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Best Budget Digital Camcorders for the Money 2015

Updated on January 13, 2015

As a parent of four children I have my fair share of sporting events, recitals, and functions to attend and record.

I've used a lot of camcorders over the year that just didn't give me the quality that I wanted and let's face it, nobody wants to watch a video with a shaky camera. In this post I'll review some of the top rated new camcorders of 2015 under 500, 300, and 200 dollars.

Sony HDR-CX160 Camcorder
Sony HDR-CX160 Camcorder

Best Camcorder Under $500

Sony HDR-CX380 Camcorder

This camera gives you 1920 x 1080 HD video and features a CMOS sensor for low light performance. It comes with a wide angle lens plus a 42X extended zoom so you can get up close and personal.

You can store up to 6 hours of high definition video footage which makes it nice to not have to upload to your computer as often to free up space. The wide angle G lens will make your images nice and sharp and makes it easy for wide angle shooting as well.

The CMOS sensor will reduce grain so your low light shots look better. You also get a 3" touch screen LCD display with 230K pixels of resolution for great playback. The Face Detection feature lets you focus on your subject even if they leave the frame and return.

Some users have reported that managing the videos is not as user friendly as it should be for a camera of this price. A feature that many like seems to be the noise reduction so your voice is clearly heard while talking when shooting video. It has a built in USB cable to make transferring files simpler, but it has been said that transferring files takes a long time and some people find that to be a big problem. You can charge with any regular USB 5V charger as well, so you don't have to be tethered to your computer.


Overall the Sony HDR-CX380 is one of the best camcorders for the money. It comes with a ton of versatility and features you may overlook like Intelligent Auto, which has 90 different scene combinations possible, really add to its overall value.

ContourROAM Hands-free HD Camcorder
ContourROAM Hands-free HD Camcorder

Best Hands-free Camcorder

ContourROAM Hands-free Camcorder

How would you like to record up to 8 hours of video? This camera makes it easy to do so with the included 32GB MicroSD card. People who have purchased this camera say that it is very user friendly with the one step recording switch that makes catching precious moments even easier. It does tout that it records in HD but many users have stated that the HD quality is not as good as they would like. You have the option to choose between different video resolutions however; 720p, 960p and 1080p or you can shot 5MP photos to add to the versatility of this camera.

Users love the waterproof feature so they know it won't get ruined in bad weather and they can still shoot video. It is waterproof up to 60 meters below surface. It is also a very sturdy and tough camera; it can withstand the toughest of use. A complaint that some have had is how long it takes to charge the battery; be prepared to charge it overnight so it doesn't have to be charging when you are needing to use it.

Canon VIXIA HF R21 Full HD Camcorder
Canon VIXIA HF R21 Full HD Camcorder

Canon VIXIA Camcorder

This quick responding camera will leave you pretty impressed. All you need to do is hit the recording button and you are good to go. This camera was made with a low consumption rate so your battery is supposed to last a long time, however, users have stated that recording and scrolling through menus, that it only lasts a couple of hours at the most. At only 9.5 ounces, this camera is lightweight and compact and makes a great companion for traveling.

The flash memory in the camera makes it more shock resistant than other cameras on the market. It also has a CMOS image sensor that gives you great HD quality with very good low light performance. With the 28x zoom lens, it minimizes spherical aberrations so your picture quality is sharper. Users love the zoom and say it works well in dim and bright lighting. The outdoor quality is better than the indoor quality but overall, they both look great when viewed. Some things that you might consider drawbacks are that there is no accessory attachment for adding light and no viewfinder.

GoPro HD HERO2 Camcorder
GoPro HD HERO2 Camcorder

Best Action Digital Camcorder 2015

GoPro HD HERO4 Camcorder

This is a camera for anyone really, but lots of sports professionals use it to capture all the action. It has options for mounting on your body and gear and is waterproof up to 197 feet. It has a full 170 degree wide angle and takes video in 1080p with 11MP still photos. A feature that users absolutely love is that the resolution, wide angle/medium wide angle, battery life, remaining record time on SD card, and modes are all on the screen at the same time so you know just where you stand with your settings.

It takes great shots in low light and takes 10 photos per second burst. Your audio modes are covered for natural and high wind so you get better sound all around. Some users have said that the underwater features are not as great as would be expected; the shots are more blurry and the case gets fogged up. If you are looking for a good underwater camera, you might want to consider something else. But for action shots, you can't beat this little thing.

Flip UltraHD Video Camera
Flip UltraHD Video Camera

Top Rated HD Camcorder

Flip UltraHD Video Camera

A little easier on the wallet, this Flip camera is a very popular choice for video enthusiasts everywhere. It has image stabilization now so your videos are less blurry, it comes with 8GB of built in memory which gives you 2 hours of HD video with no memory cards needed. This Flip was made to be smaller for easier transporting. It comes with a rechargeable battery pack but you can also use 3 AAA batteries as a backup power source. This camera also comes with a USB arm that makes it easy to connect to your PC or Mac; it also includes preloaded FlipShare software so you can edit, capture photos or send video greetings to loved ones.

The wrist strap is nice, as is the protective case it comes with. Users love flip cameras because they are super easy to use and there is no need to mess with multiple settings to get started using it. There have been many reports of the battery not holding a charge but this does not seem to be a problem with the majority of people who use these cameras. If you find that you have that issue after purchasing, you might just need a replacement.

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