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The best camcorders for independent film-making also known as film-making video cameras and come with advanced manual controls needed for shooting and great image quality.

Independent filmmaking, whether low budget or otherwise, requires the services of a decent HD camcorder that can offer focus control, image control and that includes microphone and audio inputs, as well as a headphone jack. The more the customization the camcorder offers, the better for the film-maker.

Some of the best camcorders for independent filmmaking are not full-HD, but they compensate with the ability to record interlaced video at 1080p resolution. Also remember that It is advisable to look for camcorders with interchangeable lenses rather than going in for a cheap camera and an expensive lens adapter. Additionally, when you look up top-rated camcorders for filmmaking, look for a device that can record footage with enough latitude, allowing you to achieve cinematic looks.

Browse All Top Camcorders For Independent Filmmaking »

Panasonic HDC-TM900K

Panasonic HDC-TM900K Camcorder


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Panasonic HDC-TM900K
JVC Everio GS-TD1
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20
Panasonic HDC-Z10000
Panasonic AVCCAM AG-AC160
Panasonic HDC-TM900K Camcorder
JVC Everio GS-TD1 High Definition 3D Camcorder
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 AVC, AVCHD Camcorder
Panasonic HDC-Z10000 3D Camcorder
Panasonic AVCCAM AG-AC160 Camcorder
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Release Date
Jan 2011
Apr 2011
Aug 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
HDD Size
32.0 GB
64.0 GB
32.0 GB
Optical Zoom
12.0 x
10.0 x
11.0 x
10.0 x
22.0 x
Recording Format
Flash Media, High Definition, AVC, H.264, MPEG
Flash Media, High Definition
AVCHD (MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)), MPEG2-PS
Flash Media
AVCHD standard (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), DV standard (AVI Type2)
Recording System
NTSC
NTSC, PAL
NTSC
NTSC
NTSC
Camcorder Type
Digital
Digital, 3D
Digital
Digital, 3D
Digital
CCD Quantity
3.0
1.0
Memory Still Resolution
14.2 MegaPixels
3.32 MegaPixels
16.0 MegaPixels
7.08 MegaPixels
Recordable Media
Flash Media
High Definition
AVC, AVCHD
Flash Media
Memory Card
Use
Video
Video
Video
Video
Video

  • Panasonic's trio of prosumer camcorders, the hard-disk-based HDC-HS900 and flash-based TM900 and SD800, deliver generally excellent video quality and provide the full set of manual controls and features advanced users want. But you have to be willing to baby the white balance a bit. The TM900 is my top pick of the three for its EVF, but if you're on a tight budget the SD800 should suit just fine.


  • The HDC-TM900 (MSRP $1099) is a great camcorder, that much is clear. It captured excellent video in a variety of record modes, and its performance recording 1080/60p HD video was as good as it gets. It has a ton of controls, a solid body design, and its 3D recording option (with the purchase of an optional conversion lens) makes it a cutting-edge product.

    Despite all this, we are still disappointed with the TM900. Other than adding the 3D capability and increasing the size of the LCD, Panasonic didn't do much to improve on last year's HDC-TM700â??


  • Panasonic's HDC-TM900 offers no revolutionary new features, now that 3D shooting has already started its journey to ubiquity. But like its predecessors it blends excellent enthusiast features, headlined by the lens ring, with supreme image quality. There's also no significant premium being charged for this new model compared to the outgoing TM700, if you can still find it. So the TM900 takes over from its predecessor as our videomaking enthusiast camcorder of choice.


  • If you are in the market for a high-end 3D camcorder you only have three options at the moment: the JVC GS-TD1, the Sony HDR-TD10, and the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 (and other Panasonic models that can use the VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens). There are also a few ultracompact models that shoot 3D, as well as a number of digital cameras, but the three models mentioned above are the only high-end HD camcorders aimed at consumers that allow 3D recording. Of those three models, the GS-TD1 is the second 3D camcorder weâÂ? Â? ve reviewedâÂ?


  • The JVC GS-TD1 is a high-end camcorder, promoted by JVC as the first consumer level camcorder to offer full HD 3D recording. The GS-TD1's full HD 3D capability is owed to the high speed processor that can simultaneously produce two full HD images (1920 x 1080i), recording in both the left and right streams (a process that JVC refers to as LR Independent Format).


  • With the Everio GS-TD1, JVC has produced the first consumer-grade camcorder to shoot two frames of Full HD in 3D mode, using a pair of parallel lenses and CMOS sensors. The resulting MP4 format is proprietary, but JVC’s approach also means better low-light performance even when shooting 3D in AVCHD mode. It’s the first consumer-grade camcorder to offer optical zoom in 3D mode, too. With a range of manual features as well, the GS-TD1 has loads to offer enthusiasts wishing to move into 3D.


  • If you're a videographer who wants to use an arsenal of different lenses when you want to shoot video, then the NEX-VG20 should definitely be on your radar. It's one of the only interchangeable lens camcorders you can get for under $2000, although we expect to see more in the future.


  • Given the price of other large-sensor, interchangeable-lens systems, the NEX-VG20 offers excellent value for anyone who prefers shooting video on a camcorder-style body rather than on a video-enabled SLR. Retailing at a touch under AU$3000 (and even cheaper when shopping online) the VG20 proves that excellent-quality filmmaking is accessible to those who can't quite reach the upper echelons of a RED or Canon C300, or even Sony's own FS100.

  • Rating Unavailable

    In our time with the HDC-Z10000, we were impressed by the camcorder's plethora of manual controls, excellent set of features, and very good performance in 3D record mode. We have not tested the camcorder at this point, but we were able to shoot some video with the Z10000 and watch it on a 3D TV during our hands-on with the product.


  • The HDC-Z10000 has a couple of notable niggles - the touch-operated shutter speed control and laggy zoom ring being at the forefront. It will also seem massively expensive when JVC's Everio GS-TD1 costs half as much and Panasonic's more consumer-focused devices even less. But it should be seen in the light of full professional 3D models costing £7-8,000. These offer bigger sensors for even better image quality, and extra professional studio features like genlock and HD-SDI digital video output.

  • Rating Unavailable

    The Panasonic HDC-Z10000's £3,000 asking price may seem steep, but it's actually pretty cheap when you consider that the company's professional 3D line starts at around £15,000. And, when it comes to image quality and functionality, the HDC-Z10000 is in a league of its own -- at least until Sony's similarly priced but less consumer-friendly PMW-TD300 makes an appearance.


Top 5 camcorder for independent filmmaking:

  1. Panasonic HDC-TM900K Camcorder
  2. JVC Everio GS-TD1 High Definition 3D Camcorder
  3. Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 AVC, AVCHD Camcorder
  4. Panasonic HDC-Z10000 3D Camcorder
  5. Panasonic AVCCAM AG-AC160 Camcorder