There is something undeniably charming about using a vintage camcorder to record real time. The charm is not only in the way in which the colors are a bit nostalgic but also in the act of walking around with that big old camcorder on your shoulder like the young men of the past.
Since these camcorders are old things, you need to be careful about where you put your money. Even though they are available in the market, we would tell you not to rely on a lot of them.
Luckily, we have found the best vintage camcorder to present to you. There’s not a lot; only 3 that we found worthy of our trust. Take a look for yourself there.
Best Vintage Camcorder Reviews 2021
If you are looking for the finest vintage camcorder experience, then here you go – your best options down below.
1. RCA CC4352 Full-Size VHS Camcorder
This is a full-size camcorder with an optical sensor that is great at taking the most light into the lenses even when the lighting in the scene is scant.
It produces great accuracy in details and makes your images and clips come out smooth and sharp. Although not as sharp as the recent digital cameras, this VHS will give you the best satisfaction in terms of vintage footage.
It comes with a 72x digital zoom that lets you use this camera in a lot of different kinds of situations. You can use this VHS recorder to shoot home videos, and you can also take it out in the field to get old-school video footage of things running around in the wild.
There are digital effects that you can utilize to amp up your clips as well. Really not much is missing on this camera – you are going to have a blast of a time experimenting with it.
The 3-inch LCD color view screen is as good as it gets. It allows you to control what you are capturing, and get a good understanding of how to compile compositions to meet your style and story.
Charge it once, and the battery inside will conserve energy for about an hour. Even though that might seem very little to you, we’d say it’s pretty great by VHS standards.
- Comes with a 72X digital zoom
- The optical sensor lets you capture surprisingly good clips in low light
- Special digital effects can be morphed right in
- Has a rechargeable battery that can hold power for an hour straight
- 3-inch LCD screen lets you view your records in real time
- Does not have digital stabilization
- The battery becomes incapable of holding a charge after 6 months
2. Panasonic PV-L551 VHS-C Camcorder
This is a 2.2-pound setup that will have you fall straight in love with the VHS life. It has nothing missing.
No compromise with the stabilization needs to happen when you are working with this camcorder because this time it comes built-in. The OIS is digital, but it will get the work on. The shake that remains won’t interfere with the content and can be stabilized by a further post-production edit.
There are two kinds of zoom-up in this thing.
First of all, you get the 20X optical zoom, which is the greatest zoom quality that exists in the cam. The magnification isn’t that high but the OZ quality can’t be beaten.
Then you have another kind of zoom – the digital zoom with much more magnification. It will shoot in through 150X and let you get close to a distant object. You can later use some focus and sharpening edit to clear up the digitally zoomed a bit more.
The zooming options lend this Panasonic much more versatile workability, and thus you can take this to record many more amazing events than just home videos.
The sensor has an auto-light that helps to lighten up dark scenes. There is a 2.5-inch LCD monitor in the camera that helps you to arrange the composition more artistically while recording.
- Comes with auto-light for dark conditions
- Has two kinds of zoom – optical and digital
- Digital stabilization helps you to take sturdy clips
- Features a 2.5-inch screen
- The battery can hold power for 2 hours
3. JVC GR-AX760U VHS-C Compact Camcorder
This list keeps getting better. Each camera has more than the previous one. Being the last one on the list, this is also the best one undeniably.
JVC GR AX760U has everything that Panasonic did, but more. The two kinds of zoom are there with the optical zoom being capable of 16X magnification and the digital one being capable of a whopping 400X zoom.
The maximum focal length of the lens is 62.4mm, and the minimum focal length is 3.9mm. The bigger focal will give you greater magnification and a narrower angle for view, vice versa with the smaller focal length.
On this cam, the viewfinder is EVF. Meaning that it is digital and it shows up in only two colors – black and white. If you are a real enthusiast for a vintage setup, then looking through the EVF alone will give you the thrill of using a VHS-C.
The low-light sensitivity enhanced sensor will fill up dark spaces with light, and allow you to take interesting recordings that you can experiment with. Further color filling, contrast-fixing will amp up the whole clip scene while keeping the old-school vibe intact.
The features of the camcorder end here, but there is still a bit more. You are going to need an adapter to do the digital conversion. So, a VHS-C playpak adapter is provided for you in the kit. Along with that comes another AC charger, and a shoulder strap that you will need in order to hang while on the move.
- Max focal length is 62.4mm and the minimum is 3.9mm
- Clips have digital image stabilization
- The sensor is adjusted to the low-light sensitivity
- The EVF is digital and BnW
- Features 16X optical zoom and 400X digital zoom
- Comes with a battery pack, an adapter, a charger, and even a strap
- Has a short battery life
Buying Guide for Vintage Camcorder
There are many different types of camcorders to choose from. With so many options in the market, it’s no wonder that you might feel lost here. But hopefully, this guide will help you to shape up the information and find a good vintage camcorder from the lot.
Types of Camcorders
Mainstream – If you have a varied list of things you want to do with your camcorder, then a mainstream sports camcorder is what you need. They do not give you the crispest videos but they have you covered for general-purpose video recording.
With these, you will be able to cover everything from your kids’ sports events to home videos, mini travel videos, and so on.
Pocket Camcorders – If you want a portable lightweight video camera to carry around and document daily memories with, then get yourself a pocket camcorder. While they may not give you the best video quality, they are going to be a constant companion that you can use for quick short videos.
If you are thinking about a reasonably priced vlogging camera, then start with pocket camcorders.
Advanced Camcorders – These are of course a notch above mainstream and pocket camcorders. They will have a few more options and they will be able to produce images and videos that are noticeably better. If you are starting to garner interest in videography and filming, then you better start with one of these.
Action Camcorders – These are portable, lightweight, and wearable. They come with a strap attachment that you can wear around your neck and carry the camcorder around. They are great at recording motion, so if you want to shoot fast movement when you are on a bicycle, skateboard, roller skates, and so on, then an action camcorder is in order for you.
This determines the quality and the clarity of your images. Higher resolution means more pixels. If you are taking footage that is low in resolution, then the objects in the video won’t be properly decipherable.
You have heard words like SD, HD, 4K – these are measures for resolution.
SD: SD stands for standard definition. There are 720 x 576 pixels in SD. The aspect ratio was 4:3 before, so you might find some cams with that. Otherwise, they have moved up to aspect ratio 16:9.
HD: HD stands for high definition. There are 1920 x 1080 pixels in HD. The aspect ratio is 16:9 throughout.
UHD or 4K: 4K is the best quality offered in a video until now. It has 3840 x 2160 pixels, while the horizontal side has 4000 pixels. This is 4 times the number of pixels on HD.
The only caveat with 4K res footage is that it should be viewed on a 4K screen. Otherwise, it’s going to appear just like regular HD.
Size of the Sensor
All videos are recorded on a sensor inside the camcorder. The size of this sensor matters. If you want to capture high res footage, then you need to have a large sensor.
You will need a big sensor when shooting in dark areas because a large sensor can allow more light to pass through the lenses, and thus produce good quality images even when lighting is poor.
Note that sensors in camcorders and regular still image cameras are not equated.
On a regular mainstream camera, a sensor that’s 1/(2.3) inches is pretty good but the same sensor will produce just average results on a P&S camera.
This refers to the number of bits that can be contained in each file or clip produced by the camera. Once you are done comparing the resolution and sensor size, this is the third factor to look at.
If the bit rate of the camera is high, then it will produce bigger files that are able to contain more information in terms of color, pixels, and so on. There will be less compression on the final footage clip.
One problem with big-bit files is that you will need more memory space. So, if you are investing in a high-bit camera then make sure it comes with external memory slots that you can expand on.
This is one of the most important aspects of a camcorder. The chances of you being still while recording is very low. Don’t make the mistake of buying a camera that doesn’t have particular systems down to ensure stability in the footage.
There are several ways in which cameras can achieve stability. There is an electronic/digital stabilization mechanism written on software that reduces the shakes. However, this method only does the least to ensure stabilization.
There is also something called optical image stabilization which does a much better job. This is more critical and thus comes in cameras that are on the expensive side.
But it will make one hell of a difference in the final footage, so if you can afford to get a camera with OIS, then we highly recommend that you do.
We all understand what this is. There is nothing more to it, well, zoom is just magnification. This feature can help you to add dramatic effects to your footage, or get real close to an object that is in a distance. This is the most useful for taking footage of wild animals, birds, sports events, and so on.
There are a few kinds of zoom as well.
Digital Zoom: The cheapest zoom is digital zoom – this one actually just crops out the image as you move closer to the object. It is undesirable in many circumstances and quite limited in its powers as well.
Smart Zoom: This is a type of digital zoom but it’s a bit smarter than the regular digital zoom. It won’t crop out the image quality that much.
Optical Zoom: This is the best kinda zoom to have. It works by modifying the size of the lens so that the image doesn’t lose quality, but the camera works harder at zeroing in on it.
This refers to the size of the opening in the lens. It is most useful and necessary when you are shooting in low light conditions. Cameras with a wide aperture are able to capture images with good lighting even if the natural scenario is dark.
In the case of aperture, smaller numbers are better. An aperture of f1.8 is better at letting in light than a camera with an aperture of f3.
How To Convert VHS To Digital On Mac
Now if you want to convert your VHS videotape to a digital file to upload on your MAC, then you will need to buy a USB capture adapter.
Connect the A/V output of this adapter to the Line Out jack on your camcorder. Then connect the USB jack to the Line In jack on your computer. then hit play on the menu in the camera.
Then find your preferred software, for example, QuickTime, on your Mac and then open it to let the conversion commence.
How To Use A VHS Camcorder
The benefits of using a VHS camcorder are mostly the fun of the challenge and lower costing. There is also something immensely charming about using vintage stuff to create anew.
But you have to ensure that your efforts don’t go in vain. So let’s get into the details of how to properly use a VHS camcorder right away.
First of all, you need to get VHS tapes. Then you need to understand the modes.
There are usually two – a recording mode and a playback mode.
You can manually control the white balance, zoom, shutter speed, focus, and so on.
How to Make Videos Look Like Old Films
There’s something about old films that’s really special. The imperfectly perfect aesthetic of the old tapes is making a comeback and we’re here for it!
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty of how you can make your videos look more vintage.
Get The Contrast Down
One of the most striking aspects of old films is the contrast in them. Your vintage camcorder can do the contrast better than digital cameras but in order to get that really perfect olden look, you have to get your hands on that contrast ratio and bring it down for both blacks and whites.
Lowering the contrast will help in post-production work as well.
Get Funky with the HSL
There are three areas of saturation – hue, saturation, and luminance. Change the intensity of these three parameters to give your video that burnt or faded look to your satisfaction.
Add Some Texture
Many would say that texture is the main ingredient in this recipe. And although we won’t say that’s completely true, we cannot deny its total importance. The texture will give your photos that extra punch required to really give it that classic look. By texture, we specifically mean effects like dust, light scratches, and grains. Add them, layer them on each other and watch the energy in your videos change instantly.
Tweak the Frame
Old videos generally give a distant feeling. And to get that faraway-land kinda feeling, try lowering the FPS. For the best effect, use 14 or 18 FPS. This is the last touch required to lock down that smooth gone-are-those-days kinda relaxing feeling in your videos.
Frequently Asked Questions About Camcorder
1. Is the size of the camcorder related to its performance?
Ans: No, there is no coherent relation here. Each camcorder was made in its own way due to limitations in technological advancement. But overall, micro models aren’t much behind the bigger models in terms of features.
If you are going to make casual freehand use of your camcorder, then we recommend you to get compact models.
2. Is auto better than manual?
Ans: Well, auto camcorders are for those who are keen on creative undertakings but don’t want to fiddle around much with the technical side. So, it really depends on your preference and level of expertise with cameras.
3. Are the lenses on a camcorder changeable?
Ans: Camcorders most often have fixed lenses. The very expensive ones sometimes have interchangeable ones.
4. Is there any limitation to how long a camcorder can shoot?
Ans: This depends on the memory slot and the battery.
5. Can I take still images with a vintage camcorder?
Ans: Yes, you can. You can also capture still images from your recorded clips.
If you are looking for the best vintage camcorder, then we hope you have found yours already. We have kept the list short and precise.
But go in-depth, make sure you understand the features well before buying. The knowledge will help you go hardcore with your experiments.
We sign off here, if you have any questions feel free to comment and let us know!