A first-timer needs your advice. I am looking at Canon ZR60 and ZR65, Sony DCR TRV19, Panasonic GS50S and JVC GR-DV500U(S).
The Canons work down to 1.6 Lux but 100 Lux is 'recommended'. They have colour viewfinders. 680k pixel CCD. 18X or 20X zoom. Aperture f/1.6 to f/2.9 or f/3.2. Shutter 1/2,000 second to 1/60 second. Manual white balance.
The Sony goes down to 5 Lux conventional and 0 Lux amplified mode. It has B+W viewfinder. 680k pixel CCD. 10X zoom. Aperture f/1.7 to f/2.2. Shutter 1/4,000 second to 1/60 second. Four white balance selections.
The Panasonic light levels are not published. It has colour viewfinders. 680k pixel CCD. 10X zoom. Aperture f/2.3 to f/5.6. Shutter 1/8,000 second to 1/60 second. Manual white balance.
The JVC light levels are not published. It has colour viewfinders. 1.33M pixel CCD. 10X zoom. Aperture f/1.8 to f/don't know. Shutter 1/500, 1/250, 1/100 and 1/60 second. I don't know about white balance.
I plan to shoot family videos under indoor lighting and daylight outside. I don't plan to do night-time outdoor shooting. I assume that I will just run at the normal shutter speed of 1/60 second.
These units all use electronic image stabilisation which uses half the available pixels, but even 340k pixels still leaves 1 pixel for each dot on a 720 X 480 screen, so maybe the extra pixels in the JVC CCD are not so important?
The Sony has the lowest published light level operation but is the most expensive (together with the Panasonic). I have heard opinions that Sonys work best for indoor shooting but no-one can back this up by numbers and I don't have a feel for how 0, 1.6 and 5 Lux relate to real indoor lighting conditions. I have been told that manufacturers don't publish these numbers because they are so low nowadays that they are hard to measure, is this just salesperson-speak?
The Sony only has a B+W viewfinder, but does this matter? I reckon to use the viewfinder more than the LCD screen.
The Canons have higher zoom levels, but maybe I don't need more than 10X?
I would really appreciate any help in making my selection (or suggestions for models that deliver better results in my applications).