDR XR100 we use for live picture-in-picture work. But enough about us, you need recommendations!

goproherosilverFirst off, you should consider how you’re going to use the camera: for in-studio work only, on-location work, or active (e.g., first-person sports) recording. For the last, I think the best camera available is a GoPro camera. The Hero4 Silver is about $400, has 1080p (60fps) video and is even waterproof! If you are even considering any kind of active or first-person recording, The GoPro is the way to go.


For on-location (aka ‘remote’) work, you want a camera that’s light and easy to hold, and offers lots of flexibility. The Sony HDR-CX410 or PJ530 both offer such in the $650 price range. For in-studio work, you want pristine audio to go along with your video, so you really need a camera with jacks for external microphones. Some of the lower-cost handycams may have a standard music headset jack for microphone input, but if at all possible, you should consider one with XLR jacks for high-quality microphones.

“Entry-level” can mean so many different things to a small business, and it all boils down to price. HD video cameras are at all the major price points, and you should certainly stick with HD (at least a 720p capable camera if not a 1080p).

canonxa10If you want a great in-studio camera that can also go on location, and entry-level means under $2,000 to you, then you should take a hard look at the Canon XA10 (about $1,500). For in-studio work you can attach the microphone holder unit for pristine studio sound (we suggest wireless lavalier microphones connected to the XLR inputs on the handle). On location you can use a shotgun microphone on the handle, or ditch the removable handle and be fast and light with the built-in microphone. If we were going to add a 2nd HD camera to our studio, we’d probably choose this (or just add another Canon FX100).

Which brings me to the other consideration – multi-camera studios. Just like you see on network television, most video these days is made up of a lot of short clips. For newscasts, even if they don’t cut away to a secondary video source (B-roll), you’ll see a 2nd camera angle in use (sometimes even a 3rd angle). If you are taping live or streaming broadcast, this would be impractical to do on any type of a small-business budget, but if you are pre-recording and assembling clips to make a video show, you can do it all with a single camera.

So above I’ve rambled on about several ‘entry-level’ handycams from $400 to $2,500. Your budget will determine which camera you buy for your small business. As long as you stick with the HD format and the leading brands, you will find something that works well for you. Again, please leave a comment below with more info about your needs, wants, and ideas and I can zero in on something more specific for you.

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