I have a student who will be taking a trip to Africa this summer. She's doing the traditional safari and climbing Mt. K with her dad. She wants to make a video out of the experience (which I think is a wonderful idea) but isn't sure what kind of camera she should get. What do you all recommend? She's a tough but petite girl (small frame) and I don't want to burden her with something heavy. On the other hand, I think she definitely needs something durable. I think her budget is flexible, and we'll be doing the editing when she returns in FCP. Suggestions?
I've done a bit of hiking/canoeing with a video camera, most recently with the Canon HV30. I think it's a great camera for that application - small and cheap, with respectable video quality. Given that it's really a consumer camera, you don't get manual controls to the full extent that you would on a prosumer or professional model - but that's more of an issue in a controlled shoot setting, and is probably forgivable when you're standing on top of a mountain.
Tapes make a nice storage medium for that kind of work too, although depending on how much footage your student is looking to capture, they could get bulky... last summer I was out on a hiking trip with a friend who brought 20 miniDV tapes with him... I had to make it pretty clear before we left that he'd be the one carrying them the whole time! ;) A nice compact, light, and more rugged alternative to tapes is solid state media - especially SD cards (because she won't be able to dump the footage off cards, she'll need a bunch of them... and sinking thousands of dollars into P2 or SxS cards probably isn't that appealing). The Canon HF10 is pretty similar to the HV30, but it shoots to SD cards.
Those are lower-end, consumer-y cameras - if she's looking for something higher end, the Panasonic HMC-150 is a prosumer camera that also shoots to SD cards. It's almost 4 times as heavy, though, (and pretty much any prosumer camera will be), and it sounds like that may be a consideration.