Over the past few years, a new type of camcorder has become popular: the pocket camcorder. Similar in shape and size to a mobile phone, pocket camcorders are lightweight and small enough to carry around in your pocket. Their point-and-shoot approach and included software makes it’s easy to record video and then quickly upload it to websites such as Facebook or YouTube.
While most record full HD resolution, don’t expect pocket camcorders to match the quality produced by bigger, full-featured HD camcorders with their large image sensors and better quality lenses. Pocket camcorders often struggle to capture good quality video in low light conditions and their poor zooms and weak microphones can also prove frustrating.
However, if you want a cheap, easy-to-use camcorder for capturing video clips, then a pocket camcorder is a good choice.
What to look for in a pocket camcorder
1080p resolution – Most pocket camcorders record video in standard-definition and high-definition 720p – and some are capable of 1080p resolution. Recording in high-definition delivers a sharper image but will use up more memory space, whereas standard definition and 720p create a smaller file sizes so you can shoot more. For the best of both worlds, look for a model that takes 1080p video, with the option to switch to lower-quality 720p video.
Zoom – The vast majority of pocket camcorders use a digital zoom, which is of limited to no use. As you zoom in on your subject, image quality drops.
Clear audio – Your video should not only look good, it should sound great too. Yet many pocket camcorders have tiny internal microphones that struggle to deliver decent quality audio. Opt for a model that offers a stereo microphone, or one that can be connected to an external microphone.
Ease to use – Pocket camcorders have simple controls – usually limited to buttons for one-touch recording, playback, fast forward and rewind, and little else. While this makes the camcorder very user friendly, there are few options to adjust exposure or focus or other factors that control the look of the video.
Fast start up – Pocket camcorder are meant for spontaneous video captures so you need a model that’s quick to start up. Look for a pocket camcorder that takes four seconds or less to power up.
Storage – There are two main types of storage used in pocket camcorders: memory cards and flash memory. If possible, choose a model that uses both. Internal flash memory means you can shoot even if you’ve forgotten your memory card, while a memory card slot makes it easy swap cards when one fills up. How much video you can store depends on the size of the storage and the quality you’re recording at. One hour of HD video will require around 4GB of memory storage – less space is required if you lower the video quality.
Connectivity – Most pocket camcorders have a built-in USB connector so you can plug it straight into your computer without the need for a cable, and they come with easy-to-use software to help get your video online. Some model have built-in wi-fi so you can upload video straight to YouTube and Facebook without the need for a computer
Long battery life – Avoid running out of power before you finish shooting, choose a model that has a minimum battery life of two hours.