Hi everyone. I'm sorry if this is off-topic but I didn't see where else to post.
I'm looking for advice on a consumer camcorder. I'm very technical but have a limited budget since this is just an advanced hobby for me. My requirements seem rather simple to me on the surface:
Optical Image Stabilization
Min. 3 lux light sensitivity
Min. 12x zoom
Mini mic jack
Full 1920 x 1080 HD
1/4 inch sensor
Under $400 Street Price
20x zoom or more
1.5 lux light sensitivity
1/3 inch sensor
Mini Headphone Jack
Is this even possible?
I've also read that Canon has fallen behind in consumer camcorder features and is now surpassed by Panasonic but don't know the specifics of this claim. I have an older Canon DSLR so have some brand loyalty but not if they aren't competitive. I can't afford the DSLR route for video (Rebel for example).
Canon, Panasonic, JVC and Sony all make competitive consumer camcorders. The requirement for a mic jack will eliminate some models as will the $400 price tag. After that the decision involves usability, picture quality and personal preference. Note that lux and resolution specifications don't always correlate well with real picture quality.
As far as picture quality goes the HFM50/52/500 and HFM40/41/400 are very good. Last month it was possible to buy a HFM400 for around $300. That was a great closeout price which may be difficult to match now.
If you are planning to shoot a lot of sports in well lit areas that will later be processed for slow motion you may prefer a Panasonic or Sony model with 1080p60. In my opinion, this shooting mode is more for special purposes than general shooting.
Eric, several other people have mentioned the 2011 close-out deals for the Canon HFM 4 series also so I guess I'd better check them out. I might get lucky finding a used or refurbed one. I haven't looked at the 5 series.
I must say that I'm a bit leary of 60p and very leary of AVCHD but it seems that even the Canons now use AVCHD (or at least they say they are compliant with AVCHD).
I saw a great deal on a used Panasonic HDC-TM700 Prosumer camera but after doing a lot of searching and finally finding and downloading native 1080p60 AVCHD AC3 5.1 video clips (28 Mbps stream rate, not 24 Mbps which is the highest that complies with the AVCHD spec as I understand it) I couldn't even edit them on my 5 year old computer (which was high-end at the time) and my Vegas Movie Studio HD 10 NLE! To think about having to convert them and go the "proxy" editing route in Vegas is not very appealing even if I could find a converter that would preserve the 5.1 6-channel audio track (no luck so far).