Is a $1,000 Video Camera Worth It?

These bright tropical birds would probably look like ghetto pigeons on your camera.

I almost always argue on the side of budget, and frequently write about how to get professional looks on amateur equipment. In the pursuit of “balance” (and to make another futile attempt at affiliate links), here are some reasons to spend more on a video camera. You don’t always get what you pay (very often you pay too much, or can get a deal on last year’s falling star). But here are some features that you don’t always see in the $300-$500 range.

  1. Image sensor (provides quality of image under various lighting conditions)
  2. Manual controls (customize lense ring to do white balance instead of focus)
  3. Rich touch-screen display and menu options
  4. Optical image stabilization
  5. Color peaking
  6. External audio/mic input
  7. HD video onto hard drive (internal memory) or memory cards
So for most people, these things aren’t worth the x2 and x3 premium. But if you’re more than a hobbiest, these cameras can offer quality that surpasses the average amateur vid. Here’s B&H photos picks on three higher-end video cameras, and the Sony ($1298) appears to lead the pack based on higher photo file size and internal memory. But the Canon Vixia is $1099 (and I’ve been using Canon for most of my YouTube stint). The Panasonic is under $1000, and the company seems to have recaptured its place in video equipment. B&H usually beats other retailers on price, and my “invisible hand” suggests these are competitive if not the lowest prices. But check.
Read the features below, and watch the video if you want to feel worse about your camera. Then click my damned affiliate links. Ghees. Or use comments to “rationalize” and convince us (and yourself) that your camera is good enough. Whatev.

1) Sony HDR-CX700V Camcorder


  • 96 GB of internal memory (plus cards)
  • 12 MP still frame photography
  • Surround sound audio built in
  • Geotag of photos
  • Built in USB cable for charging and file sharing

2) Canon VIXIA HF S30 Flash Memory Camcorder

  • 32 GB internal memory and dual SD card slots
  • Color bars for reference
  • Zebra patterns
  • Remote controllers
  • 8 MP photos
  • Built in flash and LED light

3) Panasonic HDC-TM900 High Definition Camcorder

  • 32 GB internal memory and card slots
  • 3 3.05 MP sensors (3 chips, one for each primary color)
  • 5.1 surround sound
  • 14 MP photos
  • 3D videos (snore)

7 Replies to “Is a $1,000 Video Camera Worth It?”

  1. You know what ‘ghees’ is? It’s plural for ghee, which is boiled butter used for cooking in India. I believe the word you were looking for was geez. You’re welcome.

  2. Don’t forget about the sub-$1000 HDSLRs! Sony Alpha offers two HDSLRs with incredible autofocus, Canon has the 60D and T3i, and Nikon has the D90.
    Since I usually scale my camera equipment to the budget & rate of the project, I have found these cameras to be indispensible for getting high-quality looks for low budgets. Sure, I’ve shot on RedOne, CineAlta, SI-2K, and even higher-end film, but you can’t scale that down to a $300-500 budget.

  3. I have the previous iteration of the Panasonic. It’s pretty sweet. I love the 3MOS sensor, 1080p @ 60fps, and amazing image stabilization. Filmed my sisters wedding with my Panasonic TM700 and Canon 7D a couple months ago.

  4. Thanks for the information Kevin. Its a little difficult for me at present to upgrade cameras, but when the time comes I’ll take these into consideration. Love your videos and think you’re a real asset to the You Tube community.

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