You will agree with me when I say that the demand for night vision and low light camcorders has been increasing steadily over the years as more and more people start shooting in pitch dark settings. Whether they’re looking to go ghost hunting or wanting to record a hike at night, a camcorder with night mode shooting capability or even IR mode becomes a must. These gadgets are also a must-have for avid hunters who like to hunt at night as well as those who love to go on nighttime fishing trips. Even spelunkers will want to have their own night vision video camera so they can document their adventures as they explore dark and musty caves.
The question now is this:
Which camcorder with night vision should you buy if recording videos at night is an important factor of selection for you?
Now there are a lot of options to choose from nowadays. From the high-end American and Japanese brands to the cheap Chinese made camcorders with IR mode presently flooding the market. Though most of the Chinese made infrared camcorders do not meet the quality standards that I look for in a camcorder, there are a few of them that are decent enough. If you’re on a tight budget and are looking to buy a night vision handheld camcorder for light use, you can go for them.
I always like to recommend the best camcorders in my posts, even though they might cost a bit more than other alternatives. That’s because personally I believe it is better to shell out a bit more to buy a high quality product once than buy a cheap one and regretting later on.
Even below, I have recommended the 5 best night vision digital video cameras in my opinion. There can be cheaper alternatives to the ones below but after extensive research and speaking with a few people, I’ve rounded these up. Whether you select these or some others, that’s entirely your choice.
Sony FDRAX33 4K Handycam with Nightshot Mode
I’m really surprised how passive Sony has been on promoting the FDRAX33 as a night vision camcorder. It is mainly promoted as a 4K camcorder with a ton of advanced features. The night vision capability with an IR lamp is considered as a secondary feature. Even people who have purchased the FDRAX33 have bought it mainly for normal daytime use. But it has a functioning night vision IR lamp that can be used for any night time shoots and the images are quite good in the dark.
One thing that works in favor of the Sony FDRAX33 being one of the best night vision camcorders is its 4K display. Not many camcorders with IR mode come with a display that is really 4K (Some claim to be 4K but on inspection, the highest display quality was 3K. You’ll see what I’m talking about later). In IR mode, the display tends to become a bit grainy and is usually in monochrome or with a greenish tinge. Hence a 4K display results in a high quality night time display.
This camcorder is slightly on the expensive side as it is packed with useful features.
It has a high level of image stabilization – It uses the Balanced Optical Steady Shot stability – which helps you take images and record the videos with greater stability thus reducing shake and distortion to a greater extent than your standard technology.
You can also live-stream the video with the help of Ustream live streaming and share it with your people. They can view it either by logging into Ustream or you can link your social media accounts to stream the video live.
Then you have features like 5.1 surround sound audio, manual settings control, 3″ LCD touchscreen and easy backup to android or iOS phones to enhance your video recording experience.
For an even more improved low light performance, you can use an external IR light lamp or an LED lamp.
What I like
It is highly portable. When you go out shooting videos in the dark, you need a portable device. Something that you can carry easily without feeling the strain.
Battery life is really good with the FDRAX33. It lasts 2-3 hours on full charge. That’s enough battery for one outdoors shooting experience.
The Balanced Optical Steady Shot technology that gives that extra image stabilization as compared to the standard technology.
The night vision footage is not as grainy as you might have seen in some other camcorders.
What I don’t like
The cost. If you are a very light user, using your camcorder mainly for ghost hunting or an occasional night hike, this camcorder can seem a bit costly despite all the features and the merits.
The touchscreen could have been a bit more sensitive to touch.
The nightshot mode works by switching on an IR lamp in the camcorder. Though the camcorder records quite good in darkness, the night vision lamp has a limited reach. Hence it is advisable to include an extra IR lamp to go with the FDRAX33 for the best shot in the dark.
If you want a camcorder for daylight as well as night time shooting and are a moderate to heavy user with a bigger budget, you can simply go ahead with this camcorder. However, if you need a camcorder mainly for shooting at night or in dark settings, you can try some of the other camcorders with night vision in our list which come at a much cheaper price.
Besteker Full HD Camcorder with IR Night Vision
The Besteker Full HD Camcorder with IR Night Vision is a recent entrant, just released in October 2018. It has been vigorously tested before being released in the market. It has some necessary features that have made it one of the top night vision camcorders in the US. Let us have a look at some of the premium features it offers.
This is one of the better budget camcorders that come with night vision. Unlike some of the other budget night vision video cameras that promise 4K video when in reality they offer a maximum of 3K video, the Besteker Full HD camcorder stays true to its word. You can record 1080p FHD videos in daytime and with the help of the IR mode, take videos in pitch dark settings.
It has the option of being remotely controlled, can record while being charged and with a CMOS sensor to capture high quality images with 24 MP, it is ideal for beginners and amateurs who are looking for an infrared camcorder.
It comes with an external mic in the box. Now an external mic is of significance because if you want to go ghost hunting or capturing paranormal phenomena, you need to be able to capture even the slightest sound. The inbuilt recorder in most camcorders might not be enough to capture very faint sounds. Hence and external mic can be of great use.
Finally it comes with a battery that can record in 1080p upto 2.5 hours at a stretch. This is much needed especially when you’re ghost hunting in the dark and do not want to miss out on any important footage while you’re ‘out there’!
What I like
The price is very reasonable. For a very reasonable price, you get a good camcorder with night vision. Hence if you’re starting out or especially wanting a camcorder for ghost hunting or night recording, it is a good choice.
The Full HD display actually lives up to the claim made by the company. And honestly, if I’m just looking for a night vision video camera for ghost hunting, a full HD display is enough for me.
The battery lasts a good 2.5 hours when used at 1080p.
What I don’t like
The material and the texture feels a bit light and plastic-like. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that is a given in budget camcorders.
The remote control that comes in the box doesn’t work that well when the wide angle lens is used. This can be because of the wide lens interfering with the infrared rays between the camera and the remote.
For the price that it comes for, the Besteker FHD Camcorder with IR is a good deal. It might not give you top of the class display or night vision capability, but it can still classify as one of the best video cameras with night vision for the cost price.
The Bestguarder WG50 is a monocular camcorder having a digital night vision mode. This mode is supported by a 50mm objective lens along with 6x optical zoom and up to 5x digital zoom. The camcorder also comes with a high-quality built-in infrared illuminator that allows for a viewing distance of up to 1,150 feet (or 350 meters).
The WG50 is one of the best night vision video camera because of its rugged design. It complies with IPX4 standards, which means it’s water-resistant and can withstand a bit of rough weather. Since it is used more for hunting, you need it to withstand tough weather conditions. Bestguarder WG50 does an excellent job at that.
Since it can be mounted on a tripod, you can leave it on and record activities of the subject you want to record. If you’re using it for hunting, this can help in identifying the patterns of the creature and its presence in a particular area.
It’s an excellent companion when you spend most of your time outdoors and need tough and durable equipment that can keep up with your rigorous lifestyle.
- Very sturdy and rugged
- High range visibility extending upto 3o0m
- Night vision is of superior quality
- It does not have a power focus. Focus has to be achieved by rotating manually.
- The picture quality is not as great as some of the other night vision cameras
- Battery does not last long. You need to carry a backup.
This is another budget camcorders which comes with IR night vision that is ideal for beginners or those looking for shooting occasionally with night vision. The Hausbell 5052 comes with a 1080p display and digital zoom. It is compact and lightweight and hence ideal for light to moderate usage.
Like other budget night vision capable camcorders in its range, it comes with an IR mode for shooting in the dark. The picture quality with night vision mode is not top notch – not as good as Sony FDRAX33 or Panasonic HC-VX981K – but is good enough to record videos in the dark.
The camcorder also comes with Wi-Fi functionality, which means you can control it remotely using your smartphone or tablet. This makes it easy to share pictures from the camcorder to your mobile device. And this feature has been used by some people to record videos of their babies while they’re sleeping at night. With the IR mode, you don’t need the lights and can record a good enough video of your little one sleeping.
What about ghost hunting?
The night vision mode works good enough and so this camcorder can be used for paranormal investigations. Although I suggest using an external mic to capture even the slightest of the sounds.
Another great thing about the Hausbell 5052 is its design. Its compact body allows it to easily fit in your bag or purse, so you can bring it almost anywhere. It’s also lightweight, which means your hand and arm won’t tire quickly even when you have to shoot several minutes’ worth of videos.
The Hausbell 5052 is available in an attractive gold color, which gives a classic and elegant look and makes it stand out from other makes and models. With a battery that lasts for a long duration, you can go for this camcorder if you’re on a very tight budget and want an elegant looking camcorder.
What I like
Operation is easy and it’s a great choice for beginners who are just starting out taking videos in the night. Also for families buying their first camcorder.
It is lightweight and hence very portable.
You get good quality video and audio quality at a very competitive rate.
What I don’t like
Limited zoom and wide angle capabilities. Also the zoom might not always be 16X as mentioned.
Just comes with the basic IR features and functions.
Panasonic HC VX981K Night Vision Camcorder
Panasonic has performed well in the camera world, so it’s no surprise that the VX981K is on our list of the top infrared camcorders.
Its HC-VX981K has excellent low-light performance, with a 2-lux low light scene mode, a 1-lux night mode with color, and a 0-lux full night mode — all paired with a decent built-in infrared light.
The HC-VX981K can take decent videos and photos in dark settings, particularly if you use its highly sensitive 1-lux night mode. However, you can take clearer images and videos if you’d invest in an additional IR light source. This is entirely optional, though. Buying an extra IR light source is helpful if shooting at night is a regular part of your job. But, if you’re a hobbyist who takes night videos every now and then, the camcorder’s built-in IR light is more than enough.
Of course, the Panasonic HC-VX981K isn’t just a night vision-enabled camcorder. Its 1/2.3-inch 8.29MP BSI MOS sensor and Crystal Engine 4K image processor allows it to take clear and sharp videos and photos.
It also has a Leica Dicomar lens with an optical zoom up to 20x, which can be boosted to 40x through intelligent zoom. Now the aerage zoom that usually comes in camcorders lower than this. Even with such a powerful zoom, the quality of the video remains stellar.
The camcorder can take both 1080p videos and 4K UHD videos, and you can extract 4K still images from the latter using the in-camera 4K Photo Mode and editing tools.
Pros and Cons of Panasonic HC-VX981K
- Lots and lots of extra features to customise the way you take videos
- Very sturdy and well-built for taking videos in any circumstance
- The video format can be edited in any video editing software available online
- As you turn on each of the various video taking customisation, more battery is used. This can exhaust the battery pretty quick.
- While shooting in low-light, it can give rise to the white balance issue – the color washing out. This can be remedied by setting the front wheel white balance to cloudy or sunny. This will properly restore color back into proper warmer tones instead of the washed out color you experience because of the camera assuming every bright light in the dark as white light.
- There have been reports of a slight fish eye effect in the video recordings.
These are five of the top camcorders with night mode that can take high-quality videos and give you excellent value for money. There are some other makes and models in the market, some of them even cheaper. But like I told earlier keeping in mind that quality trumps quantity the ones above make my list though they might be a bit expensive.