HD video has been popular for several years now, in fact, it's rather hard to find a standard definition camcorder anymore. But in a few years, HD may not even be the standard anymore. With the introduction of dozens of new camcorders at CES, we have a good idea where camcorder technology will take us in 2014. The most notable is 4k, which isn't brand new this year, but is headed to compact consumer models. If you're looking to upgrade your camcorder this year, you'll want to check out these trends.
|The Sony AX100|
4K Isn't Just for the Professionals Anymore
4K resolution is exciting—imagine seeing so much detail, you'll want to start using a pore refiner. I saw Sony's AX1 during a media event last year, and while I wasn't able to test it out myself, I noted how big it was but also how exceptionally detailed the footage was.
Sony will be releasing a smaller consumer version of the AX1, the AX100 that is less than half the size and about half the price. It's got a huge one-inch sensor, so even low light videos shouldn't be a problem. The Sony AX100 shoots in 30fps instead of the better 60fps and doesn't have any built-in memory, but expect to be amazed at the level of detail that 4k resolution brings, particularly if you also have a new 4k TV to view the footage on.
|The Sony CX900|
Sensor Sizes are Growing
The AX100 is a good indicator of where the camcorder industry is headed—upping the optics and sensor while keeping body size to a minimum. The AX100 isn't the only camcorder with a one inch sensor introduced at CES either, Sony's CX900 also sports a 1”, which is about eight times larger than the sensor on average consumer camcorders, according to the manufacturer. The CX900 shoots in 1080p, 60fps video and will be available towards the end of March.
Consumer camcorders have always traditionally used smaller sensors than dedicated cameras at the same level. After manufacturers have seen quite a bit of success by adding large sensors to consumer cameras over the past few years, we expect that trend to head over to the camcorder realm.
Body Sizes are Shrinking
Just like the camera industry, manufacturers are working to get the most quality into the smallest package. Panasonic will introduce the first four-drive lens system to come to a consumer model with the W850 and V750. The new system uses individual motors to control each of the four parts, which allows the camera to have a high resolution and big zoom within a smaller frame.
|The Canon VIXIA Mini X|
Camcorders Will Offer Odd Features Designed for Today's Shooting Style
The internet and cell phones have changed the way people take videos, so manufacturers are offering unusual perks to attract different customers. Canon announced the Vixia Mini X update at CES, which is essentially a camcorder designed just for selfies. It's actually a good product for bloggers and others that post online tutorials, for example, and shouldn't be overlooked.
Panasonic is offering a rather novel feature in the W850—a Twin Camera. The secondary lens on the side of the LCD screen allows consumers to record picture-in-picture all at once, without any editing. The feature can be used to capture both close-up and distant shots of the same subject, or by turning the LCD screen, can capture the person behind the video camera.
2014 looks to be an exciting year for camcorders with the move to 4k resolution, larger sensors, smaller bodies and some quirky features. But if you're not looking to spend a few thousand dollars for big resolution or a big sensor, don't fret, the basic consumer models are alive and well too.