Consumer Camcorders Vs. Professional Camcorders

Never before have consumer camcorders and professional camcorders been so close to each other in terms of quality. Since HD was introduced a few years ago, it has now become the standard resolution on all camcorders. In fact, most consumer camcorders on the market today are arguably superior to the professional camcorders on the market a few years ago. So what's the difference between the two now?

It's All in the Lenses

Probably the biggest difference between the two that makes the image quality of professional camcorders superior are the lenses. Lenses are responsible for taking the light that passes through them and projecting it on the image sensor. They influence frame sizes and depth of field. Professional camcorders allow you to use 35mm lenses and gives you the ability to swap them out at will. This means you can shoot images with a deep depth of field instead of the flat video look that everyone complains about.

Canon was one of the first manufacturers to introduce prosumer camcorders, a hybrid between professional camcorders that were affordable for serious consumers. These camcorders shot on mini DV with a 3CCD image sensor and incorporated interchangeable lenses. Although the resolution is not so great when compared to today's standard (and no one really shoots on mini dv anymore), these cameras are still pretty valuable today because of the ability to handle interchangeable lenses. If that does not impress you, then keep in mind that those cameras were released well over five years ago and are still not obsolete.


The past few years have seen a revolution in the camcorder market as high definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) has replaced standard definition (704 x 480 pixels). That means that almost every consumer camera on the market today has a higher resolution than older professional cameras. But, the professional cameras today have higher resolutions than HD. The Red Camera, currently the most advanced professional digital camcorder, can have resolutions of over 4,000 pixels, more than twice the resolution of HD. 


A camcorder's quality was once measured in the number of CCDs (charge coupling devices) it had. The CCD was the camera's image sensor and the more CCDs it had, the more colors it was able to process. CCD image sensors are now almost a thing of the past, as they have been replaced with CMOS image sensors which are offering images of superior quality.

What's the Difference?

In the end, the major difference between consumer and professional camcorders is the use of lenses. Lenses have a huge influence on the quality of an image, and a professional camera gives you more options to change the lenses. On a consumer camera, you still have a flat look while professional cameras are able to incorporate depth of field, making them superior and worth the price tag.

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