Reviewing the best video camera under 250 dollars surprising results. The camera most people recommend for beginners is the Canon T3i, T6i, T(something)i.

But when I first started, even that was way outside of my budget once you add lenses, a tripod, microphones, lights. So, I want to test out the best video camera under 250 to see if they’re as bad as the price tag suggests.

Let’s choose our best video camera under 250 dollars 

This is the cheapest video camera in the shop, and it claims to shoot full HD video. This point and shoot costs four times more, I wanna see if it’s four times better. We’ll compare those to this camcorder I bought five years ago, and a one and a half year old smartphone, it’s not the latest model.

But hang on, isn’t that still pretty expensive? Well ,yes but if you’re watching this video, then there’s a fairly good chance that you already have a smartphone with a camera, in which case, it doesn’t cost you anything to use it.

So we’re gonna test out these video cameras, and by the end of it, I’m gonna choose one of them to use for my next short film.

Cheap video cameras under 300 bright light

So for this first test, i’ve set up a really difficult scene for these cameras. What we’ve got is a light on this side, pointing into this scene here, and you can see there are lots of bright reflections, and that is what this cheap old camera is really struggling with.

We’ve got a decent exposure on the violin here, but the camera just can’t handle these bright reflections – they’re just solid white. But we can fix that with the manual exposure settings, darkening the image until those white spots are basically gone.

The cheap Vivitar camcorder is very similar, starts off looking really bad, but then once you use the manual exposure, you can still get a decent image out of it. Although I did notice there I kind of weird flicker happening, dunno what that’s about.

But let’s look at the Sony point and shoot, because the automatic settings have definitely made it too bright, but these buttons don’t do anything in video mode, so I can’t make it darker.

And finally we have the year old smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S6) which i’ve got on this Gorillapod mount, and if I hit record, the nice thing about this one is that I can actually tap to change the exposure, to make sure that we’re holding on to all of that information.

So I’m gonna bring it down, and then keep going up until it’s as bright as possible without losing detail, there we go. And by the way, this video is not sponsored, I haven’t had any contact with any of these camera manufacturers.

Video camera cheap detail and color

So I set up this image quality test, but the cheapest camera, this one, for some reason just had this problem like it was corrupting the file or something. I’ve seen enough, this one is out. Looking at the old JVC footage, it’s on a wide shot like this where you can really tell that it’s not HD, there really isn’t very much detail.

The sony on the other hand does well, decent sharpness and the automatic exposure did get it right this time. It is one of the best video camera under 250 dollars. The smartphone here definitely has the sharpest picture, but you can see that the camera couldn’t quite handle how bright the sky was without darkening the trees quite a lot.

Here’s a side by side, I think I prefer the Sony. But for me, the most important part of image quality is how it handles people. So here we have the JVC, in a kind of vlogging shot, and you’ll notice that the skin tones look pretty decent, it’s got a nice level of contrast, i’m quite happy with this image, even though there isn’t the most detail.

The sony did fairly well in this situation, i’m not a huge fan of the skin tones, but the auto exposure did work pretty well, the one thing that it did have trouble with was when I was spinning around so much, it did lose that autofocus, and it was focusing behind me,

so that’s definitely something you’ve got to watch out for with these cheap point and shoot digital cameras. And then we have the smart phone (Samsung Galaxy), and I think this performs really well, both as far as color and general quality.

Best cameras for filming under 300 sound quality

So for this next test, I wanted to see how good the is the built in microphone. However, I definitely noticed that this one, (the JVC) probably has the worst microphone, it’s quite tinny you might notice.

The more expensive and best hd video camera in the lot, Sony definitely sounds better with the built in microphones. But do bear in mind that the camera is quite close. It’s only an arm’s length away, so it’s gonna sound pretty good. Plus, we’re also indoors and it’s quite quiet so this is like the best case scenario.

And finally, we have the smartphone, now phones usually have quite good microphones, but the extra good feature of these is that they have a headphone jack.

These other cheap cameras have nowhere to plug in a microphone

So we would have to use external sound, we would have to record the sound separately, but it is nice that we can plug in a microphone, for example this one, from rode, which is fairly cheap, you can just plug it straight into the headphone jack, and it’ll now record with a much larger, better microphone.

And of course there are plenty of other different kinds of microphone, you have the ones that clip to your shirt, there are plenty of options when you have a mic input. But the real question is, does it sound any better?

This is recording using the rode microphone. It is the built-in microphone. This is the extra microphone. And this is back on the built-in microphone. Can you hear the difference?

So as far as sound goes, the smartphone is definitely the best option. but it’s all irrelevant if you decide to record the audio separately, which of course is what you’re supposed to do to get the best results. And if you do that, then if doesn’t matter which camera you’re using, you’ll get good sound from all of them.

Good video cameras for youtube battery life

So over here, we have the cheapest camcorder out of the bunch, this is the JVC, and the battery is five years old, and yet after two hours almost of using to record and basically just not turning it off, it’s currently got zero minutes remaining on the battery, but it’s still trucking on.

On the other hand, contender for best video camera under 250 dollars, the sony seems to be doing very well, still on three out of four bars after two hours. That is a brand new camera though. And then over here we have the samsung, which is I believe, about a year and half old, and it’s sitting at 5%, and I know how quickly that last five percent disappears.

It has been two hours and two minutes, and the JVC has finally gone. And there goes the samsung, it has been two hours and five minutes, and the sony… goes on.

Best point and shoot digital camera in low light

The old JVC surprised me actually, there’s a bit of noise, but I think it handled it pretty well. Next up it is the sony, which of course is much more expensive, but really you can hardly see any noise, especially by the time it gets on YouTube, I don’t think any will be showing up.

And it’s the same situation with the smartphone, as long as it’s a fairly well lit room, these cameras can handle it just fine. But if we go in a room that is much more dimly lit, then we can really start to see the problems.

The JVC tends to get quite mushy. Definitely lose detail in the shadows, and it kind of tends to just all become this weird orange color. The sony definitely has some noise problems here. If you look at the yellow walls, there’s lots of grain. Moreover, it’s that kind of colourful blocky grain that really doesn’t look too good.

The smartphone on the other hand, has a finer grain, I think I prefer it. Then I turned off even more lights, and you can see that the JVC gets very mushy.

And the sony was very grainy. Plus I had to really mess with the colors to try and fix the skintones. Also I noticed that the autofocus was really having a lot of trouble even though this was just a static scene. It kept readjusting, so it’s not ideal for low light.

Finally, the samsung smartphone really falls apart when it’s this dark, just lots of noise and really weird color artefacts. The shadows went all blue, and I tried to correct it but really, the image was just too far gone.

The best video camera under 300 conclusion

So which one of the best video camera under 250 dollars am I going to use for my next short film? Well, we’ve seen that none of the cameras work that well in low light. The samsung seems to be the best for sound, and the sony seems to have the best battery. But the camera’s always stuck in automatic exposure mode. If I wanted something simple & compact, I’d probably go for the sony.

But if I really cared about quality, then a smartphone is probably gonna be better than all of the cheapest cameras. So with that in mind, the camera that I’m gonna be using for my next short film, is the JVC.

And here’s why: When I was doing these tests, I focused on dynamic range and resolution. You know, technical stuff, that to be honest, I wasn’t even really thinking about what I was actually filming. One of them was literally just the sky and some trees, right.

It’s like, I know that what’s happening in the film is more important than how well the best video camera shoots in low light. But when I start watching tech videos you know, like this one, it puts me in this mindset. Distracted from storytelling and I starting thinking scientifically.

So I wanna turn that on its head, and just film with a really bad camera. I’ll have no choice but to put all my effort into telling the best video camera story that I can. Because, I won’t be able to rely making it look pretty.

So stay tuned for that, and I’ll see you next week..

As found on Youtube

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