From mountain hikes to beach holidays, I have been travelling for many years. Over the years I have used a number of different cameras to film my holidays. I have put together some of my recommendations on the best video cameras for holiday.
I am going to assume you are looking for something that will give you high-quality video for a good price. Nothing too fancy, just a camera that you can quickly pull out to capture your precious holiday moments. We will explore three devices: Flip Cameras, Smartphones and Canon Legria (Vixia in the US) Cameras. Let’s start with the best.
The Flip Camera is my number one choice for filming a holiday or home video. It is easy to carry, simple to use and records straight onto the device (no need to buy an SD card). One of the best features is the USB connection, which literally Flips out (hence the name).
The Flip camera is ideal for short holidays. It films in HD (720p) and has a great microphone, allowing you to capture detailed audio.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Flip camera from a holiday / travel perspective
- Size – The Flip cam easily fits into your pocket. It’s about the same height as a mobile phone although much thicker.
- Easy to use – Simple press the large red button to start recording, and press again to stop.
- Easy to transfer files – The USB connection allows you to quickly transfer video files to your computer. You can then compile the files with a simple video editing software. I recommend using Movie Edit Pro, it’s cheap and really easy to use. Free video editing software is also available such as Photocorders or Lightworks.
- Records on device – No need for an SD card, the Flip video records straight onto the device
- Only Records for 2 hours – If you are planning on using this camera for a weekend away then 2 hours is more than enough. However if you are travelling for longer you may want something that records for longer. Here’s a little trick: If you have a laptop with you then add a USB drive into your backpack. Plug both the Flip and USB into the laptop, transfer the files to the USB and delete on the Flip. You now have another 2 hours of recording time!
- Not Full HD – Although it records in HD, it does not record in full 1080p. If this matters to you then go with a smartphone or Canon Legria.
- Wind Noise – Although the mic is really good, it does pick up wind noise. Using this device to film a trek up a mountain may not be the best depending on whether you need audio.
Unfortunately the product has been discontinued, however it is still possible to find people selling the Flip camera on Amazon for under £100. Take a look at the current Flip cameras on Amazon
Here is an example of a video I have filmed using only the Flip cam
Flip Camera Conclusion
The Flip cam is the best video camera for filming a short holiday. Choose this option if you are looking for something small, relatively cheap and high quality from both a video and audio perspective. If you are going away for longer, or would like to record for longer than 2 hours, then the next two solutions might be better for you.
Smartphones are a really good way to capture video. The quality of video has improved greatly over the years. What makes this a fantastic option is that you will most likely already have your phone on you. You must however consider battery and memory usage.
- No additional devices needed – record videos with no additional devices in your pocket.
- High-quality – the video capabilities of smartphones have improved over the years, with many phones offering full 1080p HD quality.
- Quickly share with friends – It is easy to share your videos via Whatsapp or Facebook.
- Phone Battery usage – Pulling out your phone in order to record video all day will use up lots of battery. If you are on holiday you will most likely want to have your phone charged for emergency purposes. One solution to this is purchasing a high quality battery pack that will last a long time (not just one charge). I recommend the Gomadic Battery Pack.
- Memory usage – It’s all good extending the battery life however there is another issue, the memory. You may find yourself clearing old photos and video half way through the trip!
- Sound Quality – Although the video is great, some devices have not caught up in terms of sound quality. You will notice a huge difference when comparing a Nexus to a Flip camera. Essentially the Flip will capture more bass.
Smartphones are a great choice for capturing small video clips during your holiday. If you intend to view these on mobile devices alone then recording on a phone should be fine. If you would like to create a more complete film of the trip, then you are better off purchasing another camera, such as the Flip Camera.
This is a good choice for people who want to film in high quality, with a longer recording time. The camera offers full HD at 1080p. It is a point and shoot camera, so there is no need to play around with settings such as the focus, F-stop, ISO, shutter speed etc.
Although recording time and quality are high, the camera is a little large to fit into your pocket. You may also need multiple SD cards to record your entire trip. A 32GB card will give you approximately 2 hours of footage.
- High-quality – Offers full 1080p HD quality
- Longer recording time – There is no limitation on recording time. Once you use up an SD card simply swap with another.
- 32x Optical Zoom – Optical zoom allows you to zoom in while maintaining good quality. Digital zoom is where the camera zooms in on the image with existing resolution, this makes the quality worse. 32x is a good amount for zooming into objects that are far away.
- Large – A little too large to fit into your pocket. It can be argued that this style of camera is dying out.
- No Manual Mode – If you did wish to get technical, you can’t. There is no manual mode offered. Purchasing a more expensive Canon G25 will give you these features.
- Poor photos – This camera only offers high quality video. Photos are available however the resolution is low
- Need Accessories – This is not something you can put into your pocket and fly abroad with. You will need spare batteries, a charger, a camera case, SD cards, SD card cases etc. As a result it might be a little too much for taking on holiday.
This camera can capture some great HD footage however might be a little impractical for taking on holiday. This option will suit someone who wishes to record over 4 hours of footage.
We have discussed three different cameras that could be used to film your holiday. The most practical for someone wanting to film their friends/family is the Flip. The only major drawback with this option is the 2 hour limit (in the 8GB model). If you would like to record for longer I advise purchasing the Canon Legria R406. Smartphones are a great choice if you have plenty of battery and memory to keep you going throughout the holiday, just make sure you assess the sound quality before take off…