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DSLR vs. camcorder

Which should you use when shooting video?

When you want to shoot high-quality video, you have a choice to make. This chart will help you decide if a professional camcorder or a DSLR camera will suit your needs.

Feature Camcorder DSLR Explanation
Sensor size X DSLR sensors are much larger than camcorder sensors.
Low-light imaging X The larger DSLR sensor can gather more light, and pays major dividends in low-light situations.
Image stabilization X Camcorders are more likely to have special IS modes for different shooting situations.
Manual controls X Camcorder controls are designed for videomaking, which is a secondary concern on a DSLR.
Video Connections X Pro camcorders use durable, high-speed connections that can stand up to a busy schedule.
Audio Connections X A pro camcorder with XLR ports provides the best possible audio connection.
Recording formats X Pro video cameras employ uncompressed video codecs that are sharper and easier to edit.
Lenses X DSLRs offer a wide range of interchangeable lenses at a low price point. Only very high end camcorders offer removable lenses.
Creative options X X Camcorders react better to fast-moving action. DSLRs offer more artistic depth of field.

Both platforms offer different benefits, so your final decision will come down to personal preference. If you absolutely need professional-quality sound to go with your video, you'll want to look into a professional camcorder with XLR ports. A DSLR can give you some really nice quality video effects in a smaller package, with easy access to interchangeable lenses. You'll want to assess which features will be most important to you on a daily basis, and move in that direction.

[Shop for DSLR cameras]

[Shop for professional camcorders]

Please share your thoughts below.

  • Richard from Evanston, Who.

    Posted on 4/8/2016

    I bought a Panasonic FZ-1000 bridge camera to do video in a studio setting mostly. I wanted hiquality video but also the many other features of a still camera. It has good IS but when filming while walking you can see each step I take. Slight but noticeable. The built-in Mike is not high quality do I bought a Tascam DR-60DmkII 4-Channel Portable Recorder and external Mike that give me decent sound. I'm not entirely satisfied but that could very well be operator error.

  • Terry from Austin

    Posted on 1/18/2016

    It matters that camcorders are designed to follow action, while DSLRs are intended to capture still images, so their shapes are usually very different. Camcorders by default have a zoom lens and better DSLRs record in RAW format, so these categories are less an issue.