In this era where all is digital and screens come in all sizes, video content is basically all over the place at any time you’d want it. There’s no more difficulty behind doing it, honestly. Just grab your phone from your pocket and you’re all set. Make a meme, a funny video, capture a moment right now.
But do you remember camcorders? There’s a whole generation out there that basically doesn’t even know they existed But they reflect those not-so-easy times in which people really had to put in some kind of effort to record stuff.
90s camcorders, or VHS camcorders in general, also offer particular visuals that can be quite appealing to some. That grainy, not-so-polished look that these cams provide can really stand out from the average digital-looking videos captured by iPhones or basic mirrorless cameras these days.
And that’s why some people are still out there looking for them. They may be harder to find, but many vintage camcorders are still available to buy this year.
Some people may also wonder: are these camcorders still worth anything? Well, we’re going to discuss that a bit, it’s not that simple. And it kind of depends on what you mean by “worth”.
But having in mind these people that want to make some cool and different-looking videos, we’ve separated some of the best options for “retro cameras” out there. We’re going to talk about the main pros and cons, features, and other important details you should know before making a final choice.
Let’s get going then!
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Top 5 Best Vintage Camcorders to Buy
1) Sony CCDTRV118 Hi8 Camcorder
- Good image quality
- 2.5 inch color LCD
- Infrared mode (for night shooting)
- 560x digital zoom
- Doesn’t come with any accessories
This Sony camcorder is one of the most searched for options out there. The camera works through Hi8 tapes (that have slightly better quality than 8mm) and comes with some very useful features.
The camera is lightweight (1.8 pounds) and very easy to handle. It has a solid image quality provided by the Hi8 tapes and a 2.5 inch LCD screen with color where you can check the footage while you’re recording it or after.
There’s also an infrared mode that makes night shooting more acceptable than usual with those cameras, and a 20x optical zoom and 560x digital that allows you to reach big distances with the cam’s lens while maintaining a solid level of image quality.
The product unfortunately doesn’t come with any accessories, and things often expected in the buy, like a camcord that allows you to connect the camera to a TV, would have to be acquired separately.
2) Panasonic PV-L550 VHS-C Camcorder
- Built-in auto light and strap
- Electronic image stabilization
- 2.5 inch LCD color screen
- Infrared mode
- 150x digital zoom
- More expensive
This Panasonic VHS option is definitely one of the top choices for those considering some old school filming.
This thing has an excellent weight and comes with a built-in strap that is comfortable and makes the handling of the camera just great.
There’s also infrared and anti-shake features present, that help you to get quality images in low light conditions and avoid excessive shaking in your footage, respectively.
The camera also has a built-in auto light to further improve filming in low light, and a zooming capacity that goes up to 18x with optical zoom and 150x digital zoom. The LCD color screen has a great size and enables you to easily keep up with the footage.
Important function buttons are also present, located in the camera’s left side and on the top.
Due to the great amount of features provided, the camera’s price is a little higher than the usual vintage camcorder.
3) Vintage RCA CC4391VHS 32x Video Camcorder
- LCD color screen
- Built-in auto light
- More affordable
- Comes with accessories
- Image could be better
This RCA VHS option comes in full of useful accessories and features, not to mention, a more affordable price.
The camera’s great to handle mainly due to the (not built-in) strap that comes with it. A LCD color screen is also built-in, it’s kinda small, but allows you to check out your footage just fine.
An auto light is built-in as well, a very welcomed feature for this type of camera, that allows for night time filming to be extra fun (and efficient). Power adapter and cables are also included. The camera also has both audio and video P2 entries that enable you to connect it to a TV and check out the footage there if you want to.
There’s also several function buttons right above the camera that can really facilitate your experience when it comes to changing important settings in-between takes. The digital zoom capacity available on this one is 32x.
According to some buyers, the camera’s image could be a bit better.
4) 1970’s Vintage Focal XL-300 Super 8
- Very easy to handle
- Zoom lenses
- Image could be better
- No LCD
This super 8 option has a format that makes it super simple to handle and has a very cool retro to look to it.
The camera works through 4x AA batteries, and when fully charged, they allow for quite some time of filming. There’s also zooming options, with the buttons to approximate or distance the image right above the camera.
This is a pretty old model, and unfortunately it has no LCD screen, so there’s no way to check out the footage in the camera after you filmed it. You’d have to go to a lab suited to make a footage transition from analog to digital or get an appropriate projector to watch your videos.
5) Sony DCRTRV20 Digital Camcorder
- Good image quality (pictures and video)
- 120x digital zoom
- 3.5 inch LCD color screen
- A bit more expensive
This Sony camera is the only digital option of the list. But the digital goes only for the pictures. If you want to shoot video, you can use MiniDV cassettes.
The camera has a really solid image. It has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonar lens that offers good quality in capturing both pictures and video.
The product also has a great-sized LCD color screen, with 3.5 inches, a digital zoom that goes up to 120x, and an optical zoom that goes up to 10x. A built-in strap that facilitates the camera’s handling is also available.
Important function buttons are located on the camera’s left side, close to the LCD screen.
The price on this one is a bit higher than usual.
Are Old Video Cameras Worth Anything?
Well, many variables can come into account when answering this question. If we’re talking only money wise, most vintage camcorders available on the market aren’t really worth that much.
If you’re searching for vintage cameras that have been used for quite some time, you can find some models between U$25 and U$100. If you’re looking for models that are very well preserved, prices can reach up to U$250, but hardly more than that.
But if we’re talking about value beyond money, then things get a bit more subjective. These things can have big sentimental value to some people, and many have special collections of them. Those people can actually pay more for certain models.
And then there’s the style you obtain. You can apply all the “retro” filters you want in a clean, digital image, and the results would probably be satisfactory. But nothing looks more like the image from a vintage camcorder than the actual image of a vintage camcorder.
So if there’s a person working on any type of audiovisual project that requires scenes taken with some of these 90s camcorders or VHS camcorders, then suddenly getting their hands on one of these would be worth a lot more. Artistically and financially speaking, if you know what I mean.
Will has been a full-time content creator since 2014. He’s an audio, video, and tech hobbyist dedicated to reviewing products and giving you the best tips he knows to grow your audience.