DSLR vs. Camcorder: Which is Better for Video?

DSLR vs Camcorder: Which is Better for Video?

A camcorder is one that is designed specifically to shoot video. The majority of them feature built-in zoom lenses and tilt-and-swivel displays.

Pro camcorders with well-integrated microphones and professional XLR audio ports are more expensive. They aren’t ideal for still images.

A DSLR is a digital still camera that takes interchangeable lenses. It accepts additional lenses. When you take a photograph, the mirror flips up and blackens out the eyepiece – preventing you from seeing what you’re shooting. As a result, when using it to film a movie, you must switch to “Live View” on the main monitor instead [1].

When it comes to shooting video, there are two main types of cameras that people use: DSLRs and camcorders. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it can be difficult to decide which one is the best option for you. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast DSLRs and camcorders in terms of video quality, portability, and price. We will also give you a few tips on how to choose the right camera for your needs!

What is a DSLR?

The acronym DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. The term digital implies that the camera is equipped with a fixed, digital sensor [2].

The single-lens camera uses the same lens for framing, focusing, and capturing the shot. This is opposed to a rangefinder and twin-lens-reflex cameras, which use two different lenses.

What is a DSLR?

You can’t see the actual perspective from a double-lens or twin-lens reflex camera because you can’t see through it. Instead, you must rely on alternative methods to set up the shot.

The term “reflex” refers to a method of splitting or directing the incoming light to the optical viewfinder. It enables you to view an accurate, optical view of the environment. This mirror can be fixed and semi-transparent (in SLT cameras). Alternatively, it may flip up during exposure in SLRs and DSLR cameras (in SLR cameras). You might also be interested in rangefinder vs SLR cameras comparison.

What is a Camcorder?

A camcorder is a portable electronic recording device that can capture live-motion video and sound and record them for later playback.

Camcorders have three major components:

  • a lens that gathers and focuses light;
  • an imager that converts light into an electrical signal;
  • a recorder that converts electrical signals into digital video and encodes them for storage;

Camcorders, which were first marketed in the early 1980s, are also known as video recorders or video cameras.

Camcorders are utilized by professional videographers and filmmakers to make commercial-scale video segments and movies. Camcorders are also popular among amateur videographers.

VHS and Betamax were the first two analog camcorder formats. Recordings were saved on videotape cassettes and played back using a VCR connected to a monitor, which was generally a TV set.

As technology advanced, additional specifications such as S-VHS, 8mm, Hi-8, and digital video (DV) and high definition video (HDV) became available.

What is a Camcorder?

These versions offered higher picture quality, greater color fidelity, longer recording times, and more storage that is efficient.

Camcorders now record in a variety of formats, including MP4. The majority of camcorders may be connected straight to a personal computer using a Universal Serial Bus (USB) and video may be edited. Some digital cameras, like the popular Flip camera produced by Pure Digital, include editing software right on the device [3].

What is Better for Video: Differences Between DSLR vs Camcorder

1) Sensor size

The most significant distinction between DSLRs and camcorders is that DSLRs have significantly larger sensors than camcorders, at least to the same price level. You can get camcorders with bigger sensors, but these are high-end models that cost several thousand dollars, whereas a DSLR may be had for under a grand.

So, what’s the significance of sensor size in terms of the video? The depth of field and low light qualities associated with shooting with a larger sensor are two important advantages [4].

The depth of field is the distance between the front and back elements of an image that are in focus. Portraits with a very blurred background, for example, are common. The larger sensor allows you to achieve a more blurry background with a DSLR. Another consideration? A lens with a large aperture, such as f/1.8 or f/2.8.

DSLRs also have an advantage when it comes to interchangeable lenses. You can find lenses for every purpose, from fisheye to telephoto and everything in between. And with adapters, you can even use vintage glass from film cameras. This gives you a lot of creative freedom that you simply don’t have with a camcorder.

Sensor size

In low light, a larger sensor captures more light than a smaller one. It’s easier to capture low-light photographs with a DSLR’s larger sensor because you don’t need a video light. When lighting is limited, cameras with bigger sensors tend to generate less noise.

2) Recording time

A camera’s processor has a limited capacity to process data. When the camera runs out of processing capacity, the recording will stop. Camcorders have an advantage here since they are designed for video and are often able to record for over an hour at once and until the battery dies. Check the technical specifications to be sure, because every camera is different.

DSLRs are not typically designed for video, so they may only record for a few minutes at a time.

Again, this is due to the fact that DSLRs have larger sensors which take up more space on the chip and require more data processing than camcorder sensors. This isn’t as much of an issue today now that memory cards are bigger and cheaper, but it’s still something to be aware of if you’re thinking about using your DSLR to shoot video.

DSLRs have shorter maximum record times, often half an hour. These periods are generally even shorter for a 4K movie, however, every model varies somewhat, so keep that in mind while looking at the tech specs.

Although the shorter record lengths are less of a problem for most professional filmmakers, stitching several recordings together to make their final video may be challenging.

A camcorder, on the other hand, will almost certainly be your better alternative if you want to shoot an entire sports game from start to finish.

Recording time

3) Focus

When comparing DSLRs and camcorders, the primary consideration is the focus. However, technological advancements have closed that gap considerably in recent years.

The most important feature to look for in a DSLR is the type of focus it uses in Live View mode (which is how most individuals record video).

Phase detection systems are ideal for video. Before locking on the subject, contrast detection autofocus will give you that in and out focus that’s so annoying in a video.

When choosing between a camcorder and DSLR, also look at how fast the focus adjusts.

For example, Canon’s EOS Rebel T100/EOS 4000D has an incredible nine-point phase-detection system that’s very responsive. If you want even more focusing power, consider upgrading to one of Canon’s EOS 80D models – it features 45 cross-type points.

Even if they have top-of-the-line cameras and lenses, many professional videographers will frequently use manual focus. Why? You can choose when and how quickly to focus as well as utilize different effects such as focusing between two people depending on who is speaking by having complete control over the focus.

A DSLR may be manually focused, but serious filmmakers will generally purchase a follow focus kit to make the manual focusing ring more accessible and easier to utilize.

4) Filters

When filming a video, the shutter speed is adjusted to match the frame rate to produce smooth footage.

For example, if you’re using 60 frames per second, the shutter speed will be set to 1/60, whereas for a more lifelike 24 frames per second, it’ll be set at 1/30.

Those shutter speeds are really slow; in fact, they’re so low that shooting in direct sunlight becomes difficult. The solution is to use ND (neutral density) filters.

An ND filter allows less light into the sensor, which means a slower shutter speed can be used without over-exposing the image. The result is a smoother video with fewer artifacts like rolling shutter distortion. Professional camcorders will have built-in ND filters, but for DSLRs, they must be purchased separately and then attached to the lens.

Cameras with autofocus and auto lighting control allow you to correctly expose video on a bright day while still utilizing the correct shutter speed. DSLRs lack this functionality, so if you’re having trouble capturing videos that are too bright, you’ll need to get an ND filter kit. Aside from the extra expenditure, there’s also the fact that it’s one more thing to carry and mess with; as a result, it is somewhat less convenient.

5) Ergonomics

When it comes to taking a photograph, most DSLRs are intended for moving about and capturing another shot. Camcorders, on the other hand, are built with long-term usage in mind. When shooting for several minutes with a DSLR, the way that you hold it may get rather tiring, but using a camcorder for a longer period of time is more comfortable.

The shoulder mount is a popular choice for camcorders since it distributes the weight evenly, as opposed to having all the weight on one hand like with DSLRs. Camcorders also have handle grips that make them easier to hold and stabilize. Another design difference between the two types of cameras is that camcorders typically have flip-out screens, which makes it easy to see what you’re shooting no matter where you are in relation to the camera.


DSLRs may be more portable than camcorders, but they’re not as comfortable when shooting for an extended period of time. If you want something that’s easy to use and won’t cause fatigue, a camcorder is your best bet.

Of course, if you intend to use a tripod to keep the video steady regardless, the ergonomics isn’t much of an issue.

6) Audio

The importance of audio should not be overlooked by novice filmmakers. In general, microphones inside camcorders are superior to those in DSLRs.

However, there is a catch: an inexpensive mic placed closer to the subject will outperform any built-in microphone, regardless of whether you’re using a camcorder or a DSLR.

External microphones can easily be attached to DSLRs, but this is not always the case with camcorders. If you’re looking for better sound quality, an external microphone is a must-have for DSLRs. However, it’s not as necessary for camcorders.

Because of this, audio quality isn’t a major factor for expert videographers who prefer to use DSLRs because they will already have audio gear. Check the technical specifications of the specific model to be sure, but most DSLRs come with a stereo microphone input jack. You may utilize a shotgun mic or even add a DSLR audio recorder and record using multiple mics utilizing this information.

If you want to upgrade your photography skills, read more related guides:

DSLR vs. Camcorder: Comparison Table

The table below presents a comparison of various indicators between DSLR cameras and Camcorders for shooting videos. Both DSLRs and Camcorders are popular choices among videographers and content creators, each having its strengths and weaknesses. This table aims to highlight the key features and functionalities to help you make an informed decision based on your specific video shooting needs.

Indicator DSLR Camcorder
Image Quality Excellent, large sensor size and interchangeable lenses allow for creative control. Good, optimized for video with smaller sensor size, but limited lens flexibility.
Autofocus Fast and accurate for photos, but may vary in video mode with occasional hunting. Generally reliable and smoother autofocus specifically designed for video shooting.
Video Resolution Offers high-resolution video options, including 4K and above. Provides up to 4K video resolution but may lack higher options.
Form Factor Bulky and heavier, often requiring additional rigging for stable video shooting. Compact and lightweight, designed for handheld shooting and easy portability.
Audio Quality Acceptable audio, but may require external microphones for professional results. Better built-in microphones and audio controls for improved sound recording.
Low Light Performance Excellent performance in low light conditions, thanks to larger sensor and better ISO handling. Decent low light capabilities but may struggle compared to DSLRs in dimly lit settings.
Price Generally higher cost due to advanced features and lens investments. Often more affordable, offering good value for video-specific functionalities.
Flexibility Highly versatile for both photography and videography purposes. Primarily focused on video, limiting photography capabilities.

This table provides a clear comparison of essential indicators between DSLR cameras and Camcorders for video shooting.

  1. Image Quality: DSLRs offer excellent image quality due to their large sensor size and the ability to use interchangeable lenses, which allows for more creative control over the shots. Camcorders, optimized for video, provide good image quality but lack the flexibility of interchangeable lenses.
  2. Autofocus: DSLRs have fast and accurate autofocus for photography, but their performance in video mode can vary, with occasional autofocus hunting. Camcorders, on the other hand, have smoother and more reliable autofocus, specifically designed for video shooting.
  3. Video Resolution: DSLRs often provide high-resolution video options, including 4K and above. Camcorders also offer up to 4K video resolution, but they may lack higher resolution options found in some advanced DSLR models.
  4. Form Factor: DSLRs are bulkier and heavier, often requiring additional rigging or stabilizers for smooth video shooting. Camcorders have a compact and lightweight design, making them more suitable for handheld shooting and easy portability.
  5. Audio Quality: DSLRs usually have acceptable audio quality, but for professional results, they often require external microphones. Camcorders come with better built-in microphones and audio controls, enhancing sound recording capabilities.
  6. Low Light Performance: DSLRs excel in low light conditions due to their larger sensors and better ISO handling. Camcorders also perform decently in low light but may not match the performance of DSLRs in dimly lit settings.
  7. Price: DSLRs generally have a higher cost, especially when factoring in additional lens investments for a comprehensive setup. Camcorders, on the other hand, are often more affordable, offering good value for the video-specific features they provide.
  8. Flexibility: DSLRs are highly versatile devices suitable for both photography and videography purposes. Camcorders are primarily focused on video, which may limit their capabilities in photography compared to DSLRs.

Keep in mind that the choice between a DSLR and a Camcorder ultimately depends on your specific video shooting needs, budget, and preference for photography functionalities. This table serves as a starting point to help you weigh the pros and cons of each option.


Are camcorders better than DSLRs for video?

While some digital cameras shoot video at a real 4K resolution, few portable devices can match the better quality video recorded by mid-range camcorders. The difference in quality between standard and high definition footage may be significant, regardless of the format, owing to the fact that camcorders capture video at a greater bitrate than typical digital cameras.

You may also change the field of view, shutter speed, and white balance while recording video on some advanced camcorders.

A camcorder lens typically has a more durable zoom than a digital camera, allowing for greater magnification. While there are several long-zoom cameras on the market, the lenses in these cameras cannot compare to those found on certain camcorders. Still, camera lenses don’t always operate when filming the video, although they may if they do, they won’t operate quietly and may pick up the sound of the lens while zooming [5].

Are DSLRs good for filmmaking?

DSLRs are good for filmmaking because of the interchangeable lens system. With a DSLR, you can use different types of lenses to create unique effects. The drawback is that most camcorders have built-in zoom lenses, which can’t be replaced.

Another advantage DSLRs have over camcorders is that they allow you to shoot in manual mode. This gives you more control over the look and feel of your video. Camcorders usually have automatic modes that make it difficult to achieve the same results as you would with a DSLR.

Finally, since DSLRs are still photography cameras first and foremost, they tend to have better image quality than most camcorders. However, this may not always be the case, so it’s important to compare the specs of each camera before making a decision.

Are DSLRs good for video recording?

When it comes to video quality, camcorders have the upper hand. However, DSLRs offer more control and flexibility, which makes them better for filmmaking. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a camera. If you need something that’s easy to use and gives you great results, go with a camcorder. If you want more control over your videos, go with a DSLR.

Is a camcorder good for YouTube?

Yes, although a DSLR or mirrorless camera is preferable. Still, many people prefer camcorders since they wish to use a tiny video camera that’s simply intended for recording. They want the ease of use and convenience of having a zoom lens, and they’re likely to need to shoot for an extended period of time.

What is the difference between a camcorder and a video camera?

A camcorder is a portable, battery-powered device that records video onto removable media. A video camera is a larger device that records video onto an internal hard drive or memory card.

Video cameras are typically used in professional settings, while camcorders are more commonly used by consumers and amateur videographers.

While DSLRs have many advantages for videographers, they also have a few disadvantages. One disadvantage is that they can be more difficult to use than camcorders. Another downside is that DSLRs usually don’t have as good of audio quality as camcorders. Finally, DSLRs tend to be more expensive than camcorders.

Which Canon is best for video?

The Canon EOS R5 is their best full-frame mirrorless camera yet, according to many experts.

You may easily begin capturing high-quality video with a 45-megapixel sensor that can capture 8K movies at up to 29.97 frames per second or 4K videos at up to 120 frames per second [6].

Can I use a camcorder for zoom?

Yes. Camcorders are equipped with zoom lenses that allow you to get closer to your subject without losing image quality. DSLRs also have interchangeable lenses, but the zoom lenses on these cameras are not as good as the ones found on camcorders.

If you’re looking for a camera that’s easy to use and gives great results, go with a camcorder. If you need more control over your videos, go with a DSLR. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a camera.

Which DSLR can shoot raw video?

The Nikon Z7 II may also record video in Apple ProRes Raw with a compatible Atomos recorder connected, and it can do so at an accelerated frame rate of up to 120 frames per second.

The Nikon Z7II can also shoot 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video, just like the Z7 [7].

What are the key advantages of using a DSLR for video recording?

Using a DSLR for video recording offers several advantages, including larger sensors that deliver superior image quality, the ability to use interchangeable lenses for diverse shooting options, and better low-light performance compared to most camcorders.

What are the main benefits of using a camcorder for video shooting?

Camcorders are designed specifically for video recording, making them more ergonomic and user-friendly for extended shooting sessions. They often have built-in stabilization, longer battery life, and continuous recording capabilities, making them ideal for capturing events or vlogs.

Can camcorders and DSLRs use the same lenses interchangeably?

In general, camcorders and DSLRs use different lens mounts, which means they cannot directly use the same lenses interchangeably. However, certain adapters and converters might allow limited compatibility between some lenses and certain camcorder models.

Which one is better for live streaming: DSLR or a camcorder?

While both DSLRs and camcorders can be used for live streaming, camcorders are often preferred due to their built-in continuous recording capabilities, longer battery life, and less overheating issues, making them more reliable for extended live streaming sessions.

Are DSLRs or camcorders more suitable for professional video production?

Both DSLRs and camcorders are used in professional video production, each offering unique advantages. DSLRs provide greater creative control with interchangeable lenses and larger sensors, while camcorders excel in ergonomic design and continuous recording, making them ideal for event coverage.

Which type of camera is better for capturing sports events: DSLR or camcorder?

For capturing sports events, camcorders are generally preferred due to their faster autofocus, longer continuous recording capability, and better overall handling for capturing dynamic action shots.

Do DSLRs or camcorders offer better audio recording options?

Camcorders typically have better built-in audio recording capabilities, often including multiple microphones or XLR inputs, making them a more suitable choice for capturing high-quality audio without the need for external recording devices.

Are DSLRs more suitable for cinematic video shooting compared to camcorders?

DSLRs are often favored for cinematic video shooting due to their larger sensors, which can produce a shallower depth of field and a more cinematic look. Additionally, the ability to use a wide range of cinematic lenses enhances their suitability for this purpose.

Useful Video: Camcorders Vs. DSLRs


  1. https://www.learnaboutfilm.com/making-a-film/equipment-for-low-budget-filmmaking/camcorder-vs-dslr-vs-mirrorless-2016
  2. https://expertphotography.com/what-does-dslr-stand-for
  3. https://www.techtarget.com/searchmobilecomputing/definition/camcorder
  4. https://camcorder-hq.com/articles/dslr-vs-camcorder
  5. https://www.lifewire.com/camcorders-vs-cameras-487981
  6. https://www.adorama.com/alc/what-is-the-best-canon-camera-for-video
  7. https://camerajabber.com/buyersguides/which-cameras-shoot-raw-video