If your dad is anything like mine, he probably thinks he’s a dab hand with a video camera (apparently it’s a middle-aged male thing; like operating the remote on a VCR). Whenever the family gets together, it always seems to be dad who’s in charge of movie-making duties, while the rest of us waste time preparing, cooking and serving the lunch.
If this all sounds depressingly familiar, then why not buy your old man a shiny new camcorder for Father’s Day? If nothing else, the advancements in technology should ensure his videos are at least slightly watchable. In other words, everyone wins! To help you pick the perfect video camera for your dad, we’ve compiled a list of the best products on the market. Here is a shortlist of some of our personal favourites:
1. Kogan Full HD 1080p Video Camera (Kogan Technologies, RRP: $369) The Kogan Full HD 1080p Video Camera is a great low-cost option for bargain-loving dads (and kids). This Full HD camcorder records in the flash memory format and comes with a free carry pouch and an 8GB SD memory card — which is insanely good value for the sub-$400 asking price. If your dad is the patriotic sort, you’ll also earn extra points for buying him an ‘Aussie’ product (Kogan Technologies is an Australian company).
2. Linksys by Cisco Flip Mino HD (RRP: $390) For dads with tiny pockets, it’s hard to look past the Flip Mino HD. Measuring just 108x57x30mm, the Flip Mino HD is one of the smallest high-def camcorders on the market. It’s also incredibly user-friendly, with only a few fool-proof buttons to fiddle around with. An output jack is included for watching videos directly from the camera on a TV. The Flip Mino HD is a great gift for dads who want to shoot great-quality video without lugging around a full-sized camera.
3. Panasonic SDR-S26-K (RRP: $549) The Panasonic SDR-S26-K is a flash memory–based standard-definition camcorder with some interesting tricks up its sleeve. It’s equipped with a 70x optical zoom, which is the most powerful we’ve ever tested. This is a great feature for dads who want to capture close-up shots of their kids at sporting events (or their neighbour’s wife in the shower!). It also comes with a YouTube mode, which limits the recording time to 10 minutes (the maximum limit for YouTube video).
4. Canon HF200 (RRP: $1399) The Canon HF200 is our top choice for image quality; which makes it a great Father’s Day gift for videophiles. The Canon HF200 records 1080p video to SD/SDHC memory cards, with an 8GB card included in the sales package. It also comes with an external microphone jack — perfect for your dad’s “pull my finger” jokes! When used in optimum lighting, the Canon HF200 produced some of the richest and sharpest images we have seen from a camcorder in this price range. There are also plenty of manual options for “hands-on” dads to play around with.
5. Sony HDR-XR520 (RRP: $2699) If price isn’t an issue this Father’s Day (or you have a large family to chip in), go for the Sony HDR-XR520. This flagship Full HD camcorder from Sony comes with everything a gadget-loving dad needs, including a 12-megapixel stills mode, a 120GB hard drive, a digital SLR–derived CMOS sensor and a GPS receiver. The inbuilt mapping system will let your dad view his geographical location on the camera LCD. It will also organise your video clips based on the locations where they were shot.